Today, Roderick offers several rules on how to properly gather magical herbs. These rules derive from the texts of Pliny, Magnus, and Tusser.
- Pluck herbs associated with the moon, Venus, and Neptune with your left hand; pluck herbs associated with the Sun, Jupiter, Mars, and Pluto with your right hand; herbs associated with Saturn and Mercury can be picked with either hand.
- Herbs must be picked secretly, in solitary circumstances.
- Never face into the wind when plucking an herb.
- No matter what occurs, never look behind you when harvesting herbs.
- Never cut herbs with iron tools.
- Cut herbs during the twenty-third through the twenty-eighth day of the lunar cycle.
- After harvesting herbs, lay them out on wheat or barley.
- Leave a small offering to the earth (spirits) whenever you pluck an herb. Some herbals suggest offerings of small silver coins, wine, mead, honey, bread, or corn.
I think that these rules are subject to your own interpretation and traditions. For example, my practice is to harvest herbs meant for magical practice with a special knife. That knife happens to be made of stainless steel, which is an iron-based metal. I leave offerings, but I cut herbs at whatever phase in the moon cycle I find best for the working at hand. After I harvest herbs, I might use them almost immediately or I might dry them…but instead of laying them on grain, I do so in my MacGuyvered dehydrator.
Spend time today acquainting yourself with the list of herbs and their magical properties. In order to gain some mastery of magical herbalism, commit to your memory at least four of these magical herbs. To help you gain practical knowledge of these herbs, try using one or more of them in a magical brew or potion. Devise a spell in which you would use one of the herbs in the list in combination with: color, planetary glyph, day of the week, magical hour, and magical stone.
Today we are to primarily focus on the herbs between the listings for borage and dittany of Crete. If I was to make a spell using the herbs in this section of the table, I think I would craft a “Concentration and study spell” using chamomile and cinnamon. The cinnamon is the most important part of this, since its qualities include concentration and mental focus. The chamomile is added here to increase the power of the spell as well as to lend its qualities of success and victory. I would incorporate the colors yellow (for its help in communication, mental acuity, and confidence) and blue (for its help in tranquility, balancing, and peace). This would be a spell that sets stuff up to charge, but then would require smaller actions every time one sat down to study. I think what I would do is get a thinner yellow pillar candle that one would light and extinguish at the start and end of each study session, and I’d get some blue wax. Out of circle, I’d melt down the blue wax and sort of “spiral” it down the length of the yellow pillar, kind of like a barber pole. (It’s easy enough to do if you have a steady stream of falling wax. You just draw the candle through the stream while simultaneously rotating it.) Alternately, I’d try to find a blue-colored candleholder for the yellow pillar. I would inscribe the candle with the glyphs of Mercury and the Sun, as well as the name of the person who needs help with their studies, and I would time the initial spell for a waxing moon during a Mercury hour (1, 8, 15, or 22) of a Wednesday.
For this particular spell, I’d gather together the candle, an ounce dropper bottle filled maybe 3/4 with grapeseed oil, a small chip or bead of carnelian (stimulating the conscious mind and stopping negative energy), oils of cinnamon, sage and chamomile, and a pint jar filled half and half with dried chamomile and rooibos leaf, all mixed with a tablespoon of ground cinnamon (the real stuff, not cassia!). The rooibos isn’t for a magical effect: I just think straight chamomile tea is not very appetizing. During circle, I would put the chip/bead of carnelian into the oil bottle and add a few drops each of chamomile, sage, and cinnamon oil. I would charge the oil to awaken its energies and help them mingle, then use it to dress the candle, and then charge the candle specifically to help a specific person concentrate while studying. I would do the same thing with the jar of rooibos, chamomile, and cinnamon. Before the person sat down to study, he would then make themselves a cup of the tea to drink as they study, rub a couple drops of the oil onto his solar plexus chakra (helps with forming opinions!) and massage a little into the back of his neck (no real reason other than that I personally find I carry a lot of tension in my neck when I study, and it’s nice to start a session with my neck relaxed), and light the candle. As the person lights the candle, I would ask them to take a moment to clear their mind, ground, and offer up a little prayer or chant. Maybe something along the line of:
Goddess of Wisdom, to you I pray,
All through my study, let my mind stay,
Open, receptive and clear for me,
As is my will, So mote it be!
Later when the study session is finished, I would probably counsel them to thank the goddess for a productive session as they extinguish the candle.