I know that there are several different books, and even more websites giving information on different flowers and their magical properties. But as I considered what to write for this Thursday Talking Point, I realised that for the most part all of these references are not needed. At least I no longer need them.
When it comes to working with flowers, and any other plant, heeding your intuition can do you more good than any reference book, however well-written or accurate it may be.
Think about the different flowers and plants you may see in in your travels through life. What images, thoughts, or memories come to mind when you see a flowers in a vase, how about growing wild? What do you think about you pull bay leaf from your larder or peppercorns? What do the scents or the tastes remind you of? What do they look like?
All of these thoughts, images, smells, flavours, associations are more meaningful for you than any list off a web site.
When I think of daffodils, I think of endings and new beginnings, winter and springtime, and change. I would use them in magical workings associated with these things.
I associate bay leaves with with speaking as I think they look like little tongues If want to stop gossip against me, I will use a bay leaf because to me it resembles a sharp tongue. Folding it and tieing it round with a thread works to bind the gossiper’s tongue.
If I want others to hear a person’s gossip and falsehoods for the lies they are, I will roll a bay leaf up with a pinch of asafoetida inside. And if you’ve ever smelled asafoetida, you know why this is effective. (An alternate name for this spice is devil’s dung.)
On the other hand, if I am wanting to make my words softer or need help in finding the right things to say, I will use lamb’s tongue, a plant with soft, velvety rounded leaves, and perhaps a bit of honey.
When I am doing any kind of spell work, I begin by considering what it is that I want to accomplish. Spellcasting for me is not a first-line reaction, I will try mundane (muggle – Thank you JK Rowling!) methods first. I open myself up to receiving intuitive inspiration, sometimes by standing in front of my spice jars, or by sitting quietly doing something that doesn’t take my full concentration, but distracts the rational part of my brain. Knitting, or washing dishes, or even playing a game of cards can work here.
Slowly, herbs or spices or flowers or other plants will come into mind for what I am wanting to do. Just as with cooking, having a general idea of what plants go with which intention is a helpful starting point. Am I doing heavy work, or light? Attempting a healing, or a financial spell? Am I binding a situation, or severing a relationship? Stopping illegal actions, or boostng confidence?
My general rule of thumb is to limit what I am using to 3 or fewer plants. When you start adding more you can end up with a finished dish quite different from what you expected, whether using those plants for culinary purposes or magical..
Yes, I know there are exceptions. Many cuisines around the world have spice mixes which incorporate a list of ingredients as long as your arm. These mixes have been developed and fine tuned over a few hundred years by thousands of cooks, they weren’t just thrown together in 5 minutes. We are seeing the final product not the culinary disasters that came before. You will also discover that many of these “official” spice mixes have a dozen or more variations on which exact spices are used, depending upon where you buy it or which recipe book you find it in. I’ve seen at least 3 different versions of Chinese 5 Spice and a couple different Cajun Spice mixes.
Of course, one could argue that reference books on magical properties of plants have also been fine-tuned and developed over time. And absolutely that is true. There are times when I find myself drawn to use a particular plant with no inkling of an idea why. That is when I will do a bit of searching and looking through references. Invariably, I will discover a link or association to what I am hoping to accomplish that I hadn’t been aware of before.
I would encourage anyone wishing to develop their intuition to first think about what they could use, and then check what they have come up with against the references available.
There will come a time when you are drawn to use something, yu know exactly why, and the references books all disagree with you.
When that happens, ignore the book.