Tag: herbs

Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac Cookbook

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Herbs, photo by En BoutonLlewellyn's Herbal Almanac CookbookLlewellyn's Herbal Almanac Cookbook: A Collection of the Best Culinary Articles and Recipes Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-4563-3, 358 pp., 2015For the first time this spring, I gave in to a long-held hankering to plant an herb garden. A gardening newbie, I was assisted by a knowledgeable neighbour who appeared out of nowhere bearing pots of young basil, sage, thyme, tarragon and parsley. They say parsley goes seven times to the devil before it germinates and grows; mine decided to stay with him. Oh, well. The other herbs are doing fabulously, with very little effort on my part.So when the Herbal Almanac Cookbook showed up on the review list, I had to have it. It's a compendium of the best cooking-with-herbs articles from Llewelyn's Herbal Almanac, and features writers Susun Weed, Dallas Jennifer Cobb, James Kambos, Magenta Griffith, Nancy Bennett and others. Their articles discuss such topics as edible weeds and flowers; cooking with magical intent; home beer brewing; making herbal wines, liqueurs and herbal syrups; using herbs with soy and tofu; and adding herbs to all courses of a meal to enhance flavour and nutritional content. Read More

Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook, by Karen Harrison

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Herbal Alchemist's Handbook, by Karen HarrisonThe Herbal Alchemist's Handbook, by Karen HarrisonThe Herbal Alchemist's Handbook: A Grimoire of Philtres, Elixirs, Oils, Incense, and Formulas for Ritual Use, by Karen Harrison Weiser, 9781578634910, 239pp., 2011In this book, we explore Herbal Alchemy as practiced in the West, through the uses of the plants and their Planetary signatures as developed by the 14th century philosopher and Alchemist Paracelsus.A book on this topic couldn’t start with a more hopeful introduction. After a brief description of alchemy in different forms (lead to gold, internal alchemy, alchemy as a path to the divine), the author states this as her purpose for the book. While it sounds good, this is the beginning of my problems with the book: her use of the terms "alchemy" and "alchemist." Read More

Review: Herbal Magick, by Gerina Dunwich

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Herbal Magick: A Witch’s Guide to Herbal Folklore and Enchantments, by Gerina Dunwich
New Page Books, 1564145751, 2002

Herbal magick is not an area I had paid a lot of attention to until about a year ago. Being friends with a well-trained herbalist, I had come to rely on her when I needed guidance (I still do to a large degree). When my health and the health of my wife began to deteriorate, however, I became more aware of the subject. I still called upon my fiend for the mundane use of herbs, but I began to look into the magickal aspects of herbs.

This book is not an herbal. It is designed primarily as a reference work, so don’t go into it expecting to be entertained and regaled with anecdotes. The entire second half of the book serves as a reference work. This alone would be worth the price of the book.

Ms. Dunwich is coming from the standpoint of a traditional Witch, with none of the vacillation of many who claim only to be Wiccan, and hence incapable of knowing (or using) the darker knowledge which has been part of the Craft for so long.

Just to make sure you don’t miss the occasional warnings about toxicity and other potential problems, Ms. Dunwich uses boldface. She is very aware of, and makes the reader aware of, the potential “nasty” uses of some of the herbs she includes in this book. While not advocating their use, she does not deny their potential for mischief, thus placing the burden of their use squarely where it belongs – on the shoulders of her readers. By placing the warnings prominently in the text, as opposed to buried in footnotes or appendices, she assures herself that no one can later claim, “Oh, I didn’t see the warning. I didn’t know that herb was potentially dangerous.”

Ms. Dunwich is clear in his distinction between religions (which she, properly, capitalizes) and magickal practices (which she does not). While not a major point, and totally unrelated to the subject of the book, it is one that marks, in my opinion, a decently educated writer.

She lists basic dream interpretations, elemental correspondences, and correspondences to deities and planetary rulership. She tells you where you can purchase herbs for your own work. She also has a basic list of deities from many traditions and pantheons.

Her Appendix lists herbal references for many of the days of the year.

This book should, in my opinion, find a place in every aspiring herbalist’s bookshelf. It would also fit into most other Pagan’s reading list and bookshelves. The writing is crisp, the style is entertaining, and the overall impression I carried away from the book was one of having spent a pleasant time talking with an old friend, and learning more than I had expected to when I started out.