The Green Wiccan Herbal, by SiljaThe Green Wiccan Herbal, by SiljaThe Green Wiccan Herbal: 50 Magical Herbs, Spells, and Witchy Rituals, by Silja
Cico Books, 9781906525873, 160 pp., 2009

The Green Wiccan Herbal offers an overview guide for growing and gathering herbs in accordance with the phases of the moon and performing spell-work with them. It focuses on 52 “major magical herbs,” and shares their associated planets and deities, reference book style, as well as uncomplicated spells in recipe-card format. Spells come from the author, Silja‘s, personal book of shadows.

Spells are divided into prosperity, love, home and work, protection, health, and wisdom, inner peace and meditation. They are all beginner-friendly, with few ingredients and only a paragraph for the actual spell instruction. Readers can expect to perform simple rituals like making charm bags, herb bundles, knot-tying, and candle magick. The majority of included herbs, like cardamom, parsley, peppermint, etc. can be easily found in a grocery or bulk food store. For city or rural-dwellers, garden or no garden, this book is user-friendly and practical.

It’s well-suited for beginners or those only interested in basic kitchen witchery. A good portion of the intro chapters focus on how and why magick works and how herbs have been used throughout history, from the story of Gilgamesh to Greek myths. It also includes many non-magical herb recipes like pet sprays and body remedies. It won’t challenge advanced magical practitioners, but will give those wanting to add a subtle magical dimension to their cooking and home life what they need.

My favourite part of this book is that the author devotes the entire final chapter to writing your own spells. It highlights the fact that this act can be, in and of itself, part of the magick. It’s also a reminder that while a practitioner can share a recipe and technique, and maybe offer some tips, in most cases, the written word alone can’t fully instruct the act (art!) of manifesting. Pointing a reader to the act of writing their own spells offers direction for really making a spell personal.

It’s been my experience that the better I understand my intention, and the more firmly and completely I believe in its rightness of coming into being, the more luck I have with actually manifesting it; no matter what kind of ritual I do to honour my desire or release it. Writing, for me, has always been a key tool for crystalizing my intentions and owning them. It invites so much more consideration, so I’m glad that is addressed here.

Silja writes:

When writing your own spells, first you need to consider if you really need a spell. Sometimes, performing magic seems the easy option, compared to working hard and looking into the non-magical way of getting the result you want. But while it may be tempting to choose the time-saving magic spell over a night spent studying, magic actually takes a lot of time to prepare properly, including a spiritual and mental energy.1

When it comes to magick — whatever that may mean to you, it’s a personal and complex concept — I believe that Silja’s thought is right: we’re bound to get out of it what we put in. For those wanting to take this point seriously, she includes a magical ink recipe (vodka, coffee grounds, cinnamon, cloves, camphor seed), and final tips for checking your motives before doing spellwork.

This magical ink recipe reminded me of an invisible ink formula I’d tried out in elementary school, from a book I’d gotten at the school book fair, about “how to be a private detective.” I was obsessed with this idea at the time, so I was excited to try the recipe. I made it and wrote notes in the lemon juice-water as the book suggested, but was generally disappointed with the outcome. It was slightly brown on the paper when I shone a light on it. I’d been hoping for much brighter and bolder, at the time.

Trying Silja’s recipe was similar in practice to that experience, and if my memory serves, the outcome was more or less the same (though I must say that I didn’t include the camphor seed in this one). This time around, though, writing with my homemade ink felt satisfying. It felt like an exercise in mindfulness and reinforcing my own intention with the simple, earthly resources I have. It definitely helped me feel connected to the moment and to my intentions.

While I haven’t actually written any of my own spells in the ink yet, I’ll be fully prepared to do so when the time comes. And I’m curious to try it. It might even inspire me to start a book of shadows. Also included in this section on writing spells are pointers for keeping track of them and monitoring their progress, whether you prefer to keep a print or electronic book of shadows.

Beautifully visual and invitingly written, The Green Wiccan Herbal by Silja would make a beautiful gift for an earthy soul’s kitchen.

  1. p. 146 []