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Author Topic: Herbs and other Correspondences  (Read 3734 times)
Estrella
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« Topic Start: June 05, 2008, 05:56:43 pm »

I'm trying to expand my correspondences lists so if you have any websites or personal information that you would like to give me to assist me in this manner, it would be greatly appreciated!

Also, I have a question.  Why is that some herbs, such as Bay Laurel, have so many magical uses and others only have one or two?  Also, how did we figure out what herb was good for what purpose?  Just a trial and error method?  Any help would be amazing.  Thank you!
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« Reply #1: June 05, 2008, 06:33:46 pm »

Why is that some herbs, such as Bay Laurel, have so many magical uses and others only have one or two?
Some of it is ethno-centricity of the western magical tradition.  Herbs native to Europe, especially the Mediterranean - like laurel, have many more recorded uses than plants that grow in say, Southern African or even North America.

It's not that the plants themselves are more useful, it's that all of our sources are drawn from European tradition.  That's starting to change as practitioners from other cultures publish (or share their knowledge in other ways) but even today almost everything you find will still be heavily weighted toward Europe.

Of course, some plants just don't have a lot of magical properties. 

Quote
Also, how did we figure out what herb was good for what purpose?  Just a trial and error method?
There's no way to know how this knowledge was originally aquired, much of it goes back to pre-historical times.  I can guess:  Trial and error would be a big one.  As would divination or actual instruction from gods and spirits.  The doctrine of signatures was popular in medival times - a plant was believed to reveal it's nature through it's appearance in some way.  Thus bloodroot, which has a sap that looks like - you guessed it - blood, was discovered to be good for internal hemorhaging IIRC.  (That's medicinal, not magical, but I'd imagine it worked the same way.)  The there's mythology.  Many of laurel's attributes come from it's close association with Apollo, f'ex.

I can't recommend any websites, but Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs is a passable source.  However, he doesn't usually cite where his information comes from.  I'd use him as a starting point and do further research on the things that interest you.  A lot of old herbals (i.e. Culpepper) include astrological correspondances. 
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Estrella
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« Reply #2: June 06, 2008, 01:40:47 am »


I can't recommend any websites, but Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs is a passable source.  However, he doesn't usually cite where his information comes from.  I'd use him as a starting point and do further research on the things that interest you.  A lot of old herbals (i.e. Culpepper) include astrological correspondances. 

Thanks for the help!  I really appreciate it.  Glad to see that this is an active forum too.
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« Reply #3: June 06, 2008, 02:51:23 am »

Also, how did we figure out what herb was good for what purpose?
I haven't worked with correspondances yet. I try to feel their energy. When I'm composing tea I try to draw the energy of the plant and look what it does inside my body. (I check with books and descriptions from the pharmacy.) Also when I'm in the forest I try to feel plants to explore them, but a bit more careful.
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« Reply #4: June 06, 2008, 08:06:21 am »

I can't recommend any websites, but Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs is a passable source.  However, he doesn't usually cite where his information comes from.  I'd use him as a starting point and do further research on the things that interest you.  A lot of old herbals (i.e. Culpepper) include astrological correspondances. 

Worth noting - older herbals (and this includes Cunningham's at this point) need to be cross-checked against recent modern health info if you're going to do anything with it that involves eating, drinking, or inhaling (via incense) the herb: there are continuing changing in understanding about the medical effect of various compounds.

Cunningham's book, in its first edition, was also seriously lacking in some of the health precautions, even at the time of publication. The second edition was vetted by a professionally trained herbalist, and a bunch of  that info put in.
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« Reply #5: June 06, 2008, 10:06:31 am »

I'm trying to expand my correspondences lists so if you have any websites or personal information that you would like to give me to assist me in this manner, it would be greatly appreciated!

http://www.earthwitchery.com/index.html
http://www.rexx.co.uk/herbal/acherbal/index.htm
http://www.wicca.com/celtic/herbal/herbindex.htm
http://www.geocities.com/gardenwitchry/herbs/herbs5.html

These are nearly all of a wiccan slant, except for AC Herbal, which is Celtic.
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  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
Estrella
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« Reply #6: June 06, 2008, 11:46:27 am »

I haven't worked with correspondances yet. I try to feel their energy. When I'm composing tea I try to draw the energy of the plant and look what it does inside my body

Maybe that's my problem.  I haven't quite gotten the energy part down yet, or even grounding or centering down for that matter.  But I figured learning was the first step in all this.  Or am I going about this the wrong way?  Then again, maybe that's another post  Grin
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« Reply #7: June 06, 2008, 01:53:41 pm »

Worth noting - older herbals (and this includes Cunningham's at this point) need to be cross-checked against recent modern health info if you're going to do anything with it that involves eating, drinking, or inhaling (via incense) the herb: there are continuing changing in understanding about the medical effect of various compounds.

Cunningham's book, in its first edition, was also seriously lacking in some of the health precautions, even at the time of publication. The second edition was vetted by a professionally trained herbalist, and a bunch of  that info put in.
Absolutely.  Anything ingested, inhaled, or even applied to the skin should always be cross checked against the most current information available. 
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« Reply #8: June 06, 2008, 02:02:37 pm »

But I figured learning was the first step in all this.  Or am I going about this the wrong way?  Then again, maybe that's another post  Grin

I'm not one of those "anything goes" type people.  On the other hand, I think that people learn differently.  It depends on what your goal is and what system you're working in.  If you want to do energy work, yes, grounding and centering is very useful.  But there are some systems of folk magic (I'm thinking of hoodoo here) where the magic is seen to be in the specific items used, and energy work isn't done at all.  In that case, correspondences and theory and such would be the first thing to learn.  (Note: I'm not an expert in hoodoo - if I've got this wrong, someone else please explain. Smiley )

There's also a point where the best learning comes from experience.  Which I think is true whether one has a teacher, is self-taught, or anything else/in between.
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« Reply #9: June 06, 2008, 02:15:02 pm »

I'm trying to expand my correspondences lists so if you have any websites or personal information that you would like to give me to assist me in this manner, it would be greatly appreciated!

It's actually a commercial site, but I've found a lot of cool info on Alchemy Works.  The site owner has some information on why different plants, resins, etc. are associated with planets and elements.

I'm also very fond of the book 777 by Crowley.  It's a gigantic table of Qabalistic correspondences, which can be poked at to get elemental and planetary ones too.  The best part is his explanations of *why* different things have the associations they do.  (And I know the perfume table best.  Heh.)

Quote
Also, how did we figure out what herb was good for what purpose?  Just a trial and error method?  Any help would be amazing.  Thank you!

Well, some correspondences (such as the ones I mentioned above, probably) came from books like Agrippa's (17th century) Three Books of Occult Philosophy.  Where did those come from?  That I don't know.  I do know there's a logic to it - for example, most good-smelling flowers seem to be associated with the planet Venus, going back to the goddess's love and beauty associations.  Thorny plants can be associated with Mars, because they're weapon-like and therefore can be associated with war.

You might have noticed - a lot of this is from a ceremonial background.  I'm not sure where some of the more "folk magic" associations come from.  But here's a more modern one: basil and money.  Why?  Well, the explanation I've seen is that basil is the color of money in the United States.  Smiley

When using correspondences, it really helps to use a system that makes some degree of sense to you. Smiley
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« Reply #10: June 09, 2008, 08:05:42 am »

I can't recommend any websites, but Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs is a passable source.  However, he doesn't usually cite where his information comes from.  I'd use him as a starting point and do further research on the things that interest you.  A lot of old herbals (i.e. Culpepper) include astrological correspondances. 

The one real problem with Culpepper, is that he lists herbs and plants for internal and external-such as salves-use, that we now know are downright poisonous. Even breathing the smoke/fumes from some burning plants can be bad for your health.

Rodale published an herbal-I believe in the 1970's?-that while not exhaustive in the number of plants it listed, was very complete for the ones it did list. This isn't a magical herbal, but secular. Whatever, its a good idea to be familiar with ALL the properties of your materials, secular as well as magical.

Leigh
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rose
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« Reply #11: June 09, 2008, 11:50:45 am »

The one real problem with Culpepper, is that he lists herbs and plants for internal and external-such as salves-use, that we now know are downright poisonous. Even breathing the smoke/fumes from some burning plants can be bad for your health.

Rodale published an herbal-I believe in the 1970's?-that while not exhaustive in the number of plants it listed, was very complete for the ones it did list. This isn't a magical herbal, but secular. Whatever, its a good idea to be familiar with ALL the properties of your materials, secular as well as magical.

Leigh

oh yes...the Rodale herbal...my mom totally wore hers out, she adored that book Smiley
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #12: June 09, 2008, 01:28:16 pm »

Rodale published an herbal-I believe in the 1970's?-that while not exhaustive in the number of plants it listed, was very complete for the ones it did list. This isn't a magical herbal, but secular. Whatever, its a good idea to be familiar with ALL the properties of your materials, secular as well as magical.

John Lust's "The Herb Book" is quite comprehensive (though it only has line drawings, not photos).  A little of the info is dated, but none of the plants he OKs for internal use will kill you unless you take them in massive quantities over long periods of time.  It's always a good to cross-reference older herbalism books with more up-to-date ones anyway.  And don't go applying/ingesting anything that you haven't fully researched.  Should go without saying, but...  Wink

Brina
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« Reply #13: June 09, 2008, 02:26:58 pm »

The one real problem with Culpepper, is that he lists herbs and plants for internal and external-such as salves-use, that we now know are downright poisonous. Even breathing the smoke/fumes from some burning plants can be bad for your health.
I probably should have made it more clear that I was recommending older herbals like Culpepper solely for their magical content, but it never occurred to me someone would look to a source written in the 1600's for suggestions on what to eat. 

It goes without saying that before ingesting, inhaling, or even rolling around in any herb one should always check the most up to date information available.
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« Reply #14: June 10, 2008, 09:27:43 am »

Yeah, you would think, wouldn't you? But considering the attitudes of some of the people in the alternative building groups I belong to, who think everything "natural" is just hunkydory and GOOD for you, I always try to point out that that isn't always the case. Example-not all natural clays are suitable for building, as some in some parts of the world contain very high levels of lead. NOT GOOD.

Leigh


I probably should have made it more clear that I was recommending older herbals like Culpepper solely for their magical content, but it never occurred to me someone would look to a source written in the 1600's for suggestions on what to eat. 

It goes without saying that before ingesting, inhaling, or even rolling around in any herb one should always check the most up to date information available.
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