Herbal Magic is a powerful and mystical way to connect with the Goddess, earth energies and nature. Herbalism is the most ancient of the healing arts, with traditions and roots stretching from prehistoric times to the modern-day Pagan or Wiccan.
Learning how to grow, harvest, treat and finally blend herbs is a complex and delicate art form. It can take years of practice as each herbalist learns their craft and develops their own unique methods and blends.
One such magical herbalist is Nikki Tomlinson, of Planet Pixie Creations – offering home-grown organic herbal blends, in a variety of potent and beautiful combinations.
I stumbled across Nikki’s creations while looking for some loose incense on Etsy, and was immediately impressed by the vibrancy and care that had gone into the blends I ordered. The magical work I undertook with them had an added depth and the unusual earthy and magnetic fragrances took my workings to new levels. I had to get in touch to find out more.
I asked Nikki what brought her to working with herbs, how she expresses her magical leanings with them and what Tips and Advice she can give the novice Herbalist.
Here’s what she had to say…
How long have you been an herbalist and what got you started?
I’ve had a fascination for herbs, wild flowers and plants since a child. My Mum was a knowledgeable gardener, having learned a great deal from her own parents and filled our garden with an eclectic array of colour and aromas each year. She loved visiting the elaborate gardens of stately homes and castles and we would trawl for hours around them; I particularly used to love the walled herb or kitchen gardens and Mum would talk me through the traditional plants and herbs and tell me their uses throughout history.
I don’t think Mum ever thought I was listening but I must have been as much of the things I watched her do is copied now, in my own garden. The only difference is, I grow my herbs, wild flowers and plants to be used as nature intended, whereas Mum grew most of hers simply to be admired as something from a bygone era.
Throughout my earlier adult life, I half-heartedly experimented in the garden with many plants, trees and herbs but never seemed to get very far with them.
I moved house four times in twenty years and each time I got a garden looking productive, off we went again and plants got left behind. After moving in to my present home twelve years ago however, everything became more settled in my life, including meeting someone who, like myself, embraced Earth based faith and traditions and encouraged me to step out of the ordinary and go for a ‘magical’ apothecary garden.
For several years, I grew various plants and herbs for my own use in everyday spell craft, incense making, bath salts and oils, as well as using them in items made as gifts. As I moved down the menopause route I took the decision of managing it with herbal remedies instead of HRT and my herb collection grew even more.
I would label myself as a Hedge Witch but I don’t really follow any particular path; which is the reason why I am happy to say I am simply a Pagan. I have always had a strong connection to nature and as I grew older my spiritual path merged with that connection. I have my own Earth based ideals and beliefs taken from many paths and traditions of both early and neo Paganism from around the world.
I am also a Reiki and Crystal Reflexology practitioner and like to incorporate the power of my herbs and plants in my therapy experiences.
Do you have a favourite herb / plant?
I love all plants and herbs for their own individuality and qualities so it’s hard to choose just one favourite. Good old Lavender, (Lavendula), is definitely one of them though, due to it’s amazing antiseptic healing properties, plus it looks and smells beautiful.
I would say the Patchouli plant, (Pogostemon Cablin), is up there too. I love the smell of Patchouli; it grounds me but awakens my senses at the same time. Patchouli can be used to help address monetary matters in spell craft as well as adding a potent base to any sex magic spell work. It’s fresh earthy aroma can be too heavy for some people when used in incense so unless asked to keep it strong, I tend to soften the aroma by using it as a base note and therefore doesn’t wipe out the lighter aromas of the other ingredients.
Patchouli also has powerful antiseptic properties and is known to help heal athlete’s foot and other skin problems.
When it comes to Growing and Blending do you have any tips to share?
I would advise anyone wanting to grow their own magical and/or healing plants and herbs to read up as much as they can on what will and won’t grow in which areas and what grows well together.
Some plants and herbs are toxic to other plants and therefore need to be kept away from each other so this needs to be considered when organising planting. Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium) comes to mind as an example for this; I have two Wormwood plants both grown in containers to keep them from contaminating anything else. If you have a garden that contains perennial plants and shrubs then the likes of Wormwood would be ideal planted amongst them, tucked away from anything edible.
My garden is a ‘Moon garden’; this doesn’t just mean sewing or harvesting during specific times of the lunar cycle, but also each plant that I grow begins its life when the Moon is in the corresponding ruling planet for that particular plant. I have a great interest in astrology and the planetary influences and to me understanding your plants and knowing what they’re about is not only an important basis of growing anything but gives the plants additional strength and power right from the start.
When blending herbs and other ingredients for incense I try to stick to corresponding ingredients so as to help to keep the equilibrium of the finished product; i.e. Ingredients which have corresponding elements, planets, gender etc.
I do encourage anyone to experiment at first though and have fun; once you get to know the herbs and plants you wish to work with, you usually find your instinct takes you to what should be added with what.
I found it easier to have some knowledge of aromatherapy when making incense. You don’t need to pay for an expensive course to do this as there are plenty of books and websites on offer covering the subject of aromatherapy. Even if you just get a basic understanding of the different aroma note families it will help; after all incense is supposed to have a sweet lifting smell and unfortunately, many dried herbs and plants smell awful when burned so resins and essential oils are added to enhance the natural aromas.
As a rule of thumb when making incense, always grind and blend your harder dry incense ingredients first, i.e. berries, barks and roots, then add the lighter, dryer ingredients, i.e. leaves, petals etc. Lastly add the resins and oils, this helps to avoid the dry ingredients soaking up the sticky oiliness too soon and becoming difficult to grind up and won’t burn well.
For more information visit Planet Pixie Creations, which sells an ever-growing range of dried magical and healing herbs, two ranges of handmade loose incense, spell pouches, pre-ritual herb infused bath salts and oils, sleep pouches and talismans.