For centuries, witches who understood the medicinal and magickal properties of plants served as village healers, concocting remedies for everything from burns to broken hearts. This ancient practice is known today as green witchcraft and is a popular form of magick. This particular version of the Craft focuses on both the biological components and the symbolic qualities of flowers, trees, and herbs.
According to green witchcraft, plants contain spirits. To work effectively with plants, witches communicate with them at a spiritual level, not just a physical one. Every plant is unique, with its own special energies and applications. Rowan, for instance, hung above a doorway protects your home from harm. Mugwort improves psychic awareness. Depending on the nature of the plant and the spell, botanicals are used in amulets and talismans, brews and potions, poultices and potpourris.
Philosophy and Practices
Green witches seek to establish an intimate connection with nature, especially the plants that feed, shelter, warm, and provide for human beings in countless ways. An appreciation of nature and the wonders of creation are part of the green witch's philosophy of life. She strives to work in partnership with her plants and Mother Earth. Her garden is organic, and her lifestyle respects the environment. Green witches consider every tree, herb, flower, leaf, blade of grass — yes, even weeds — sacred, filled with magickal potential.
To practice green magick you must first reconnect with nature. You can't honor something you don't feel an intimate connection with, and you certainly can't call on the energies of plant spirits without spending time with plants. For witches who live in the concrete jungle, this may present some challenges. But even in the heart of the city, you can find parks, botanical gardens, greenhouses, or garden centers where you can commune with plants.
If you choose to become a green witch, plants will play an important role in your life and have many applications. Here are some ways you might choose to work with the magickal properties of plants:
Watching plant behavior for omens and signs
Gathering loosened leaves and petals for magick potions
Using plant matter in amulets and talismans
Adding plant matter to incense and candles
Collecting and waxing plants for decorative touches in your Book of Shadows
Placing live plants in various parts of your home to encourage personal growth and well-being
Green witches do not assume that traditional correspondences for flora are necessarily correct. Instead, they trust in their intuition and personal awareness of the natural world to determine applications. For instance, garlic grown in a particularly wet season may show an energy signature that isn't as fiery as typical garlic. In fact, it may contain a balance of fire and water energy, which is ideal for healing.
The soil in which a plant grows, the amount of sunlight and water it receives, and other conditions affect the plant's magickal energy as well as its outward appearance. So do the thoughts you send to the plant, as Christopher Byrd and Peter Tompkins discovered while researching their bestselling book The Secret Life of Plants.
If you have a garden, you might want to keep a journal and list the growing conditions for each plant you intend to use magickally. This becomes your gardening grimoire. Of course, your grimoire will also contain information about the plant magick you do and the results you achieve.
You can also gain insight into a plant's magickal possibilities through meditation. Hold some plant matter — a seed, leaf, or flower — in the palm of your hand, close your eyes, and extend your psychic perception into the plant to intuit its applications. The images or sensations you receive are cues. For example, if the plant feels warm, it could be used to “warm” a cold heart.
Herbal Healing: An Ancient Tradition
Until World War II, herbal medicine predominated in many parts of the Western world (as it still does in most other regions). Today, herbalism is experiencing a revival in the United States and Europe as a natural alternative to potentially dangerous and expensive pharmaceuticals. Green witches, of course, have utilized the healing power of herbs for millennia.
Since the time of ancient Greece, dandelions were used in medicine. Dandelion juice rubbed on bug bites eases the itching; brewed in a broth and ingested, it soothes fevers. Dandelions are high in vitamins A, B, and C, and contain potassium.
Lore and legend contain a wealth of information — some superstition and some valid — about plant magick. In some cases, what once seemed purely magickal now can be explained scientifically. For example, early healers dressed wounds with mold, long before it was recognized as a source of penicillin.
Holistic physicians today tap the healing powers of plants in homeopathy, flower remedies, and aromatherapy as well as herbal medicine. Some of these modalities rely on a plant's energetic or spiritual body, rather than its physical substance, for healing. Flower remedies, initially developed by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s, contain the plant's vibrations, but no actual plant matter. Flowers are placed in water, then allowed to sit in sunshine so that the life force is infused into the water.
When a person ingests the water, the plant's energy promotes emotional, mental, and physical healing. Like other holistic healers, witches utilize the spiritual connection between humans and plants to cure ailments.