I've wanted to create a lot more witch-based posts for a while now; especially with Samhain so close to use and the impending end of the Wheel of the Year and the rebirth of nature and our specific deities approaching.
Honouring your specific deities, whether you're Wiccan or simply one of the many denominations of Pagan requires knowing certain aspects for things such as ritualism and spell craft - and that can require elements such as crystals, specific ingredients - like herbs and plants
Herbalism - Modern Science meets Prehistoric means.
Herbalism has played the most important part of any pagan or even Abrahamic ritual to take place whether it be through the burning, distilling, rubbing or simply planting of herbs and different plants in a way of venerating a specific deity. In most cases, herbalism is just simply that: the use of herbs in ritual and prayer.
It's important to know what herbs do what - What can nightshade be used for? How about a touch of hemlock?
Thistles or nettles even, have a purpose as medicinal and soothing drinks when distilled
and have been used in herbal remedies popularised by the expansion of eastern medicine and horticulture in the West during the 1800's. For witches, pagans and wiccans alike - it's no different from the practice of herbalism that it is today, which even uses herbalism in modern chemistry and medical science.
There's no denying that modern medicine and it's benefits to herbalism cannot be underestimated - and as such, demands a lot of respect. So for anyone who bad mouths modern medicine but devotes themselves to herbalism, I am sorry to tell you but that's just devotion to tradition, not a part of the craft.
What do I need to begin?
While exploring a lot of my own personal books and the treasure trove of research I have found from other practitioners and even modern chemists - it's safe to say that in the premise of basic herbalism as part of the craft, you'll need items best suited for getting the most out of your plant. The easiest thing about herbalism is that it can be extremely minimalistic in it's needs and requirements. For the most part, your most needed equipment to start is nothing more than your hands (maybe a pair of gloves if you want to use more... aggressive plants).
Simply just start picking and go!
Once you've picked what you need, you're going to need something to extract any oils or to grind the plants into powders once burned - something you can easily achieve with just matched or a lit candle. As many of you may know, the most well known herbalism tool is a mortar & pestle. The imagery of a mortar & pestle dates back to even prehistoric time, although if you're on a budget you don't need anything quite as ancient in use, or as fancy as that. A simple spoon and bowl will do nicely for the time being.
This next piece is entirely optional, but most people who love a cuppa will be thrilled to hear that herbalism isn't just oils or burned plants. A good knife and some fresh pickings and you can make anything from herbs and plants, especially one of Britain's favourite past times - Tea.
Tea is one of my favourite things to create and infuse through herbalism because it is as easy as just adding some hot water over the herbs and plants you use and voila! You have some of the most aromatic tea ever - Dandelion is one of my personal favourites as a tea, as well as nettle and mint.
Also if you love journaling, keeping a research journal on the herbs you pick is a massive help as well due to the fact there is a lot of information and numerous different herbs and plants that all do something different, or similar - different prep methods etc.
Herbalism needs you to definitely catalogue and write down your own tests and experiments so that you don't forget what you need for everything.
If you want to learn more about what it takes to be a herbalist and some of the best tips for a budding (a pun!) herbalist, then there is a YouTube channel that you should check out if you want to learn. itsjoey, a small channel focused on Wiccan and personal spirituality is a great source I've found from a personal stand point for anyone looking to get into herbalism from a non-mainstream source. His channel is great and I definitely can't recommend it enough - it's what got me into herbalism as a much more day-to-day practice.