There are a variety of sources from where to obtain your magickal, medicinal, and culinary herbs, but none is as powerful or convenient as your own herb garden. In a previous post I showed you how I harvested some mint and hung it to dry. That mint is now ready for processing and storage, and I've also harvested some rosemary and basil, which will be hung to dry using the same method. You'll find a video at the end of this article giving some advice on how to tell when your herbs are ready to be processed and put away, which is important to know because the last thing you want is to reach for a spell component or herbal tea and find a bunch of moldy leaves!
Using Fresh Herbs
There is something about the immediate potency of using fresh herbs as magick herbs. Take rosemary for example. The most powerful "smudging" herb we've ever used is rosemary, but we don't burn it. Instead the fresh sprig or bunch is used by lightly tapping the person with it as you go from head to toe. I usually get goose-bumps on my arms when I have this done, not something that happens with anything else. The same method can be used if smudging a sacred space or even your entire house. The job can be made a little easier by tying the sprigs to a besom or making one from the rosemary springs, and using that as your smudging wand around the place. Remember to end up at a door so everything can be swept outside. We usually then add the rosemary to our compost pile rather than burn it.
When you're cooking with dried herbs, they're more concentrated so the recipes require less than if you were using fresh, but it's the opposite in magickal workings. They slowly lose the vitality stored within the fresh plant, but that is often the only way people have access to many of the herbs they use. If you want to make a lot of friends at the next big Pagan gathering you attend, bring some fresh herbs to hand out, either as small potted plants or as clipping. You don't need to spend gobs of money preparing this stuff, empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes filled with dirt make excellent temporary pots for this purpose. In fact, I'm thinking of doing this at Pagan Picnic 2013 in St. Louis. Here are a few pictures of me taking the mint that's been drying for a while and putting into tea bags for brewing up herbal drinking and bath teas. The tea bag blanks were kindly donated by Amitea, which is a fantastic place to get your teas!