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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Magic Magical Herbalism

Magic Magical Herbalism Image
I'm back! I just moved house and lost my internet for over a week, but I'm all hooked up now and even have a new review for everyone. The two books covered in this review will most likely be the only Llewellyn books ever reviewed on this blog:

"Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise" by Scott Cunningham

Llewllyn's Practical Magick Series

Llewellyn Publications, 1982

241 pages, few b/w illustrations, appendixes, index and bibliography

Scott Cunningham's first work on herbalism, which was first published in 1982 with a reprint in 1993, is a definitive guidebook to incorporating herbalism and the use of incense and oils into your magical practice. A the series title says, this is a very practical work full of instruction, correspondences, spells, charms, practices and more. Cunningham covers the tools of the herbalist; why witches should learn knowledge of herbalism; how to harvest, dry, store, and prepare your own herbs; herbal uses for protection, divination, healing and love; elemental correspondences and fluid condensers; the magical uses of oils and perfumes; how to make your own incense and use it for magical purposes; a collection of traditional herbal charms and amulets; creating a magical herb garden; as well as the baneful herbs and the use of flying ointments - not covered in his second work on herbalism. Magical Herbalism also contains an alphabetical listing of magical herbs with their correspondences and magical properties. This list is the precursor to Cunningham's second work, "Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs". Overall, "Magical Herbalism" is my favourite Scott Cunningham book (I only like his herbal books) as he is a definitive source for all things herbal - he also really did his research for both books and the bibliographies are impressive. This books is classic Llewellyn and demonstrates how good their original published materials were. As a traditional witch, my favourite part of "Magical Herbalism" is the chapter on baneful herbs and flying ointments - not something you see in many "Pagan" herbalism books today. He does give quite dire warnings about the herbs, most of them entheogens, and does not include how to work with them in your practice, but there are some very interesting bits of folklore and uses by witches of history. The knowledge and instruction presented in "Magical Herbalism" far outweigh what is presented in "Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs". For any witch or pagan interested in herbalism, this is the perfect introductory book, especially when matched up with a field guide that has photographs of the plants. For a Wiccan or Neo-Pagan it is a bookshelf essential.

"Cunningham's Enclopedia of Magical Herbs" by Scott Cunningham

Llewellyn's Sourcebook Series

Llewellyn Publications, 1986

318 pages, b/w illustrations and woodcuts

Glossary, index, appendixes, and bibliography

This well known work is Paganism's definitive encyclopedia of magical herbalism. Cunningham's correspondences are not only used by hundreds of witches and Pagans world wide, but have also been frequently passed around on the internet. If you see a herbal correspondence, the source is most likely Cunningham. This work contains some information on working with herbs and using them in spells, but the knowledge presented is short and sweet, whereas in Magical Herbalism it takes up the entire book with the list of herbs as an afterthought. Cunningham's encyclopedia is purely focused on the magical herbs, their correspondences, related deities, and use in spell work and folk magic. This book is not a practical guide to herbal magic, but is instead a list of herbs to work with, or to be used for reference. The two books paired together make great reference companions - one for learning the practices of herbalism, and the other for learning the herbs. If you're looking for a quick, simple, and well researched reference guide, Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs is exactly that.

Books in PDF format to read:

Kenneth Grant - Magical Revival
Malcolm Mcgrath - Practical Magickal Evocation