Merry Meet All,
Autumn is a magical time. Summer lingers on, but fall is around the corner. Gardens are ripe with many blossoming herbs. This post will tell you how to gather and dry herbs for your magical workings, crafts, and other related projects. The photo above was taken from my own garden. See the bee?
How to gather herbs
Wildcrafting is the gathering of herbs in their natural environment. When you are searching in the wild for chicory, nettle, or Echinacea, please respect the earth. Collect only as much of a plant or herb you need at the time. Never deplete an entire patch of wild raspberry or nettle. Let the patch or tree continue to grow in its wild state. Leave an offering for the plant and the Goddess. Nature maintains a natural balance.
A difference can be found in the taste of store bought herbs and your own garden grown herbs. Herbs should be gathered when they flower. When gathering herbs, cut above the node on the stem. Pick off the faded leaves and store in a dry place. When gathering flowers, cut the flowers just before they flower. Seeds should be gathered when they turn a brown color. Collect roots in the dormant season.
Ensure that you are selecting the correct herbs when you are wildcrafting. Bring a friend and a guidebook with you. You might mistake poison ivy for another plant.
People have been using herbs since millenia. Today they are still popular in oils, perfumes, and potpourris.
Fresh herbs should be picked before the heat of the midday sun or the volatile oils will evaporate. The drying of the leaves intensifies the flavor. Small leaves dry faster than large leaves. As a precaution, do not take more than two cups of any one of medicinal herbs in twenty-four hours. Some herbs are stronger than others. Moderation is advised.
Now is a good time to use your boline. Try corresponding the color of the plants and the earth element with your tool for cutting. The color of the scissors could be green.
Next, wash the herbs in a nearby lake- the water element, or your kitchen sink. Once clean, bind the herbs with embroidery floss or a rubber band. Tie a loop around the ends and hang the herbs from string in your kitchen to dry. Allow the herbs to dry for several days out of the way of direct sunlight. When the herbs are crisp to the touch, they are ready.
For instance, lemon balm has small leaves on its stems. When it is dry to the touch and easily crumbles, it can be ground in a mortar and pestle, and stored in a dry canning jar. While the leaves are drying, the tiny black seeds fall out. Store bundled herbs in a paper bag to collect the seeds.
If you are freezing the herbs, wash and dry the herbs in cold water first. Press the leaves in plastic bags. Put the leaves in single layers in the bags. Remove the hard stems and do not thaw the herbs before you use them.
If you want to store the herbs in jars, label the jar and write the date on the jar. Ensure the jar is not damp or wet. This causes the herbs to mold. Store somewhere dark and out of sight in a cupboard or pantry. The herbs will be properly prepared and easily accessible for your cooking or magical purposes. Be sure to be able to differentiate which herbs are safe to use for cooking and magic spells.