ADVICE TO THE BEGINNING HERBALISM STUDENT
Before I take this any further, and before I begin my posts on herbs and
their applications, I want to make it clear that my training in this is yet
incomplete. Much of what I am going to cover is taken from notes from the many
teachers I have had, some very useful reference books and experience. I will
pass on what I have, in hope that those who have more may add to the knowledge,
present their own experiences and generally SHARE our most important community
commodity - INFORMATION. The idea is to expand ourselves, through free exchange of
this information and by doing so help the entire Pagan community survive in the
long run. Please feel free to distribute the information I post here in this
and other message areas and in files to as many people as might be interested!
Herbalism, like midwifery skills, is one of the oldest parts of teaching
within the craft, but is also one where we have lost a huge amount of
information and where science has yet to catch up. Every pagan culture has
utilized the herbalism of its particular region, and I have found no one
source or teacher who could possibly know about every herb that grows on the
Earth. Yet today we have the opportunity to perhaps achieve this within a
lifespan or two, using the electronic communications at our fingertips. Science
is now slowly beginning to learn the importance of the natural herbs in healing,
but they will take centuries to figure it all out because of the way they go
about things, unless nudged.
The first step in herbalism is to gather the tools you will need, and that is
the main point of this first message. I have found the following useful and in
many cases vital to learn and practice the use of herbs.
1) A Good mortar and Pestle, one of stone or metal is
preferred. If wood is used you will need two, one for
inedible and one for edibles - make sure they do not
look identical, as you do not want to accidentally
2) Containers. Although you can buy dried herbs over the
counter in many places these days, do not store them
in the plastic bags they come in, as these are usually
neither reusable nor perfectly airtight. Rubbermaid
style plastic containers are good, but expensive. I
have used glass coffee and spice jars/bottles to good
effect, as well as some medicine bottles. The more you
recycle the better ecologically, just make sure they
have been thoroughly washed and dried before placing
anything inside them.
3) Labels. This is vital! None of us in this day and age
can possibly recognize each herb in its various forms
simply by sight. Always label your containers as you
fill them, and if possible date them when they were
filled so you don't keep spoiled stock on the shelf.
4) Tea Ball. A good metal tea ball of the single cup
size can be very useful in the long run when your are
experimenting, and when you are making single person
doses of teas and tonics.
5) Cheese Cloth : Useful for straining a partially liquid
mixture and occasionally for the making of sachets.
6) A Good sized teakettle. Preferably one that will hold
at least a quart of water.
7) A Good teapot for simmering mixtures. I use one from
a Chinese import store that has done me well.
8) A good cutting board and a SHARP cutting knife for just
9) A notebook of some sort to record the information in
as you go, both successes and failures. Always record
anything new you try that may or may not work, and
also and research information you get from various
sources (like this echo!)
10) An eyedropper.
11) White linen-style bandages. Some ace bandages are also
useful in the long run.
12) A metal brazier of some sort, or a metal container
that can withstand heavy usage and heat from within
or without, useful for several things including the
making of your own incenses.
13) Reference sources. Shortly you should see a list of
books that I have read from in the past that I
consider useful, build from this as a starting point
to others and to your teachers help.
That's it to start, you'll pick the rest up as you go. Take your time studying,
take lots of notes, compare your sources and your own personal results on each
herb and on herbal mixtures of any kind.