Long before the days of science, man was at a loss to explain the things of the earth. With no actual knowledge to guide them, men were forced to turn to mythical explanations of the various elements. To them the sun was a flowery chariot, thunder was the angry wrath of a certain god. Likewise the existence of various herbs, roots, shrubs and flowers were explained as the result of the activities of the various gods and goddesses.
As man grew in mental stature, other herbs and roots were discovered to have certain healing or medicinal values. Still later, men began to ascribe powers to the roots and herbs which were believed to be in direct proportion to their likeness to the various parts of the human body. This practice was known as the doctrine of signatures. The practice was widely followed during medieval times. Many of the discoveries made then are still in use today, not because of the resemblance of the herb to a part of the human body but because the herb men, quite by accident, found some rather valuable remedies.
Because of the earlier associations of herbs, roots and flowers with religious practices, the use of them for a practical purpose was needlessly retarded. Men considered it a sacrilege to put these plants to work for them as cures for their ills. Many plants could not be touched except by those delegated to handle them.
Those who have studied the history of herbs maintain that it is in reality a history of mankind. So interwoven with human activities are the histories of the various herbs that the changes in manís conception of nature are recorded in them. Proof of the ancientís use of herbs is contained in the Ebers Papyrus which is older than the Book of Exodus. Prescriptions listed in this ancient papyrus contain more than a dozen common herbs used extensively at that time, 1500 B.C. Hippocrates used more than four hundred herbs in his practice of medicine.
Many of the early herb formulae were guarded secrets and could be purchased only by extremely wealthy persons. Some contained as many as a hundred different ingredients. Knowledge of the use of herbs for all sorts of purposes was spread from one country to another by explorers, voyagers and armies. From the East the knowledge was taken to the Moors, thence to Spain and Portugal. From these countries the knowledge spread north to France, Switzerland, Britain and other countries. Each country added to the original knowledge until the complete use of herbs and roots was a complicated and highly specialized practice.
With this rich background of use through the centuries, is it any wonder that in many parts of the world the use of roots and herbs is still prevalent? Is it any wonder that some persons still ascribe to these plants a power which they cannot possibly possess? Herbs were extensively used during the period when Black Magic was practiced. Without them, it is claimed, Black Magic could not have flourished. The concoctions which were used were each supposed to bring about a definite result. Monkshood was used to produce fever; Nightshade was said to make the eater see ghosts; Black Hellebore disturbed the nervous system and caused swellings; Eyebright brought on rheumatism; Henbane caused convulsions. One had but to pay a price to bring these misfortunes upon his enemies. Whether the herbs actually caused the conditions for which they were sold history does not tell us.
Flowers were generally associated with sunshine and fairies. Their origins were attributed to finer, more pleasant happenings. The Cowslip was said to be the key to heaven, Anemone was a fairy shelter. For this reason flowers became the symbols with which witches and evil spirits were frequently driven away or held in check.
It It is impossible to give a complete list of all the herbs, roots, flowers, shrubs and trees which have held an important place in the lives of men through the centuries. To do so would require many volumes. Instead we will note those which were considered most important and which were generally used. Also we will list many of those which are still in use in various parts of the world.
PREPARING HERBAL TEAS
INFUSION: Is a term for an herb tea designed for a purpose. Teas are commonly made by pouring hot water over the leaves or flowers, 2 cups of water to one cup of herbs, let it stand for 15 minutes, and if you want to drink it you can add honey. If using it to sprinkle, just sprinkle.
DECOTION: When making a tea with roots, barks, or stems, these are the hard parts of the herbs, they must be boiled. You can either tie them in a clean cloth or just put them in the water. Put the roots in the water before putting the water to boil, after the water starts to boil, add the leaves, leave set for 10 minutes.
When you are finished with the leaves and stems, sprinkle them around your property, for good luck, do not throw them away.
PREPARING HERBAL BATHS
Baths are often used in herbal magic. Fresh herbs are hard to find, so you can use dried herbs, unless you are growing your own. Bathing allows the practitioner a simple way to maximize the success of the ritual by spreading the herb's power over the entire body.
1. Use the leg of a panty hose, or even better use both legs, put one leg inside the other. Then put the herbs inside the panty hose and let it hang in warm bath water. Allow the herbs to soak 15-20 minutes and your bath is ready. Squeeze the stocking several times to release the ingredients. When you enter the tub, swish the stocking around the water and rub it over your body. If you desire bubbles or suds in your bath, you may add soap to your mixture.
When you remove the hose from the tub, put it in a wide mouth jar and add more water to the jar and leave it soak over night. The following day, just pour the water into the bath, if using a shower pour the water over your head, after you have soaped and rinsed off.
1A. If you are going to take a shower, put the herbs in a container and pour hot water over them, leave them soak for about 15 minutes, strain and pour the mixture over your head in the shower, do not rinse off.
Another method of preparation...
BOILING: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, when the water starts to boil, add the herbs to the water, remove from the heat cover and leave sit for 15 minutes, strain and use a pint of the tea, either in bath water or pour over your head. Heating releases the herbs natural essences.
Some rituals require you to rub your body with the herbs. Do this after you have taken a bath, make sure none of the herbs will scratch you.
BURNING HERBS AS INCENSE
To create a certain vibration or energy in a particular location, be it your business, your home, your bedroom or a ritual room, many rituals call for the use of an herb as an incense. The best way to perform this type of ritual is with the use of quick lighting charcoal. One of the best known on the market today is made by "Three Kings Company" and is commonly available in any occult supply store. Make sure you do not burn charcoal in a glass container or in a flat metal container that will rest on the table, the coals become very hot. Place your coals in a vessel that will not have to be moved, or in a properly designed burner that will allow you to move it without burning yourself.
To prepare your herbs for use with charcoal, it is best that you grind them into flake or powder form and sprinkle it over previously lit coals every few minute during your ritual. You can also add anointing oils to your mixture, the purer the oil the better the scent. Do not be alarmed by an unpleasant scent as you burn herbs, the important result is the vibration produced by the herb. Later in the book we have included recipes for preparing some of the most commonly used incenses.