January 7, 2023

Get Your Green Witch On! – Working With Herbs


Herbs have held a crucial role in the health and wellbeing of humanity since time immemorial. They are woven into our traditions, mythologies, and sacred texts, and for some are still an important part of everyday life.
It is believed humans learned about healing herbs from observing animals, and what they ate when they were ill. Whereas our ancestors only had experimental knowledge, today we have scientific proof to back up the findings from ancient writings dating all the way back to Sumeria, Greece and China.
The tea cabinet is the most common source of calming herbal blends in most homes. However, incenses can be just as significant in achieving mental, emotional, and physical effects of calm, focus, even cheer.

Why it is best to grow your own herbs (if you can)

As plants grow, they adapt to the energy of the area, and the energy of the grower. When using plants for magical or spiritual purposes, it is typically beneficial to know the energetic conditions in which the plant was grown. Plants react to negative energy and carry it within their cells. Classroom experiments have shown just speaking negatively to plants over time causes them to wither away.

Growing your own plants and herbs in a nurturing and loving environment adds to their energetic purity. Plus, they add to our own! Having live plants in and around the home positively affects mental health, and it is always good to know the materials used for personal use are sourced ethically.
Of course, this will not always be possible, as not every plant can grow in every environment. You can always cleanse your store-bought herbs with sound, Reiki, prayer, or your method of preference.

Creating Incense

Herbal incense differs from stick or cone incense, in that stick/cone incense will burn slowly over a period of time. Herbal incense blends need to be placed on a lit charcoal disk (not barbecue charcoal!) and will burn very quickly. A typical 1” charcoal disk will burn for about 30-45 minutes, so unless you plan to burn a LOT of herbal incense, you only need 1/2-1/4 of one disk. You will want to place the charcoal disk on a layer of sand or dirt, in a heatproof dish. Please closely follow the directions of burning charcoal disks. Safety first! Once the charcoal is lit, a pinch of herbal incense is placed on top.

When herbs and woods are burned as incense, they release different components into the air, from antiseptic and antibacterial particles, negative ions that help bind pollutants, and aromas that affect the limbic system causing changes in heart rate, blood pressure, even hormone balance. The smoke from burning herbs or incense can be harmful for people with respiratory issues, so please burn with care!
Plant material used for making herbal incense should be dried first to ensure proper burning. The easiest way to dry herbs is in the oven. Lay a single layer of plant material on a cookie sheet, and bake for about an hour at 100*F.
It’s important to bear in mind that not all plants and herbs make good incense. So, which ones are best? Options are limitless, but a good rule of thumb is, if you would not eat it, do not inhale it. With the help of Arin Murphy-Hiscock (The Green Witch- Your Complete Guide to The Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More) and Paul Beyerl (The Master Book of Herbalism), I have narrowed down the list to help get you started on crafting your own herbal incense. The following are herbs and plants (and their magical properties) commonly found in the spice or tea cabinet, on the windowsill, or in the grocery store.

Allspice– prosperity, luck, healing, purification, protection, money
Anise – psychic abilities, lust, luck, purification, love
Basil – love, trust, abundance, prosperity, courage, discipline, protection, marriage, purification, luck, metal abilities

Bay – protection, purification, endurance, fidelity, psychic powers, divination, wisdom, strength
Cedar – healing, purification, protection, prosperity
Chamomile – purification, healing, soothes anxiety, gently heals bad luck, soothes children
Cinnamon – healing, love, lust, success, purification, protection, money, psychic awareness
Clove – protection, mental abilities, attraction, purification, comfort
Coriander – healing, love, lust
Eucalyptus – protection, healing
Geranium – love, healing, protection, fertility
Ginger – healing, love, money, energy
Hibiscus – love, lust, divination, harmony, peace
Jasmine – love, attraction, prosperity, tranquility
Juniper – cleansing, purification, protection against accidents, protection against illness, love, anti-theft, fertility, psychic abilities
Lavender – healing, love, happiness, heals grief and guilt, sleep, tranquility, protection, purification, peace, house blessing, wisdom, children, marriage
Lemon (peel) – purification, love, protection, happiness
Marigold – positive energy, protection, eases legal stress, increases psychic awareness, peace
Marjoram – protection, love, happiness, health, money, marriage, comfort
Mint – purification, preserves health, clarity of mind, protects travelers, attracts money, health, love, success
Mugwort – divination, protection, healing, strength, lust, psychic power, fertility, protects travelers
Nettle – cleansing, protects from danger, protects health
Nutmeg – clairvoyance, health, luck, fidelity
Oregano – peace
Parsley – healing, lust, fertility, love, passion, protection, hex breaker, prosperity, purification, eases grief
Pepper – protection, purification
Pine – prosperity, healing, purification, fertility
Rose – healing, love, conciliation, restoration, self-love, attracts love and good fortune, heals trouble, enhances psychic ability
Rosemary – cleansing, protection, healing, longevity, improves memory and concentration

Sage – healing, longevity, good health, psychic awareness, protection
Thyme – purification, psychic cleansing, divination, healing, enhances memory, eases sleep, courage

Dried herbs on their own will not necessarily have the same aroma as stick or cone incense, or even really smell like the herb itself. In fact, they will most likely just smell a bit like burning grass. Resins are a great base for herbal incense. Adding resin (up to a 1:1 ratio resin to herbal material) will not only bolster the desired properties of the blend itself, but also aid in enhancing the scent. Some common resins are:

Copal – love, house blessings, dedications, meditation, protection, celebration, solar energy, creating sacred space
Frankincense – sanctity, purification, meditation, protection, joy, celebration, solar energy, consecration
Myrrh – sanctity, honoring the dead and the spirit world, purification, healing
Benzoin – purifying, healing, prosperity, attraction
Sandalwood – spirituality, purification, meditation, peace, healing, protection (a wood, not a resin, but also a good base)


With so many options, it is easy to get carried away with concocting elaborate blends, but simplicity tends to be just as effective and potent. If you are first starting out with creating blends, the less is more mentality will also cut back on waste. Start with one base ingredient and two other herbs and work from there.

When I started formulating this information, healing Bear Spirit began appearing in all my spiritual work. With this energy as a guide, I created an herbal incense blend of equal parts sage, rosemary, chamomile, and frankincense in its honor. This is a wonderful blend to invite Bear Spirit into your space as you begin your journey with crafting your own herbal tools.

As with all magical work, intention and energy are paramount. Get to know the spirit of the individual herbs you are working with, and how they wish to work with you. For example, hibiscus is traditionally used for love, but to me it stands for protection because of my relationship with it. By building your own relationships within the herbal kingdom, you will soon find yourself crafting all manner of magical herbal tools with wisdom, clarity, and ease. And what better place to start than your own kitchen pantry?

Bear passed a damp wad of macerated lovage root, and Stephan coated her wound with it, letting the goodness from the herb seep into her skin, healing as it went. He sang under his breath as he watched the wound heal. Sang a song with words he didn’t know, but which wove stories of wholeness and joy, and the strength and compassion of the great Bear, and how there was a star in the sky to keep them on course while they ducked and wove their lives into being. 

Stephan, The Belonging, Ch 33


Kalinah is a Spiritual Life Coach, Reiki Master/Teacher, Ordained Minister, and founder of River Grove Wellness. She’s our new regular contributor here at Wildsom of the Wildwood.

Her website is www.RiverGroveWellness.com
Insta @RiverGroveWellness
Twitch www.twitch.tv/KalinahRGW

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