What is Garden Witchery? For some people, garden witchery conjures up images of lush, enchanted gardens where butterflies dance and children play. Wind chimes sing in the breeze and fountains trickle and splash. In this magickal place, the witch who lives there strolls about under sunny skies or dappled moonlight, garthering plants for her spellwork and for their fragrance. Fantasy? No. All of those things are possible in a city, suburban, or rural yard.
Suburban magickal gardens are a reality. You can do it. All it takes is hard work, determination and time. Let's add two more very important magickal ingredients to this mixture: you and your imagination.
Use yours for a moment to visit me in my magickal gardens. Just come as you are. How will you find me? I can usually be found working in the gardens, toting around a five-gallon bucket full of gardening supplies, I am typically crawling around on my hands and knees, attired in sturdy clothes and sunglasses with my "gardening" hat. It's more likely I'll either be planting or weeding in the gardens. I'm probably grubby and having a great time.
Sorry for the lack of mystique. There is no big drama here. I am a very down-to-earth gardener.
So you want to learn about magickal gardening? Let's first look at your hands (I'm not looking to see if you have a "Green Thumb"), I'm looking to see if you have strong, capable hands. You will also need to have an open and loving heart, and determination.
A garden witch is not unlike a kitchen witch in that they both practice a hearth and home type of magick. However, don't let that fool you into complacency. A kitchen wirtch or garden witch on their home turf is an awesome magickal force indeed.
Practicing a down-to-earth, practical style of witchcraft is both enjoyable and fulfilling. There is nothing wrong with raising your family and quietly living the natural magician's life. How do you imagine the wisewomen of old lived? It's a pretty safe bet that they practiced alone and discreeetly. (In the old days, it was safer that way).
Growing your own magickal plants and herbs and using them properly becomes a complex part of a major magickal working. It is true that working advanced magick requires more time, study and effort on your part. That time and effort you put out to elevate your skills is well spent. It separates the novice from the adept practitioner.
Magickal herbalism in itself is considered to be a major magick. Major magicks are defined as those that require a higher level of knowledge and expertise. It may take months before your plants are ready to harvest. Magickal herbs have their own energies and correspondences to be considered as well. It requires discipline, patience, and competence to use plant energies effectively. Think about it.
So many witches are in a rush to learn a new spell or a new technique that they often overlook the obvious. It's not the spells, it's about the magick. Your magick. each person is drawn to a specialty in magick, or a favorite type of magick, if you will--something that just clicks for them. For some of us, it's herbs and gardening.
If you had to assemble herbs for a healing spell and you wanted a lot of magickal oomph, what do you think would be most likely to deliver it? Some dried lavender that you ordered online? Who knows what sort of chemicals could have been sprayed on the plants? Or how old the herb is? Or how many people handled it?
Instead, consider some homegrown lavender or yarrow that you would have tended yourself. We'll take this a step further and add that you harvested in a correct phase of the moon that corresponded with the results you were trying to achieve. Astrological timing plays a large part in garden witchery. These magickal herbs and flowers that you've grown can be further enhanced by the correc tuse of astrological timing.
There is nothing quite like making -- or growing, for that matter -- a magickal tool yourself. As you know, a self-created magickal tool or object becomes twice as powerful from absorbing the energy that you expended in the making of the item. So the same can be said for cultivating your own magickal flowers and herbs. As you sow, raise, and then harvest your herbs and plants, your energy has seeped into the plant every time you touched it. Now all htat energy is waiting to be programmed or released.
Garden witches and natural magicians can be city dwellers working in community gardens as easly as suburban Pagans doing the "weekend warrior" thing in their backyards. The point is that you will be working in the garden, whether it's in pots and window boxes, on your balcony, in the backyard or on the farm. It doesn't matter where. It is the quality of the plants, not the quantity of them, that counts. Connecting with nature is our goal here. Sound good? Great? Roll up your sleeves and get ready to dig in.
Herbs and garden plants play a meaningful part in the folklore and tradition of every culture. Their arcane and phenomenal powers to heal the mind and body fascinate us and confirm humandkind's connection to the natural world. A garden is a place that encourages and lures people to unearth the magick, mystery, and unexpected surprises that nature will reveal to anyone who wants to take a closer look. the garden does and will talk back, teaching us about success as well as failure. What do you imagine you could learn if we were to settle down in the grass, be still, and listen to Nature as she teaches us? You would discover many secret things and learn a myriad of valuable lessons. That's a good place to start, just don't stop there.
Now, how much information do you suppose would be divined by getting out there and actually getting your hands dirty? As gardeners, be it magickal or mundane, we cultivate momre than just herbs and flowers. We are cultivating a sensitivity and appreciation for the environment. By tapping into the magick of the earth, you increase your abillities and strengthen your magickal expertise. To "walk with power" means that you move in tune with the powers of nature, the powers of the Earth itself. This is a very important step toward becoming a responsible and jubliant guardian of the Earth.
THE LEGACY OF THE WISEWOMEN
The history of herbalism begins at the dawn of time, when our earliest ancestors discovered that certain plants had a specific effect on their health and well-being. Other plants were found to comfort, had pleasant aromas, produced a colored dye, or were good to eat.
It is no surprise, then, that plants were thought to possess powers either for good or evil and then became objects of reverence and worship. The trees especially, as they lived for much longer than a single human's life span. Most of the plants that were considered magickal were used for medicine rather than for foodstuff.
As magick and faith, biologyand medicine, botany and philosophy all initially existed together rather than being thought of as separate sciences, rituals began around the harvesting and use of plants and herbs. To be the most effective they were picked at certain times of the year or prepared during specific cycles of the moon. The custodians of this knowledge were the first witches, the wisewomen.
The legacy of the wisewomen instills love and reverence for the Earth. From these lessons we learn the hidden meanings of the folk names of flowers and the legends of the trees, the uses of astrological timing, the portents of nature, and the creatures of the garden.
Traditionally, the witch was a solitary practitioner, a seer and the village wisewoman or cunning man. From their modest gardens they produced herbal amulets and charms for the common folk. Local practitioners birthed babies and cast their spells. They whispered herbal treatments to their clients and performed spells for love, healing, prosperity and an abundant harvest.
GOTHIC PLANTS AND THEIR MAGICKAL ALTERNATIVES
Historically, witch plants carry a sinister reputation, such as belladonna, foxglove, and deadly nightshade. Hemlock, monkshood, and the yew with its berries are all beautiful plants and all extremely toxic. Unfortunately, witches were often accused of being poisoners.
Who would grow such plants today? If you walk into your local nursery with a list of plants like that, they are going to get real suspicious.
Yes, many common plants and shrubs are poisonous. Some you may not even know or suspect,like azaleas, morning glories, and lily of the valley. If you have children or pets, I urge you to be cautious with your plantings. Do your homework.
Medieval gardens weren't that different from our magickal or mundane gardens of today. Remember that these were working gardens. They fed the family. Fruit trees provided the cherry, pear, plum and apple, favorite medieval fruits. Vegetables such as beets, radishes, beans, cabbage and carrots were cultivated.
Herbs such as angelica and lavender were planted for medicinal, aromatic, and seasoning values. Angelica is an archaic and highly aromatic herb that was believed to possess angelic powers and was once worn as an amulet for protection against evil spells. It has the astrological correspondence of the sun. Angelica stems and seeds were used as flavorings, and the stalks were candied and eaten. This plant was also utilized for its aromatic properties derived from its flowers and leaves, both for perfumes and potpourri. Magickally, you may draw upon the natural energy of angelica's blooms and leaves for healing and protection spells.
Lavender was cultivated not only for scent but for medicine. Its oil is a strong antiseptic with antibacterial properties. It was used to treat all manner of cuts, scrapes, infections, and colds. The scent of lavender has traditionally been employed to help ease headaches and to mask unpleasant odors. Lavender was and still is a popular flower for potpourri and cosmetics. Lavender has the planetary correspondence of Mercury, and it may be worked into any enchantments designed for love, happiness and peace.
The rose is a symbol of love and of secrets. Traditionally, a white rose has the ruling planet of the moon. A red rose belongs to Jupiter and a damask rose relates to Venus. In olden times, rose petals were used to treat a plethora of ailments. The petals were added to salads, crystallized and made into syrup, preserves and vinegars. The petals were added to soaps and cosmetics. Rose water was added for flavoring in sauces and sweet dishes. the oil was applied to chapped skin and, of course, for perfumes.
Other common varieties of medieval herbs were mullein, fennel, yarrow, mint, tansy, rosemary, parsley, sage, dill and thyme, all of which, I am happy to point out, are today used as magickal herbs. Some types of medieval flowers that were (and still are) popular include the iris, lily, poppy, peony, columbine, delphinium and the violet.
You know the violet, that great little flower that pops up in your lawn and flower beds in the spring? Unfortunately considered a weed today, the violet has the following magickal properties: love, happiness, and faery magick. The sweet violet is a herald of spring and a Venus plant. It has been cultivated for its perfume and color, and is added to cosmetics, drinks and syrups. To the ancient Greeks, it was a symbol of fertility. Among the more popular perfume scents used in Victorian England, the violet was venerated by the old herbalists, who all spoke with great affection for this beguiling little purplish-blue flower.
Today, you may gather violet booms, wash tehm gently, and toss them into salads. Or pat them dry, drip them into fine sugar, and freeze them. They may be used to decorate cakes, or you may put the fresh blossoms inside of ice cube trays. Fill them up with water and freeze for a fun way to accent cold drinks at a garden party. Violets are often a child's favorite flower and are worth saving a small section of your garden for.
Take another look at that listing of medieval herbs. Many types of medieval herbs are readily available today as improved modern varieites. So where do you find them? Try checking out a nursery or garden center. It is just that easy. MAGICKAL PLANTS ARE EVERYWHERE!