- BASIL: (Oncimum basilicum) The warm, spicy taste of this popular herb's leaf combines well with garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, and Italian dishes; Basil flavors vinegar, pesto sauce, and oil. The essential oil flavors condiments and liqueurs, and scents soaps and perfumes. Inhaling the essential oil refreshes the mind and stimulates a sense of smell dulled by viral infection. The infusion relieves gas and stomach pains. Reputedly abortive, it can help expel the placenta. A warming herb, it is used for colds and flu, constipation, vomiting, headaches, and menstrual cramps. Steep two teaspoons per cup of water for twenty minutes; take up to one and a half cups per day.
Parts Used: Leaf and stem
Magical Uses: Burn basil to exorcise negativity from the home. To do a really thorough cleansing and protection of yourself and your home, also sprinkle a little basil in each corner of each room in the house and add to your bathwater. Basil is used to mend lovers' quarrels and brings good luck to a new home. The scent of basil causes sympathy between two people and so is worn to avoid major clashes. Basil Use it in rites of exorcism and in the ritual bath. Sprinkle to powder over the area of your heart to promote fidelity. The scent brings happiness to the home and will protect you in crowds.
Aromatherapy Uses: Bronchitis; Fatigue; Colds; Loss of Concentration; Migraine; Gout; Aches and Pains; Insect bites; Insect Repellent; Coughs; Migraine; Insomnia; Anxiety; Depression; Infectious Disease. Key Qualities: Restorative; Tonic; Antidepressant; Refreshing; Uplifting; Fortifying; Purifying; Clearing; Warming; Cephalic; Stupefying in excess.
- BAY LAUREL: (Laurus nobilis) The culinary leaves may be slightly narcotic, and aid digestion when added to Bouquet garni, marinades, pâte, soups and stews. The wood is used to give an aromatic tang to smoked foods, and oil of Bay, from the fruit, flavors some liqueurs. A leaf decoction added to bath water will relieve aching limbs, and diluted leaf essential oil can treat sprains and rheumatic joints but may irritate the skin. The leaf and berry are used in salves for itching, sprains, bruises, skin irritations, and rheumatic pain. The fruit and leaf are simmered until soft and made into a poultice with honey for chest colds. Bay leaf and berry tea makes a bath additive that helps the bladder, bowel, and female reproductive organs. Use two tablespoons per cup and steep for forty-five minutes; add to bath water.
Parts Used: Leaf and berry
Magical Uses: Bay leaves were used by the Delphic priestesses. The incense and the leaf are said to produce a prophetic trance. Burn for psychic powers, purification, wish magic, exorcism, healing/health, protection, divination, visions, clairvoyance, energy, power, strength, inspiration, wisdom, meditation, defense, creative word. Put the leaves under your pillow to give inspiration and visions. An herb of the sun, bay brings the light of summer into the darkest time of the year. Carry the leaf or place in the home to ward off illness and hexes.
Aromatherapy Uses: Sprains; Colds; Flu; Insomnia; Rheumatism.
- BENZOIN: (Styrax benzoin) Benzoin is a shrubby tree with gray bark, simple leaves, and short racemes of small, fragrant, bell-shaped white flowers. The scented yellowish resin is thought to be created in response to injury, so it is tapped by making hatchet incisions in the trunk. The resin, called benzoin or gum benjamin, is used as incense, a fixative in perfumes, and is added to cosmetics to prevent fats turning rancid. The tree resin is used externally, diluted with water, as an antiseptic skin wash. Taken internally, it relieves intestinal gas and is antiseptic to the urinary tract. Take ten to twenty drops in water or tea four times a day. Put it in vaporizers or use it as an inhalant for bronchitis, and laryngitis. A simple method is to place it, along with a few drops of the oils of peppermint and eucalyptus, in a bowl of boiling hot water. Put your face as close to the bowl as you can and cover your head, and the bowl, with a towel. Inhale the steam. Tincture of benzoin is often added to salves as a preservative; (one pound of benzoin to about one and a half quarts of salve.) Benzoin is used in Aromatherapy but may cause allergic reactions.
Parts Used: Resin
Magical Uses: An herb of purification, burned in incense to sanctify an area. The scent is also used to attract business when combined with basil, peony or cinnamon. Dilute the essential oil and rub onto the body to increase your personal power. It awakens the conscious mind as well.
Burn to purify, protect, for prosperity, for astral projection or to increase mental powers.
Aromatherapy Uses: Asthma; Bronchitis; Laryngitis; Chills; Flu; Colic; Coughs; Itching; Arthritis; Colds; As a Sedative. Benzoin has been found to help retain skin elasticity. It is valuable in treating dry, cracked skin and is believed to be anti-depressant. Key Qualities: Warming; Energizing; Uplifting; Comforting; Purifying; Elevating; Stimulant; Soothing; Antidepressant.
- BERGAMOT: (Citrus bergamia) Bergamot has aromatic flowers and fruits. The thin, smooth peel yields Bergamot oil for "true" eau de Cologne and Earl Grey Tea.
Parts Used: Flower and fruit
Magical Uses: Use for money and protective rituals. Add the distilled bouquet to your bathwater for these purposes. Synthesized versions of the oil abound but should not be used.
Aromatherapy Uses: Boils; Cold Sores; Insect Bites; Spots; Varicose Ulcers; Colds; Flu; Fevers; Acne, Tension, Wounds; Coughs; Stress; as an Antidepressant; as an Insect Repellent; Depression; Cystitis; Infectious Diseases; Tonsilitis; Halitosis, Flatulence; Loss of appetite. Key Qualities: Reviving; Refreshing; Calming; Soothing; Uplifitin; Sedative; Regulating; balancing; Anti-Depressant.
- BERGAMOT MINT: (Mentha x piperita 'citrata') This herb is sometimes confused with the Citrus of the same name. Bee Balm is also called bergamot at times. This is a bairless mint with thin smooth leaves and purple runners, it has purplish flowers. In full sun it develops a strong citrus scent and the whole plant is tinged purple. In shade the color is more coppery. Use it as an aromatic herb in potpourri or to make a honey-sweetened drink. The flavor is not so good for cooking. Also called Eau De Cologne Mint.
Parts Used: Leaf and Essential Oil
Magical Uses: The leaves of bergamot mint are slipped into wallets and purses to attract money. Fresh leaves are also rubbed onto money before spending it to ensure it's return. Also used in "success" rituals and spells.
- BETONY: (Stachys officonalis or Stachys betonica or Betonica officionalis) Also known as Bishopwort, Wood Betony or Purple Betony. Wood betony has fairly pungent, scalloped, hairy leaves and spikes of pale magenta summer flowers. A Druid sacred herb. The arial parts provide a tea substitute and are added to tonics and herbal cigarettes. An infusion is mildly sedative and cleansing and is a nerve and circulation tonic for migraine, anxiety, indigestion, drunkenness, and difficult labor. Wood Betony was an Anglo-Saxon protective charm
Parts Used: Leaf, flower, stem and root
Magical Uses: This was a very powerful herb to the Druids as it has the power to expel evil spirits, nightmares and despair. It was burned at Midsummer Solstice for purification and protection. Sprinkle around or near al doors and windows to form a protective barrier. If troubled by nightmares fill a small cloth pillow and place it under your pillow. Betony is added to purification and protection mixtures and incenses.
- BIRCH: (Betula alba) A Druid sacred tree. Also known as Lady of the Woods, Paper Birch or White Birch. The antibacterial leaves give a diuretic tea used to treat gout and rheumatism, to dissolve kidney and bladder tones and to lower cholesterol. Steep two teaspons of leaf per cup of water for twenty minutes. The dose is one to one a half cups over a day. Birch twigs and leaves are simmered and added to the bath for itchy skin conditions and falling hair. Taken before bed, the tea is sedative. The young shoots and leaves make a tonic laxitive. The inner bark is simmered and used in fevers. Twigs and bark are simmered using two teaspoons of plant per cup of water for twenty minutes. The dose is one-fourth cup four times a day. The twigs of B. lutea (Yellow birch) and B. lenta (black birch) are gathered in spring and simmered gently for twenty minutes to make a delicious beverage. Please note: the leaves must be used fresh, and not after Midsummer, as they will then contain natural insecticides. The white birch has no real flavor and does not make a good beverage tea. The bark and bud oil are used in medicated soaps.
Parts Used: Leaf, bark and twigs
Magical Uses: The traditional broom of witches is made of birch twigs. Protection, purification, wards negativity, love, new beginnings, changes. Birch is a feminine tree and an embodiment of the Great Mother. Cradles are often made of her wood as a protection for the child.
Aromatherapy Uses: Gout; Rheumatism; Eczema; Ulcers.
- BLACKBERRY: (Rubus villosus) A Blackberry leaf decoction is a blood and skin tonic, and a poultice treats eczema. The juicy purple-black fruit are rich in fiber and Vitamin C. The root is a classic remedy for diarrhea and is reputed to clean the kidneys and urinary tract of stones and gravel. Simmer two teaspoons for the root per cup of water for twenty minutes, and take a quarter cup four times a day. The buds and leaves are used fresh in poultices for wounds, burns, mouth sores, and sore throats. Chew the leaves or make a poultice. The berries are slightly binding (as is blackberry wine) and are useful in diarrhea, as are the leaves.
Parts Used: Root, leaf, bud, and berry
Magical Uses: Sacred to Brighid, the leaves and berries are used to attract wealth or healing. This is a Goddess herb, belonging to the planetary spere of Venus. Protection, health, prosperity, pie for Lughnassadh, to commemorate the harvest.
- BLACKTHORN: (Prunus spinosa)Also know as Sloe, Mother of the Wood, or Wishing Thorn. This tree has small, serrated, oval leaves on dark, thorny branches with purple blooms and black fruit. The leaves yield a mouthwash. The astringent fruits make Sloe gin. Traditionally, the wood was used to make clubs.
Parts Used: Leaf, twig, fruit
Magical Uses: Returns evil to sender. The thorns are used for sticking into black figure candles or poppets of enemies that will not leave you alone. Hung over doorways or carried, the sloe wards off evil and calamity, banishes demons and negative vibrations.
- BORAGE: (Borago officionalis) The flowers decorate salads and cakes and are frozen in ice cubes. The cooling, mineral-rich leaves flavor drinks, dips, and salt-free diets. A leaf and flower infusion is an adrenaline tonic taken for stress, depression, or cortisone and steroid treatment. It reduces fevers, dry coughs, and dry skin rashes. Pressed seed oil can be used like Evening Primrose for menstrual and irritable bowel problems, eczema, blood pressure, arthritis and hangovers.
Parts Used: Flower, leaf, stem and seeds
Magical Uses: Tea aids psychic power. Carry the leaves for protection. Carry the fresh blossoms to strengthen your courage. Use in money and business spells.
- BRIAR ROSE: (Rosa rubiginosa) Also known as Wild Rose, Sweet Briar, Hop Fruit, or Briar. Regular scented roses may be substituted. See also ROSE.
Parts Used: Flower and fruit
Magical Uses: For clairvoyant dreams, steep two teaspoons fresh or dried rose petals in one cup of boiling water. Cover and let stand five minutes. Drink at bedtime. Burn the petals with love incense to strengthen love spells. Rose essential oil is used in formulas designed to attract love, confer peace, stimulate sexual desires and enhance beauty. Healing; Creativity; Love Luck; Prophetic Dreams; Protection; Psychic Awareness; Divination; Clairvoyance; Anointing; Balance.
Aromatherapy Uses: Anxiety; Depression; Circulatory Problems; menopausal Problems; as an Antiseptic and Tonic; Menstrual Disorders; Stress; Tension; as a Sedative.
- BROOM: (Genista scoparius syn. Cytisus scoparius and Sarothamnus scoparious) Also known as Scotch Broom, and Irish broom. A Druid Sacred Tree, it is a many-branched erect shrub with simple or trifoliate leaves, and golden "sweet-pea" flowers. A flowering sprig of Broom was a heraldic battle device of Henry II of England who is said to have taken the family name Plantagenet from this medieval "planta genista".
Flowering broom tips are gathered in spring (before Midsummer) and are later used fresh or dry. The seeds are as useful as the tops. Both are soluble in water and alchohol. The infusion is used to tread cardiac edema. Simmer one teaspoon of the herb or seeds per cup of water for twenty minutes. The dose is one-half cup a day in one-fourth cup doses. Broom is combined with dandelion root, uva ursi, and juniper berries to treat bladder and kidney ailments. Take one part broom, one half oart uva ursi, and one half part dandelion root. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to half the original quantity. Add one-half part juniper berry and cool. A pinch of cayenne is sprinkled into each one-eighth cup dose. Caution: Acute kidney problems contraindicate this herb. Broom is a heart tonic. Use one teaspoon of the herb per cup of water, and do not exceed more than one-half cup per day. One to ten drops of tincture may be given as a dose.
Parts Used: Flowering twig and seed.
Magical Uses: Broom flowers bound with colored ribbons are carried at weddings. Couples may choose to "jump the broom" as they make their transition to a new station of life. Broom can be substituted for furze(gorse) at Spring Equinox. The Irish called it the "Physician's Power" because of its diuretic shoots. Sweep your outside ritual areas with it to purify and protect. Burning the blooms and shoots calms the wind. Hang indoors for protection and purification. Toss in the air or bury it to raise or calm winds.
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©1998-2002 Joelle Miller