Harold Roth of Alchemy Works is pretty well known amongst serious magickal practitioners as THE expert when it comes to plants. Known for not only his wisdom of plant magick, but also his knowledge when it comes to planting, growing, taking care of and harvesting plants. When I heard he was writing a book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, because I knew it would be fantastic. As soon as you open the book you see the high praise of experts in the field of plant witchery such as Daniel Schulke, Christopher Penczak, Judika Illes, Ellen Evert Hopman, Jason Miller, Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold and more. So that should be the very first indication that this book is going to be amazing, if Harold Roth’s name didn’t already sell you.
The Witching Herbs: 13 Essential Plants and Herbs for Your Magical Garden definitely does not disappoint. His explanation of the Doctrine of Signature and plant correspondences is perhaps the clearest and best that I’ve ever come across. Harold provides expert advice from planting seeds to working with the plant spirits themselves. The 13 plants were chosen in honor of the thirteen full moons of the year. Harold provides the lore, history, uses, formulas and recipes for these thirteen plants. These particular plants have a long history in witchcraft and magick – poppy, clary sage, yarrow, rue, hyssop, vervain, mugwort, wormwood, thornapple, wild tobacco, henbane, belladonna and mandrake.
I would definitely read this book once through cover to cover before using it as a reference book, since some of the information on caring for plants builds on information given in a previous chapter regarding another plant. The writing style is clear, concise and easy to follow. The content is the perfect blend of down to earth practical and fascinating esotericism. While there are several books on witchcraft and plants, do not kid yourself, there is information in this book that you will absolutely not find in any other book. Any witch who works with plants needs this book in their library.
Julia Lawless’ The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils In Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health, and Well Being is a comprehensive resource on essential oil has completed an area of my library that I didn’t have information on. I approach this book as a magickal practitioner, and while there are many great books on the folk lore and magickal correspondences of plants and essential oil – this book takes a different approach – the aromatherapy and holistic healing of essential oils. While the book takes more of a medicinal and therapeutic approach she still adds enough to honor the folklore and traditions surrounding the history of these plants and their oils.
Full of old wood-cuts and illustrations that are always sure to win brownie points with me, the book begins with discussing the historical roots of essential oils – from ancient civilizations to alchemy to modern science to the birth of aromatherapy. One of the things I loved about this book was that it had therapeutic guidelines and safety precautions not mentioned in a lot of the books I’ve come across. A lot of people don’t realize how dangerous essential oils can be if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The book then dives into how essential oils work on various systems of the body including the skin, circulation, muscles, joints, the respiratory system, the digestive system, the genito-urinary and endocrine system, the immune system, the nervous system and the mind. The book also covers a whole chapter on various ways essential oils can be used in your life. There’s also a chapter on creating blends and a chapter discussing the chemistry of plants and how essential oils are extracted.
The encyclopedia portion of the book contains 204 common essential oils. The entries include the common name, scientific name, scientific family, synonyms, a general description, distribution, other species of the plant, herbal and folk tradition uses, actions, methods of extraction, characteristics, principal constituents, safety data, aromatherapy uses and other uses.