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An Introduction to Terms Commonly Used in Herb Magic

Updated on January 28, 2019
Elderberry Arts profile image

Claire has worked with crystals, herbs, and various aspects of paganism for over ten years. She has also studied reiki up to master level.

Dried herbs can be a greatly beneficial addition to magic.
Dried herbs can be a greatly beneficial addition to magic. | Source

Herbs have a great number of beneficial properties for health and well-being. Many herbs have great healing properties that can be used to help soothe illnesses such as coughs, colds and sore throats as well as being useful additions to any first aid kit. These plants feature greatly in branches of witchcraft such as kitchen and cottage witchery but can be used by anyone as a powerful addition to daily life, spell work and rituals.

Herb can be incorporated into magic in a variety of ways. Some of these including using fresh or dried herbs to enhance the intent of a spell: for example by choosing plants whose properties correspond to the purpose of the spell. They can also be used in the creation of tools and other items used within your practice and spells. Dried herbs can be blended and ground to create loose incense for burning on charcoal disks, placed inside poppets and spell jars or used to decorate candles for example. They can also be used in creating magical oils and powders for use during rituals or can be utilised to bring a little magic to everyday tasks such as eating bathing or cleaning your home. Herbal teas are one excellent but simple way to benefit from the soothing and beneficial properties of a wide range of herbs.

Many everyday herbs hav eexcellent magical properties.
Many everyday herbs hav eexcellent magical properties. | Source

As well as being versatile, herb magic is generally a very accessible form of magic and can be ideal for anyone who needs to keep their belief and practice of magic secret. In many cases herbs can be used magically incredibly discreetly and without suspicion. One example of this is adding herbs to cooking to infuse the food with your magical intentions as people are unlikely to find it odd that herbs are being added to food. Soaps containing herbs are becoming more common as well and incense and scented candles are often used by people purely because they enjoy their fragrance. Many varieties of herbs can be easily bought in shops and supermarkets as everyday ingredients though some more specific to magic may need to be purchased online or from specialist shops. It’s very likely that if you have herbs at home, they can be used in your magic. Some examples of the magical properties of well-known and used herbs include:

  • Rosemary - healing, protection, purification, memory, stress relief, mental clarity.
  • Parsley – protection, happiness, fertility, spirit work
  • Thyme – healing, peace, psychic powers, courage, love
  • Turmeric – purification, protection, peace
  • Mint – money, healing, protection, cleansing, calming
  • Basil – wealth, money, prosperity, love, happiness
  • Black pepper – protection, jealousy, negativity, strength, confidence

I have put together a basic glossary of terms that are commonly used in herb magic and in some cases, paganism in general. This is by no means comprehensive but I hope it can be a useful starting point for those new to herb magic or who wish to have a simple guide as they learnt to work with this multifaceted and effective form of magic.

Growing your own herbs for magic can be a very rewarding hobby that can be done in even the smallest spaces.
Growing your own herbs for magic can be a very rewarding hobby that can be done in even the smallest spaces. | Source

A - C

Adept - Someone who is highly skilled or regarded as an expert. In magic this refers to a person who has studied and mastered a magical system, while continuing to further their knowledge.

Akashic Records – The Akashic records are a compendium of every human event, thought, word, emotion and intent that has occurred or will occur in the future. They are believed to be encoded in the non-physical plane known as the etheric plane. A person who studies and gains access to these has the ability to learn otherwise unobtainable information about the past, present and future.

Amulet - An object that is worn to protect a person or drawn a specific energy, such as luck towards them. Amulets are often worn as jewellery but may also be placed in a specified location depending on its purpose. For example protection amulets are often placed near the main entrance to a house or other building.

Anaphrodisiac – This term refers to any herb that cools passion.

Aphrodisiac - Herbs that can be used to increase sexual desire.

Athame - A ceremonial knife that is used in some branches of paganism and witchcraft. They usually have a black handle and are used within rituals but not for physical cutting. It is primary used to channel and direct psychic energy.

Balefire - An open air fire, such as a bonfire that is lit for magical purposes.

Bane – That which causes harm or death. For example baneful magic is considered as any magical work that is intended to cause harm to another or interfere with their free will.

Banish - To drive away. Herb magic can be used to help drive undesirable things or people from your life. For example banishing negativity or bad habits.

Besom - A broom made from twigs tied to a stronger central pole. These are the brooms traditionally associated with witches. Besoms are used in cleansing and energy sweeping.

Botanomancy – A form of divination that uses herbs.

Censer – A vessels that is used for burning incense. These are often made of brass, copper or clay and may be highly decorative.

Cleanse – A simple process that is used to remove negative energy. This is also known as clearing and can be carried out in many ways including placing items in moonlight, by smudging or placing items in clean water.

Consecrate - To make something holy or sacred. Tools such as tarot cards, pendulums and athames are often consecrated.

Coven - A close-knit group of people who practise witchcraft and/or religious practices together. They may meet on a number of occasions including sabbats and esbats as well as for training, initiations and social purposes.

Curse - Concentrated negative and/or destructive energy that has been deliberately created and directed at someone or something with the intention of doing harm.

A handwritten grimiore.
A handwritten grimiore. | Source

D - G

Daphnomancy - Divination that is performed using laurel leaves. This is normally done by burning them and looking into the resulting smoke.

Deosil – The direction of the sun and clockwise. This is considered to be the direction to use when aiming to draw good energies such as protection and luck towards you.

Divination – A number of practices that can be used to gain insight into a situation or question that uses something other than standard methods. Examples of divination methods included tarot, crystal ball and pendulum readings.

Elements – Within magic this term refers to the spiritual elements of earth, air, fire, water and spirit rather than the elements represented in the periodic table.

Exorcism - The practice of removing negative entities and psychic clutter from a place or person.

Grimoire - A textbook kept by magic practitioners containing information, rituals, spells and other magical practices.

Runes are often made from stone and are used in divination.
Runes are often made from stone and are used in divination. | Source

H - R

Handfasting - A pagan ceremony that is similar to a wedding.

Hallucinogen - A substance that causes changes in perception, thought, consciousness or emotion.

Herb - Plants that are used for their culinary, spiritual or medically beneficial properties.

Hex – A spell that is targeted at an individual with the intention to cause harm or bad fortune.

Initiation - A ceremony or ritual used by some groups to formally admit new members. The requirements for gaining initiation may vary depending on the group in question.

Macerate – The process of soaking herbs in liquid. Oil is often used and after a set period the herbs are drained and the herb infused oil is used in magical oils, balms, dressing candles and more.

Narcotic – Any substance that dulls the senses and can cause feelings of euphoria when consumed. In medicine they can be used to relieve pain, cause sedation or induce sleep but can lead to addiction.

Pentagram - A five pointed star that may be used as a symbol of protection. Many people consider it to represent the elements of earth, air, fire, water and spirit.

Poppet - A small representation of a person for which a spell or ritual is being performed. These are often small doll like figures made from various materials.

Rede - A law or rule of life, often written in rhyme.

Runes – A divination tool used to seek advice or ask questions. Runes are often made using stones or gemstone that have been carved with a runic alphabet but may be made using other materials.

Tarot cards are used in divinationto gain insight into the past, present and future.
Tarot cards are used in divinationto gain insight into the past, present and future. | Source

S - Z

Sabbat - The eight religious festivals that occur on the solstices and equinoxes each year.

Sachet - A small bag used in magic that is normally made of cloth.

Spell - A magical ritual performed with the intent to cause change.

Steep – Herbs can be seeped in boing water in order to infuse it with their flavour and beneficial properties. This method is used when making herbal teas.

Tarot – A method of divination that uses decks of cards. These are generally specifically designed but playing cards are sometimes used.

Three-fold law – A largely Wiccan belief that everything you send out will come back to you multiplied by three.

Tincture - An herbal infusion that is usually made using alcohol. They can be taken directly and enter the bloodstream quickly, giving fast relief. Tinctures can also be added to water and taken that way.

Widdershins - Anti-clockwise. This direction is used in undoing or removing: for example in removing negativity.

Witch - Aperson who practises witchcraft (male or female)

Witchcraft - An ancient religion based on worshipping the universes life force.

Wortcunning – The knowledge of the healing and magical properties of plants and how to use these to benefit life and well-being. This may include knowing how to make various preparations such as salves, potions, teas and tinctures as well as how to grow or harvest herbs from the wild.

© 2012 Claire


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    • Elderberry Arts profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Lincolnshire, UK

      Thank you for your kind comment. At the time of writing I didn't have any to add for z. Do you know any suggestions I could add?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very basic and very thorough explanation of common terms, well done without being too difficult for anyone. Useful for all religions I believe. except where is z?


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