Sunday, September 7, 2014

Herbs and the Wildwood

I've been studying herbal healing for quite a while now, and it's something I find extremely rewarding and enjoyable. There is nothing quite as satisfying as hand-mixing a personal blend of elderberry, elder flower, red clover (or any other appropriate herb, root or berry) into a gently aromatic and tasty tea…with health benefits!

I remember quite vividly my first encounter with the power of herbal medicine: I was in my second year of high school and was feeling a rather "backed up" (ahem). I decided to take a cup of senna leaf tea from my mother's cupboard, doubting it would really have any particular impact on my system. Its taste was pleasant, and shortly after drinking it I went to bed. The next day was one of the most embarrassing days of my life. My intestines whistled and rumbled throughout each of my classes, and I was sure that everyone could hear. I had to run to the bathroom at least three different times, which was humiliating, to say the least. But I learned a really good lesson - herbal medicine really works!

I have a small herb garden, do some wildcrafting, and purchase the rest of my dried plants and roots from a local metaphysical shop. My library has expanded over time to include a nice array of books on both healing and magical properties of various plants and roots, as well as a multitude of preparations from infusions and decoctions to tinctures and salves. I suppose my Queen of Pentacles aspect is in full glory when I'm digging my hands in the earth tending my garden, and just as much so when a child comes down with the sniffles and I sift through my bundles of leaves and flowers to find just the right combination to help them start to feel better.

Likewise I take great pleasure in crafting grisgris bags to address an array of energetic or material lulls, whether financial, career-oriented, or even issues related to embracing self-love and heightening self-esteem. Herbs are a gift from nature that help heal us and improve our lives in so many ways!

As with all things, herbal study is an ever-evolving practice. I will never stop expanding and growing, and truthfully still consider myself a novice to the art. I was moved to pull out my Wildwood a couple of days ago, and as I was sitting with my cards I decided to pull three cards regarding my path as a medicinal and magical herbalist:

Wildwood Tarot/Will Worthington

Balance ~  8 of Stones ~ Pole Star

XIV Balance is closely related to the Temperance card in more traditional Tarot, and is a card of alchemy. In the DruidCraft Tarot this card bears the name "the Fferyllt," and features a woman standing over a cauldron mixing potions, such as what a healer would do. In the Wildwood two dragons, red and blue, curl around a tree creating a shape reminiscent of the commonly used medical symbol, the caduceus, (which itself is a misrepresentation of the original rod of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing - but I digress!). I was pleased to see this card because it has such close associations with healing - it felt like a confirmation of the path I'm on.

Next I was not at all surprised (and in fact really happy) to see the 8 of Stones, a card of apprenticeship and long-term learning. This is a card of study and acquired skill, supporting the potential for mastery of the topic in question as long as plenty of effort and energy is dedicated to the process. The man in the Wildwood image is carving stone lamps, though it very much looks (to me) like he's hard at work with a mortar and pestle! 

Finally, another healing card punctuates the line of three, the inspiring Pole Star. The Star is a light in the darkness. The Wanderer enters the deep wood where visibility will be low. There will be much to see and learn, though it may be incremental - with so many trees, perspective is limited. But the path is taking the Wanderer ever onward, and the Star is a hopeful symbol that all is as it is meant to be. 

I was very moved by this reading. 

Now, time to head to the library ;-)


  1. You are not the only one. This is a beautiful and almost magical reading. I am so happy for you; to be able to find such fulfillment in your herbal study and practice both medical as well as magical. For me brewing and grinding herbs feels so romantic and enchanting. I would love to be able to do this too but this is definitely not one of my skills. I do have some herbs in my garden and I love to smell them but that's it.:)

    1. Hi Ellen! There really is a certain romance and enchantment to working with herbs, I know what you mean! Even aromatically herbs are so delightful. Like you, I sometimes just go to the garden and wave my hands through the rosemary and inhale deeply. Blessings to you!

  2. I just got the Wildwood myself and it's such a beautiful deck. That 8 of Stones is a perfect card to get :) Herbs are a very regular part of my practice, both magically and practically. I actually just blogged about a bath I made for myself this morning. They're powerful teachers, subtle, but powerful. Best of luck on your journey! (PS: We had met on that FB tarot group ;) )

    1. Excellent, I love that connection! Your blog is excellent, I'll have to look for your post about the bath. I agree with you completely that herbs are wonderful teachers. It's nice to connect with others who work closely with plants, thanks for stopping through! :)

  3. What a very beautiful reading, Olivia! I always see Temperance/equivalents as connected to healing, and the other two cards are so perfect, too. Wishing you well on this journey of learning, healing and helping :)

    1. Thank you, Chloe, for stopping through and for the encouraging words!! :)