Moorey, Teresa. Herbs for magic and ritual: a beginner's guide. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1996) 106p., ill.
ISBN: 0340674156

This slender volume, published in the UK, is an excellent introduction to herbal magick. It is a workbook/textbook, designed for the interested to work through various basic applications of herbcraft in magick, including incense, aromatherapy, charms and talismans, and cooking.

What is it about herbal magick that causes authors to get all wiftyfarkle when they tackle the subject? Though Moorey's treatment is far more down to earth than Cunningham's (see Magical Herbalism), it's still a bit 'out there'. (There's a certain cloying cuteness to the introduction, for instance, that starts to grate.)

Because this is a 'beginner's guide', Moorey starts off by discussing the theory of magick/ritual, including the 'collective unconscious'; then gives instruction on trances, chakras (opening and closing), ethics, and correspondences. The instructions are very detailed, but to her credit, Moorey never claims to have the 'one true way.' Though I would prefer to have the Eastern notion of 'chakras' omitted, having Moorey claim that there are several systems of chakras (bodily energy points) is some comfort.

After giving this basic information, Moorey covers the basics of growing, harvesting and empowering and drying of herbs in concise detail. Part of this information can be better obtained from any good book on herb gardening, but the briefness of the coverage in this work will encourage users to seek out more information anyway.

There is also a section on the herbs themselves, giving much more detail than Cunningham. This is possible because less than 20 plants are covered in this section (though more are covered in subsequent sections). Moorey gives information about growing habits, uses, and folklore of each plant, including several suggested magickal uses, in the chatty style of the perpetual gardener.

The next section, on incense, covers everything from using charcoals, correspondences of scents, choosing associations for incenses, to using specific scents. A helpful"larder listing" of ingredients and recipes for blends are also given. (For more information, the user should consult Wylundt's classic work on incense.) Two nice incense rituals (cleansing and selfconfidence) show the practical applications.

From incense the author segues into the use of essential oils. Though she concentrates on the use of oils (in massage, aromatherapy, etc., she covers 14 oils in depth.

Final chapters introduce the user to herbal spellcraft, with a number of suggested, easy and useful spells, healing, and magickal cooking. Appendices cover herbs and astrology, herbs for the wheel of the year, and further resources. The index is small but useful.

One of the most appealing things about this work is the layout. The use of appealing typography and illustrations, the shaded 'practice' sections, and the clear layout of the pages adds to the readability of the work. Moorey careful lays out the information in such a way that the beginner will work carefully from point to point, gaining a solid grounding in herb work a step at a time. Unfortunately, this makes it a bit difficult to use as a reference work, as different applications of an herb are spread within the book.

Highly recommended as a beginning work on the wide variety of herbcraft.

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