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Sage's Book Reviews

Herbal Rituals

By Judith Berger

This is possibly the best book that I've found on magical and medicinal herbalism from a personal perspective. Herbal Rituals moves through one month of the year each chapter, focusing on one or two herbs that connect to that month in the author's eyes. Judith beautifully weaves in historical information on herbs, pagan lore, medicinal herbal wisdom, and magic through each month's chapter. What makes this book come alive are her personal stories and descriptions of the land changing through the year, the plants moving through their yearly cycle, and the way in which our lives are moved and changed along with the earth's.

Herbal Rituals is not just a medicinal herbal, nor a book on pagan herb craft. It is a journey through death and rebirth, nourishing and dreaming, making brews and digging in the dirt. Judith shares simple herbal preparations and recipes that are some of the most easily prepared that I've found, yet the most transformative and enriching in their simplicity. She teaches us through her stories of how to ethically harvest the plants, and ways to use each herb for healing and magic as she has learned through experience. A very humble, deeply moving book, everyone who has any interest in herbs should devour it.

I applaud you Judith for this amazing herbal! May many more be written with the same love for the plants as you so clearly have. So many of us herb folk are involved in passionate affairs with the plants, and it is obvious that Judith is one them. Each of you will love this book as much I do, I am sure.

Healing Wise

By Susan Weed

This incredible herbal is one of my bibles as a Wise Woman healer. Healing Wise should be every green witch's introduction to herbal healing and plant spirit healing. This book teaches the reader of The Wise Woman tradition, ancient and slowly being remembered today, as well as the scientific and heroic traditions that have grown so strong in the west and other parts of the world. Susan teaches so beautifully in this book the concepts of nourishing instead of "treating", transforming over "curing", and journeying instead of sickness. This book is monumental simply in that it has brought back alive to western eyes compassionate, nourishing, non-intrusive ways of healing that seem to be lost in doctor's offices today. Susan writes of the wild weeds in a way that brings them right into the home of the reader. She speaks of their voices, their healing and magical natures, and the simple ancient ways to prepare and use them.

Filled with magic and passionate words, Healing Wise opens your eyes to the amazing weeds on your doorstep, dancing and singing their praise. Burdock, Chickweed, Dandelion, Nettles, Oatstraw, Seaweed, and Violet, Susan Weed sings your deserved and forgotten majesty. These herbs come alive to you out of the pages of this book, and you remember that the green world is not unconscious and unaware! How beautiful to realize in all of its depth that we are NOT alone, that we are not the ones who are the majority on this earth, that we are not the only living beings who feel, react, and breathe on this earth. Susan wakes us up and shouts, "Listen to the weeds!" Why are we importing thousands of pounds of herbs from China when we have thousands of pounds of medicine in our back yard? Why are we harvesting the endangered plants from deep in the forests when we have plentiful plants growing right next to us? Why are we paying so much money for herbal pills manufactured in ways we don't understand?

Susan reminds you that your multivitamins are right outside. Take a look. Crouch down to the ground. Dare to touch the dirt, dare to touch a plant with awareness and respect, see what happens. They will transform your life. Just watch.

Plant Spirit Medicine

By Eliot Cowan

This book is a must read for everyone seeking connection to the plants spirits. Eliot writes about his journeys into relationship with plant spirits, as well as the elemental energies (earth, air, water, fire). He tells stories of spirit/dream journeying with plants, of communicating with plant spirits, and healing others with their help. The stories that he tells are beautiful, real, and inspiring. He writes about what native people around the world have known and practiced for thousands of years. Many people who read this book think right away that plant spirit medicine was invented by Eliot. Read this book as an introduction to a very very ancient way of living on this earth.

The book Plant Spirit Medicine will probably change the way that you view the world, and you will start to hear the calls of the plants all around you (if you haven't heard them already). This opening should not be attributed to the book only, but to you realizing that there is more to hear. Many people feel a sad loss when they finish this book as if the plant spirits are then gone from their lives. How so very untrue this is! As humans we find it easiest to focus on something other than ourselves for importance/meaning/change, and it seems easy to do so with this book.

View this Eliot's book as a starting point, and when you are done reading, pass it on! Begin your journey with the plants. Use Eliot's stories as inspiration to listen to the plants around you, and information on something as available to you as food and water. Plant Spirit Medicine has become a classic text for every green person's shelf, and has opened many people's eyes to the power of the plants.

A Women's Book of Herbs

By Deb Soule

I absolutely love this women's herbal. Deb is an amazing woman and herbalist. In her first book, A Women's Book of Herbs, Deb introduces the reader to herbal allies for women, and many wonderful herbal recipes of her creation.

A Women's Book of Herbs moves through the cycles/transitions of a women's life and the herbs that will help to nourish her body and mind during them. Deb covers herbs and recipes for the young woman, the bleeding woman, the pregnant woman, pre, and post menopausal woman. Her recipes for women's teas, baths, tinctures, oils, and decoctions are better than many I've seen in similar books. Some of her blends that I especially love are the Belly Tea, Yoni Tea, Easing Menstrual Cramps Tea, Spring Leaf and Flower Tea, and her Spring Tonic Soup. Try them, they're fabulous!

For woman looking for an herb book to start out with, I would recommend this one over others. It contains so much information on women's anatomy & physiology, herbal allies, and natural healing. Devour this book, and go play with some of the plants that Deb loves so dearly, and that so love women.

The Mistress of Spices

By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

This wonderful novel is about an Indian woman, Tilo, who is trained in the magic of spices, on a faraway island (much like in The Mists of Avalon). Once her training is completed she is mystically transported into a spice/herb store in the middle of a city, disguised in an old woman's body. She is not supposed to leave the store, touch anyone she helps, and must obey the spice's words at all costs. It is in this store that most of the story takes place.

The novel weaves in the stories of the various people who come to Tilo for help, and her struggle to not get too involved with their lives. She is constantly struggling to keep true to the spice's desires, and in the end she has to choose between her will/heart and that of the spices. This book is so beautifully written, it's sad to have to end it. Strangely, the author seemed to know well some of the struggles that a healer goes through within him/herself and in helping others.

The Mistress of Spices is a book that every green witch trying to find a place in their community should read. While I know the spices to be a lot friendlier than this book lets on, and the mystical island where she was trained feeds into our desires for a fantasy teacher/training, I don't discount the book for it. Read it simply for the incredible writing style (she brakes all the rules), or for more inspiration to add to your cauldron.