Medium 9781911597223

A Woman's Book of Herbs

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Bursting with definitive information on a range of herbs, A Woman's Book of Herbs is an extensive guide to their use in healing the mind, body, and spirit:- where, when, and how to collect herbs, and how to dry, store, and prepare them- how to use them: their physical, emotional, and ritual uses- their mythological history and astrological significance- their main chemical components- recipes for food, drinks, and medicinesInfused with the author's empowering holistic approach to healing and her keen sense of importance for women of having understanding and control over the causes of ill-health and the variety of healing processes, A Woman's Book of Herbs is a unique and indispensable work.This is a reissue of the much-loved classic, first published in 1992.

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Part 1: Introduction

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This book is intended to be a celebration of healing plants and of women healers. I hope it is both poetic and practical. It can be read as a story of European plant life and as the collective memory of European people that has built up over the centuries. It can also be read as a mystical journey.

The book can be used by those who practise witchcraft and spellcraft for correspondences, planetary or wicca, or as a practical guide to the use of herbs to heal mind, body and spirit. Plant life is vital for our survival on this planet. We need plants for the oxygen we breathe, as well as for food, shelter, clothing, and even for the pages of this book. Yet despite our great dependence on plants, we know very little about them, apart from how they work physically.

In the 1930s Dr Bach, a homeopath, did some pioneering work on the more subtle characteristics of plants, and his discoveries formed the basis of thirty-eight remedies, using plant essences, for the treatment of varying emotional states.1 With this book I hope to take his work a stage further and add a flavour of my own.

 

Part 2: The Herbal

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The herbal is arranged so that each herb is classified under one of the seven planets. I felt this was the best way of organising the information to show the strong relationship between astrology and herbal medicine.

It will be seen that all herbs ruled by a particular planet have qualities in common, but that at the same time they have many different ways of working, depending on their individual temperament.

The herbs are described using a more ‘three dimensional’ approach than that usually found in herbals. That is, that not only are the physical uses described in detail, but the emotional and magical-ritual attributes of herbs are also outlined. Their action on the emotions will come as no surprise to those readers who are familiar with the work of Dr Bach, and I have included correspondences with the energy centres or chakras, and with psychic and spiritual applications where appropriate.

Plants work on all levels. Even if an individual is unaware of their action on the emotional or subtle bodies, changes will occur. People are transformed by plants in ways both obvious and subtle.

 

Part 3: Practical Information

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Collection of herbs

It is quite possible, even for those who live in cities, to collect their own herbs. Most of the common herbs can be found within waste ground, in city gardens and parks and in the commons and marsh lands. Also beside canals and rivers, and in the gardens of deserted houses.

One of the best patches of lady's mantle I have found in London grows in the flower beds of the Royal College of Physicians in Regent's Park. Is this a joke of the Goddess? Is She secretly undermining their patriarchal machinations, or was the gardener a witch? Whatever the reason, it always gladdens my heart when I walk there and I re-affirm to myself that She cannot be defeated.

People are often surprised that I collect my herbs from a city, arguing that pollution from traffic and factories must diminish their value or make them toxic. But everywhere is polluted to a greater or lesser degree. In large cities there is lead pollution, but in rural areas there is the pollution of pesticides which are often sprayed from the air and may be blown on to non-agricultural land and into streams and rivers. Plants absorb these poisons through their circulatory systems. Ever increased radioactivity from nuclear power stations enters the atmosphere and affects all life, including plants. Although we can take precautions to make sure our bodies are not overloaded with toxic chemicals, by eating natural foods and organic vegetables and eschewing chemical medicines, we cannot ensure that our foods and medicines are not physically tainted.

 

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