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INTRODUCTION TO HERBAL MAGICK
© Copyright 1978, 1999, 2004, All Rights Reserved.
Herbs have been used in magick and religious ceremony for tens of thousands of years. As our ancestors evolved, they developed a complex system to understand and effect the world around them based on their observations of the natural flows of energy, the movement of the stars, the cycles of the earth's seasons and the waxing and waning of the moon. This widsom combined with their knowledge of the effects of herbs, both magickally and medicinally, forms the foundation of Herbal Magick.
Originally an oral tradition, this wisdom was eventually written down and codified by Paracelsus in the in a work known as The Doctrine of Signatures. He traveled extensively in the Old World talking with the wisemen and wisewomen of hundreds of villages about their uses of local herbs, their observations of the herbs' effects and the best growing conditions for those herbs as well as their best gathering times. As he traveled, he kept a diary of what he was learning and gathered it into a body of work called The Doctrine of Signatures. The way that Paracelsus used the term 'signature' meant the specific appearance, geographical location and effects of an herb.
As an astrologer, he codified his Doctrine using the system of the planetary energies to designate the effects and disposition of each herb. For example, herbs that effected the heart, were primarily golden in color, thrived in sunny areas and promoted a sense of well being, success and confidence in an individual or the magickal works of that individual were placed under the dominion or rulership of the Sun. Below is a breakdown of the Doctrine of Signatures and planetary energies, their effects and some of the herbs I use most frequently to access specific planetary energies for my magicks:
HERBS of the SUN promote self confidence and personal success. They impart a sense of purpose and help to develop a strong sense of identity and willpower. Sun herbs bring vitality, health, creativity, dignity, a sense of well being and of abundance. Look for yellow in your Sun herbs: sunflower, calendula, frankincense, celandine and safflower are some examples.
HERBS of the MOON affect the subconscious mind. They aid in the development of intuition and psychic gifts. As they help to access the subconsious, they are excellent for dreamwork, recalling past lives and in breaking old ingrained habits. Moon herbs are often white or pale in color. Some that I use often are white sandalwood, jasmin flowers, mugwort, cucumber and lily.
HERBS of MARS give vast amounts of energy to projects and health. Mars herbs promote independence and assertiveness and tend to stimulate the passions. Mars herbs can be used very successfully to protect one's person and one's home and are excellent in developing or maintaining motivation. When mixed with herbs of other planets they lend their immense energies to make the whole stronger and more vital. Herbs that are red and burn are often those with Martian tendencies such as red sandalwood, nettles, ginger, mustard and galangal.
HERBS of MERCURY facilitate clear thinking and eloquent communication. They aid in business success where a clear head is needed and in recovery from illness. Mercury herbs enable the conscious mind to communicate more easily with the subconscious thus facilitating memory and study. Many times using Mercurial herbs while studying the Tarot or other divination system which visually incorporates the use of symbols can be quite helpful. Mercury herbs tend to stimulate the central nervous system and brain. Some herbs are cinnamon, lavender, cardamom, licorice and gum mastic.
HERBS of JUPITER expand consciousness and opportunity. They bring growth on all levels and are very helpful in health matters as they expand the body's ability to heal inself. Herbs of Jupiter expand the mind allowing for a greater understanding of the workings of the universe, also thereby expanding one spiritually as the mind's comprehension leads to spiritual unfoldment. Herbs and plants of Jupiter tend to be large themselves such as oak, pine, magnolia but also include agrimony and meadowsweet.
HERBS OF VENUS bring joy, beauty, artistry, sensitivity, compassion and appreciation of the bounty and beauty of the Earth and all her creatures. Venus herbs activate love and a joie de vivre and can be used quite successfully by those engaged in the creative arts. Some herbs of Venus are rose, vervain, raspberry, columbine and cherry.
HERBS of SATURN give structure, foundation, grounding, stability and an understanding of how the physical plane of existance works. They are great teachers of self-knowledge and karmic debts and tend to slow down and calm situations. They teach that success comes through perseverance and patience. Saturn herbs are binding herbs and protect in a non-aggressive manner. Saturnian herbs are myrrh, wormwood, patchouli, cypress and solomon's seal.
HERBS of NEPTUNE are those of the mystic and are useful in dreamworking, trance and hypnosis. They intensify the imagination and lead to concepts, visions and ideas far beyond the physical plane. Neptune herbs can be used to good effect for those who are working with developing telepathy and astral projection as well as those artists who seek the Muse directly. Some Neptune herbs are orange blossoms, poppies, lobelia, peach and lotus.
HERBS of URANUS excite, energize and stimulate. They lend themselves to inspiration, practical idealism, genius and the development of telekinesis. They bring change and sometimes unforeseen results. Some herbs of Uranus are allspice, calamus, betel, guarana and ephedra.
HERBS of PLUTO transform and illuminate the shadow side of ourselves. They can bring about dramatic, sometimes traumatic, growth and promote insight into cataclysmic circumstances. Pluto herbs aid the sexually impotent and help to balance the physical self with the spiritual self. Some Pluto herbs are yohimbe, saw palmetto, damiana, rye and amanranth.
Typically when formulating a blend of herbs, the situation will be considered in its entirety and a mixture combining various planetary energies for a holistic effect will be employed. When investigating the effects of a single, specific planet you could certainly compose a blend using only the herbs of that planet, but in most cases the effect you are seeking would utilize a blending of several planetary influences. For example, you want to make an herbal amulet for the perfect job. You need to analyze the components of the perfect job for you - the right amount of money, the chance to learn new skills, people with whom you will be compatible, the potential for advancement could all be parts of what you see as the perfect job. Therefore, you would combine Sun herbs for abundance, success and personal satisfaction, Mercury herbs to be eloquent and clear sighted as you interview for various positions, Jupiter herbs for expanded opportunities and, perhaps, Venus herbs for compatible associates.
© Copyright 1978, 1999, 2004 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.