The green world is enchanting and powerful, but unfortunately we spend so much time indoors and in cars that it’s easy to lose contact with nature. This makes it difficult to develop and maintain a working knowledge of plants.
Throughout the ages, witchcraft was intimately linked with plants. The witches, wise women and men, were the ones village people went to for medicine and magic. In addition to knowing what to use, they knew when plants came into leaf, bloomed, and produced seed or fruit. These people lived with the seasons. While we have the luxury of buying what we want whenever we want, change is afoot in the mundane world with a movement that focuses on seasonal and local food. For Pagans and Wiccans, this goes hand-in-hand with a spiritual path that celebrates the seasonal wheel of the year.
The sabbats form the spokes of this wheel, and there are certain traditional plants used to mark these occasions. But what about the time in between these metaphorical spokes? Of course it’s not devoid of plants because we use them for a range of magical purposes. However, the plants that we use don’t always coincide with the cycle of the green world. Granted we can dry and store plants for later use as people have done for thousands of years, but how many of us know when to gather cinquefoil, sweet woodruff, or haws? Do we even know where to look for mullein?
Whether or not we garden or search the woods, the wisdom of plants comes alive when we work with them within the context of the seasons and learn how their cycles progress month by month. Basing our magical use of plants within the seasons also helps us develop more meaningful ways to connect with the green world and the realm of nature spirits. This, in turn, provides our rituals and magic with more continuity, creating a natural flow as we go through the year.
This book is a tool for learning about both ordinary and classically witchy plants. Going month by month, it highlights a range of plants from small herbs to mighty trees. Included are facts about the plant’s physical characteristics, its history and folklore, and how it can be used magically. While this book focuses on North American plants, we will see how plant mythology and folklore was often carried here by European settlers and applied to similar plants. In many cases, settlers brought plants with them to the New World.
The first chapter, “Getting Started,” provides information on connecting with the spirit and energy of plants, why scientific names are important, some frequently-used words that are good to know, and precautions about using and working with plants. We will also take a look at planetary and fixed star influences and, of course, the moon’s effect on plants for lunar gardening. Last but not least, we will see how the symbolism of the various parts of plants can be utilized.
Each subsequent chapter focuses on a month and is divided into four sections. The first section is called “On the Calendar” and takes note of sabbats, Celtic tree months, and other significant dates that involve plants. The next two sections are called “In the Garden” and “In the Wild.” These highlight plants that may be blooming or bearing fruit that month. As expected, these two sections are somewhat fluid as some wild plants have become popular in the garden and some garden plants have found homes outside of our backyards. The last section in each of these chapters is called “In the House.” This section focuses on indoor, plant-related projects and activities, though there is occasional overlap with the previous two sections.
This book provides a look at what is generally considered classical seasonal change, which is most closely mirrored in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. Of course, there are regional variations. I live in northern New England and our seasons lag behind many other areas of the country. However, the progression of development and growth and the interrelationship of plants follow the same cycle. Keeping notes on how the seasons unfold in your area will give you a sense of continuity throughout the year. Keep a journal of where and when you find plants in bloom and when they come into seed or produce fruit. Understanding and working with plants through the seasons reveals nuances that personalize our experience with the green world and helps to build our knowledge base for magic.
This book is intended to inform and inspire you. Being familiar with nature’s cycles connects us more closely with the green world and with all the wise folk who have gone before us as we carry on their work with plant magic. In addition, working with plants helps us grow as individuals and discover our unique ways of self-expression in the craft.