Herbal teas can be purchased bulk or bagged at health food stores, by catalog, or by on-line distributors.
You can grow many herbs in your garden or in pots indoors as long as they get sunlight. The addition of rose hips and a fresh mint leaf in a cup of tea is delightful, but you can also create your own flavorful mixtures. Do be careful with herbal teas, however, as some have very specific functions. Educate yourself on herbs before ingesting them, for although some are commonly used in cooking, others may be harmful. The magic of a tea is enhanced with natural foods prepared with correspondences in mind, such as with homemade key lime pie, almond biscuits, or calendula scones.
Some of my favorite tea combinations utilize rose hips, elder flowers, mint, hops, dandelion root, burdock root, calendula, raspberry leaf, and chamomile. I usually mix several of these with a black tea for a flavorful herbal concoction. Some teas are good for particular ailments, but again, check out the herbal information before using any, and be sure to confere with your physician if you are taking prescription drugs for any condition.
Herbal soaps may be easily made with gel and molds available at most hobby, art supply, or craft stores. Adding a touch of finely ground herbs or diluted (with a carrier such as jojoba) essential oils can create a special soap with magical properties. Some herbs may irritate the skin, so learn about the herbs and potential allergies, etc. before using them. Directions come with the materials for melting the pre-packaged gel and using trays with a variety of molds shaped like leaves, flowers, suns, moons, and stars, etc.
Herbal baths are made with dried herbs tied in a cheesecloth or muslin bag--or even placed in a mesh tea ball--and set in the tub while drawing the hot water. Do not place the herbs loose in the tub or after a few such baths your drain will be totally clogged! Dispose of the used herbs after the bath. Add a dash of sea salt while the water is running if you want a ritual cleansing, and combine suitable herbs according to your intent. A bath with herbs of prosperity before meeting with the boss about a pay raise enhances your aura for more money, while a bath in herbs of romance will add allurement to your aura.
There are so many good quality essential oils on the market today that it is an easy matter to purchase them. They are found in health food stores, grocery stores, gift shops, and of course in magical supply or metaphysical stores. Oils can be added to a diffuser to add a pleasant scent in a room.
Many herbs used in the Craft are common to the spice rack and are regularly used in cooking: allspice, basil, bay, cilantro, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, peppercorn, rosemary, sage, and thyme are typical cooking herbs. By consciously focusing on the magical benefits of the herbs, you create a magical and empowered meal. Other herbs may be grown in the garden, in window planters, or in pots around the home, and clipped fresh according to need. They donít take up much space, and by snipping off a portion, you encourage new growth. Always let the plant know your need, ask it what you may have, and give it a blessing or a gift to receive the gift of its energies. The gift you offer may be a bit of crushed egg shell, a dab of used coffee grounds, a coin, some water or fertilizer as needed, or an energy blessing wherein you bring your hands close to the plant without touching it and push some of your own energy into the plant to be used as the plant desires. Energy movement is something I discuss in Green Magic: The Sacred Connection to Nature. The hands are excellent conduits for energy movement and are used in spell work with or without tools [such as athames and wands] to get the magic into motion.
Herbs are terrific for cleansing magical tools. Using spring water [which you can buy bottled at most grocery stores] is best for the process as this is not contaminated with chlorine, fluoride, and other additives. You can steep mugwort leaves in hot water, then cool and use as a cleansing wash for crystal balls and other divination tools, such as pendulums or even black scrying mirrors. If you have trouble finding this herb, try looking for it in garden nurseries or with on-line prepared herb suppliers.
Herbs to Enhance Divination
There are some herbs that can be burned on charcoal diskettes, heated in water, or added to a candle flame. The diskette and candle should be in burners that will not break, such as a metal cauldron, and be placed on a tile or trivet of some sort so as not to scorch the surface where they sit. Also, if adding herbs to a candle flame, be aware that this normally will make the candle burn faster, so the container should be large enough to hold the hot, melting wax. I do not recommend glass containers since these can split or shatter with the heat of melting wax or a burning diskette. Some people like to add a layer of sand in a cauldron and set the diskette on top of that, others so this also with a votive candle in a cauldron. I donít see much need for a sandy base in a normal cast iron or heavy metal cauldron as it is easier to clean later on by sitting the cauldron in a pan of hot water for a few moments, then slipping out the hardened wax with a paper towel. Now and then you may want to grease [any cooking oil or shortening will do] and bake your cauldron in the oven at 325 degrees to keep the metal in good condition. Wipe excess grease off when it cools.
Herbs can be as easy to grow as weeds--in fact, some herbs are considered weeds. Many herbs prefer a well drained soil, and most like a lot of sun. If you live in a high-sun zone such as Florida or the Southwest, however, you may need to protect your herbs from the strong rays of the sun for them to prosper. Planting your garden under the shade of trees or on the north side of your home may be a help in these cases. There are a number of books on growing herbs and how to use them, and half the fun is finding the ones that appeal to your personal taste.
For listings of magical uses, check my books Green Witchcraft: Folk Magic, Fairy Lore, & Herb Craft [introduction to my Hereditary Tradition], Green Witchcraft II: Balancing Light & Shadow [for Dark Power herbal associations], Grimoire for the Green Witch [a complete listing of correspondences], or Witchcraft: An Alternative Path [a beginnerís guide to the Craft based on Nature also with a listing of correspondences].
With herbal charm bags, for example I suggest adding stones and crystals that enhance the energies, so tucking a small crystal into the bag with the herbs, and perhaps a bit of batting with an essential oil, sewing it up in material that is a color appropriate for the goal, will bring all the energies into alignment and add to the power of your charm. The bag can then be carried in a purse, briefcase, or pocket, or placed somewhere such as in the car or in a window sill or above the door at the home.