Book Review: The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook: A Grimoire of Philtres

Book Review: The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook: A Grimoire of Philtres, Elixirs, Oils, Incense, and Formulas for Ritual Use by Karen Harrison

July, 2017

The herbal Alchemist’s Handbook: A Grimoire of Philtres, Elixirs, Oils, Incense, and Formulas for Ritual Use”



by Karen Harrison

Published by Weiser

Published: 2011

Pages: 236

This book is everything it claims on the cover – and that’s a lot for one book to deliver.

Karen Harrison has been involved in the magickal and psychic life since early childhood. She earned a master of herbology. As a magickal practitioner and a master herbalist, she combines her knowledge of both, giving the medicinal and the astrological properties of herbs. It’s a combination that makes sense when you remember that both astrology and herbology are arts that have been practiced for thousands of years.

As Harrison describes it, one of the practices of alchemy “is the infusing of natural materials such as herbs, metals and stones with spiritual and/or Magickal intention and then using the results to transform one’s life.” To do that, the energies of the elements are used in conjunction with planetary energy.

The first of three sections gives the herbs associated with each of the astrological planets, along with “effective rituals, meditations, and workings” incorporating those herbs. For instance, for the moon is an incense recipe and a dreamworking meditation, and for Neptune there is a bath tea.

The second section gives directions for making incense, ritual oils, herbal amulets, elixirs and more. The third section covers custom formulas based on astrology and numerology.

The appendices contain a number of helpful reference guides. The first dedicates 79 pages giving the names, ruling planets and elements, and some basic information on more than 150 herbs from acacia to yohimbe. That is followed by moon phases and planetary days of the week – “important to consider when creating an alchemical blend,” Harrison explains. An appendix discusses the elements and their corresponding herbs, while another gives recipes and formulas for planets and intentions.

Two pages that will be referred to often contain a chart with planetary correspondences: number, color, plans, material, gem and scent.

Harrison ends the book with a chapter giving lists of necessary supplies – with the most important ingredient being intention.

By integrating so many systems, the book can benefit readers interested in astrology, herbalism or magick, making it possible to choose the best herbs based on their medicinal uses, magickal needs and astrological influences.

Available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.