Monday, July 5, 2010

Herb Day ~ Herbal Information from the 3 Witches

So today is Monday so that means it is "HERB DAY"!  (applause from the 'hedge witches' in the crowd).

Today I have a post by Kerrick McCoel, one of the three witches that run this blog and Grove of the Ancients Pagan Marketplace.  After his post I will add some of my own information to it.

Let us begin....

Herb Preparation

I’m sure there are as many different ways to prepare herbs for use medicinally and magickally as there are different herbs.

Since I grow them in my own garden, I’m just letting you know how I manage this. Others may prepare their herbs using alternate methods I am sharing what works for me.

First of all, here’s the list of what herbs I grow most every year:

Basil, Fennel, Garlic, Leeks, Lemon Balm, Onion, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Rue, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme.

Secondly, I’m grouping the herbs by type of what is harvested:

Leaves and flowers only: Basil, Lemon Balm, Oregano, Parsley and Sage.

Leaves only: Fennel, Leeks, Onion and Rosemary.

Leaves, flowers and tender stems: Rue, Tarragon and Thyme.

Bulb only: Garlic.

Thirdly, when is best to harvest the herbs:

Some disciplines in the world of magick dictate that for the herbs to have full potency, they are to be harvested when the moon is full.

Other disciplines look at the scientific approach and suggest to harvest when the plants are fully mature, or when they have recovered from a previous harvest.

Still others suggest harvesting as often as possible as long as the plants don’t die.

Fourthly, whether to cut & dry, or cut, dry & powder the herbs:

The only herbs I cut, dry & powder are Thyme and Sage: The rest are cut and dried only, except for the Garlic where the entire root bulb is harvested. Depending on the fertility of the soil, it may take several years to reach a decent bulb size.

I’ve heard that herbs lose their potency after a certain period of time. It all depends on what is the focus of the use. It’s possible the potency loss is true medicinally and magickally; however, in the culinary field, I have discovered the time frame is quite a bit longer, as in several years.

Lastly, a drying appliance of some sort for herbs is not really needed unless one is in a very humid climate. What has worked for me is just to spread out the cut herbs evenly, not more that a quarter inch thick on a large dinner plate and set them aside for 2-3 days. Nature will do the rest.

Happy Harvesting!

Thank you Kerrick.
In my garden I have a wonderful bush of Oregano that is in serious need of harvesting.  Also a rather large bush of Hyssop that too needs a clipping.  Between the two is my gift of the Goddess and God, Black Nightshade.  My herb garden is contained within a pentagram and the Black Nightshade only grows in the pentagram it has never spread outside of it.  I also have a small sprig of Rosemary plant and some lovely Lemon Balm that is not quite ready for harvesting, needs to be bigger to survive it.
I will admit now that I didn't know the first thing about how to harvest herbs.  Do I take the whole stem? Just the leaves?  Half the plant?  That is mainly why the two plants are so massive now.  So with some help from Kerrick and the Internet I now can feel comfortable harvesting my own herbs.
I have heard that the best time to harvest in the morning after the dew has left he plants but before the heat of the day has hit them.  This way the oils in the leaves are still strong which is what you want in an herb, medicinal or magickal. 
I prefer to hang my herbs in the kitchen now.  I have a bundle of Lemon Balm from Kerrick and a bundle of the a fore mentioned Oregano plant.  Both have dried rather fast in the Colorado arid climate.  I prefer this way since I have feline children and they might disturb the plates in their curiosity. 
I also have a huge stalk of Mullein hanging in the basement which I am wildcrafting.  It is going to be my first attempt at it.  I am going to post more on the Mullein experiment later. 
That is it for today.  Next week we will be highlighting a specific herb.  There will be contributions from all.
Blessed Be

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