Whole Plants - Botanicals - Other powers: your Magic Allies

The Big Book of Practical Spells: Everyday Magic That Works - Judika Illes 2016

Whole Plants
Other powers: your Magic Allies

Essential oils and flower essences bestow a concentrated dose of plant energy. In many cases, however, you may want to work with the whole plant. You may find that if you wish to work with a particular plant, you're obligated to grow it yourself. This may be for a variety of reasons.

· Some plants are rare to an area. You may need to nurture some indoors or order from a specialist nursery.

· What you desire may not be marketable: the alchemists treasured fresh morning dew caught upon the leaves of lady's mantle. They called it “water from heaven” and prized it as an ingredient in many enchanted potions. If you want some (and you very well might; it's reputed to provide a beautiful complexion!), you'll have to grow it and gather it yourself.

· In some cases, it's best to have your own fresh stock of plants, to save on expense and safety. Your own roses are not only more powerful than the florists, but you'll save a small fortune and, as you place the petals in your bath, you also have the assurance of knowing no toxic pesticides and preservatives taint them and potentially you.

· In the case of root charms, often the only way to guarantee that you have the genuine article is to actually start with the whole plant. Too many commercial preparations purporting to include items like High John the Conqueror or Adam and Eve Root contain only petroleum products.

· Unfortunately, in a growing number of cases, the only way to access a power may be to grow your own, because there isn't any other source.

The decimation of the animal kingdom is well-known and well publicized, but humans have done no less damage to plants. A 1998 international study conducted by sixteen organizations, including the Smithsonian Institute, indicates that at least one out of every eight known plant species on Earth is now either threatened with extinction or nearly extinct.1


When you harvest plants, whether they are those you have nurtured or otherwise, it is customary to leave a token of your gratitude. Consider it payment for services rendered or a gesture of alliance: no healthy relationship is one-sided. At the very least, consider it demonstrating good manners. The traditional Native American offering is a pinch of tobacco. Other cultures suggest a little honey. English folk custom recommends oatmeal, while the ancient Romans offered bread and wine. A libation of pure water is always appropriate.


Solomon's Seal was once a very prominent magical plant, a favorite of ancient spell books and grimoires. No spells in which it features prominently are included here because there's no point. It's unlikely that you'll ever see it. Beth Root derives from another very endangered plant. Native to North America, aboriginal Americans prized it as a love potion. The root was boiled and then dropped into the desired man's food; upon consumption, he should have eyes only for his enchantress. Beth Root was heartily adopted into African-American occult traditions, where it went under the name Low John the Conqueror. Only a few decades ago, Low John was a common Hoodoo charm, used for preserving family peace and encouraging economic prosperity. You'll rarely find it marketed, because it can't be found in the wild anymore. If you want it, you'll have to grow it. The magic that you perform together can be especially potent because the very existence of your ally indicates to Earth your willingness to provide healing for her as well as to provide for your own desires. The best way to gain an ally is to be an ally.

In the past, wildcrafting, the process of collecting wild plants, has been the preferred method. Common metaphysical wisdom held that wild plants were considered to be at the peak of their powers. With the wilderness under siege and quickly disappearing, this is no longer true. Wildcrafting, with few exceptions, has become the equivalent of poaching. It is unethical to remove wild plants; from a magical perspective whatever power they possess may backfire on you. The best way to generate your personal power is to replenish Earth and nature, not continue to deplete it. The strongest, most powerful plant allies will be the ones you nourish and nurture. They will become familiar with you, your family, your needs and desires at the same time that you are providing for theirs. If you are unable to do so, try to find a nursery that will grow them for you.