We’ve all seen em’. Those beautiful shelves filled to the brim with pretty jars of herbs and essential oils galore. They’re gorgeous and I’m sure those who have them are capable of fully utilizing them, but that isn’t true for everyone. First of all if you’re not growing or foraging a good portion of what you use, you will easily break the bank trying to upkeep such a large inventory. Secondly, if you aren’t one who used a lot of herbs and oils in your practice, many things will simply sit and go to waste. As someone who is easily tempted by the idea of a large apothecary, I had to come up with a way of vetting the herbs I wanted to see if I could actually use them. Here’s a little guide I put together to help you do the same.
This is a beginner’s guide and over time your apothecary will grow and change as your craft changes, do not take this as a set of rules but rather a set of loose guidelines.
What Do You Want?
Avoid writing down specific plants unless they are an absolute must-have. Try writing down what sort of spells you’re going to be doing and their intent. Find a few options for plants that match that intent and can fill that role. While you may end up with a bigger list, the goal here is to determine what is most prudent to source for each category and avoid redundancy your apothecary.
What Do You Use?
What plants have you already used and had good experiences with? This question will get you thinking about what it is you do and don’t really do in your practice, thus helping narrow your list a little bit.
What Do You Have?
Your spice cabinet has more than you think when it come to helpful herbs and spices for magick. Cinnamon? Use it to speed up a spell, bring luck, or prosperity. Black Pepper? But in black salt or in protective workings. Salt? You get the point. These things are easy and comparatively cheap to purchase from the store. Sure the containers don’t look #witchyaesthetic, but that isn’t the point here. We are going for functionality first. Other things like fruit peels, cores, seeds, and any other organic matter your throw out should at least be considered for witchcraft.
Since starting back on my path, I definitely took the road less traveled with what I use in my practice. I tend to head to the kitchen for a lot of things or around my area now where they are readily available. I remember there was 1 spell I was looking around my yard for different things to use My husband just kind of looked at me & said, “I’m sorry, you’re looking for how many of what?”
This is all really great advice - I tend to use what I already have or what’s in my kitchen already. I don’t have a lot of space right now to keep extra things anyway One day I hope to have an apothecary full of herbs that I use regularly, a really pretty one!
This is some great advice. As someone with a rather large apothecary, there are a few things I can suggest that can help.
Spend on your tools: Don’t go cheap on your Tools from your mortar and pestal, spoons, knives sissors and so on. If like me you work with them often you will learn fast that cheaper is not better. a good food dehydrator works better than a cheap one,
Reuse jars: Canning jars, baby food jars, and instant coffee jars all work great. others you can buy from dollar stores,
Storage: Light degrades herbs faster. Keep your herbs in a doored cupboard that keeps light out.
O2-absorbing and moisture-absorbing pouches save you money: Adding one of each to your dried herbs and changing them out increases the storage time of your dried herbs.
Start with small amounts of different dried herbs: I like YourMysticGarden on esty. They get you 150 1/3oz bags of dried herbs for around $186 this is a very complete listing of herbs to start with that won’t break the bank, This will allow you to then find out what you use and what you don’t. From there you can order from a supplier like Blue moon. In larger quantities. Allowing you to focus on your specific craft.
Think of where you want your Apothecary to be and look at the amount of space you have. A well stock one can take up an entire room. I have had in the past a 15x15 building just for mine. With an attached 10x10 greenhouse as well.
I have a lot of herbs that I grow myself. If I have an abundance of something (at this moment it’s catnip, lemon grass, and mugwort) I let it dry and then use an electric coffee grinder to grind the herbs into powders. It saves on space and the powder is easy to use with candle magic.