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Herb of the Month – Basil

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When the summer heat is in full swing and I want something cool and wonderful for dinner I think of such things as Caprese Salads, Pesto Chicken, and a light marinara sauce. Magickally, I am looking to spice things up and bring in some added prosperity and good fortune. What do all of these things have in common? Our Herb of the Month – Basil.

Basil Plant (Photo from Pixabay)

Basil has long been associated with Witchcraft, hence the name “Witches Herb.” This versatile herb can be for any magickal purpose from increasing wealth, calming quarrels, to bringing the user love and harmony.

In Witchcraft, as well as cooking, Basil is used both fresh and dried. Stir it clockwise in soups, stews, and sauces to bring prosperity and good fortune. Place counterclockwise on your Caprese salad to dispel gossip and quarrels.

Latin Name: Ocimum Basilicu

Family: Lamiaceae

Folk Names: Albahaca, American Dittany, “Our Herb,” St. Joseph’s Wort, Sweet Basil, Witches Herb

Energy: Masculine

Elements: Air, Fire

Planet(s): Mars

Astrological Signs: Aries, Scorpio

Deities: Ares, Eleggua, Erzulie, Hemphu, Krishna, Lakshmi, Vishnu, Yemaya

Growing and Harvesting Basil

Basil is easy to grow, but it does like it’s soil toasty -don’t plant before the soil is 50 degrees, 70 is even better-making it perfect for warmer climates. Heat gives your Basil the start it needs, so plant your basil when the nights have warmed up as well. Without the heat, your basil will not flourish.

Basil prefers its “feet” a bit moist so well-draining soil is a must. Basil grows well in a greenhouse or even indoors with the proper light. It doesn’t require much fertilizer while growing, but a good starter fertilizer will give basil the boost it needs to thrive.

Plants can get quite large, reaching up to 24″ if you let them. However careful pruning and harvesting of the plants at around 8″ keeps your plants healthier, allowing them to bush more and send more energy to the leaves instead of the stalks.

One or two plants is usually sufficient for the average household. If you are like me and freeze and/or dry my basil in bulk I would suggest at least 5 plants.

Harvest your basil early in the morning by pinching off a few leaves on each plant. Your basil leaves will taste best before the plant flowers – flowering can make the leaves bitter. If you see flowers forming at the top of your plants, pinch or snip them off as soon as possible.

Magickal Uses of Basil:

Parts Used: Whole herb, leaves

  • Abundance
  • Astral Projection (flying)
  • Business
  • Dispel gossip
  • Divination
  • Exorcism
  • Happiness
  • Harmony
  • Love
  • Money
  • Peace
  • Protection
  • Safe Travel
  • Wealth

Ways to use Basil Magickally

  • Take dried basil and tie it in a drawstring bag with some pennies to draw luck to your money and business matters.
  • Plant basil near the threshold of your home to repel negative entities and welcome friendly spirits.
  • Take a bath with Basil before attempting astral projection to aid you in your journey.
  • Simmer cut lemon and fresh basil in water. When cooled and added to a spray bottle, it can be used to clean sacred objects, candles, altars, spaces, the work environment, etc.
  • To use for exorcism: Mix basil, rue, hyssop and myrrh and grind to a powder. Burn over a charcoal making sure you fumigated every corner of your home.
  • Giving a basil plant to a newly married couple is thought to ensure that their marriage status sweet and prosperous.
  • Use the essential oil in aromatherapy to dispel or banish sadness or depression.
  • Hang the leaves from your windshield or anoint yourself, an amulet, or your car to keep yourself safe during travel.

Culinary Uses for Basil

Image by Conger Design from Pixabay

Basil is a versatile herb. It can be used fresh, dried, chopped, and crushed. It adds zip to your pasta sauces, brightness to your salads, and its mildly spicy taste can be blended into butter for the perfect summer spread.

Your culinary adventure can start by preserving your basil harvest by drying the leaves in a dehydrator or on drying racks. You can also use a food processor to finely chop the fresh leaves and freeze in ice cube trays for fresh basil any time. Another great preserving idea is to create an infused vinegar or oil for use in cooking. Take fresh basil leaves, slightly crushed, place in a mason jar and cover with either white wine vinegar or olive oil. Allow the basil to sit in the vinegar or oil for a week or two, shaking once daily. Then strain the basil out of the liquid and place the liquid in a clean, decorative container or back into the mason jar. Both infusions will keep up to a year when kept out of direct sunlight and excessive heat.

Of course, we can’t talk about basil without bringing up pesto. Basil, in my opinion, makes the best pesto. Add whole basil leaves to a food processor, filling it to the top, and then pulse lightly. Add in some fresh minced garlic and drizzle in some olive oil. Pulse again and continue to drizzle in olive oil until you get the consistency you desire. You can add pine nuts or walnuts to the finished pesto to give it some added mouth feel.

Medicinal Uses of Basil

Note: The information noted in this blog post is intended solely for the general information for the reader. The contents of this post are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems, nor is it for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications or before using and herbs or herbal supplements.

Medicinal Properties:

  • Alterative
  • Antipyretic
  • Carminative
  • Diuretic
  • Nervine
  • Stimulant

Used primarily in a tea, Basil has a long history of aiding such ailments as stomach spasms, loss of appetite, intestinal gas, kidney conditions, fluid retention, head colds, warts, and worm infections. It works well to ease constipation and lessen anxiety symptoms.

Basil is full of antioxidants, so including it in your diet will aid with the elimination of free radicals from your body. Basil, according to a 2019 study, may help to reduce high blood sugar levels.

Another type of basil is tulsi, or holy basil (Ocimum santum). This plant plays a therapeutic role in Tamil and Ayurvedic medicines, which are predominantly practiced in Southeast Asia. This is different from sweet basil we use most often in cooking. Tulsi has amazing medicinal and therapeutic qualities – too many to mention in this article.

Amazing Basil

I hope you’ve enjoyed our adventure with our Herb of the Month – Basil. May this post inspire you to try your hand at growing this amazing plant yourself.

Blessings!

Sources: The Way of Herbs, Tierra, Michael, Pocket Books 1998

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New Class – Making Magick with Culinary Herbs

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Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. We’ve all used them for cooking, but did you know you can use them for magick as well?

Welcome to Making Magick with Culinary Herbs! This fun, hands-on class will provide you with information on 9 culinary herbs, their magickal properties, uses, as well as a bit of history and lore. We will then go on to create one of three (your choice) charm/spell bags using these wonderful herbs.

Class will be held on:

June 12, 2022, 1 pm

June 16, 2022, 6:30 pm

at the Triune Moon studio – 51636 Huntington Rd Ste 2, La Pine, Oregon

Price is $20 per person and includes a detailed handout and all herbs, etc. for the hands-on portion.

Click on the link below to reserve your spot!

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(Image by Steve Buisinne from Pixabay)

Note: This class will be available for purchase online early in July.

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The Witches Garden: Part One – Planning

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Basket in hand she slowly walks down the cobbled pathway of her witches garden. Her bare feet make not a sound as she wends her way through herbs and flowers. Humming a happy tune, she looks right and then left, studying the plants that line the path. Adjusting her broad-brimmed hat she peers down at a lush green Mugwort plant. Reaching into her basket she pulls out a sharp, white handled knife. Skillfully, she makes several cuts to the plant stems and then places the cuttings into her basket. Bowing her head towards the Mugwort, she thanks it for its sacrifice. She pulls an offering of fertilizer out of the voluminous pocket of her garden apron. Sprinkling it around the plant she bows again in thanks. Smiling, she turns and continues down the path, scanning her charges to see who else may be ready for harvest.

This is a glimpse of the iconic Witches Garden, a garden that seems a dream to the majority of us. However, a witches garden doesn’t need to be located on a huge plot of land or even in a country setting. Your garden can be on a balcony in the city, a patio in an urban area, or in raised beds in your suburban back yard.

Planning Your Witches Garden

In this the first installment of The Witches Garden, we will discuss how to plan and create your own magickal oasis no matter where that may be. To begin, let’s discuss the types of plants you may wish to include. Please note: When in doubt about a plant and its ability to grow in your area, check with your professionals at your local garden center.

In order to decide what I would like to add into my witches garden I think of the herbs and flowers that I use most in my magick. For me these include:

  • Alyssum
  • Calendula
  • Dill
  • Lavender
  • Mugwort
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

Next, I will make a list of culinary herbs that double as magickal herbs as well. My favorites are:

  • Basil
  • Bay
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Savory
  • Thyme

Already we have quite an extensive list going. If you have limited space you may have to pare your list down to accommodate the planting area.

Using both containers and raised beds in the garden.

Next, check to make sure that a) the plant will grow in your area; b) if the plant will grow best in containers and/or in the ground and; c) how much sun each plant requires during the day (Full sun, part sun/part shade, full shade). You will have to spend some time watching your intended garden plot to see when the sun hits each area. Full sun plants require 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Part sun/part shade plants will need 3 to 6 hours of sun. Full shade plants will require less than 3 hours of sun per day. Plan accordingly!

Once you have determined which plants will grow in your area, the proper amount of sun required, and how they need to be planted, we can move on to the next step. Here, we determine whether or not we are going to purchase our plants ready to transplant or if we will start them from seed.

Giving Your Witches Garden a Good Start

Making the decision to begin your garden with transplants or seeds depends on a few factors: 1) Cost- Plants at the nursery tend to be more expensive than starting plants from seeds; 2) Some plants like Tarragon, cannot be started from seeds. A quick Google search can show you how best to start your plants, and; 3) The amount of time you are willing to invest in starting your garden – Starting from seeds takes considerably more time.

Personally, I like to use a combination. I tend to start with purchased plants for my tomatoes and other veggies because I tend to have better luck than I do starting them from seed. Most of my herbs and flowers are all started from seeds, bought from my favorite on-line vendors.

I would suggest using organic seeds and plants, especially if you are going to be harvesting them for food or medicinal purposes. While I prefer that my magickal plants be organic as well, they are not always easy to find. Rule of thumb – if you are ingesting it, keep it organic. Otherwise standard plants or seeds will work.

Making Your Witches Garden a Success

Our planning is nearly complete. All that remains is laying out our Witches Garden. Take a few minutes to sketch out the area that you have available (you don’t need to be an artist to do this – Goddess knows I’m not). Take notes as to the amount of sun in the area and whether or not the plants are going into the ground or containers. Jot down the square footage (see here for instructions on how to determine this measurement), for either the in-ground or container area. Once you know how much space is available you will have an idea of how many plants you can grow and/or how many containers (pots, raised beds), you can place in your new garden area.

Careful planning of your garden may seem like an awful lot of effort, but the time you take now will determine how successful of a start all of your plants will have. As in all of Witchcraft and magick, prep is key! Take the time to get things organized and started right and I believe, green thumb or no, you will have a successful garden that you can take pride in. Happy Planning!

Next Week: The Witches Garden: Part Two – Planting

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Dill- Herb of the Month

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Dill is a semi-hardy annual with erect, freely branching annual herb with finely dissected, lacy, blue-green foliage. Dill is best known for its use in the making of pickles but can be used both as a culinary and medicinal herb. Magickly, Dill – our herb of the month, is a powerful and potent plant ally.

Dill – Our Herb of Month

Plant: Dill

Latin Name: Anethum graveolens

Family:  Apeacia (a member of the parsley family)

Folk/Secret Names: Dilly, Dill Weed, Garden Dill, Meeting House Seed, Hairs of a Hamadryas Baboon, Semen of Hermes

Gender: Masculine

Elements: Fire

Planet: Mercury

Astrological Signs: Gemini

Deities: Anubis, Hermes, Janus, Khensu, Mercury

Magickal Uses of Dill

Parts Used: Leaves, flowers, and seeds

  • Attracting Money – Place dill seeds and leaves in a spell bag then place in your wallet or purse to attract money.
  • Attracting Romance – Add dill seed to a sachet and hang it on your showerhead or place in a bath to make you irresistible to your lover.
  • Breaking Jinxes (leaves)
  • Dispelling bad dreams – create a sachet and place under your bed or pillow.
  • Emotional and Mental Balance
  • Good Fortune in Court (seeds)
  • Good Fortune in love affairs (seeds)
  • Love
  • Luck
  • Lust
  • Protection -Hang dill in doorways to promote protection. Place a sprig of dill in a child’s crib for safety and peaceful sleep.

Substitutions: You can substitute Fennel in your spell work if you are out of Dill as it has similar correspondences.

Growing Dill

Dill, our herb of the month, does not transplant well, so sowing the seeds is recommended. Plant 12 to 15 inches apart in a weed-free, semi-rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soil in a sheltered sunny position. It takes well to pots and containers, just be sure that they drain well.

Plants may grow to 2 or 3 feet in height. Pinch off the flowers if you wish to increase the leaf production.

As soon as the plant has four to five leaves, you can start harvesting. Pinch off the leaves or cut them off with scissors.

Leaves can be used fresh or dried. Dry your harvested leaves by either hanging them upside down in bunches or spread on a mesh screen or muslin. Place in a warm – not hot – area out of the direct sunlight.  You may also dry in a dehydrator.

When growing for the seed try growing more than one plant, one or two for the leaves and one or two for the seed. Do not plant Dill next to Fennel as the plants will cross-pollinate. Keep them away from Carrot as well as the carrots will not grow well with Dill around.

Dill seeds in the late summer or early autumn. Flower can take up to 25 days for the seeds to germinate. The seeds should be collected when they are light brown and fully formed. Place a paper bag over the seed heads and cut, leaving a bit of the stem sticking out of the bag.  Tie the stems together and hang to dry for a 10 to 15 days. You will know that they are ready when you shake the bag and you hear the seeds fall.

Warning:  Mature dill seeds are toxic to birds! Harvest all seeds before they drop.

Culinary Uses of Dill

Dill Seeds

Add Dill – our Herb of the Month – to potatoes for a tangy treat.

Create a Dill infused vinegar for use on salads by adding Dill to white wine vinegar and infuse for 2 weeks.

Add some dill to scrambled eggs, omelets and frittatas for some zest.

A pinch of dill creamed into butter with some added garlic makes a great spread for toast, bread and biscuits.

Let’s not forget the pickles! Dill – our Herb of the Month- is essential in making a crisp and crunchy dill pickle.  Check out this great dill pickle recipe here

Medicinal Uses of Dill

The information provided below is for educational purposes only and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. More information on these disclaimers can be found here.

  • Antimicrobial
  • Bacteriostatic
  • Carminative
  • Digestive aid
  • Flatulence reducer
  • Helps to soothe colic in infants
  • Sleep Aid
  • Soothes a gassy stomach
  • Stimulant
  • Stress reliever
  • Dill helps relieve flatulence and a gassy stomach when taken as a tea or by chewing the seeds.
  • Use Dill to assist in relieving infant colic.
  • German health authorities have approved dill as a treatment for intestinal complaints related to bacteria.
  • Chew on the seeds of the Dill plant to dispel bad breath (Halitosis)
  • Taken as “dillwater” it aids in promoting the secretion of milk and, when taken regularly by nursing mothers, is said to help avoid colic in their babies.

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Tarragon – Herb of the Month

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Tarragon is a perennial plant with long, light green leaves. It is not a plant that is normally found in the American garden as it is used sparsely for culinary purposed here. However, tarragon, our herb of the month, is a must have for every magickal herb cabinet.

Plant: Tarragon, French Tarragon

Latin Name: Artemisia dracunculus, Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa

Folk Names: Estragon, Little Dragon, Dragon’s Herb, Dragon’s Mugwort,Wyrmwort

French Tarragon
Ready for Harvest

Gender: Feminine

Elements: Fire

Planet: Mars

Astrological Signs: Aries

Deities: Artemis, Venus

Magickal Uses of Tarragon:

Parts Used: Leaves – fresh or dried

  • Detoxification
  • Protection
  • Banish Negative Energies
  • Exorcism
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Keeping secrets
  • Sprinkling tarragon upon the windowsills and doorways is said to protect the home from thieves.
  • Often used by Hedge Witches for its soothing and calming effects.
  • Cultivates warmth and feelings of comfort
  • Used as a “fixing herb” in hoodoo and voodoo.
  • Attract Love
  • Luck
  • Aids in personal growth
  • To Elicit desire

Substitutions: Anise can be substituted for tarragon in most spells and vise versa.

Growing Tarragon

Grow Tarragon in your Witches Garden to have fresh herbs in your magickal herbal cabinet.

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Tarragon, our herb of the month, cannot be started from seeds, only cuttings. Transplant Tarragon in the early spring.  Plant your cuttings in well-drained soil about 2 – 3 feet apart in a sunny area. Tarragon does not care for wet conditions as this may cause the plant to become straggly and die off.

Plants may grow to 2 or 3 feet in height. Prune your plant regularly to prevent flowers and to keep at a height of about 2 feet as any taller and the plant tends to droop.  Every 3 or 4 years divide up your plant in the spring or fall, freeing up space to keep the plant healthy.

In the fall remove any leaves and debris that falls on the plant as it will kill the foliage. Tarragon will die back to the ground during the winter months but will reemerge quickly in the spring.

Culinary Uses

Fresh cut Tarragon leaves

The French Tarragon variety is the plant most used in cooking.  Tarragon adds flavor to eggs, fish, cheese and poultry.  It is a main ingredient in French Bernaise sauce for Eggs Benedict. Tarragon butter can be used over green beans, asparagus, peas, carrots. Add tarragon to mayonnaise to serve with cold seafood or fish.

Create a Tarragon infused vinegar for use on salads by adding tarragon to white wine vinegar and infuse for 2 weeks.

Medicinal Uses

The information provided below is for educational purposes only and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Additional information

  • Antiseptic
  • Mild anesthetic
  • Emmenagogue
  • Laxative (in large amounts)
  • Cardioprotective
  • Anti-hyperglycaemic
  • Tarragon stimulates the digestive system and also enhances appetite. It helps regulate metabolism by promoting the secretion of digestive juices and activates the co-enzymes that assist digestion.
  • Tarragon herb helps relieve flatulence, constipation, hiccups and dyspepsia.
  • Tarragon is a rich source of Vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system of the body. It helps prevent strain on the immune system, preventing a variety of infections and ailments.
  • Another health benefit of tarragon is its ability to cure oral problems like loosening of teeth, cavities and fragility of gums.
  • Chew Tarragon to relieve the pain of toothache and sore gums.
  • A fine paste made of fresh Tarragon leaves placed on abrasions, ulcers, boils and cuts will assist in preventing infection and facilitate the quick healing of the wound.
  • A handful of fresh tarragon leaves placed into a pot of boiling water will create a fragrant and healing vapor. Place your face carefully over the pot and inhale the fumes to clear sinuses, relieve headaches and migraine pain.
  • Warnings: Do not consume Tarragon while pregnant as it may be harmful in large quantities and to avoid risk of complications and accidental abortions.

Notes: Tarragon is a member of the Asteraceae family. If you are sensitive or allergic to other plants in this family such as ragweed, daisy or marigold you should take caution when adding tarragon to your diet either as a culinary herb or medicinally.