There are many different ways to use herbs for healing and other purposes, but the most benign (and certainly the easiest) is probably using herbs to create a bath or soak. The difference between these two terms is slight, but it is important. In general, if you immerse your entire body (not counting the head), you've created a bath. If you only immerse a single part of the body (such as the hand or the foot), you've created a soak.
The easiest way to create a bath or soak is to use a bit of cheesecloth to completely enclose the plant material. Make sure not a bit of it escapes. You can also use an organza bag if you like. I prefer the bags because I can clean them and reuse them, but you might like the cheesecloth. You could, of course, just leave the herbs loose, but they cling to your body or the tub or they may even clog your drain. Do yourself a favor and contain those herbs before they cause a problem.
Don't use powdered herbs. They don't stay in the bags and they can irritate the more sensitive areas of the body. Use herbs that are large enough to stay inside the bag you use.
Once you have your bag or packet prepared, it's time to draw the water. Don't use warm or lukewarm water for the bath. Instead, drop the herb packet in the bottom of the tub (or container if preparing a soak) and draw the water as hot as possible. Close to boiling is best. Allow the herbs to steep as the water cools to a tolerable temperature. This may take a while, especially if you're using an entire bathtub of water, so be patient. You may have to wait up to sixty minutes to be able to use the water, but allowing the herbs to fully take effect is worth it.
Once the water has cooled to a tolerable temperature, sink into the water (or immerse the body part that needs to be immersed) and relax. Most recipes for baths and soaks will indicate how long you should stay in the water. If this information is not given, assume that you should stay in the water until the fingers or toes begin to wrinkle. You might want to light candles or incense to compliment the purpose of the herbal bath.
Baths and soaks are a popular way to utilize the magickal and healing properties of many herbs. Not all of them, however, are water soluble and some are toxic, so do your research before preparing an herbal bath or soak.
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.