as written by Dame Goodkind of Greysham

Gathering of the Herbs; The ritual way of gathering and of charging herbs has been passed down since ancient times. These are the tried and true methods used by herbalists for many generations of our people.

1. Always pluck herbs with the left hand. If the right hand must be used it should be poked through the loose left sleeve.

2. Never turn your face into the wind while plucking herbs.

3. Look to the herb as you pluck it, never glance behind you.

4. Never touch an herb with cold iron. If a circle is to be drawn around the herb with sword or knife, the blade must not be allowed to touch the roots. Acceptable cutting tools are deer horn, bronze, wood, stone or gold. It is advisable to use a white handled cutting tool.

5. Always address the herb as you cut it and tell of your purpose for doing so.

6. Do not allow the herb to touch the ground after it has been plucked. Lay the herbs on a cloth or in a basket or upon wheat or barley. If the herb touches the ground the power will leak back to the earth.

7. If you must be clothed, it is best to wear white robes while gathering herbs. Shoes should not be worn, nor should jewelry, excluding even talismans of the gods.

8. Repayment to Ereth may be made with an offering of wine, beer, honey, bread, seed or a token of stone, gem or coin.

Planting and harvesting;

      The ground for cultivating herbs should be dug during the fourth lunar phase. The annual herbs are planted during the first or second lunar phase. The biennial herbs are planted during the third or fourth lunar phase. Plant your perennial herbs during the third lunar phase.
      Graftings or making stem cuttings should be done during the first or second lunar phase, with the moon passing through one of the fertile signs.
      The herbs should be harvested during the third or fourth lunar phase, with the moon passing through one of the barren signs. Herbs that yield their harvest above ground, any leaf, seed or flower, should be planted when the moon is waxing, during its first and second quarters. Root crops should be planted when the moon is waning, during the third and fourth quarters. The harvesting of all should be done at or just after full moon. If you intend to store it, pick it in the last quarter, toward the dark of the moon. Mushrooms of any kind should be picked during the full moon.
      The best time to gather herbs for their flowers and leaves is during the summer months, always early in the morning after the dew has dried.. Some herbs are best when plucked in full flower while others need to be gathered when first budding. Prolific and shrubby plants may be cut one third of the way down their stems, while leafy herbs should only have selected leaves plucked, so that they will continue to produce throughout the year. The seeds should be harvested when they appear. Roots are best harvested in the fall or winter when the leaves have died down.

Storing herbs;

      To dry and store the herbs, you should wash them if muddy or dusty and then shake the moisture well of. Pat them dry with a clean cloth. Tie long stemmed herbs and roots in bunches and hang them in a warm, dry, airy room or space. They can be covered loosely with an open weave, light cloth to prevent dust from gathering on them if you wish. Roots can be sliced to facilitate drying although some should be dried whole. Seeds, small herbs or single leaves can be dried on trays with cloth screening or on sheets of paper. Once the leaves are crisp, strip them from their stems and store them as needed.
      An ideal herb jar is one of opaque glass, ceramic or stone. This will prevent the herbs from spoiling in the sunlight. The jar must be stoppered with a tight cork or a ground glass stopper to keep moisture from spoiling the herb. If you must use clear glass, keep the jars stored away from the sun. Check the containers during the first week of storage to be sure that no moisture appears. If it does, spread the herbs out to dry for a few more days. Wooden vessels are acceptable for short term storage only. Herbs may be stored for temporary purposes in paper envelopes. Always label your herbs and preparations using an indelible ink.

Enchanting the Herbs;

      Before actually using your herbs for magical purposes, they must be properly enchanted. Enchantment may be performed on a single herb or a mixture of herbs. If several herbs are needed for a spell or potion, they should be added singly as they are needed to the mixture. It is done just prior to using the herb for a spell. In some cases it may be advisable to enchant the herb when it is harvested. This is a preliminary enchantment only and one must still attune the herb before it is used in a preparation.
      Keep wooden, ceramic or glass bowls for enchanting uses only. Place out the bowl you are using on your alter of magic or as it is done according to your method of casting. Place the containers of herbs around the bowl. If it is required of you, place any other equipment you will need with them. Enchant your herbs at a time when you will be free from interruption.
      Pour the herb into the bowl and gaze upon it. Run the fingers of your power hand through the herbs while charging the plant with your need.. It is best to sing your need to the plant. When you sense that the enchantment is complete, cease your actions and proceed.
      If you must add additional herbs to a mixture, add them one at a time and re-enchant the mixture with each addition.
      If you are enchanting single herbs in succession, remove the previously enchanted herb from the bowl and wipe the bowl with a clean cloth.
      If the herbs are to be finely ground, grind them first, before enchanting.
      If you are enchanting roots or branches, they may simply be held in your power hand or laid across the bowl.

Preparing herbs;

      For the proper use of herbs, one must know how to prepare them. You must memorize these instructions to enable you to follow the recipes and formulas you will find in your books of herbal remedies.

Dried plants;   Take the dried herbs and crush with a mortar and pestle. Use a wooden or stone mortar depending on the formula. Add about a salt spoon to water and let steep.

Infusion;   Use no metal containers when preparing your herbs. Boil your water in a glass or ceramic pot. Make an infusion by pouring water that has just reached the boiling point over the green parts of your herbs. It is best to cover the container you are making the infusion in so as not to lose the steam. Steep for about 10 minutes and then remove the herbs from the water. You must strain it, cool it and store it in a tightly stoppered jar.

Vinegar infusion;   Steep dried herbs in distilled vinegar for two to three weeks. Then filter and dilute to use as preferred.

Decoction;   This is to extract the medicinal properties of the roots, bark and other woody parts of the herbs. If there are green parts with the plant, start with cold water. Place the plants in a glass pot, cover with water and boil for the given period of time. Then you must strain the liquid through fine cloth and store in a jar as you would an infusion.

Simple extract;   For this you will use about twice the amount of herb that you would use for an infusion. Keep the water cold. Allow the herbs to sit in the water for a day and then proceed with straining and storing as an infusion. Juice;   You must squeeze the juice from the plant, adding some water, pressing until it runs dry. Plant juices must be used immediately or they lose their potency.

Ointment;   Mix one part of powdered herb to three parts rendered fat or heavy oil that has been heated. Mix thoroughly and cool. Melted beeswax can be added to solidify the ointment.

Poultice;   Boil your herbs and bark., then wrap the bark around the spot to be treated or dip a clean cloth in the resulting liquid and put it on the area to be treated.

Paste;   Pound the fresh herbs until they form a paste that can be applied to the area to be treated.

Bath;   Put your herbs in a sachet and boil it. Use the water for bathing. For a foot bath you may leave the sack in the water. It is advantageous to add an equal amount of borax crystals to the herbs to soften the water. If you wish to re-use the bath sachet, you should add some vetivert as a fixative.

Herbal body powders;   All you need do is take a basic powder such as cornstarch, wheat powder or arrowroot and add to it finely powdered herbal ingredients or essential oils. If using the powdered herbs, add 1 part herb to 1 part powder.

Vaporizer;   Boil your herbs in a pot over a small fire. Cover yourself, head to toe, with a heavy blanket and make a tent with this blanket over the boiling herbs. Inhale the vapors. You may simply infuse a handful of herbs in a large bowl of boiling water. Place a thick cloth over your head, hold your face over the bowl and inhale deeply for 10 to 15 minutes.

Distillations;   These are the methods of extracting the essential oils from flowers and herbs.

1. Distilling in water
2. Distilling in alcohol
3. Enfleurage, Steeping in oil

      Not all of the essential oils of the different herbs are susceptible to all methods.
      Distillation is a process of boiling the herb in predistilled water or clear alcohol and passing the steam that rises through a long pipe which is cooled by water. The steam, which contains the volatile oils of the plant, condenses on the inside of the pipe and drips down into the receptacle at the other end.
      Enfleurage is done by simply soaking the fresh petals or leaves in a fine oil in a covered jar. You may sprinkle a bit of salt on the plants as a preservative. If it is obtainable, a few drops of tincture of elf stone should be added later. It is helpful to line the jar with a light, coarse weave cloth first, so that you can more easily strain the vegetable matter from the oil. Don't allow the plants to rot or mould but exchange them every day or so until the oil is well saturated with the essential oils of the herbs. Filter the resulting product through fine muslin and store in a closely stoppered glass or ceramic vial.

Incense;   Incenses contain an aromatic substance, a bonding agent and possibly a burning agent. You may wish to add colored inks to your incenses to distinguish one from another.

Aromatics;   Generally an herb, wood, gum, resin or balsam. Gums are soluble in water were resins and balsams are not.
Bonding agents;   With some oils and resins you my find that they combine and form a very gummy substance which can be allowed to dry without further additives. However, if they do not combine in a satisfactory manner you may wish to add a vegetable gum of some sort. Add boiling water to the gum and leave it to soak for several hours. When it has well and truly dissolved simply add enough of the gum to your aromatic to make a thin paste.
Burning agents;    If you use a thurible or charcoal block you will not need a burning agent added to your incense. Saltpeter added to your incense, not more than 1 part to 10, will enable you to burn your incense on its own. However, with this type of incense you cannot use resins alone, but must combine them with at least twice as much aromatic powdered woods, herbs or charcoal. Do not allow the resins to exceed half of the bulk proportionately.

Aromatic candles;    Melt candle wax in a metal pan and add a few drops of your essential oils. Mix thoroughly and proceed as usual for making your candle. Color pigments can be added if desired.

Smoking mixtures; The dried herbs should be rubbed to a coarse powder through the fingers or through the wide mesh of a sieve. It can be then be smoked in a pipe or rolled into cigarettes. Aromatic herbs can be added to give your smoking mixture extra distinction.

Sachets;   Herbs to be used as amulets, carried or placed, should be sewn in a small bag or pouch.

Poppets;   Poppets can be formed from roots, bark or other materials or they may be fashioned from cloth and filled with a herbal mixture.

Weights and Measures

1 drop (liquid) = 1 minim

1 drop (dry) = 1 grain

20 grains = 1 scruple = 1 saltspoon

3 scruples = 60 minims = 1 dram

1 dram = 1 teaspoon

2 drams = 1 dessert spoon

1/2 ounce = 1 tablespoon

1 ounce = 2 tablespoons = 8 drams

2 ounces = 1 wineglass

4 ounces = 1 teacup

8 ounces (dry) = 1 kitchen cup

2 gills (liquid) = 1 kitchen cup

4 gills = 1 pint

1 pint = 2 kitchen cups

1 pound (dry) = 2 kitchen cups = 16 ounces

2 pints = 1 quart

2 quarts = 1 pottle

4 quarts = 1 gallon

2 gallon = 1 peck

4 pecks = 1 bushel

8 bushels = 1 quarter

5 quarters = 1 load or wey

2 weys = 1 last

9 gallons = 1 firkin

2 firkins = 1 kilderkin

4 firkins (36 gallons) = 1 barrel

54 gallons = 1 hogshead (ale)

63 gallons = 1 hogshead (wine)

84 gallons = 1 puncheon

126 gallons = 1 butt or pipe

2 pipes(252 gallons) = 1 tun

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