Before I force you to read something ideological, I would like to share with you the knowledge I have of five herbs that Zen Den San Pedro now carries in our apothecary.
These herbs can be used individually or together. I've chosen this combination because I intend to make a tea for a loved one to promote the healing of a wound, the warding off of infection and the treatment of depression.
When someone is sick, it is usually smart to use all tools available to heal them. Most "hedge witches" use a combination of methods for the best results. This includes a combination of what the medical doctor orders and what the witch doctor orders. A true hedge witch would have enough self-confidence to trust a medical doctor and would be aware of harmful interactions between plants and pills, or respect due diligence and look it up. Do no harm.
The first herb is bay leaves.
Everyone knows about putting bay leaves in food for flavor, so it can often be used in the diet of people who must eat otherwise bland foods. Because bay leaves are sharp and difficult for some to chew, you can put a bay leaf or two in the pot when you make beans or rice and let it infuse as the water boils.
Most know about the protective properties bay leaves contain which are useful in spellwork, these properties are also helpful in healing.
Some know that burning bay leaves promotes psychic powers of prophecy. This is invaluable for an ill person and a healer. With just the right amount of perceptive power, basil could help decrease an ill persons anxiety by making them anticipate how their body will feel as it goes through the healing process. When anxiety leaves, the body will have more energy to put into healing.
When a healer burns or ingests bay leaf, they can connect to their ancestors or to other benevolent energies and use them as guides. It should go without saying that when a healer has more knowledge, they are a better healer.
Bay leaf also makes you sweat so it is good for cleanses and treats mild muscle and joint pain.
Holy basil restores, balances and purifies energy in the body. It could be used in synergy with bay leaves. If someone is bedridden, it will help them maintain joy and levelheadedness. Since it is restorative, it is ideal for healing wounds, bones, joints and memory. Since it promotes energy flow, it is good for respiration, the nervous system, healthy blood, a healthy metabolism and the digestive and excretory system.
Everyone knows and loves lavender. Lavender aids in opening the third eye, more so than bay leaves. Since it does aid in third eye use, it also promotes positive brain activity which is a way to treat stress and depression. Many people who suffer from insomnia, also develop anxiety and depression. Insomnia, anxiety and depression are often comorbid. These three conditions feed off of each other. Luckily, lavender promotes restful sleep. So it is ideal for effectively treating people who are depressed about being ill.
Lavender also promotes general longevity, which makes it like a multivitamin to an herbal healer. It helps persuade unwanted energies to leave the body in a gentle but effective way; it also has some antibacterial properties.
If someone is supposed to rest but feels restless, they will take longer to heal. Valerian, in my opinion, is the best treatment for this. It releases tension deep in the body which allows for clear thinking, serenity when awake and deep sleep. With deep tension being released, negative energies from others and the ego float away. It is a natural sleep aid, so do not use Valerian while operating machinery.
While the previous herbs have been for stress relief, energetic replenishment and spiritual ascent and revelation, St. John's Wort can be used in moderate amounts to guard the doorways of your mind against unwanted phenomena and protects one from physical harm. An unbalanced third eye makes a person moody and pensive, or too judgmental. St. John's Wort keeps your feet on the ground but your head in the clouds, providing support for over-sensitive people while keeping their aura radiant.
St. John's Wort absorbs summer energy, while in normal times it could be used to help treat seasonal depression, it could also be used in these times to help with cabin fever during corona virus season; it is also used for helping to treat unwanted menopausal symptoms, hyperactivity and compulsiveness.
Please be aware that St. John's Wort increases liver activity which speeds up metabolism which makes pharmaceutical drugs less potent, so avoid taking this with other medications.
If you do not want to utter the name of a catholic saint, "hypericum" is the ancient pagan name for the plant.
Though John the Baptist is a "good" entity, not every "good" entity is helpful to you. He will straighten your energy, he will help you break unhealthy or unwise habits; but he will also force you to stay on the straight and narrow and be completely altruistic. He is similar to angels which are "good" but condescending and bossy.
If you do want to invoke St. John the Baptist's healing hand, use his wort with honey and grasshoppers.
Chapulines is a traditional food of indigenous people. Grasshoppers are higher in protein, zinc and calcium than most meats, which makes them a greater source of protein and lesser sources of greenhouse gasses compared to cows.
On top of that, the metaphysical properties of grasshoppers include promoting both luck and pragmatism, safety in travel (even astral travel) and a fulfillment of dreams. Use grasshoppers in your next stew if you are a daring witch.
Please always consult a doctor before using herbs medicinally.
Now onto the philosophy of herbal medicine.
The hedge witch archetype is fundamentally at odds with the bourgeois bastardization of magick that is depicted in Harry Potter. I can defend this claim by saying that hedge witches in media and in real life are resilient, autonomous and subversive, whereas going to a magickal private school (such as Hogwarts) to learn a professionalized version of witchcraft subjects the practice of witchcraft to the process of being hallowed of class consciousness by academia.
The knowledge and wisdom that the Earth offers us is stored in every plant, animal, rock, drop of water and piece of soil. A hedge witch spends time alone in nature to listen for this wisdom, it reveals itself in a quiet voice to a patient ear. The medicine that they derive from this wisdom is like a sacrament of communion with Gaia.
Though no schools such as Hogwarts exist in real life, the history of witchcraft, the history of downtrodden people, history in general is still only seen through the perspective of the ruling elites. With that being so, the most profound mysteries and truths of the universe and the human mind are minimized to myths, lore, fun facts -- and are not given the respect they deserve. In olden times, hedge witches were ostracized to the outskirts of a town, yet they were able to survive by applying their ancient knowledge. This is one reason why they were solitary in the past.
Most people who would call themselves "hedges" do not rely on a group or organization, but rather almost only on familial knowledge and inner guidance. However, just because a person follows a personal religion handed down to them, they are not necessarily a hedge witch.
Tribal people all across the world practice traditional medicine without even considering it witchcraft. Plenty of tribal people have close relationships with the spirits of their ancestors and with the spirits of the Earth without even knowing the term "hedge witch." More than anything, the term "hedge witch" is merely a label for a non-tribal person with ancestral practices to optionally self-identify.
There are other similarities between tribal people and hedge witches, which should persuade spiritual people such as ourselves to perform solidarity for tribal people.
Both rely on a wide array of local flora and fauna in order to practice their beliefs. For both tribal people and hedge witches, the Earth is their apothecary. The Earth provides these medicines for free. That speaks to the communal nature of all things.
The universe intended for these medicines to benefit humankind. To hedge witches and tribal people, it is ridiculous that materials such as weed, cactus, tree bark, frogs, mushrooms and alike should be illegal or stigmatized.
Forbidding people from using natural medicine is an offense to religious freedom and the war on drugs is one of the most violent forms of colonization today, behind ecological and environmental racism.
A notable difference between tribal people and hedge witches, is that the former have occupied their ancestral land for thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years. Over the course of centuries tribal people have been guided by spirits to discover herbal medicines. That is how tribal medicine can be so much more advanced than the practice of many hedge witches; and when hedge witches do occupy land belonging to indigenous people, they must always borrow the ancient knowledge that tribal people has had since time immemorial.
Many spiritual practitioners who live in close proximity to tribal people already hold tribal people in high esteem; and most already know to ask tribal people to share some of the less confidential knowledge about their corner of the Earth. There is value in this because different parts of the world have unique energies, unique entities and unique resources. Not only do you not need exotic supplies to do most magick, its better if you use what you can find in your own backyard, in a local park and in your immediate surroundings -- that will help you connect to the spirits in the land. This does not apply to medicinal herbs that you would apply to your skin or ingest in some way, because they would be bound to have toxins if not sourced correctly; because colonization has poisoned the Earth and continues to ruin many of its once plentiful resources. As the world loses biodiversity, humans lose access to important medicines, many which have not even been discovered yet.
In the end, a witch can be solitary but all people come from tribes. The nature of the universe is fundamentally communal, and the human race would not exist today if it were not for the genuine love that a person has for their people, not for their nuclear family unit, but toward their society as a whole; and this transcends the causes of antagonisms between tribes because the Earth loves us all.
When white people were tribal, they understood the value of helping their neighbor or of helping a stranger and the natural healer was not ostracized, but honored.
To ancient tribal Europeans, it was obvious that the survival of one depends on the strength of the group. White tribal people did not just provide for themselves, did not just hunt for themselves and were not left to nurse themselves back to health if they were ill -- unlike the individualistic society we live in today.
Magick was used in their remedies, therefore magick is communal. And it is possible for white people to decolonize themselves by connecting with their tribal ancestors and connecting back to the Earth. When you connect to the Earth you connect to all her children.
In modern times, a person who takes on the role of hedge witches are a friend to working people who cannot spend money on pharmaceuticals. I say that the history of witchcraft is a history of downtrodden people because magick can be seen as a process of getting something for nothing. It therefore defies the transactional nature of capitalism, the historic hegemony of organized religions such as Christianity and would seek to end ecological catastrophes such as deforestation of the Amazon or dumping harmful chemicals into drinking water or the ocean.
And even in light of these ecological catastrophes, it is wrong to say that humans are the problem or that humans are the virus. Saying this is an expression of ecological fascism. The good green Earth has enough food to feed us, enough land to house us all and enough herbs to heal us; if we would only work to heal our Mother. It is the job of hedge witches (who depend on these foods, lands and herbs) to stand with the Earth by persuading their communities to join in the fight and by using their privilege to take direct action. It benefits the whole world.
Gaia put each of us on her surface with intent; to live in harmony with her. It is by no mistake that the witch monkeys climbed down from the witch trees of the African plains and evolved into people who are able to witness, with strong cognitive abilities, the beauty that Gaia is. It is high time for people to understand that they are of the Earth and the Earth is of them, or face natural disasters that will kill people and destroy ecological diversity. The hedge witch's apothecary and the use thereof is dependent on the survival of tribal people and the survival of their culture and ecosystems.