Thirteen Herbs for a witchs cupboard
Armed with these thirteen herbs, you will easily be able to handle most situations that arise, from dis-ease to magickal needs. This will give you a nice foundation to build on, or it can stand alone as a fully functional Witch's pharmacopoeia or apothecary. Following in the tradition of permaculture, each herb has been selected for its multi-faceted uses. They can each be used medicinally and magickally; they can all be grown easily; and many of them can be used in cooking. Each herb description will be expanded as time permits.
The "Add-ons" at the end of the list of thirteen herbs are to help you develop your herbal in specific areas. A sampling of particularly helpful herbs in specific areas are listed such as those for healers, general magickal practitioners, love spell workers, etc.
The Thirteen Herbs
1) Comfrey Symphytum officinale
Alternate names: knitbone, knitback, black wort, consound, consolida, bruisewort, slippery root, wallwort, boneset, miracle herb, healing herb, gum plant, ass ear, yalluc (Saxon) The botanical name, Symphytum, means "grown together". The name comfrey might be from the Latin conferva "knitting together".
Habitat and Growth: Member of the Forget-me-not and Borage covens, Boraginacea. Comfrey has deep tap roots like huge carrots. This allows it to live in most soils, as it will seek out the water and nutrients needed. Deep water is preferred as it is fairly common throughout England and is native to Europe and parts of Asia. Try to plant in a wet spot, a low spot, or a place with a high water table if possible. She also likes partial shade.
Magickal Attributes: All parts used. Healing. Protective in the loving ways of a mother. Used for money spells, especially because of its prolific nature and deep emerald green leaf color. Used for safety during travel and has many "grounding" qualities, especially of the root. Comfrey is associated with the feminine, Saturn, and Water.
Physical Attributes: Roots and Leaves used. Comfrey contains a nitrogenous crystalline substance known as allantoin (from 0.6 to 0.8 percent). This substance has the ability to promote cell growth. As you can see from the alternate names, healing is comfrey's strongest talent. Allantoin is prescribed in medicines to aid in knitting bones back together, or accelerated healing of deep cuts and puncture wounds. It is also used in ointments for skin problems and psoriasis. This substance has come under attack in recent years. There is some questionable evidence that it may cause cancer or liver damage if taken internally over an extended period of time. The FDA announced December 1995 that it may have "serious adverse reactions"
Whether you believe that this is a conspiracy by the American Medical Association to again take power away from 'normal' people and natural healers, and put in into the hands of over paid physicians, OR whether you believe that it is better to be safe than sorry, it is best to never use any herb over a long period of time. Everything must be kept in balance, and herbal remedies are no exception. This could also mean taking regular breaks from any herbal supplements or teas and if you prefer, use poultices and washes of comfrey instead. These are quite effective for healing.
Comfrey also contains large amounts of a mucilage (especially the root), similar to marshmallow. It will thicken potions, and is soothing when applied to inflammations and sore throats. This mucilage also makes it easy to use the herb in compresses, as the paste sticks together. Comfrey also contains tannins and starch. It is highly nutritious and is used as fodder for livestock (it contains 35% protein).
My chickens love it, especially the flowers. It is an instant cure for soft shells and makes egg yolks deep yellow-orange. This color reflects healthy chickens and increased vitamin content in the eggs. My rabbits love the leaves, and it has helped them with bowel problems, sore or bleeding nipples from lactating, and reduces their consumption of highly processed, expensive, non-organic rabbit pellets. (no, I don't kill the bunnies and chicks for food, see the chicken page for info on that)
2) German Chamomile Matricaria chamomilla
or Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis
Choose either "German" or "Roman" by looking over the information for each.
Alternate names for German Chamomile: Wild chamomile, camomile, Hungarian chamomile
Alternate names for Roman Chamomile: Maythen (Saxon), Whig Plant, Manzanilla (Spanish for a little apple), Kamai melon (Greek for on the ground, and an apple), camomyle, ground apple, Heermannchen (German, they also regarded it commonly as "Alles zu vertraut" meaning completely trustworthy.) chamaimelon
Habitat and Growth: This sun loving flower needs fertile and well drained soil. The best locations for both varieties in my garden have eastern or south-eastern exposure to the sun and part shade in the afternoon. She seems to enjoy greeting the sun every morning by lifting her petals up to catch his rays.
Magickal attributes: Scott Cunningham lists this herb as masculine, and there is a tradition for this. Early Teutonic tribes dedicated it to their sun-God as did the Egyptians. However, because of the energy of the plant, and because of its medicinal uses, it seems to be feminine in some ways. Either way, there is a good balance here between masculine and feminine energies. Truly with chamomile, earth meets sun and sky.
Physical attributes: You may find it interesting that true essential oil of chamomile is blue! If you are purchasing essential oils and are presented with yellow chamomile oil, it is either diluted with a carrier oil, has oxidized and aged to yellow, or is an artificial interloper. More to come...
3) Red Raspberry Rubus idaeus
Alternate names: Hindberry, Hindbeer (Saxon), Hindbur (German)
Habitat and Growth: In the wild, they like to grow in ditches or waste areas such as fence rows. Think of an area that would receive at least 4-6 hours of sunlight each day and would not dry out very frequently. Raspberries come in all varieties now so check with your local nursery or a dependable mail order catalogy to find one that would like to live where you do. They are beautiful and easy to grow, especially if pruned and mulched well.
Magickal attributes: Protective in a 'mothering' way.
Physical attributes: Great for diarrhea, general nutrition, pregnant and lactating women. Often recommended for pregnant women because it is said to make the process of childbirth easier and to strengthen the uterus. It is a good (and proven) antispasmodic and eases painful menstration. A strong tea will soothe cold symptoms.
This rest of this section may take some time to complete. For now, here are the rest of the herbs that will be explained in detail as soon as possible.
4) Fennel Foeniculum vulgare Lavendar
5) Lavendula officinale or vera (English Lavender) spica and latifolia (Spike Lavender) stoechas (French Lavender)
6) Garlic Allium sativum and others
7) Wormwood Artemisia absinthium
8) Rose Rosa gallica if available, resources to come, or other Roses
11) Capsicum species, especially habanero, cayenne, purira, jalapeno, etc.
12) Ginger Zingiber officinalis
Additional Materials Recommended for the General Practitioner: Lemon Balm, Bee Balm, Elderberry, Sagebrush, horseradish
Additional Materials Recommended for the Healer: Papaver somniferum where available/legal X, Echinacea, Thyme, Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis, Sage, Cranberry, White Willow Bark, Cannabis Sativa or Indica (or hybrids) where available/legal X, Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus
Additional Materials Recommended for the Love Magick Worker: Tonka Bean X, Apple Seeds, Vanilla Bean, Patchouli, Dragon's Blood, Rose
Additional Materials Recommended for the Frequent Magick User or for Witches Under Attack: Galangal Root, Monk's Hood X, Mandrake
A WITCH'S HERBAL CUPBOARD
Anise = purification, protection, keeps away nightmares.
Basil = purification, protection, prosperity
Bay Leaves = Money, home protection.
Caraway Seed = Astral herb for Gemini, communication.
Chamomile = Meditation, calmness.
Cinnamon = Success, healing, quick action, prosperity.
Dill = Seeds draw money and protection, the flowers are used for love.
Hazel = Mental powers, hazelnuts are used in fertility amulets or spells.
Lavender = Love, romance, cleansing, add to pillows for vivid dreams.
Lemon Balm = Health, success, love, cleansing.
Mug wort = Divination, clairvoyance, psychic powers, place with crystals to keep them potent.
Nutmeg = Clairvoyance, prosperity.
Parsley = Purification, protection. Brew a tea for help with "Moon time" PMS.
Peppermint = Healing, purification.
Rosemary = Protection rituals of all kinds. Remembrance of the dead at Samhain.
Sage = Clearing, cleansing, healing, wisdom.
Thyme = Burn for purification, protection from negativity, clairvoyance.
Yarrow = For a happy marriage, witches herb, defense, protection.