Guest post by Tori
Before I write too many more herb posts, I wanted to give some context and put a bit of a disclaimer on it. There are things that I think are important to know about working with herbs and it just is not convenient to put them into each post. It makes the posts clumsy and more difficult to read than they need to be.
The first thing I have to stress, and people who have seen me give this speech in person will laugh, is do not mix your kitchen herbs and your magick herbs. You can do magickal cooking, but do not use your magick herbs. Even if they are edible, such as cinnamon or mint, they could get mixed with poisonous stuff by accident. So do not mix these two groups or you could easily poison yourself. Do not even mix the tools that come in direct contact with the herbs. This could include spoons, scissors, mortar and pestle, etc. I cannot stress these things enough! Most of the stuff you work with is probably not poisonous and if it is you probably don’t use enough to kill yourself. It may be enough, however, to cause you some significant measure of discomfort. So don’t risk it.
This goes for the things you store, boil, bake or anything your herbs in. There are ceramic containers that will add poisonous and harmful things into your creations. My advice is to get stuff that is safe for food. If it is safe for you to ingest their contents then it is safe for you to do just about anything else with them. Make sure you clean these things thoroughly, too. This isn’t to prevent poisoning, this is just to keep unwanted herbs out of things you make.
Also, make sure you know what you are allergic to and what commonly gives people rashes or other uncomfortable reactions. I would imagine that a painful rash is going to effect whatever ritual or spell you are trying to work.
I think that does it for my obligatory safety warnings. So I will move on to more fun stuff. This is mostly a series of tips about working with herbs. I am not going to go into how I make my recipes here, but if people are interested let me know in the comments and I will write a post on that.
There are a few small points to start off with. These are things I have found in my studies to be commonly believed, but I have not really done experimentation with. I kind of just trust it, because I either do not see a reason for it not to be true or it kind of makes sense. The first is that fresh herbs are more effective than dried. This means that dried one are the ones you need to grind in spells, while with fresh ones there is no need. Second, you should use ceramic instead of metal. This one I follow because I know the water out of my metal canteen sometimes tastes metallic, while water I drink out of ceramics does not have a strange flavor.
The darker glass containers (brown, green, etc.) are better than the clear ones, unless you specifically want the sun/moon to charge the concoction. This goes along with the idea of beers getting skunky. Sunlight can affect certain ingredients and make them go bad faster. I have not learned yet exactly which ones this affects, but I feel no need to risk it. I also just prefer how the brown draught bottles I use look.
For those of you just starting, here is the most important advice I can give you (besides don’t poison yourself). Don’t think you need all the fancy paraphernalia. You don’t need a fancy mortar and pestle. You can get that job done with either a cheap one from a thrift store or even just a bowl and a spoon. If you have to choose between good herbs and fancy tools always pick the good herbs. The tools are not as important as the herbs. The fact is that when you have finished a pouch, the smell is not going to be different if you used a mortar and pestle or if you use a bowl or a spoon. If you feel the bowl and the spoon didn’t crunch stuff up enough you can always squeeze the bag a bit, which is what you’ll end up doing anyway. At least if you work with them in a way similar to me.
A quick note about incense. I do not really work with this yet. My family, who I currently live with, are asthmatic and have violent reactions to it. My only advice, therefore, is make sure you read about how things smell when they are burned. It is not always the same smell as when they are just there. Some start out smelling sweet and then smell absolutely vile and some just smell vile. Some are POISONOUS when burned. So be very careful with this. You can do yourself serious harm or make your home very unpleasant.
And one more thing as a parting remark. DO NOT POISON YOURSELF. If you do, it isn’t my fault.