Five Useful Herbs for a Witch’s Garden
Herbs are commonly used by witches and have many uses both in magic and in healing. Every plant regardless of type or botanical grouping has a unique energy that gives it the beneficial properties that can be used in rituals, magical cooking, medicinally and spell work. Herbal magic does not need to be complicated and even a simple tea can lead to great results. Similarly, you do not have to source rare or exotic plants to work with herb successfully and there are many familiar varieties that you may already have in your kitchen that have powerful magical and healing properties.
Many varieties of herbs can be easily grown at home and often these grow well in pots so are ideal if you have limited space or nowhere you can dig the ground to plant. Some herbs such as basil and parsley are also happy growing on a sunny windowsill. Herbs like other plants can be grown using bought seed or you may also be able to find plants for sale in local garden centres or online. If you are planning to use your herbs for cooking and other consumable items it is important to be sure that they have not been sprayed with any harmful fertilisers or pesticides before you buy them. This is unlikely to be a problem with popular culinary herbs but if you are buying plants that are grown ornamentally or whose edible properties are not well known, it is worth checking with the seller. For example, this could apply to plants such as nasturtiums or chamomile which are often grown purely for their decorative value rather than for consumption. If you choose to grow your plants from seed it is easier to be sure of how and where they have been grown. Each plant will have its own planting requirements, with some being easier than others to grow. Seed packets will have instructions printed showing the correct planting times for the plants as well as any specific germination, soil and sun exposure requirements. If you wish it is also possible to find informative books and websites full of information and growing hints and tips.
Using Herbs in Witchcraft
There are many ways to use herbs in witchcraft that can be adapted to suit almost any path or practice. Many herbs can be used in cooking to add their magical properties to the meals and snacks prepared. They may also be used in created soothing teas and other healing brews such as tinctures and balms. Another great use for herbs in the kitchen and home, in general, is to use them in creating your cleaning products. One example of this is to add rosemary to water used in cleaning so that its protective powers can be spread around your home. Herbs are great additions to sachets, witch’s bottles and mojo bags and can also be sprinkled around candles used in rituals and spells. Herbs can also be used in dressing and making candles but care should be taken that the plant material does not present a fire hazard. One way of doing this is to ensure that it is ground to a fine powder before use. If you prefer not to use herbs in their fresh or dried form, their essential oil can be used instead.
1. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary has long been valued by cooks and apothecaries alike. Its leaves add a delicious flavour to meat and vegetable dishes and are good when used in creating herb butters. Rosemary was thought to have been introduced to the UK by the Romans and grows well here all year round. Rosemary is a good addition to smudge sticks and can also be used in homemade incense blends. It can be planted in your front garden or close to entrances to your home or property to protect your space from harm and cleanse any harmful or negative energy that has found their way in. Rosemary can be added to water used in cleaning with the same effect. Other magical correspondences of rosemary include purification, love, sleep and boosting memory. It is an uplifting herb that can help to lighten moods, clear the mind and relieve feelings of lethargy.
Rosemary grows well in any sunny but sheltered spot and will thrive in well-drained soils. It will also grow well in pots and containers but can grow large and so may need repotting every few years if grown this way. The leaves of this evergreen shrub can be picked and used fresh all year round. They can also be dried easily by cutting off a woody branch and hanging it in a warm dry place. Rosemary seeds can be slow to germinate and so many people choose to buy a young plant instead. This is also an easy shrub to take cuttings from and this can be done after the plant has flowered. Cuttings are taken from new growth and then planted into soil or stood in a small container of water. Rooting powders can also be used and will help speed up the process. Once the cuttings have a good amount of roots they can be planted in the garden or pots of good quality compost. Rosemary plants require little care but will benefit from being cut back after flowering. Any cut material can be preserved for later use or used in propagate new plants.
2. Sweet Violet (Viola odorata)
This pretty little plant is sometimes known as English violet, has heart-shaped leaves and purple or white flowers beloved by bees and butterflies. It has a scent that many people enjoy and can be used in creating perfumes or for scent in items such as soap or skin balms. One common culinary use of violets is to create a violet syrup which can be diluted for drinking or used in baking. In Ancient Greece violets were seen as a symbol of fertility and violet wine was a favourite of the Romans. In cookery sweet violet flowers can be candied or make a bright addition to salads.
Magically sweet violets are connected to love, peace, healing, death and rebirth as well as commitment. They remind us to be true to ourselves and to stick to our commitments, even when the path ahead is rough or uncertain. Violets are said to bring peace and protection to any space in which they grow. White violet flowers can be used when working with innocence, purity and humility and the purple flowers benefit anything connected to loyalty, consistency and fidelity. Medicinally, sweet violet has long been used for treating coughs, bronchitis and respiratory catarrh as it contains chemicals that break up mucus.
When buying plants or seeds care must be taken not to confuse sweet violets and African violets (Saintpaulia). The African violet is not a viola and is considered not edible. These plants also have different magic properties so confusion could lead to issues. Viola odorata can be grown from seed or by buying plants. It is a small plant, growing to around 5 inches; however, it spreads easily and can soon fill an area. It prefers to grow in full sun or partial shade but dislikes direct sunlight. As it spreads the plants can be divided in early spring and planted elsewhere or passed on to others.
Sweet violets can be found growing wild in many areas, especially in hedgerows or woodland. It may also be found in built-up areas if seeds have spread for gardens. If you choose to pick wild growing violets (or any plant) it is important to be sure of its identification and to pick considerately. Do not strip plants of all leaves, flowers or seeds as this can affect their ability to survive and reproduce and can impact on wildlife that relies on wild plants.
3. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Feverfew is a plant from the daisy family that grows into a small flowering bush. In traditional herbal medicine, it was used in easing fevers and treating headaches, arthritis and digestive problems. It can sometimes be found growing wild but is easily grown at home from seed. Like rosemary, feverfew can be planted to shield your home from negativity and harm. The protective qualities of this plant are thought to protect against accidents so it can be useful to carry when travelling. It is also thought to be useful in hex-breaking and protecting against any spell entering your mind or spirit. Feverfew is also connected to purification, love and healing. Carrying a sprig or small amount of feverfew (perhaps in a sachet) is said to attract love and protect against heartbreak.
Feverfew seeds can be started indoors during late winter ready to plant out as the weather warms. It prefers a sunny site with good drainage but can also tolerate partial shade. Mint grows well alongside mint and its scent does a good job of repelling insects. Keep in mind that this includes beneficial insects as well as those that may harm your plants. This pretty plant can be grown in containers or directly in the ground, where it will spread well unless controlled. The leaves can be harvested year-round and the flowers are best harvested in early to mid-summer.
4. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla, Chamaemelum nobile)
Chamomile is often familiar through its use as a soothing herbal tea. It is a calming herb that has many uses including easing anxiety and digestive issues and promoting restful sleep. Magically it corresponds with sleep, dreams, love, relaxation and balancing. It can be used in drawing money towards you, for example, by using chamomile tea to wash your hands or adding it to bath or water used in cleaning. The flowers can also be kept in your purse and other places associated with money such as money boxes. To bring restful sleep dried chamomile flowers can be added to sleep pillows or small sachets that can be placed inside a pillowcase or kept close to your bed. It is thought that planting chamomile in your garden can help revive ailing plants.
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is a low growing plant often grown as ground cover or as a creeping plant along walls and pathways. German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is an annual plant with daisy-like flowers that grows upright. When growing from seed it is best to scatter the seed outdoors in autumn as the coldness of winter and then warming of spring helps them to germinate successfully. It can also be sown indoors but the seeds should not be covered with soil as they need light to germinate. Once establish Chamomile and German chamomile in particular self-seeds well, continuing to grow and spread in following years. Like many herbs, chamomile can grow in less rich soils and needs little attention once established.
5. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is a versatile herb that can be used in creating healing teas, cooking and magic as well as being a tasty addition to salads. It combines well with tarragon and is a good choice for fish, poultry and pork dishes. In Elizabethan times this aromatic herb was said to relieve depression and promote good memory. Magically speaking, lemon balm is linked to a range of aims including love, success, healing and relieving anxiety and depression. It creates an uplifting tea and can also be added to bathwater for a long calming soak. In tea lemon balm combines well with mint. Carry lemon balm with you or use lemon balm essential oil in a roller bottle if you struggle with depression or anxiety.
Lemon balm grows best in fertile, moist areas that are shady. The seeds can take several weeks to germinate but once established lemon balm plants grow fast and will spread far if allowed. If your plant grows too big for its space, it can be dug up and divided in early autumn. Cutting back the plant after flowering helps to encourage fresh growth of its strongly scented green leaves.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2020 Claire