8 herbs for healing and happiness

Gardening is one of the most creative things you can do and an exercise in mindfulness. It keeps you grounded with a deep connection to the earth. Growing herbs to use in remedies and spellcraft is doubly rewarding; with each passing season, you will grow in your wisdom and skill. Your garden—whether it is a balcony full of blooms or a plot out back—can be a sanctuary, a place where your spirit is renewed and restored. Tending and growing these magical herbs and potent plants is a kind of botanical alchemy; the teas, tinctures, potions, recipes, and flower essences you craft are proof that yours is an enchanted garden.

Basket of herbs illustration

Here, I have gathered the plants, flowers, and herbs that will prove most useful in your kitchen witchery. Most are hardy plants that you and your circle will enjoy for many long years to come and that will bring both beauty and power to your garden.

Thyme—An Herb for the Ages

Thyme herb illustration

You could say that thyme is a classic herb, so much so that the venerable Virgil and Pliny sang the praises of this medicinal mint relative over 2,000 years ago. While thyme loves Mediterranean weather, it can grow elsewhere from seeds and cuttings. Good for the stomach and especially effective for respiratory relief, thyme induces sweats to remove toxins and reduce fever. Thyme honey tea is truly a sweet way to make the medicine go down, so much so that you will drink it even when hale and hearty. Thyme is also a culinary plant, making a delightful additive to savory dishes.

It has been believed for centuries that thyme brings courage and both inner and physical strength. Even when you are facing seemingly insurmountable odds, spells and smudging featuring thyme can get you on track and bring you to your goal. I think the greatest of all aspects of thyme is to rid your home and family of melancholy and overcome despair after extreme difficulty and loss. If your loved ones have experienced a catastrophe, try thyme for rituals of magic and restitution. I have no doubt that practitioners of green witchery will be singing the praises of thyme for at least 2,000 more years.

Chives for Good Cheer

Chives herb illustration

Allium, also known as chives, is a blessedly easy plant to grow anywhere and everywhere—on the kitchen windowsill or in a garden patch. A member of the onion family, this is a lovely case where the entire plant—bulb, leaves, and flowers—can be eaten. Plant the bulbs 6 inches (15 cm) apart, water, and you can pretty much ignore them after as all they require is water. A plus is that this relative of the onion has insect-repellant properties, so you can plant rows of this beside veggies and fruits and the bugs will stay away. Allium propagates quickly, so you can dig up mature bulbs and separate them and replant. One tip to remember is that chives do lose their flavor when dried, so use them fresh.

The flowers are a lovely surprise to add to salads for their edible beauty and many a kitchen witch uses chives in all manner of dishes as it is good for weight management and is a plant of protection for both home and garden. Chives were used by practitioners of old in amulets to ward off evil spirits and mischievous fairy folk. Freshly cut bunches were also hung beside the sickbed to speed healing, especially for children. If you see a home surrounded by rows of allium, you know its occupants hold to the “old ways.” 

Basil—Bounty and Beauty

Basil herb illustration

This sweet-tasting herb is excellent in savory dishes. Basil truly grows like a weed and you should cultivate it right on the kitchen windowsill so you can snip and add to your Italian-inspired dishes. Give your basil plants plenty of sun, lots of water, and you will reap a mighty bounty to share with the neighbors. Old wives and hedge witches claim that basil protects your home while it also brings prosperity and happiness. Basil helps steady the mind, brings love, peace, and money, and protects against insanity—what more can you want?

Basil has many practical magical applications such as making peace after disagreements. The benefits of this plant are as plentiful as the plant itself; it can be used in attracting and getting love and, on the highest vibrational level, abetting psychic abilities, even astral projection.

Daisy and Echinacea

Gardening watering can

This faithful flower’s name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon dæges eage, “day’s eye,” since it closes in the evening. The daisy has been used in one of the oldest of love charms. To know if your true love is returned, take a daisy and intone, “He loves me, he loves me not” until the last petal is plucked and the answer will be revealed. This flower is not just a boon for romance, however, it is also useful in herbal medicine for aches, bruises, wounds, inflammation, and soothing eye baths. As a flower remedy, it is quite good to help with exhaustion and is a highly regarded cure in homeopathy.

Echinacea is a member of the daisy family that has become wildly popular as a healer for colds and as a powerful immune booster, increasing your T-cell count and fighting off illnesses both minor and major. Echinacea is an herb of abundance, attracting more prosperity, but it can be used in magic workings to amplify the power of spellwork.

Rosemary for Remembrance

Rosemary herb illustration

Rosemary is another of the herbs that thrives best in warm, Mediterranean climes but can also weather the cold. Tough to grow from seed, cuttings are an easier way to start your row of rosemary plants in your garden. Pots of this bushy plant can enjoy spring and summer and come in from the cold to a sheltered porch or by a sunny window when temperatures drop. As a bonus, it requires little water. Rosemary is fantastic as a seasoning for potatoes, roast chicken, and makes any Sunday supper taste better and brighter. You can pinch off the aromatic needles to dress plates or sprinkle into soups and stews. Beyond enhancing your cookery, this is a primary plant for rejuvenation and is prized for how it helps restore after lingering illness; elixirs and essential oils made from rosemary stimulate and energize as they comfort.

In Greco-Roman times, rosemary was believed to help the memory. An excellent kitchen witchery practice is to take dried or fresh rosemary and add it to a steam for an easy infusion, where it aids breathing, muscle aches, and anxiety. You can accomplish the same by adding rosemary to a hot bath. Lie back and relax, remembering happy times in your life, and those that lie right ahead of you.

Lavender is Love

Lavender plant illustration

Lavender is blessedly easy to grow as it is a shrubby plant of Mediterranean origins. It is prized for its lovely scent and is a powerful healing plant with other properties, and can be used for making teas, tisanes, being infused into honey, and has many more practical uses. It can even prosper in dry and droughty areas, so make sure your kitchen garden has at least one of the hardy varieties so you can dry bundles to use in your spellwork as well as in your recipes. 

Sage Wisdom

Sage wand illustration

Every kitchen witch should grow a pot of sage or a big patch in her garden. Sage is a must to have on hand for clearing energy. It also increases psychic potential. Most kitchen witches are highly imaginative and very inventive folk. Whether your passion is growing an artful garden, throwing pots, cookery, or music, you can stay in better touch with your personal muse. Call her to you anytime, day or night, by your own design. This is especially important if you are feeling uninspired or struggling with a bout of writer’s block.

Head out to your garden or the sunny spot on the deck where your hardiest sage grows. Take three large and extra-long sticks of your favorite incense and bind strands of sage around the incense with purple thread. Tie it off and you have a sage wand. Before any creative endeavor, you can light this wand and wave it around your workspace, filling the area with inspiration. Close your eyes and meditate upon the work you will begin. You have cleared your space, invited the muse, and your work will be superb, worthy of notice from the gods and goddesses.

Aloe—Medicine Tree

One of Mother Nature’s most effective healers is aloe. When I lived in colder areas of frost and snow, I grew aloe in a wide pot with good drainage and placed it in the sunniest spot in the kitchen, where it thrived with very little water. I am truly fortunate to live today where it never gets below freezing, so I have a towering aloe in the left garden corner that is growing to tree-like proportion. When anyone in the household gets a burn, a bug bite, a rash, a scratch, an itch, or sunburn, I march back and grab a stem and apply the juice liberally to the affected area. We use it as a medicine and as a beauty application for facials, hair gel, skin massage, and feel so blessed that all this heavenly healing is utterly free of cost. Aloe propagates through baby plants sprouting off the sides, which you can repot into little clay containers and give as kitchen witchery gifts to your circle to share the healing energy as well as protection and luck, a deterrent to loneliness and to help abet success. Grow in the home to provide protection from household accidents. Burn on the night of a full moon to bring a new lover by the new moon.

To discover spells, recipes, and rituals for making the most of these magical herbs and plants, check out The Book of Kitchen Witchery by Cerridwen Greenleaf. 


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