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HERBS, OILS, AND INCENSE

No treatise on the subject of Witchcraft would be complete without a section on the subject of herbs. The image of the Witch as HERBALIST is deeply ingrained in our culture and in the Wiccan religion.

In former times knowledge of herbs was very important. For most people herbs were the principle form of medicine. Skillful use of herbs for flavoring or for scent made a hard life sweeter. And themetaphysical properties of herbs were used to promote and draw the things one desired into one's life.

From ancient times it has been believed that certain plants have specific metaphysical qualities. By using the principle of SYMPATHETIC MAGIC -the idea that like attracts like- people would use the plants to promote the development of these same qualities in their lives.

Though the term "herb" specifically refers to only certain plants in modern usage, for the purposes of this lesson we shall use the term to refer to any plant which is used in sympathetic magical practices.

Herbs can be used in many different ways, but always for the same purpose -the idea is to impart the qualities of the herb to a person or object in order to affect or change it. Sometimes this is done externally through such media as oils or incense, or through the use of the whole plant in the form of a sachet, bouquet, or wreath. Sometimes this is effected internally by consuming the herb, as a tea for example -though one should never consume an herb unless one is absolutely certain that it is safe.

The simplest way to make use of herbs is to use the fresh plant in a room or on one's person. The quality of the plant will affect the vibration of who or whatever is around it. An example of this practice is the use of flowers at weddings. Though people are less conscious of it than they were a generation or two ago, the kinds of flowers commonly favored for weddings have specific metaphysical purposes -Roses for example, which have always symbolized both romantic and Divine love, or Orange blossoms symbolizing emotional openness and harmony.The use of these flowers effects the vibration of the energy of the event, coloring it with these qualities. Certain kinds of flowers are traditionally favored for funerals for the same reason. This is also the reason behind the use of foliate wreaths to symbolize certain offices, such as the Champion's crown of Bay Laurel, or the Emperor's circlet of Oak leaves.

The most common way to use herbs however, is in various preserved forms. People learned to preserve herbs because the fresh plants were not available all year round. In time people learned that preserving herbs not only made them available off-season, but also in many cases intensified their metaphysical and aromatic qualities, making them more desirable. For this reason preserved herbs -oils and incenses- are more commonly used today than the fresh plants themselves.

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