Now I know what you’re thinking, why learn how to harvest herbs when I can just buy them online or at a store?
Well for one it connects us to our past, our ancestors. They didn’t have Amazon or Wal-mart, they had to gather everything they needed.
Also, there isn’t much in this world that is more powerful than herbs you harvest yourself that come straight from the earth.
Harvesting your own herbs doesn’t have to be scary or difficult to learn but it does take persistence. And you might be thinking there are no useful herbs that grow in your area but that’s not true. Almost every herb you can think of has a magickal purpose and all you need to do is find it.
That’s what I’m going to talk about in this post!
If you haven’t read my first post on the tools of herbal magick I recommend you click here to check that out!
I have created a short e-book that has an herbal encyclopedia which has a collection of herbs and their magickal uses, you can download it here!
Let’s get on to the post!
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How to harvest herbs.
I recommend that you buy an herbal field guide. This will make it easier for you to find the herbs that grow in your area.
When you go out to walk, take your guidebook with you and look around and the plants and herbs that grow where you live and see if you can find them by using the book.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what herbs grow in your area because I don’t know where you live but this is a great way you can find out for yourself.
When you go out to collect herbs try to stay away from places that have a high volume of pollution like freeways and places that have been sprayed with any kind of chemicals.
I know if you live in a big city then this can be kind of a tall order but give it a chance and try. A great place to look could be parks, forests or hiking trails.
A word of caution: if you can’t find an herb or you’re unsure of what it is, don’t use it. Many herbs can look similar and you don’t want to use one herb thinking it’s another because that could have negative effects on your magick.
Another great way to find herbs you can use in magick is to grow your own herb garden, I’ll take more about that in another post.
When you grow specific plants that you know you’ll use then you don’t have to guess what they are. Also, growing your own herbs from scratch can be a wonderful experience as well and they’ll be extremely powerful for your magick.
Gathering the herbs themselves is a magickal process and as with all magick, there are specific times that make it more powerful and effective.
I have a whole section on magick in my Magickal Herbalism for Beginners e-book, make sure you click here to grab it.
Timing is an important part of magick and much of that timing depends on the phases of the moon. Just like the moon influences us and our magick, it influences the earth’s energy.
When you pick your herbs at the ideal time you are ensuring that they will be highly energized for your magick.
Leaves, flowers, and seeds should be picked during the waxing moon when the energies rise upwards. While root herbs should be picked during the waning moon when the energies are flowing back down into the earth.
Night time is also ideal for magickal practices such as gathering herbs but since the darkness can make it difficult to see I would recommend going right after sunset when there’s still some light.
Also going out by yourself in certain areas can be unsafe so make sure you take proper precaution when you go out alone.
When you go out to collect, make sure you have your magick knife, consecrated, of course, a cloth bag to keep your herbs in, and an offering to the earth. The offering can be crackers or bread but it is respectful to give to the earth when you take from it
When you find the herb that you want to harvest there is a process I want you to follow.
Using your magick knife, or your finger if you don’t have one, make a circle around the herb using your energy.
Touch the herb with the index finger of your dominant hand and feel its energies, visualize it, and say these words or make your own:
Gift from the earth (herb name)
Please lend me your power
And help me in my rites
I call upon you (herb name)
After this, you are free to take however much you need but no more than that. You should never take more than 25 or 20 percent of the growth of the plant.
Once you’re done harvesting bury your offering near the plant.
The same process can be applied to all herbs you are collecting including the roots but feel free to create your own harvesting ritual if this one doesn’t suit you.
There are some herbs that are best used when they’re fresh but most of them can be dried and saved for later use.
For leaves and flowers
Before washing your herbs you should remove any leaves that are brown.
You don’t need to use any kind of soap, water will work just fine. When you’re finished washing a herb, pat it dry with a towel gently.
To dry them lay them on paper towels in a place where they won’t be in direct sunlight but will still be warm. Make sure you turn them once a day so they get completely dry.
When they are crunchy you know they’re dry.
After washing, turn the plant upside down and tie the stems together, if you have multiple plants, and hang them somewhere away from direct sunlight.
I also recommend placing a container underneath, just in case any seeds fall off during the drying process.
To remove the seeds just roll the head between your hands.
Roots take a very long time to dry so I recommend harvest them before you think you’ll need them.
You must let the herb dry completely before storing it because if you don’t it could mold and that’s just not a problem you want since it can destroy their magickal properties.
If you need to dry them in a hurry try putting them in the oven at the lowest setting and keep a very close eye on them.
The best way to store herbs are in bottles, preferably ones that are glass and dark enough that light won’t shine through.
Each one should have an airtight seal like a lid or cork.
Make a label for each herb that you have either collected or bought that you can put on the bottle so you know what’s in each bottle without having to open them every time. On the label put the herbs name and the date you harvested it or bought it.
These can be made fairly easily with a word document and sticker paper.
Make sure to keep your herbs out of direct sunlight, an herbal cabinet would be ideal but this isn’t possible for everyone.
Personally, I like to keep my herbs under my bed in a box with some holes poked in it for ventilation.
Herbs don’t expire but they don’t last forever.
I would recommend getting new ones every six months or so.
Don’t throw your old herbs in the trash! Release them back to the earth, preferably where you first found them if they are ones you harvested.
Finding and harvest your own herbs for magick is an amazing experience and a great skill to have if you are really serious about herbal magick. Collecting the herbs you use for magick is a fantastic way for you to connect with nature and the energies of those herbs. A genuine connection with nature is essential for any Witch or Wiccan regardless of the magick they do.
As always please remember that this is not a requirement to practice herbal magick. You can use store-bought herbs and they will work just as well. Magick is about you and you have to do what makes you the happiest and most comfortable.
Whatever you chose to do, the Goddess and God will be with you!
Don’t forget to download my free Magickal Herbalism for Beginners e-book, you can click here to download it!
That’s all for today, I’ll see you in my next post.
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