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Ten Magical Herbs to Have on Hand

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If you're a practitioner of a modern magical tradition, chances are good that you're in the habit of using herbs. Here's a list of ten herbs that everyone should have on hand for magical purposes. Think of it as a basic witch's arsenal of helpful herbs - keep these in your cabinet or magical supply cabinet, just in case the need arises.

Apple Blossoms

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For the ancients, the apple was considered a symbol of immortality. Interestingly, it's also seen as a food for the dead, which is why Samhain is sometimes referred to as the Feast of Apples. In Celtic myth, an apple branch bearing grown fruit, flowers, and unopened bud was a magical key to the land of the Underworld. The apple is often found as a component in love magic, and the blossoms may be added to incenses and brews. Learn more about Apple Blossoms.

Basil

Image © Patti Wigington 2010

Basil is known far and wide as a culinary herb, but it also contains some interesting magical properties. In Mediterranean countries, it is strewn on floors to purify a home. It also can bring luck to people moving into a new residence - a gift of a potted basil plant guarantees good fortune. Magically, basil can be used in love magic and in love divination. Basil can also be used to guarantee fidelity -- or detect the lack of it. Learn more about Basil.

Chamomile

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Chamomile is known as an herb of purification and protection, and can be used in incenses for sleep and meditation. Sprinkle it around your home to ward against psychic or magical attack. If you're a gambler, wash your hands in chamomile tea to ensure good luck at the gaming tables. In a number of folk magic traditions, particularly those of the American south, chamomile is known as a lucky flower -- make a garland to wear around your hair to attract a lover, or carry some in your pocket for general good fortune. Learn more about Chamomile.

Lavender

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The use of Lavender has been documented for thousands of years. Magically speaking, lavender is often associated with love spells, as well as for workings to bring calmness and peace. To bring love your way, carry lavender flowers in a sachet on your person, or hang stalks of it in your home. To get a good night's sleep, with calming dreams, stuff a pillow with sprigs of lavender. It can also be used in a purifying bath or smudging ritual. Learn more about Lavender.

Mugwort

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Mugwort is an herb that is found fairly regularly in many modern Pagan magical practices. From its use as an incense, for smudging, or in spellwork, mugwort is a highly versatile - and easy to grow - herb. In some magical traditions, mugwort is associated with divination and dreaming. To bring about prophecy and divinatory success, make an incense of mugwort to burn at your workspace, or use it in smudge sticks around the area in which you are performing divination rituals. Learn more about Mugwort. Note: Mugwort can be harmful to pregnant women.

Patchouli

Image © Patti Wigington 2011, licensed to About.com

Patchouli is a popular herb found in many modern Pagan rituals. Its exotic scent brings to mind far-off, magical places, and it’s often used in incense blends, potpourri, and ritual workings. Associated with love, wealth, and sexual power, patchouli can be used in a variety of magical workings. Place patchouli leaves in a sachet, and carry it in your pocket or wear around your neck. In some traditions of hoodoo and folk magic, a dollar sign is inscribed on a piece of paper using patchouli oil. The paper is then carried in your wallet, and this should draw money your way. There are some traditions of modern magic in which patchouli is valued for its repelling power. Learn more about Patchouli.

Pennyroyal

Image © Patti Wigington 2010

Pennyroyal is well known as a magical herb. In some traditions it's associated with money, while in others Pennyroyal is connected to strength and protection. In Hoodoo and some forms of American folk magic, Pennyroyal is carried to ward off the "evil eye." For some protection magic, make a sachet stuffed with Pennyroyal and tuck it in your purse. In a few traditions, Pennyroyal is associated with money magic. If you own a business, place a sprig over the door to draw in customers and prosperity. Try making a bar of Money Soap to wash your hands with, or use Pennyroyal to brew up some Prosperity Oil. Learn more about Pennyroyal. Note: Pennyroyal can be harmful to pregnant women.

Rosemary

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Rosemary was well known to ancient practitioners. It was an herb known for strengthening the memory and helping the brain, and was often cultivated in kitchen gardens. Roman priests used rosemary as incense in religious ceremonies, and many cultures considered it a herb to use as protection from evil spirits and witches. In England, it was burned in the homes of those who had died from illness, and placed on coffins before the grave was filled with dirt. For magical use, burn rosemary to rid a home of negative energy, or as an incense while you meditate. Hang bundles on your front door to keep harmful people, like burglars, from entering. Learn more about Rosemary.

Sage

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Sage has long been burned to purify and cleanse a space. The ancients burned dried sprigs of sage in temples and during religious rituals. The Greeks and Romans wrote that the smoke imparted wisdom and mental acuity. In magic, carry sage leaves in your wallet or purse to promote financial gain. Burn leaves to increase wisdom or gain guidance from your spirit guide (be warned - burning sage does smell similar to marijuana, so keep that in mind if you think the neighbors might be inquisitive). Make a wish and write it on a sage leaf, and then hide it beneath your pillow -- if you dream about your wish over the next three nights, your wish will come true. Learn more about Sage.

Yarrow

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Yarrow was often called Woundwort or Knight's Milfoil, thanks to its use in treatment of battle injuries. Scotland's Highlanders use it to make a healing ointment, and in the Orkney Islands, yarrow is used to make a tea that "dispels melancholia." Yarrow can be used in magical workings related to healing, love, and courage. Wear it on your person to boost your self-esteem and courage, or carry a bunch of dried yarrow in your hand to stop fear. A sprig hanging over the marriage bed guarantees at least seven years of passion and love. Taking a ritual bath with yarrow can help increase your psychic abilities. It can also be used to exorcise negative energies from a place or person. Learn more about Yarrow.

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