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By Anna Franklin & Susan Lavender
Herb Craft moves beyond herb folklore and examines their true magical nature, showing how power plants can be employed for the transformation of Self and consciousness, according to the teachings of Native Pagan Tradition.
There are detailed descriptions of herbs, cultivating them for magical purposes, their traditional uses, explanations of lore, the art of herb simples and traditional recipes, as well as correspondences - animal totems, magical tools, deities, planets, elements and festivals.
Herbs are set out in alphabetical order, with appendices designed to help each individual with their own personal development.
A JOURNEY WITH THE PLANT SPIRITS
At full moon I entered the circle and honoured the four quarters with incense before sitting at the north west station, the point of Samhain. Here I took my chosen power plant.
It was dark and raining hard. I was in the time between sunset and midnight, in the place between water and earth.
A large oak door opened before me, and all was dark within. As I approached it, the Guardian of the Woods blocked my way. He appears in the form of a huge muscular man with the head of a bull. As I hesitated, he lifted off the bull's head mask, and for the first time I saw his human face. The fearsome mask was merely a flayed animal skin. He gestured with his arm to indicate that I should go through the door. I entered to find a tunnel leading down, shaped from cold, wet earth. I could see the roots of plants poking through it. I travelled downwards and downwards, eventually reaching a chamber lit by a dim, red glow. In its centre was a stone slab upon which reclined a figure. I recognised the Lord Cernunnos. The was the time of His sojourn in the Underworld, awaiting rebirth. As I came closer, I could see that His body was covered in small cuts and wounds from the corn scythes.
However, He smiled as He rose from the slab and came towards me, holding something that was glowing between His cupped hands. It was a seed, large, oval, golden and full of light.
Suddenly He punched a hole right through my chest at the heart chakra and placed the seed within me. I felt I wanted to stretch and grow upwards towards the light of the sun, but something within me prevented it, some block. As I realised this an oak trap door opened beneath my feet, revealing another tunnel, going yet further downwards.
Astonishingly the passage led into the hospital ward where some months before I had nearly died. The red night lighting was on, and framed in the doorway before me stood the monster of my own fear, composed of dozens of grasping claws and gaping mouths. I knew that it wanted to tear and rend me, but I stood firm.
Small red figures appeared round me, dancing and skittering, leaping and chattering. I stood passively as they began to pull at my clothes, and then my flesh. Gobbets of muscle and skin were pulled away, until little but bloody bones remained, still standing. Then the figures draped a cloak around me, made from drooping feathers. A crown of feathers and corn stalks was placed on my head, and they lead me forward.
I was no longer in the hospital ward, but a chamber of rock and crystal, lit by a soft pastel light. It felt welcoming and full of peace. A gentle fall of soft water, each drop a pure musical note, played into a stone basin.
Gratefully, I stepped beneath the waterfall, and let it pour over me. It cleanly washed away the blood and remaining flesh, to reveal a new body lying beneath, white and smooth. In my chest the golden seed still lay embedded.
The seed began to grow tendrils, fine and shining, which twined around me before stretching upwards, pushing through the earth and up towards the sun. My consciousness travelled along each fibre, and I was soon above the woods in the canopy of trees, bathed in soft, warm light, looking down.
I could still see the door open in the circle, swinging to and fro in the breeze, a door between two worlds. I became aware of the many beings in the woods, plant spirits and wild folk, who now also knew me. Then I was back on the ground amongst them, a rainbow of light coursing through the energy centres, filling me with a new strength and joy.
ISBN 1898307 57 1
"I would highly recommend this publication...a must for your bookshelf" Beltane Fire
"....an excellent and truly comprehensive work, an essential reference and invaluable companion for everyone interested in the use of herbs for magic and ritual. Highly recommended" Prediction
"most comprehensive book...The sheer amount of information in this book is staggering...books with this kind of collated information are rare treasures." Manchester Pagan Wheel
Few western magicians today understand or work with the Old Knowledge concerning plants. So called 'magical herbals' give instructions on how to collect a plant by drawing a circle around it, telling it a little rhyme before hacking it about, and leaving it a coin or pinch of tobacco in recompense for its trauma. What good these are to it remains a mystery.
Some books will tell you that you must ask a tree or plant for its favours- walk round it three times and say "can I have a bit?". How many people know when they have got an answer? Is the plant even listening? You might as well buy a herb off the shelf in the supermarket, or pick up a dead twig from the forest floor. These instructions are based on folklore or folk magic, a debased and half forgotten form of the true knowledge.
Plants and trees must be approaches as individuals, and respected as living, spiritual entities. No two oak trees have the same personality, no two yarrows have the same qualities. Some plants will give willingly, some must be courted, some hunted with stealth, others fought. Some will never give you anything.
Trees and shrubs are not really 'used' magically, though this is a convenient term applied in this book. When properly approached they may share something of their life force, their spirit. True magical herbalism is not really a case of following a kind of cook book, a pinch of this and a pinch of that. It is many years of intimate study with plants themselves as the teachers.
COMMON NAME :
BOTANICAL NAME : This is the official botanical name of a plant, by which you may confirm identification. Where more than one botanical name is given the name has been changed in the past, and the old name may still appear in some old herbals and field guides.
OTHER NAMES : local or folk names, which often give a clue to their traditional uses and lore.
PLANETARY RULER : This is the planetary government assigned to a plant by the old astrologer herbalists according to their virtues.
CORRESPONDENCES : This section will tell you the harmonic resonances of a particular herb throughout the elemental kingdoms, mineral kingdoms, animal and bird kingdoms, and its place in the cycle and web.
ASSOCIATED DEITIES : This section tables the Deities associated with each herb, Christian saints and also heroes who may once have been deities in older myth cycles.
NATURAL HISTORY : This section contains details of the origins of a plant, a physical description, and its preferred growing conditions, as well as where it may be located in the wild. How to propagate the plant to cultivate it yourself, how to gather and store it. It is recommended that you obtain a good field guide if you wish to gather plants from the wild.
LORE : The mythology associated with a plant can often indicate the old magical lore of the shaman or wise woman, which has come down to us in a distorted form, as well as revealing how a plant was used historically.
FOLK MAGIC : Folk magic is the debased form of true magical knowledge of a plant. Many books give these dubious practices as the true magical use, but here they are given as interest only and should not be taken seriously.
HERB SIMPLES : This describes the healing properties of a plant and the remedies to be used. For details on how to prepare the remedies see chapter three.
MAGICAL USES : The Native British Pagan Tradition has, as a central part of its teachings, insisted that the practitioner develops a close relationship with the plant allies of our native land. Every herb has its own lesson to teach and must be approached as an individual. Its sphere of knowledge is many layered and may be very subtle. It may not be demanded or taken by force, but only in an atmosphere of mutual co-operation with the plant spirit. This section will give you a starting point.
Published by Capall Bann
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