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Magical properties of herbs/woods/resins/colors etc. How did they come to be?


Kalinia

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I appologize if this has been talked about before, but I was just sitting here reading, and thinking about a few things. I was wondering what everyone believes is the reason behind all of the magical properties of each herb, wood, resin, candle color, essential oil, etc? I have always just kind of gone with what feels "right" when working with different items. As I have progressed in reading through different books, articles, forums, blogs, etc, I have picked up on the general properties of items, from what has been listed on each source, without much question. Well today, I was thinking hmmm how did this come to be exactly? I am presuming that it is from trial and error from many people in the past, that have passed down the information from what worked for them. And that also got me thinking how interesting it must have been to be one of the first to find out the magical/healing/etc properties of different herbs and oils such.

 

It also is very interesting to me on how different colors and aromas effect people, but I wonder if there wasnt something out there stating the properties of a certain color or smell, if they would affect people differently?

 

So I know this is a bit all over the place lol, but what do you all believe or understand on where the properties of different candles/herbs/etc come in to place? Do you go by what is said in most popular books/articles, such as white sage is for smudging/healing/purifying etc, or do you work with something and see what it does for you personally?

 

Thanks for taking the time to read!

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If you ate it and it cured a problem, then it became known for that. If you ate it and it killed you, others knew not to eat it because it was poison to humans.

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So I know this is a bit all over the place lol, but what do you all believe or understand on where the properties of different candles/herbs/etc come in to place? Do you go by what is said in most popular books/articles, such as white sage is for smudging/healing/purifying etc, or do you work with something and see what it does for you personally?

 

 

 

Flipping sage, the Wiccan cure all....

 

I actually think you ask some really pertinent and interesting questions in your post. And you are right to do so. A witch who accepts the word of others for the "correspondences" attached to different properties is limiting the chance of using her intuition to find uses that resonate better with her personally. I also dislike the "absoluteness" of commonly accepted associations. I use things differently in different workings. I may use red to incite rage one day but the next day I may use it to help me visualise the tranquility of an evening sunset. It is too simplistic to say that things have one fixed key association and never deviate from it.

 

Having said that, I'm personally happy to accept a bit of the old trial and error that witches before have done for me. I'm not going to experiment with every herb in my garden to find one that helps me sleep or helps me break hexes. Enough witches have told me that lavender and agrimony (respectively) work well for these purposes. However when using both I retained an open mind as there is always a strong chance that an accepted correspondence will not work well in a given situation or for a given individual and if that is the case, its far better to experiment for a method of your own than to stick with "what the book says..."

 

I get frustrated with witches who accept associations at face value and point to long winded tables of association as evidence for why they do their workings. Correspondences can only ever be at best a guideline and to me any experienced witch worth her salt will have her own personal lists of what works/has worked for her and will use her own thoughts and intuition when choosing ingredients for a spell.

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Thank you for the replies. I have browsed so many forums where people automatically limit themselves to the properties that have been laid out on different "fact sheets" and such, and get angry when someone goes against that. When I first started on my path, I did the same thing. ( Limited myself, not getting angry at others lol)

 

I think that many who become serious about their craft, and practice it as a lifestyle eventually branch out naturally, and find what works for them for different uses/reasons. I am however also happy to accept a bit of trial and error from the past as well, especially if it just feels right from the start.

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As someone who hears plants, I believe there were others with the same ability and they were told by the plants themselves what they're good for. (Read up on the Cherokee explanation of the beginnings of plant/herbal medicine ... same thing.)

 

Like others, I'm happy to use what others have found through time as a guideline. However, "accepted correspondences" are only suggestions in my book. I use what feels right to me at the time for anything, whether it's a plant energy, aroma, color ... because if it doesn't have meaning to me, it's not going to be very effective. Hell, I've had a plant ask to be used in a spell because it/they liked what I was doing (it was a hex on a neighbor) and wanted to be part of it.

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That is very interesting! What is it like for you to hear them? Do you hear actual sounds, words, or is it your voice inside of your mind, saying what you know they want you to hear as they project it to you? I love your avatar by the way, I keep seeing it, and it makes my day lol

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That is very interesting! What is it like for you to hear them? Do you hear actual sounds, words, or is it your voice inside of your mind, saying what you know they want you to hear as they project it to you? I love your avatar by the way, I keep seeing it, and it makes my day lol

 

Ummm ... none of the above. "Feelings" is the best way to describe it. Like the one that wanted in on the hex. Although I heard no words, I had an impression of the herb (it was Catnip, btw) wiggling in its seat with its hand in the air saying "oooh, pick me, pick me". Whichever character on "Welcome Back, Kotter" that did that. It's sorta like that. Hard to describe.

 

Thanks about the avatar. I rather think it's "me"! :D

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I use Traditional associations, but not the new-agey type shit found in books on the shelves at the bookstore or online.  I choose to use the correspondences that my family uses, coupled with my own personal whims, which are usually based on what has worked in the past for me or someone that I know and trust.  Occasionally, the "traditional" connection will not feel right, and I will get the urge to try something different.  Generally, I fall into the "if it works, why fuck with it category".

 

This thread is related . . . http://www.traditionalwitch.net/forums/topic/9512-why-are-colours-important-in-magicthis-is/?hl=correspondence.  You can also search for any thread, which mentions "intuition" for additional perspective on this.

 

 

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As someone who hears plants, I believe there were others with the same ability and they were told by the plants themselves what they're good for. (Read up on the Cherokee explanation of the beginnings of plant/herbal medicine ... same thing.)

 

 

 

This is what I was thinking as I read the OP.   The plants will tell you if you listen.  

 

 

Some things come from the realm of psychology. For example, red=sex, rage, passion, raw emotions.  Genitals, nipples and lips become red when aroused, cheeks or faces become red when angry, blood is red and is spilled in connection with violent or emotionally charged situations. So psychologically, most people associate red with those things. 

 

  For plants, a lot of the "magical" associations stem from what its effects are on the body.  For example Lavender is a relaxing herb that helps bring on sleep in some people. So...it would be natural that people would use it spells relating to sleep.  

 

I also think that much of the new age correspondences come from a mix of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda in relation to plants and stones.  Then throw some Native American, Latin American and some African correlations in there and you have a nice little new age witches brew ripe for every teenage online book of shadows.  

 

I find that some of the best magic stems from things I figure out myself because I actually listened to what the spirits were saying and discovered something new.  That adds a whole other flavor to the magic that "correspondences" can't match.  I also find I am more in to the endeavor than I would be if I was just doing whatever by rote from "the book" and not being creative or inspired. I write it down later if I remember, but the important part is the doing, the feeling and KNOWING.  If the shit hits the fan, your book of correspondences "aint gonna do shit" locked up in your house while your ass is a ditch with a busted up car. KNOW your craft. 

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Aside from plants, which have quantifiable medical/poison uses, I think the correspondences for colors and other non-edible ingredients came through use/success/collective belief. If it doesn't work, a witch (in general) won't keep using it. Then if it works over time, others throw their belief and support behind it. The object/ingredient grows in power through these successive uses. And so on and so on. Thus why ingredients can have different effects and uses from culture to culture and region to region. And why correspondences are not the be all end all. Ingredients will usually inform the witch how it's to be used, not necessarily the other way around. I personally believe that the power of a working is more in the will of the practitioner, not in the ingredients.

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There are very few plants that I can speak with.  For most - it's a totally foreign language that I just do not understand. 

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There are very few plants that I can speak with.  For most - it's a totally foreign language that I just do not understand.

 

I hope that you are not thinking that just because some people have such skills that you should have or ever will have the same. We all have different gifts.

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Oh, no - not at all. 

 

The plants that I can and do speak with - it's a very fluent communication.  For the ones that I cannot - it's a totally different language.  There are times that when language is a barrier that you can still get certain ideas across but it's difficult for me.  Maybe someday I'll understand them better.  Maybe I won't. 

 

For now, I appreciate and cherish the relationships that I have with the ones I have relationships with.  For the others, I respect that they may just not want to talk to me right now - if ever.

 

There are some things that I'm very good at.  Working with plant spirits in general isn't really one of them.  I tend to have a 'black thumb' so it doesn't really surprise me.  I love gardening and working with plants but for the most part - I suck at it.  I'm really good at bringing a sick plant back to health but maintaining a healthy one - not so much. 

 

I am getting better at it though.  I have a couple house plants that are doing very well and one that's thriving and that just thrills me to no end.  I hesitate to bring in any more because I feel that there's more work to do with building the relationships I have with the ones I have now.

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I always go more with what feels right to me more so than what is the standard correspondences for things. I was writing a class for an online school a while ago and addressed this in one of my classes on Magical Herbalism.

 

Typical Correspondences for Mandrake Root:
 
Gender: Masculine 
Planet: Mercury
Element: Fire
Powers: Protection, Fertility, Money, Love, Health
 
Looking at Mandrake Root, it’s considered a Fire herb, ruled by Mercury, however as I look at it, I see Fertility, Money, Love and Health, three Earth related correspondences (Fertility, Money and Health) and one Water based one (Love). There is no reason why Mandrake then can’t be changed to something more like this:
 
Mandrake Root:
 
Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Earth
Powers: Fertility, Money, Health
 
I always found it strange that roots would have fire or air correspondences given they develop, grow and feed from the Earth.
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