“The Faeries’ Guide to Green Magick from the Garden” by Jamie Wood and Lisa Steinke is a pleasant romp through a garden that any natural or green witch would love to have clustered around her back door within arm’s reach. Unfortunately, these plants all need different growing mediums and temperatures, so finding them all together in one garden means a trip to the Summerland itself. However, the herbs described are easily obtained, in either dried or essential oil form, at local health and herb shops, over the internet, or even the local grocer. I’ll tell you my favorite source at the end of this review.
Most of the book is dedicated to discussing each of 33 different herbs/plants, so the introduction is of necessity succinct relative to the rest of the book. However, it manages to convey a great deal of information and enthusiasm about the art of living consciously and lovingly with all the fae and other beings that share our planet. The illustrations for the book were done by Lisa Steinke and each one is quite lovely and ethereal, carefully envisioned within the context of her associated plant’s color, shape and essence, and connecting the book more strongly to the fae.
For each herb or plant, the common name is provided, as well as its Latin name, folk and other traditional names, and the parts used at the beginning of each entry. Entries generally follow an outline of detailing the ideal growing conditions, the type of fae essence/assistance offered/available, the many uses and remedies, folk-lore and stories, any cautions (suitably in red), and end with a “project” complete with a full list of required materials and detailed instructions for using the herb or plant:
- Aloe: Soothing Lip Balm
- Basil: Baked Salmon with Citrus Pesto Sauce
- Bay Laurel: Prosperity Soup
- Birch: Birch Blessings Incantation
- Calendula: Solar-Infused Calendula Salve
- Chamomile: Chamomile Shower Gel
- Cinnamon: Protection Splash
- Comfrey: Comfy Comfrey Salve
- Damiana: Damiana Liqueur
- Dandelion: Divine Dandelion Salad
- Eucalyptus: All-Natural Carpet Cleaner
- Fennel: Free Spirit Salad
- Garlic: Magical Protection Besom
- Geranium: Rose Geranium Herbal Deodorant
- Ginger: Exotic Tofu
- Hawthorn: May Blossom Wine
- Jasmine: Jasmine Body Oil and Jasmine Scrub
- Lavender: Lavender Chocolate Truffles
- Mint: Lamenting with Minthe [Tisane]
- Motherwort: Lionhearted Tea Blend
- Mugwort: Artemis-Mugwort Vision for New Birth [Ritual]
- Mullein: Speaking Your Truth [Ritual and Tincture/Infusion]
- Nettle: Nettle Hair Tonic
- Oregano: Oregano Love Bread
- Red Clover: Winter Wonder Cream
- Rose: Rose Cordial
- Rosemary: Energizing Foot Bath
- Sage: Sage Herbal Vinegar
- St. John’s Wort: Touch-and-Heal Oil
- Thyme: Thyme-for-Strength Bath Scrub
- Valerian: Recapitulation Dreaming [Meditation and Tisane/Tincture]
- Vervain: Vervain Love Incense
As you can see, there is a good variety of herbs and plants, as well as many different types of projects. A few give specific actions and words to use (i.e., “spells”), but most don’t, so non-magic-practicing faerie lovers will be very comfortable doing the projects and magic-practitioners are free to improvise their own magical “spells.” I found the information interesting and well presented (though some may have trouble with some of the technical jargon, like “nervine” (nerve tonic that acts like a sedative) or “diaphoretic” (causes increased perspiration) in the Mugwort entry and “occipital bulb,” for which I couldn’t find a medical definition beyond “bulb of occipital horn,” other than the “protuberance” in the diagram below (however, all are “at the back of the neck” as described in the Oregano entry):
Overall, I found the projects to be physically healthful, spiritually beneficial, and easily accomplished.
Like many herbal books, this one hit my etymological pet peeve: “herbal tea.” It’s so ingrained in the common lexicon that it will probably never be corrected, but it bothers me just the same. The word “tea” is constantly used to describe any beverage made by combining plant material and hot water, but then why do we have the words “tincture,” “infusion,” and “decoction”? Most people have no problem distinguishing and using those words correctly, so why do otherwise fully informed people use the words “herbal” and “tea” together?
“Tea” is a beverage brewed using the leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis). There are a myriad of different teas, but the four main types are white, green, oolong, and black.
Beverages made by steeping any plant material except the leaves of the tea bush are called tisane, not tea. To say “herbal tisane” is redundant but far more acceptable than “herbal tea”.
In the magical world, names and the naming of things is extremely important, so let’s get the terminology right:
- “Tea” is made by steeping the leaves of the tea bush in hot (not boiling) water for about 4 minutes (boiling water “burns” or “scorches” the tea leaf making the tea bitter).
- “Tisane” is made by steeping the leaves/flowers/fruits of non-tea plants in hot water (not boiling) for about 10 minutes (boiling water “burns” away or vaporizes the volatile plant essences).
- A “tincture” can be made with alcohol or water, the liquid is not heated, and fresh or dried plant material may be used; water tinctures are made overnight; rum or vodka can be used for alcohol tinctures which are made over the course of 2 weeks and should be shaken every day.
- An “infusion” is made by pouring boiling water over fresh or dried leaves/flowers/fruits, covering for 15 to 30 minutes or until the mixture cools, then straining, bottling and refrigerating the liquid (covering the infusion keeps the volatile plant essences from “burning” away in the escaping steam).
- A “decoction” is made by mashing woody stems, roots, bark, seeds and rhizomes and adding them to boiling water and then simmering for several hours or overnight to extract their essences (these essences are more difficult to extract and are not as volatile as leaf, flower and fruit essences, although a decoction will be stronger if the steam is not allowed to escape by covering the decoction).
My preferred source for herbs on-line is Mountain Rose Herbs. Their quality is exceptional and prices are good if you buy in bulk. They also carry an impressive number of essential oils, many of which are certified organic. They also have cosmetic butters and wax, carrier and massage oils, hydrosols, and jars and bottles. I’m tempted to say you might find all the necessities required by this book (including the Hawthorne berries, hibiscus sabdariffa and rhodiolo root needed to make the Rose Cordial) on their website.
While you won’t find any “faerie magic” in this book (it is, after all, a faeries’ guide), there is loads of good green magic, which naturally attracts the fae. I’ll be adding this intriguing tome to my teeming bookshelves.
Currently available on Amazon for $13.36.