Herb Magic for Beginners: How to Start Working with Herbs
There’s been nothing more rewarding in my spiritual, magical practice than working with the energy of herbs. Want to use herbs in your magical practice, but not sure where to start? Herb magic for beginners can be confusing, so the beginning steps are below.
Exciting Herb Magic for Beginners
Herbs’ uses are three-fold: culinary, magical, and medicinal. This means herbs are used in one or more of these three major ways. Some culinary herbs are medicinal. Some medicinal herbs aren’t for culinary use. Some magical herbs should never be used in a culinary way. Put it this way: ALL herbs are magical, but not all should be used for medicine and/or food (some are toxins or irritants).
Please Note: In this article, we are only addressing herbs used for magical purposes. It is up to you to research and consult with your healthcare provider before taking herbs medicinally.
When learning herb magic for beginners, the first thing is to get yourself a good book or two. A reference I’ve used for years is Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. There’s a folkloric anecdote on all major herbs (A-Z) along with planetary rulers and magical properties. The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook is another great resource, as well as The Witching Herbs by Harold Roth. I’ve even gone as far as to take notes directly in my herbal books…they become a sort of field guide the longer you use them.
2. Take Stock
Next, take stock of what herbs you already have. Don’t think you have any herbs? Check out the spices in your kitchen pantry! Every spice and herb in your kitchen pantry has its own magical properties. Write down what you have and look up each herb’s lore, magical properties, and rulers in your herbal guides or online. In addition, the herbs in tea bags can be used for magical purposes. Don’t go out and buy a ton of herbs. Start out with a few from your pantry and build onto your knowledge from there.
3. Local Herbs
In addition to taking stock of what herbs you have on-hand, a great way to get in touch with the local land is to get outside and learn your local herbs. Take walks in the woods and neighborhood. Notice any plants or trees that seem to “call” to you. Take a photo and look it up later on the internet. Make a note of the plant’s magical properties, as well as its habitat, medicinal properties, and lore. In some cities, you’ll find a knowledgeable herbalist who may offer classes or cheap “local herb walks”. This is where I learned about my local wild edible and medicinal herbs…a one-hour class for twenty bucks.
4. Keep a Record
Keep a record of your herbal studies. A composition book or spiral bound notebook works perfectly! Later, tear out the pages and organize them in a larger herbal grimoire. Keep notes on local herbs and the herbs in your kitchen, as well as which herbs you used in your magick and their effects.
5. Simple Herb Magic
The best way to learn herb magic for beginners is to practice using herbs. Have a goal or desire? Choose three herbs from your kitchen pantry whose magical properties match your intention. Perform a simple candle spell in which you dress the candle with the three chosen herbs. Or put a spell bag together using the three herbs. I’ve found candle spells and spell bags to be the easiest ways to start working with herbs. Learn how to cook with herbs or make teas for specific magical purposes. Record your spells, experiences, and results.
6. Grow Herbs
Another great way to learn herbs is to grow your own. Start with a simple herb like basil or rosemary. Keep it in a sunny spot. Don’t over-water but water when the soil gets dry. Forge a connection with the herb by checking on it daily, talking to it, and learning all you can about that plant. Then use the herb in your magic and see how powerful it is that you’ve grown it yourself!
7. Herb Energy
A great way to get in touch with the unique energies of herbs is to wear them. Sounds weird, right? There are different ways to wear herbs but I suggest getting a clear vial necklace and placing an herb inside. Then wear it for a few days and record your experiences. How did the herb feel? Did the herb cause any positive results in your daily life? Any negative? Another way to feel an herb’s energy is to sleep with it under your pillow. Put it in a muslin bag and place under your pillow or in your pillowcase. Did you dream of the herb? Any odd dreams? Feelings? Keep a record of these experiences.
8. Herbal Teas
In addition to learning to cook with herbs, learning how to make them into teas is a boon for any practitioner. Start by learning what other companies are putting in their teas and take note of common edible herbs used. For example, rosehips, chamomile, mint, rosemary, lemon verbena, elder flower, hibiscus, lemongrass, orange peel, etc. Then begin crafting your own tea blends. Your homemade teas become offerings to the gods and ancestors, and become unique magical spells.