Herbal Magick: A Guide to Herbal Enchantments, Folklore, and Divination
By Gerina Dunwich
240 pp. Red Wheel/Weiser
“Herbal Magick: A Guide to Herbal Enchantments, Folklore, and Divination” is a wonderful collection of mythology, superstitions, traditions, and lore surrounding herbal medicine and magic. While there are many herbal books which include some of this type of content while dwelling primarily on medicine, foraging, gardening, or just repackaging information, “Herbal Magick” really focuses on easily-digestible tidbits of lore.
Some of this lore is quite well-known to herbalists and students of the craft — like the lore of the mandrake’s shriek — but there are also some more obscure bits included here — like an ancient spell to quell a tempest, or increase male potency. The lore is drawn from a wide range of historical and cultural sources, but trends more towards Western tradition than Eastern. Dunwich’s prose style is a little bit dry, but this is only appropriate to the historical subject matter, as it needs little decoration; more sadly, though, there is no bibliography or other source information given for most of the lore that is presented.
“Herbal Magick” is more of a scrap book than an academic attempt to take on herbal lore, and Dunwich takes a survey approach to the topic. This disappointed me in spots where I felt myself longing for more information on one topic or another, especially in the absence of a bibliography or other notes to turn to, but it also kept the book light, pleasant, and easy to read. Dunwich takes the reader through information about tasseography, herbal correspondences, ancient lore, herbal magick and lore from different cultural traditions, gods, goddesses, a calendar of magical herbal dates, and more. Where the book shines most is in the interweaving of these practices, and the exploration of the narratives of herbal symbolism, as well as the correspondences and traditions of magickal herbal use. While it does not represent any kind of complete treatise on the subject, “Herbal Magick” is a truly entertaining collection which will likely delight any reader with an interest in herbal enchantment and lore.
About the Author:
Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com