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God Herbs Versus Goddess Herbs
Herbs are a strong correspondence to use in rituals and spells. But sometimes you want to work specifically with the masculine energies of the God or the feminine energies of the Goddess. How do you know which herbs are appropriate, especially when the guidebooks contradict each other? Remember that correspondences and their meanings are not set in stone. They can have different associations for different people, and guidebooks are best used as a jumping off point as you explore what works for you. Use your intuition when evaluating herbs for use.
Here is a rule of thumb that has worked for me. Herbs that want to represent the Goddess tend to love water and grow in moist, shady spots. For example, mint and catnip are Goddess herbs, at least to me. Goddess herbs have no real scent or they smell like cool green plant matter. Their taste is bland or bitter rather than spicy. Their leaves are usually dark green, full, lush, broad, and round. Herbs are not known for their showy flowers, but the more flowery types are usually sacred to the Lady. By contrast, herbs that gravitate toward the God are strongly scented such as rosemary and lavender, and often have a spicy taste such as oregano. Their leaves are usually spiny or spear-shaped, and often pale like sage to reflect away the sun's strong rays. The narrow shape of the leaves reflects the Godís phallic nature but also presents a smaller surface area so as to lose less water. Of course there are exceptions, but if the herb in question looks at home in the dark forests of the northern world, it is probably a Goddess herb. If it looks like a sunny Mediterranean herb, toughing it out with not much water, it is probably a God herb.
Some may ignore this method as a simplistic generalization, and others may find it helpful. What I hope is that this article will get you thinking about what works for you. Best of all is to ignore what you're told and to touch and smell your herbs instead, opening your mind to receive their psychic impressions. For example, does oregano serve the Lord or the Lady? It has round leaves, so it must be a Goddess plant, right? Well, the leaves are round but relatively small to prevent water loss. I would consider it a God plant because of its spicy taste and ability to thrive in dry conditions. But the gods have a sense of humor and will not hold a correspondence misidentification against you. If you make a choice that seems like a mistake in retrospect, donít sweat it. Just make a note in your Book of Shadows (where you keep instructional materials such as correspondence lists) and carry on. Itís all part of gaining experience in herb lore and strengthening your intuition. And it is always good to have an all-purpose reference to consult when learning more about herbs. Two I recommended can be found on Amazon.com: Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and The Modern Herbal by Mrs. Grieve, which comes in two volumes: A Modern Herbal, Vol. I: 1 and A Modern Herbal, Vol. II: 002
See my Amazon.com author page for books on paganism starting at 0.99 cents.
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