Substitutions in spellwork and rituals

Hi everyone!

So, I’m a baby witch and still deep in learning, and I wanted to ask some of you how you go about choosing substitutes in spells and rituals due to availability or allergy concerns. The reason I thought of this is that I saw the daily ritual for today, and part of it was to make and consume lavender tea. I’m SUPER allergic to lavender (it makes me stop breathing and gives me migraines), and lavender is used in SO much witchy work! Other herbs and oils and such may be hard to get, especially for witches in other parts of the world where some of these plants don’t grow natively.

How does everyone select their appropriate substitutions? Do you consult some sort of reference that identifies other herbs/gems/etc. that have similar magickal properties? Do you use your intuition? If you do consult a book or guide, please share it! I look forward to hearing what everyone does!


Ooh great question and there are like 1000 different answers here :sweat_smile: I guess it kinda depends on which properties of the item (in this case lavender) you’re looking to use in the first place. That’s how I go about my subs anyway. So if you’re looking for something with lavender’s soothing/calming/helpygettosleepy properties specifically for a tea you might sub it for chamomile. Though for some reason I have a voice yelling ROSEMARY in my head?? If anyone has an explanation please share :joy:

I researched magical properties of different herbs/plants for my grimoire using a bunch of online sources (starting on pinterest and branching waaayyyy out) so now I just flick through and look stuff up but I know there are some books out there which will have awesome info - I keep meaning to get Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.

But yeah when you’re searching online rather than searching for substitutions I’d recommend searching for ‘herbs for (insert magical property you’re trying to find)’

Ooh Marjoram could be an interesting sub for lavender - some nice similarities there. Both Air Element, both correspond to Planet Mercury, Both Masculine with Middle Eastern origins, used for Protection, Love, Peace, Tranquility… ooh


also this is terrifying. I’m so sorry that this is a thing :cold_sweat:


Thank you. It is. I found out the hard way. A coworker in a cubicle situation had a headache and used lavender essential oil. I immediately got a migraine and a few minutes later, I had the worst asthma attack I ever had. My asthma is usually so mild that my rescue inhalers expire long before I ever get to use them up. It was pretty scary.

It’s also pretty sad because once I was driving in west Texas past this huge and gorgeous lavender farm…and I had to keep my windows closed and A/C off…in Texas…in July. :hot_face:


:grimacing: :grimacing: :grimacing: no thanks. Good thing you have inhalers though - lavender is so commonly used it must be a nightmare trying to stay away from it :worried:


I hope y’all don’t mind me butting in here. This is a great book that would help both of y’all out. I’m allergic to sage and that’s used a lot, especially for cleaning thing like tarot decks and crystals. It was Cunningham’s Encyclopedia that got me into alternatives. I use rosemary and palo santo now.


Lavender has a number of uses so you can use the following list to find an appropriate substitute:

  • Anti-depression and healing: Rosemary, Eucalyptus.
  • Anti-anxiety and peace: Gardenia, Lime.
  • Protection: Basil, black pepper.
  • Sleep: Chamomile.

Read more: Magical Substitutions: Herbs, Candles and Spell Ingredients

A good title for finding out uses and correspondences is: Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences


This is a really great topic- thanks for bringing it up, @AmethystGlynae! You’ve got some awesome advice already and Francisco shared a great book for finding corresponding/similar ingredients :open_book:

When I’m short of an ingredient (especially if it’s a crystal or incense), I usually just leave it out entirely and work with what I have on hand. I’m more familiar with herbs and plants, so if I’m missing an herb for spellwork or cooking, I usually take a look at it’s purpose and then find something similar :+1:

:relieved: While lavender is one of the main soothing herbs, In Herbs for Anxiety I also explore:

  • Chamomile- Limeberry mentioned this and I totally agree!
  • Lemon Balm (sometimes called Melissa)

:adhesive_bandage: Lavender is used for healing as well, especially in skin conditions like burns and scarring. For these purposes, I would suggest switching it for:

  • Garlic
  • Calendula
  • Honey
  • Aloe Vera

:purple_circle: If it is the purple color important to the spell or presentation, consider:

Hopefully substituting with another herb can replace lavender while not aggravating your allergies. If the spell you are doing is being consumed (like tea) definitely check with an allergist or doctor before trying new herbs! Especially if you are prone to serious reactions.

Good luck- I hope you can find the perfect substitution! Blessed be :sparkling_heart:


I think I have a different approach than most people here. At first, I used correspondence books and lists. Like @Amethyst mentioned, Scott Cunningham’s book was a go-to for correspondences for crystals, herbs, and incense. Over time, though, I have developed a more animist perspective of the world.

Animism: the attribution of a soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena

There are plants that have common correspondences (like lavender) but if I ever don’t know, I simply ask the plants around me what they do best, what they don’t do well, and if they will even allow me to use them in my work. Normally this doesn’t work so well with dried herbs because…well…they’re not living anymore.

Althaea Sebastiani has a great article on her site that explains how she figures out correspondences.

There are three methods that can be used to determine an object’s correspondence. While any of these can be used individually, applying all three will afford you a more complete profile of that object -which helps you to realize a greater range of uses for it -and this is information that you can rely on later when the need for magick strikes.

It’s a great read if you’re interested!


Faaaaascinating article @MeganB! Thanks so much for sharing, that was so interesting to read, definitely got me thinking about using my intuition more :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Thank you everyone! Lots of good resources for me to check out. I’ll definitely read that article that @MeganB posted when I have time to really think about it this evening. I think it will help me have the most flexibility, especially in these times where I don’t feel comfortable going out to stores very often and I may not feel patient enough to wait to receive an online order before beginning a spell.


You’re welcome! Her work and writing has helped me dig deeper into my witchcraft practice and my relationship with the Land and its Spirits.

Absolutely! I feel like our best witchcraft comes from learning and knowing how to use what we already have rather than taking from nature when we don’t really need to.