Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Herbology: Harvesting Your Herbs

Harvesting your herbs sounds like a simple matter. You walk up to the plant you're going to harvest, take out your bolline (or shears if you're not using a bolline) and harvest away. Right? Well, you could do that without any other considerations, but if you want to maximize the herb's effectiveness and minimize damage to the plant, there are a few things you might want to take into account.

First, don't just pluck the parts you want right off the plant. That actually damages the plant. Use a sharp blade (or sharp shears) and harvest in fluid motions. This will help keep the plant healthy so you can harvest it again and again. It also will result in better quality herbs for you.

The next thing you want to do is look at a calendar, one that indicates when the full and new moons fall. Why? Because the tops of herbs, the parts that grow above ground, are best harvested when the moon is full or when it is waxing (growing larger). The roots, the parts that grow below ground, are best harvested when the moon is new or when it is waning (growing smaller).

This doesn't mean you should harvest your herbs at night. Just the opposite. If you want to preserve the plant, harvest herbs during early morning hours. This will allow the sun to help heal the plant during the day. This does not apply if you're harvesting the entire herb, of course, because nothing will be left behind to heal.

If you want to get really complicated about it, you could determine the planetary ruler of each plant you plan to harvest, then look up the hour associated with that planet, but this isn't strictly necessary.

Leaving Offerings After Harvest

It is often natural instinct to leave something behind when we take something away, and this is a good thing. Usually. Unfortunately, many times those who harvest herbs will leave the wrong offerings. I've seen people leave bread, fruit, honey, and even wine as offerings. All of these things, as well as anything else that could be classified as 'human food', should absolutely be avoided. Food attracts bugs the plant may not have had to cope with before, and wine...let's just say herbs don't appreciate alcohol. It kills the roots in most cases, so don't pour wine as an offering.

So what can you leave as an offering? There are many ideas. If you're gathering your herbs in the wild, why not bring some plant food? You can get it in tiny little sticks that you can shove into the soil as your offering. Don't like that idea? Maybe some natural spring water to water the plants you're collecting from. Plants appreciate these things, and they won't attract bugs or kill the roots. These offerings also work for your outdoor garden.

For plants in your own home, you can get more creative. I'm assuming you take regular care of your plants, meaning they have food and water already. So an appropriate offering might be to add crystals to the soil of your potted plants. Use crystals with similar qualities to the herbs you're harvesting. Offerings of this sort will be well received and do no damage.

Harvesting your herbs is one of the more satisfying aspects of herbology. You finally get to hold the fruits of your labors in your hands. Just be mindful and respectful as you work and all should go well.