The Green Witch’s Guide
to Magical Plants & Flowers
by Chris Young and Susan Ottaviano
Publication date: April 26, 2022
The tagline for this book is “Use the lunar cycle to connect with nature and focus your intentions,” which straight away seems right up my street. I love moon magic, and indeed the science and astronomy surrounding the moon itself. I also focus on keeping my spiritual and magical path as connected to the seasons and nature as possible, so was keen to get a look at this book.
There are thirteen chapters for the thirteen moons of the year, many of which will have familiar names to some readers but some which are less familiar, such as The Moon of Winds. Lattari provides alternative names for each moon, however. She also notes that some of the names come from European cultures and others from Native American spirituality. This is something I personally try and avoid, as I don’t feel that we have access to First Nations’ sacred terminology, even if it has entered wider use over the years. However, I accept that many of these terms, such as The Wolf Moon, have blurred origins.
Each chapter is split into a short introduction about the moon and the month it occurs in, plus what to do during each major phase of the moon: New, waxing, full, and waning. There then follows a section about plants. For example, in January, Lattari tells us about the mountain ash, which she notes is also called the service tree or sorb tree. I’m surprised she doesn’t use its more common name in mythology, the Rowan tree, particularly as she references its importance in Irish mythology. She also makes the all-too common error of lumping all Celts together, stating that, “The Celtic name of the tree, Luis, means flame…” but there is no such thing as “Celtic” when it comes to individual words. Luis is an Old Irish word, and also the second letter of the Ogham alphabet. The author also states that the Celts dedicated “a significant period of the year to it, from January 21 to February 15…”, but this is also not true. I presume she’s referencing Robert Graves’ fabricated tree calendar, which is widely used as “proof” that the Celts used trees to map out the year. However, the earliest mention of this type of calendar is in his book, The White Goddess, so it’s a shame that Lattari has stated this historical inaccuracy.
As well as the text, the book is beautifully illustrated by Emilio Ignozza. Everything is in shades of cream, blue, and green, indeed, as if it is lit up by moonlight! A nice touch.
After the plants section, we find symbols that relate to the particular moon. These include animals, crystals, phases of life, tarot cards, and plants. Then there’s a section on what to do during the month, and there are some nice ideas around seasonal baking, moon bathing, movement and dancing, and crafting.
Some chapters have a “pop icon” section, which is an artist or actor that resonates with the energy of the particular moon in question. Finally, there is a handy moon calendar printable in the back of the book.
Some of this book is excellent. I love the consistent structure, and the presentation is simply stunning. The colour choices and simple imagery really bring the whole volume to life. The author is obviously experienced with many plants and knows something about many cultures and practices.
I cannot recommend this book, however, due to it being rife with inaccuracies. She states, for example, that the Celts believed in the maid or virgin, the mother, and the crone, and that elder trees represented this. None of this is true, and the MMC trope is entirely modern and not based in Celtic traditions of any kind. She also says runes were used by the Celts for divination, again, simply not true.
She states that ripe elderberries can’t be eaten raw… well, me and my kids can tell you otherwise! Yes, you shouldn’t eat loads, but it’s simply not true to say they’re completely inedible. There is also a mixing of cultures which is jarring. In places, we quickly jump from Celtic to Greek to Chinese without any seeming connection. This may really appeal to those on an extremely eclectic path, but it seems more appropriative than appreciative, in my opinion.
While this is a gorgeous looking book, and an interesting read, it should not be used as a guide to moon magic due to the sheer volume of inaccuracies. Which is a shame, as there is a lot of otherwise great content here. I will still check out Lattari’s other work, but I won’t be recommending this volume or keeping it on my bookshelf.
About the Author
Cecilia Lattari is an actress turned author with one other title so far, Backyard Witchcraft. She’s also one of the co-creators of the Mystical Forest tarot deck and the Tarot Cards of Modern Goddesses deck. She graduated from the school of theatre in Bologna, and also has a degree in herbalism. She combines her love of theatre and plants to help people discover the innermost parts of themselves. She provides sensory and art experiences for schools, immersive fairy tale experiences, and various creative and informative herbal walks. Find out more at her website.
About the Author:
Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist and content creator. She’s a nature-based witch, obsessed with Irish and British Paganism and Folklore, plus she’s a massive plant nerd. She’s also a long-time Hekate devotee and a newbie Lokean. She works extensively with the UK Pagan Federation, including editing their bi-annual children’s magazine. Mabh is a passionate environmentalist and an advocate for inclusiveness and positive social transformation.
Mabh is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors, Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways, and most recently, Practically Pagan: An Alternative Guide to Planet Friendly Living. Search “Mabh Savage” on Spotify and @Mabherick on all socials.