Plant Magic: The Beginner’s Guide

For centuries, plant magic and the subsequent care of those plants has been an honored tradition and staple part of life for those of us of the Witchy and mystical persuasion. But often the hows, whats and whys have escaped the knowledge of the general public. It’s more popular than ever to see luscious blooms, plant filled rooms and hashtags like #greenyourfeed trending on social media.

More and more of us are returning to our roots wether this be gardening, growing vegetables or caring for house plants. Join us as we dig up the earth and uncover the fascinating world of magical plants, their care, uses and benefits.

What is plant magic?

Let’s start with the absolute basics. What on this good green earth is plant magic and where did it come from? 

Plant magic or plant magick is the ancient practice of using certain herbs and plants that contain magical properties medicinally and within spells and rituals. Nowadays someone who practices plant magic may identify as a herb witch, hedge witch, green witch or plant witch.

Preparing herbs

These practices are renowned across the world throughout every culture and time period. Written evidence of plant magic can be found as early as the Egyptian era with herbs of thyme, lavender and peppermint used during mummification practices, owing to their clean scent and skin moisturizing oils.

The Greeks have had a love affair with the olive tree and the oil extracted from its fruit (yes, olives are technically a fruit) that has spanned centuries. Romans would decorate the heads of their royalty with laurel wreath crowns as the laurel is a symbol of great achievement and triumph. To this day the laurel still carries such symbolism.

Most popular magical plants and their uses

Of course it would be nearly impossible to list every single plant and it’s magical properties but some of the most popular magical plants include:

  • Sage: This herb is often dried and burned to create a smoke for a cleansing incense. It is also one of the best herbs for protection.
  • Lavender: This flower is very versatile, dried it can be used in spells, the oil can be extracted for herbal remedies or added to distilled water to create a sleep aiding pillow mist.
  • Chamomile, peppermint and ginger: Make excellent teas to ease stomach pain and indigestion, dried camomile can also be added to bath water to calm skin from sunburn and rashes.
  • Aloe Vera: Quickly heals the skin from burns, stings and minor injuries. Keeping an aloe Vera plant and cutting one of its leaves to access the fresh soothing gel is plant magic at its finest.
  • Mugwort: Can be used dried in spells or as a tea or incense and aids in lucid dreaming and astral projection.
  • Basil leaves: Represent abundance and wealth, writing a wish or desire on a basil leaf and burning it is a wonderful quick manifestation spell.
  • Patchouli: Has a powerful and exotic scent. It is used for protection and repelling magic as well as love, sex and wealth magic owing to its rich perfume like scent.
  • Rosemary: This herb has a medicinal history as well as a magical one. Used as a cleansing posy by doctors during the great plague, its magical use similarly is one of cleansing and clearing away negative energy.

There are many more magical plants and herbs and many more uses for each of them, this list demonstrates just how widely the variety of their use is. From oils, to teas and smoke incense, plant magic or magick crosses every form of matter be it solid, liquid or gas.

Plant magic in spells and rituals

So how would one go about using plants magically? What does spell craft with herbs and plants look like?

Plants are living energy, using them within a spell, or ritual will always enhance and strengthen a spell, despite the experience of the caster because the living energy, the Sun’s energy is stored within them, making even a simple spell exponentially more powerful.

Plant magick preparation

There are many different ways of using plants in spells and again it would be impossible to list every single one. The most popular methods by far are:

  • Burning for incense.
  • Dried and added to pouches and spell jars, or sprinkled around a cast circle for protection.
  • Extracted as oils for anointing (giving ceremonial purpose to) an object.
  • Burned as a ritual – as we know from our basil leaves in the previous paragraph.

A fast and easy plant magic spell

Ingredients

Ingredients be purchased at local whole foods stores or online at many witchcraft shops, Etsy is particularly abundant.

  • Vanilla incense in any form.
  • 1 tsp dried and crushed sage (or 1 whole leaf).
  • 1 tsp dried lavender flower heads.
  • A black or white string-pull closing pouch.
  • A white candle.

Method

Gather all your materials, so you will not need to move away from your altar or casting space once you begin.

Take a few calming and centring breaths as you bring your full focus and awareness to your actions.

Cast a circle if you are somewhere you haven’t cast a protective circle before or for a while, out in public or if your usual area where you cast magic feels stale or negative. However, if you are in your home, comfortable and happy in its energy a simple white light visualisation should be sufficient. If you are new to casting and unsure of assessing energies a full elemental and deity evoking circle should be cast.

Light your vanilla essence and cleanse your pouch by bathing it in the incense’s smoke.

Light the candle and then do the next steps high above it so you will not burn yourself and the herbs will not catch fire.

Gently add the sage saying aloud or thinking to yourself “Sacred herb please keep me grounded and protected from negative energy wherever I go, wherever I take you”.

Holding a lavender bouquet

Next add the lavender and say or think “Sacred flower please keep my mind clear and sharp and free of fog. Aid me in my thoughts and travels wherever I go, wherever I take you”.

Pull the strings of the pouch closed and tie a knot int the ends if the pouch falls open easily, to keep the herbs inside, press to your chest and say “I now hold this herbal protective charm, it will always keep me safe from harm, let nothing make me slow, sad or ill, so may it be as is my will”.

Blow out your candle and close your circle by thanking all the elements and deities that you invited in. Take this charm with you whenever you leave the house and store it at your altar or place of magic casting each night to keep it charged.

Plant care for self-care

What about using plants as acts of magical self-care? How can you make your care of plants itself more magical?

The care of plants itself IS magical. Watching a tiny seed sprout it’s first shoots in spring and then grow into a small plant then into a full adult plant that flowers, fruits in the late Summer and eventually drops its leaves (evergreens exempt) to rest over Autumn and Winter and work on its root system is fascinating.

For the budding plant witch or green witch following and journaling a single plants progress throughout the year is a wonderful way of growing their craft. Observing how they are never too early or too late and how they evolve exactly as they are supposed to, using micro changes in daily temperature and sunlight length to make these changes.

Plants are alive

Plants are a living energy by watching them and living with the seasons we can learn a lot about ourselves, not to mention the whole thing is an exercise of patience and reminds us to slow down. Caring for house plants and potted plants means the plants are cut off from natural daylight times, an abundance of deep nutrient dense earth and rainfall. Therefore, your plant relies solely on you for all its needs.

Woman watering a plant

To bring your current care of plants up to a more magical practice there a few tips you can try:

  • Your plant will need fertiliser during its growing months (when the plant is growing new leaves, flowers or fruits) when you add this you can talk to your plant, studies have shown plants respond better and grow bigger when we talk to them or play music for them.
  • You can sing or say a plant charm each time you water them our favorite is “plant bloom and grow, let your flowers show, let your fruits be sweet and for many years let us meet”.
  • A rose quartz or clear quartz crystal placed on top of the soil within the pot of your plant will surround the plant with positive energy encouraging it to grow.
  • Make your weekly plant maintenance a ritual by burning incense whilst you tend to your plants.
  • You can consecrate a special bottle to store your fertiliser in and enchant this bottle to add increased protection to your plant.
  • Consider investing in an herb house which contains specific uv bulbs that keep plants happy. This can be painted with moon phases, flowers or you could use stickers anything you like.

A DIY recipe using plants

So we care for the plants and the plants care for us. Plants have a long history of cosmetic use. From chamomile face masks to lemon and sugar lip scrubs, the internet is rife with DIY recipes containing herbs and magical plants. The rose water hand cream (for soft hands and a romantic boost) is our favorite.

Pink roses

Ingredients

  • 1 part olive oil.
  • 1 part beeswax.
  • 1 part organic rose water.
  • A screw top container like a small jar.
  • Pink food coloring (optional).

Method

  • In a pan melt the beeswax on a low heat.
  • Add the oil, colourant then take off the heat and add the rose water and stir thoroughly to ensure it is combined evenly.
  • Gently pour into your chosen jar or vial and leave to cool over night with the lid off.
  • Apply to hands and rub in, enjoy the scent of romantic roses and the prospect of a new (or deepening of a current) relationship being on its way to you.

Wild plant magick and forest therapy

What if being around plants can have physical as well as magical benefits?

Finally our favorite form of plant magick: it’s free, keeps us healthy, feels good and supports our mental health. It’s forest bathing. Forest bathing is so easy, grab your most comfortable shoes, a coat if it’s chilly and get to somewhere with trees. Breathe in that fresh air.

Illuminated forest

Researchers have discovered that there is science that backs up the magical feeling that comes with being in a forest: Phytoncide (the airborne chemical released by trees and fungi) activates our white blood cell production which gives our immune systems a boost, simply seeing the color green allows us to produce more serotonin (the happy hormone) and hearing the wind in the trees, bird song and other sounds of nature grounds and centres us slowing down our over stimulated brains. There are so many things to do in the woods:

  • Take a picnic.
  • Build a stick house.
  • Follow a river a race sticks.
  • Pick flowers and leaves to press.
  • Forage for wild food. (Always seek guidance of an expert as many poisonous mushrooms imitate benign cousins almost identically, the same goes with wild berries.)
  • Bird watch and look for animal tracks like fox and deer.

No forest close by or transport to access one? Not to worry the same benefits can be achieved by gardening, even tending to a small container or shelf garden once a week can make a difference, it’s all in the soil.

Not that our witch ancestors knew the science behind it but as they shed their black cloaks and danced naked in the woods under the full moon, they weren’t crazy, simply soaking up the plant magic all around them.

Conclusion

As you can see the world of plant magic is a deep and complex one. We’ve touched on most aspects of the craft here from the magical history of plants to their properties and uses in spells, rituals and self-care recipes, the physical and magical benefits of plant magick and simply how much joy this practice can bring.

However there is much more out there waiting to be discovered. As with all forms of the magic the fun is when we take information out there and use it to develop our own practices, we encourage you to explore this beautiful green world of plant magic and make it your own.

Further reading

  • For more in depth information about forest therapy: Forest therapy: seasonal ways to embrace nature for a happier you by Sarah Ivens.
  • For the magical and medicinal properties of herbs: Master book of herbalism by Paul Beyerl.
  • For Spiritual guidance via herbs which also comes with an oracle deck: The illustrated Herbiary by Maia Toll.
  • For more spells and rituals involving plants and herbs: The Green Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock.