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Learn Herbalism: The Best Herbalist Books

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If you’re anything like me, you are dying to learn herbalism. Not only is herbalism an incredible way to deepen your witchcraft and magick expertise, but it can help you to care for and heal your family, your community, and yourself.

Two of the best ways to learn about herbalism is through books and videos on Youtube. There is a wealth of ancient and modern information on the use of plants for magick and healing in these resources. This list will give you the best books to pick up, and a future post will have the best herbalist Youtube videos.

Recently I realized that my highest calling is to become an herbalist while growing the herbs that are in danger of being wildcrafted out of existence. For that reason, I have been spending so much time trying to learn herbalism through books and videos that I have cultivated a list of some of my favorites.

This list will also include some recommendations I’ve received from other herbalists. And I hope you will give me more recommendations in the comments below!

Herbal Medicine Books

Medicinal Herbs by Rosemary Gladstar

I would recommend every single book and video by Rosemary Gladstar, but I’m going to limit myself to just a few. This woman really gives off maternal, loving, healing energy and her books are informative and so interesting.

It’s important that we learn from powerful women like Rosemary and continue their tradition of healing in the face of opposition. As she’ll say now and then, herbalism is illegal. She could be locked up for healing people with plants. But she continues, and so should we.

Blurb:

Craft a soothing aloe lotion after an encounter with poison ivy, make a dandelion-burdock tincture to fix sluggish digestion, and brew up some lavender-lemon balm tea to ease a stressful day. In this introductory guide, Rosemary Gladstar shows you how easy it can be to make your own herbal remedies for life’s common ailments. Gladstar profiles 33 common healing plants and includes advice on growing, harvesting, preparing, and using herbs in healing tinctures, oils, and creams. Stock your medicine cabinet full of all-natural, low-cost herbal preparations.

Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore

Michael Moore was the founder and director of Southwest School of Botanical Medicine, in Bisbee, Arizona and his expertise shines through in his writing. This book is incredibly helpful in identifying plants with the pictures, maps, and botanical descriptions.

Learn the “weeds” in your own backyard and you will never have to go without food or medicine again.

Blurb:

Michael Moore, renowned herbalist, teacher, and author of several medicinal plant books, presents a one-of-a-kind guide to over three hundred species of plants geographically ranging from Baja California to Alaska. This uniquely attractive book educates the reader to both native and introduced species within this region. With over eighty line drawings, forty-four color photographs, maps, and a glossary, this book contains clear and reliable information on identification and safe use of the plants; appearance, habitats, collecting methods, and storage; therapeutic uses, constituents, and preparations; potential toxicities and medical contraindications; and tea-making, tincturing, and salve making.

Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate by John Kallas

This book is great if you’re into wildcrafting. With the beautiful photos and the information, you’ll be able to identify which plants to forage and for what purposes.

This book covers a few plants in great detail, instead of trying to cover everything with a little bit of detail.

Blurb:

Edible wild plants have one or more parts that can be used for food if gathered at the appropriate stage of growth and properly prepared. Edible Wild Plants includes extensive information and recipes on plants from the four categories.

Foundation greens: wild spinach, chickweed, mallow, purslane; tart greens: curlydock, sheep sorrel, wood sorrel; pungent greens: wild mustard, wintercress, garlic mustard,shepherd’s purse; and bitter greens: dandelion, cat’s ear, sow thistle, nipplewort.

Dr. John Kallas has investigated and taught about edible wild plants since 1970. He founded WildFood Adventures in 1993 and is the publisher and editor of Wild FoodAdventurer. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

The definitive work on growing, harvesting, and eating wild greens.

The Secret Teachings of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner

This book will give you a happy balance between scientific understanding and emotional, spiritual understanding of plants. If you are getting into herbalism to regain the information heritage our ancestors had and we lost, this is a great book to read.

Blurb:

Reveals the use of direct perception in understanding Nature, medicinal plants, and the healing of human disease

• Explores the techniques used by indigenous and Western peoples to learn directly from the plants themselves, including those of Henry David Thoreau, Goethe, and Masanobu Fukuoka, author of The One Straw Revolution

• Contains leading-edge information on the heart as an organ of perception

All ancient and indigenous peoples insisted their knowledge of plant medicines came from the plants themselves and not through trial-and-error experimentation. Less well known is that many Western peoples made this same assertion. There are, in fact, two modes of cognition available to all human beings–the brain-based linear and the heart-based holistic. The heart-centered mode of perception can be exceptionally accurate and detailed in its information gathering capacities if, as indigenous and ancient peoples asserted, the heart’s ability as an organ of perception is developed.

Author Stephen Harrod Buhner explores this second mode of perception in great detail through the work of numerous remarkable people, from Luther Burbank, who cultivated the majority of food plants we now take for granted, to the great German poet and scientist Goethe and his studies of the metamorphosis of plants. Buhner explores the commonalities among these individuals in their approach to learning from the plant world and outlines the specific steps involved. Readers will gain the tools necessary to gather information directly from the heart of Nature, to directly learn the medicinal uses of plants, to engage in diagnosis of disease, and to understand the soul-making process that such deep connection with the world engenders.

The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James and Ajana Green

This book is jam-packed with information, and has been likened to a text book rather than a simple herb book. Unlike most textbooks, though, the writing is friendly and easy to understand which makes it perfect for beginners and experts alike.

Blurb:

THE HERBAL MEDICINE-MAKER’S HANDBOOK is an entertaining compilation of natural home remedies written by one of the great herbalists, James Green, author of the best-selling THE MALE HERBAL.

Writing in a delightfully personal and down-home style, Green emphasizes the point that herbal medicine-making is fundamental to every culture on the planet and is accessible to everyone. So, first head into the garden and learn to harvest your own herbs, and then head into your kitchen and whip up a batch of raspberry cough syrup, or perhaps a soothing elixir to erase the daily stresses of modern life.

The Wild & Weedy Apothecary by Doreen Shababy

This is another book written in a lovely conversational manner that will suck you into the author’s world and teach you something new along the way. With recipes and herbal information, the only thing missing is some good photos for wildcrafting purposes.

Blurb:

Just outside your doorstep or kitchen window, hidden beneath a tall pine tree or twining through porch latticework, a wild and weedy apothecary waits to be discovered.

Herbalist Doreen Shababy shares her deep, abiding love for the earth and its gifts in this collection of herbal wisdom that represents a lifetime of work in the forest, field, and kitchen. This herbalism guidebook is jam-packed with dozens of tasty recipes and natural remedies, including Glorious Garlic and Artichoke Dip, Sunny Oatmeal Crepes, Candied Catnip Leaves, Lavender Lemonade, Roseberry Tea, Garlic Tonic, Parsnip Hair Conditioner, and Dream Charms made with Mugwort.

A sampling of the herbal lore, legend, and instruction found within these pages:

  • The difference between sweet-faced flowers and flowers with attitude
  • How to assemble a well-stocked pantry
  • The importance of gratitude
  • Plant-spirit communication basics
  • How to use local wild herbs
  • How to make poultices, teas, tinctures, balms, and extracts

Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar

Do I need to go into how much I love Rosemary Gladstar again? Probably not. But this is another incredible book by her and is really a must-have for the herbalist’s bookshelf. Many of the recipes in here are well love and oft-used, and they will no doubt be passed down for generations to new herbalists.

Blurb:

Promote vibrant health and radiant beauty, soothe everyday ailments, and ease persistent stress with these simple, natural cures for everything from dry skin and infant colic to cold symptoms and insomnia. Renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar provides 175 proven therapies and herbal remedies that are easy to prepare and safe enough for children.  Offering a potent and effective alternative to commercial pharmaceuticals, Gladstar will inspire you to nurture yourself and those you love with nature’s healing herbs. 

The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood

I haven’t quite gotten through this whole book yet. It’s huge and a bit intimidating if I’m being honest, but the writing is lovely and so full of knowledge.

This book is about more than the remedies. It’s about spirituality and understanding how plants interact with our bodies. It’s about living holistically and understanding the plants we use.

So many herbalists say that this book is THE book that convinced them to take herbalism seriously, past the science that the material world demands of us.

Blurb:

Matthew Wood is recognized world wide as one of the United States’ most reknown herbalists. His previous book, Seven Herbs: Plants as Healers, was a watershed in teaching herbal healing as a part of total wellness. In The Book of Herbal Wisdom, this is continued and enlarged in wonderful detail.

This is a must-read for anyone working in the natural health field or interested in self healing with herbs. For those of us who consider not only our physical relationships to the herbs, but also the metaphysical ones, this book is invaluable. It affirms that when we work closely with nature, and the energies of the herbs and herbal medicine, we all are much better off. This is a work that empowers the reader and gives them a very deep knowledge of the herbs discussed.

Herbal Magick Books

Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise by Scott Cunningham

I bought this book ages ago when I was doing deep research on the magick correspondences of plants. It’s a useful book that’s small enough to take with you wherever you go. Even if it just sits on your shelf, it’s a wonderful resource for green witches.

Blurb:

Natural magic utilizes the world around us for magical purposes. Herbs are one of the most important tools for natural magic, and the best introduction to this system is found in Scott Cunningham’s Magical Herbalism.

This book presents a complete system of magic using herbs. You will learn the theory of magic and the tools you’ll need. Then you’ll get countless techniques for using herbs for magic. Need a protection method? “Pick several protective herbs and bind the stems together with red thread, then hang them up. This practice dates back to Babylonian times.” You’ll find a list of over 115 herbs that details their magical powers, so you can easily find which ones are protective in nature.

How about a divination using herbs? “Get a small quantity of dried patchouly, mugwort, or wormwood. Crumble the herb between your hands until it is finely diminished. Next, pour it into a small square pan (glass or ceramic). Light yellow candles and place the pan on your working area. Close your eyes, extend the index finger of your weak hand, and gently touch the center of the pan with its tip. Move it at random in the pan, shifting from one direction to another … Now, remove your finger, open your eyes, and interpret the symbols you have just written in the herb.”

All of the techniques, rituals, spells, talismans, healing methods, and charms are this easy. And most importantly, they work! You’ll also find how to make and use incenses, scented oils, perfumes, fluid condensers, and so much more.

Here is your chance to work with a beautiful and simple system. Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed.

Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Müller-Ebeling, Christian Rätsch and Wolf-Dieter Storl

If you, like me, are interested in history as much as you are in recipes, this book will satisfy that desire. This one was recommended by the Hippie Witch podcast, and it’s academic and dense. Still, it’s a wonderful resource for information.

Blurb:

An in-depth investigation of traditional European folk medicine and the healing arts of witches

• Explores the outlawed “alternative” medicine of witches suppressed by the state and the Church and how these plants can be used today

• Reveals that female shamanic medicine can be found in cultures all over the world

• Illustrated with color and black-and-white art reproductions dating back to the 16th century

Witch medicine is wild medicine. It does more than make one healthy, it creates lust and knowledge, ecstasy and mythological insight. In Witchcraft Medicine the authors take the reader on a journey that examines the women who mix the potions and become the healers; the legacy of Hecate; the demonization of nature’s healing powers and sensuousness; the sorceress as shaman; and the plants associated with witches and devils. They explore important seasonal festivals and the plants associated with them, such as wolf’s claw and calendula as herbs of the solstice and alder as an herb of the time of the dead–Samhain or Halloween. They also look at the history of forbidden medicine from the Inquisition to current drug laws, with an eye toward how the sacred plants of our forebears can be used once again.

Find More Books That Witches Love

I have another blog post that lists so many books that witches love and are available through the very affordable Scribd service. If you’re hungry for more pagan and occult books, check out that list!

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Emma Kyteler

Author at Eclectic Witchcraft
Emma has been practicing witchcraft so long she barely remembers a time before it. She feels as old as the stars. The Earth seems like an infant in comparison. Will she ever know peace? Probably not. But she will write blog posts about witchcraft for you.

Emma is a mom, a wife, an eclectic witch, and dead but dreaming.
Emma Kyteler

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2 thoughts on “Learn Herbalism: The Best Herbalist Books

    1. You forgot Susun Weed
      The oldest female herbalist in USA.
      Her books, newsletter and talk radio are Awesome.

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