Herbs have long been involved in magical practices. Without going into too much detail, I will explain various techniques often used in magic relating to herbs. It is up to you to seek out the appropriate rituals and/or herbs to use with these techniques, if you so desire. Otherwise, you can look on this section as a matter of interest.
Medicine bag, mojo bag or Talisman
A mojo bag is simple to make and may provide powerful luck and magic, especially of the protective sort. To create one is really a simple task, though you may choose to make one more or less elaborate, according to your personal tastes.
In its simplest form, you can simply place your items in the center of a piece of lightweight cloth, bring up the corners, and tie the bundle shut with a string. However, you may want something a little sturdier, especially if you'll be keeping it in your pocket on a regular basis.
First, find some scraps of leather, felt, or other heavy, tightly woven fabric that appeals to you, in a color that suits your working. Cut two identical pieces in a shape that appeals to you. Don't try to make fancy shapes. Stick with circles, rectangles, etc. At the top of each shape there should be a bit of an outdent, as wide as you need it to be, to make the mouth of the bag.
Place the two pieces with their outsides facing each other and with a heavy needle and thread stitch all the way around the outside, leaving the mouth open. Be sure to put extra stitches around the mouth area for extra strength. Once you've tied off your thread, turn your bag right-side out and you're done.
You can now place whatever herbs or other objects you wish to inside of it and tie off the mouth with a ribbon or cord. If you want to make a drawstring for your bag, simply cut little evenly spaced holes around the mouth area of the bag and thread your chord through them so that the two loose ends meet up again at the same side. Tie the two loose ends together.
Many objects can be placed inside this bag and it can be carried or worn around the neck as a charm to bring luck, love, money or to ward off evil spirits or curses. Some people wear very personal bags representative of their own totem spirits. These bags may contain dried herbs, various types of stones, feathers, animal claws, bits of fur, seeds, or whatever else the practitioner decides will be useful.
Incense is any herb or combination of herbs that are burned to fill the air with smoke. Incense can be used for smudging. Incense is often used during ritual to "set the mood" and to create sacred space. It may be used as an offering as well. Occasionally incense is used in aromatherapy as well, but most often, essential oils are used.
See also How to Blend Your Own Incense To Burn In A Censer
Purification by Smoke
Smudging is very simple to do with materials that are very easy to gather. The herbs are simply burned, either in a bowl or another container, or bundled together to form a smudge stick, and the smoke from the herbs is wafted over an individual or object or throughout a space to purify it. The smoke may be directed toward to subject using a feather, a hand, or the practitioner's breath. Smudge sticks are made by bundling herbs together and binding them tightly with a string. Incense may also be used for smudging.
The spiritual basis of using smoke to purify something is rather a difficult concept to master and even more difficult to explain, but I will do my best: When an offering is placed in the fire, the fire burns away all of the waste, leaving the pure essence of the offering which is taken away on the smoke. By smudging ourselves, we are offering ourselves to the spirits, gods or whatever and seeking to become purified in the way that offering has, by burning away our impurities, leaving just our essence for magical workings. However, we can't very well burn ourselves up, that would be counterproductive. So, we allow the smoke to waft over our body, sort of purifying it by proxy.
Smudging may be used to purify an individual before beginning magical workings, or to purify magical tools or the magical space before rituals.
Please note that burning any herb can release toxic gases and inhaling any smoke is unhealthy. Smudging should only be done in a well-ventilated space or outdoors.
Holy water, made popular by Christianity, is certainly not monopolized by it. Many cultures revere the purifying properties of water, which is used in many ways during various rites. Most often it is used for cleansing people, objects or the ritual space and it is also used during rites of passage. While many rituals call simply for pure water, or salt water, some people prefer to use herbal waters and many different herbs have been used in the past for these purposes.
Essential oils are used extensively in aromatherapy. They may also be used like incense in a ritual or as an offering or blended with a carrier oil or into a salve to anoint objects and people involved with a ceremony.
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