As children, my brothers and my friends joined me in our outdoors escapades, exploring forests, making cubby houses and using everything we found in our games, such as thorns from rose bushes stuck on our noses so we could pretend that we were rhinoceroses, toadstools used as food on tree-stump tables when playing “Mummies and Daddies” (luckily, we didn’t eat them!) and pine cones as grenades in games of “Cops and Robbers” or sticks used as wands.
Gathering interesting seed pods, wildflowers, leaves, feathers, stones, Cicada shells and other objects found in the wild (and our back yards), we made a strong connection to nature and developed a keen interest in all she had to offer. While the boys got into fishing and camping, I preferred to wander off on my own to collect flowers and plants for striking my own little gardens, along with combing the seashore for shells and driftwood at dawn when we visited my Aunt’s holiday house in Seaspray – Victoria, Australia.
An early triumph was growing a large Rosemary bush from a small cutting given to me by an old lady down the road. She saw me admiring her equally large Rosemary over her fence and came to tell me all about its culinary use, as well as its application as a hair rinse. When she gave me the cutting and explained how to grow it, I felt like I was being invited into a secret world. I couldn’t wait to take it home and get started.
After placing it in a jar of water and setting it on the laundry windowsill, I waited impatiently for the roots to develop. After several days, I was thrilled to see them appear at the bottom of the stem and had to restrain myself from thrusting it into the ground straight away. After a few more weeks, I carefully planted it in my mother’s garden outside the kitchen, where I could keep an eye on it.
Over the years, the Rosemary branched out and grew taller, without any fertilizer or special care, other than communing with it secretly and ensuring that it wasn’t over-watered, like the old lady had advised. Even after I moved out, the bush continued to grow and it was the source of many oils, herbal vinegars and was used for countless Sunday Lamb roasts.
It wasn’t until years later when I discovered the medicinal uses of Rosemary, not to mention the magical uses. For example: Rosemary can be used in place of Frankincense for rituals, since both are considered to be masculine, ruled by the Sun and associated with the element of Fire.
Rosemary can be used in Smudging sticks to purify an area, with the magical energies of protection and the powers of exorcism. Other uses for Rosemary include improving memory and mental powers, healing and cleansing. Have you heard of the saying, “Rosemary for Remembrance”? Since Ancient times, this plant has been used in funerary rites and carried to hold the memories of the departed in times of grief.
Art by Walter Crane for Shakespeare's Hamlet
As a medicine, Rosemary supports neurological health, such as the degenerative effects of ageing on the brain and has anti-inflammatory actions in the body, as well as antioxidants and assistance with digestion.
I’ll be doing a deeper dive into Rosemary along with many other herbs and plants further down, but I wanted to illustrate how a simple sprig of a garden herb kicked off a lifelong adoration of the plant kingdom and everything associated with it.
For the uninitiated, gardening can appear to be a monumental task that requires hundreds of hours or many years of laborious study. If you’re not acquainted with growing your own plants for medicinal, magical, culinary or cosmetic use, it might seem to be daunting, but humans have been doing it since time began, without having to formalize their education for the purpose of having a piece of paper to prove their knowledge.
Just taking a walk in the garden, a park or forest, proves that plants do what they do best: growing – with a little help from sunshine, rain and pollinators. Human interaction can be as simple as transplanting, weeding and propagating. An approach ranging from trial and error to using your intuition is enough to get started, and while buying seedlings to start your garden is perfectly fine, there’s nothing more rewarding than growing your garden from seed.
My Parsley, Sage, Greek Oregano and French Thyme - all grown from organic seeds
Here at Hedgewitch Herbarium, you’ll learn about herbs and plants – from garden to forest to ocean – focusing on their uses in magical, medicinal, culinary and cosmetic applications. Let’s get started!
Disclaimer and further information
The Hedgewitch Herbarium Herbal Applications are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose or offer advice on any medical conditions. Please consult with your medical practitioner before using any herbs/plants internally or topically (especially if pregnant, nursing or caring for children, convalescing or elderly.)
Some of these plants are toxic and can cause death, while some are poisonous and some could bring about allergic reactions, so due diligence dictates further research before deciding to use them. Hedgewitch Herbarium bears no responsibility if anyone ignores this disclaimer.
Also - the temperatures and Zones in the growing condition sections are mostly for plants grown in the U.S. The information included in the Hedgewitch Herbarium Herbal Applications is not meant to be exhaustive, so if something piques your interest, do some further digging to discover more for ritual purposes and other endeavors. As time goes by, more information about Herbal Applications will be shared!
Thanking you in advance - Kelly Proudfoot: Owner/Operator of Hedgewitch Herbarium