Yellows, purples and deep blues flit by, easily missed by most, or seen and unseen, scenery and nothing more. The beauty of the wildflowers, their existence forgotten if noticed at all and all before they’ve disappeared from view. All of this glimpsed as I stare out the window, seeking something other than the endless roads stretching ahead lined with traffic spewing fumes, the endless grey of industry and business. And so I use those few moments to escape, if only for a minute or two into the strip of life squashed in between lanes of traffic. White campion, red poppies, the deep blue of cornflower and borage, yellow buttercup, daisies and others I do not know the name of, a haven, a rebellion; the last strip of life.
I simply adore plants! I always have. There’s something just so calming about them. If you listen carefully, they will whisper to you, hint at what they are. Plants have spirits and working with plants, nurturing and taking care of them, will add so much, not only to your spiritual practice but also to your well-being generally speaking.
Spirit work aside, plants have so many practical applications in witchcraft and in everyday life, that to ignore them would leave your craft only a shadow of what it could be. You don’t have to go all out, just learn the basics, learn to identify what grows where you live and how you can utilise them.
If you do any wild harvesting, please take care to minimise any damage. If you find a particular plant, it is in your own interest to not decimate it as you’ll want to ensure a plentiful supply in the future. Take only what you need from the wild, leaving an offering, or exchange of service. Leave enough for the wildlife, for those critters and bugs that rely on the nature around them for food and shelter.
Growing your own plants can be worthwhile. Working with the life giving earth, watching in awe as the elements combine to create new life really is a great feeling. Growing your own plants also gives a deep appreciation for them, and the more you work with them, the more you will come to recognise their spirit. I think it is a vital step for any witch who wishes to work with the spirit of place.
Herbs and Other Useful Plants
Herbs are a must for any witch and have so many household and everyday applications from cooking to medicine to craft work. There is a herb for almost anything.
Herbs can be grown so easily, you don’t even need a garden as they will flourish in a pot on a warm windowsill. Every witch needs a herb garden, inside or out. Sometimes it seems like people like to show off with fancy and obscure plants, perhaps thinking it makes them edgier, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the classics, the everyday herbs that are familiar to you and accessible.
Herbs such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, mint, basil are extremely potent, and you will find many workings that utilise these plants for good reason. I won’t go into each esoteric use for them here purely because it would require a book in itself and besides, there are many good herbals out there already, and so much information on the internet. I would also add that using your own associations for herbs is perfectly fine and in some cases preferable. If the scent or the taste of a particular herbs stirs up specific emotions for you, then adding them to a particular working will be highly beneficial.
There are also herbs that grow in the wild and you’ll probably recognise them as weeds. Herbs such as cowslip, mugwort, vervain, cinquefoil, herb Robert, the list goes on. All of these are useful. And free! I love nothing more than taking the dogs and going out for long foraging walks. You’ll be surprised at what grows so close to you!
Get a good identification guide, one with detailed photographs or drawings and become familiar with leaf shape and colour, flower shape and spray. When harvesting, always take care to leave enough for the plant to flourish and for anything that relies on the plant for food or shelter. I cannot stress enough how important it is to act with care and respect towards the plants we use in our craft. Use sharp scissors or a knife to cut away the part of the plant you need as they do much less damage as opposed to hacking away with blunt ones. When home, bunch the plant stuff together in small bundles and hang to dry in a warm room. If using for teas, then it is okay to use fresh plant matter.
I don’t know why, but I just love poisonous plants. There is just something wickedly beautiful about them, and, I think they truly embody what it is to be a witch.
There will be those out there that think I’m strange, or flirting with danger, or perhaps think I just want the aesthetics of witchcraft, that I love these plants because I want to pretend at something I’m not. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I love the folklore and stories of these misaligned plants. They are beautifully enticing, datura, one of my favourites, is a night bloomer and produces beautiful large creamy white trumpet flowers that have the most beautifully seductive scent. Or perhaps Atropa Belladonna with it’s delicate purple flowers and it’s darkly tempting fruits.
I love how delicate they are, but how devastatingly potent and destructive they are. For me, they embody the feminine principle, remind me of the strong but beautiful women from whom I am descended. They embody the witch!
However, these plants, through ointments and oils can also be beneficial to a witches practice. Now it is up to the individual witch how far she travels along the poison road, it is not for everyone. And it is most definitely not for those looking to get high. We must treat our plants and their gifts to us with the utmost of respect.
Flying ointments can be used to enhance ritual. They aid in the crossing of the hedge, in soul flight and astral travel and communing with the spirits. I would strongly advise anyone wishing to use a flying ointment to buy from established practitioners who know what they are doing in terms of dosing. Besides their esoteric benefits, many people find that, in small amounts, these ointments can provide relief from many painful conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, sore and aching muscles and so on.
Finding Our Way Back To Nature
Many say we’ve gone past the point of no return, that no amount of individual effort will reverse, halt or make any kind of difference whatsoever to the ecological plight we find ourselves in and you know what, that may well be so. But you know something else, we’ve got to take whatever pleasure we can whilst we still can, and growing plants is one of life’s most overlooked pleasures.
The other day, a friend of mine posted a question on social media asking how people genuinely cope, how do they get through the plethora of problems, human, ecological and otherwise that we face. Well, we carry on carrying on, of course, that much is obvious. What other choice do we have? But that wasn’t really the question he was asking, I think. More how do we not let it crush our spirits, how do we just keep carrying on because we are well and truly up the creek. Well my answer is to garden! It lifts the soul and helps us find our way back to the land, back to nature, and back to community, the real essence of the word and not just a bunch of people you share one characteristic with. Finding our way back to the land is the only answer.
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!
You can follow Emma on Facebook.