Recently, I signed up for an herbalist course online through Groupon. One, to get closer to nature but also to head in the direction of a more natural medicine cabinet. So many of us use chemical compositions from the pharmacy shelves to help cure common colds or a skin rash when we can just as easily turn to Mother Earth. We have been provided such a wide variety of natural cures in our own backyards, it would be a shame to let them go to waste. Of course, modern medicine has its place and there’s a reason we developed it, but there are many instances in daily life where herbalism can assist our healing and help promote a healthier lifestyle.
Many of these herbs have medicinal and spiritual purposes that are miles long, so I just listed the ones that I felt most relevant. It’s amazing all the various uses for these common kitchen herbs aside from making our dinners more delicious. It’s always important for me, personally, to have representation of the four elements in my sacred space. Herbs are a wonderful way to honor the earth.
The herbalist course was a great beginners introduction into herbal medicine. Another great source, as always, are our beloved books. The first herbalist book I picked up was medicinal, Herbal Remedies by Andrew Chevallier, and it’s a great source with easy to identify photos and references. If a plant has even a shred of medicinal uses, it’s in this book with an instruction on how and when to use them.
Spiritually, my favorite that I’ve picked up is the Green Witch by Arin Hiscock-Murphy. I stumbled upon several reviews on pagan instagram accounts and blogs, and it’s currently a favorite among the community. I loved it because it helps establish the mindset and lifestyle of a green witch beyond keeping a simple herb garden. I picked up Hiscock-Murphy’s trilogy of pagan books and they are all fantastic.
These are the six herbs that I landed on after doing my research. Not only are they the most used herbs in my kitchen, but they all have amazing medicinal purposes that I had no idea existed before embarking on this journey. I have been using white sage smudging sticks to cleanse sacred spaces or new apartments that I moved into for over a decade, but I was amazed to learn that the additional herbs that had been sitting in my space cabinet all along could enhance my craft as well. I got a bit of a late start in planting these herbs with the shelter in place orders, but since I’m working with an indoor garden, I don’t have to worry too much about the weather outside. I just have to worry about keeping my cat from eating them when they sprout.
The best thing about these six herbs, they all require similar sun light each day as well as similar watering schedules. Since I’m keeping these plants indoors and the ceramic pots I picked up were on the smaller side (four inches), I only put a few seeds in each pot. Plenty of seeds left over in case some don’t sprout or if I have to start over for any reason.
Culinary– Rosemary is one of the most versatile herbs, used primarily in pork and chicken dishes, as well as potatoes. One of my personal favorites is in bread, dipping oils, and herbal butter. Rosemary is also a great addition to soups, salads, and surprisingly desserts.
Medicinal– Rosemary essential oil is commonly used for stress relief, anxiety, aches and pains. Rosemary tea also has all the same benefits and is incredibly easy to make by steeping rosemary leaves in hot water for about ten minutes, strain and drink up.
Spiritual– Rosemary represents cleansing and purification, it can be used to make smudge sticks alone or mixes with sage. Burn a few leaves to purify your space before meditations.
Culinary– Basil is good for tomato base sauces, making pesto or eating raw in caprese, salads and pizza. If it’s Italian cuisine, basil is the perfect spice.
Medicinal– Basil naturally boosts the immune system and promotes healthy liver function. It can also relieve stress and lower cholesterol. Basil tea can help calm nerves and settle the stomach.
Spiritual– Basil symbolizes luck, peace, protection and success. Plant this in your garden to bring prosperity to your home.
Culinary– Cilantro is the perfect addition to salads, wraps, sandwiches, guacamole, salsas and most Mexican cuisine. It can also be used to elevate rice, chicken and seafood.
Medicinal– Cilantro is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, as well as a sleep aid.
Spiritual– Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and has its own spiritual uses. Coriander oil can be used to bless candles and put in a satchel above your bed for a peaceful sleep.
Culinary– Parsley is a rich, versatile herb that can transform salads, soups, sauces and Mediterranean dishes. I put parsley in the majority of dishes I make. Used fresh or dried, it’s the perfect elevation of flavor. Parsley can also be used in dipping oils and herbal butter.
Medicinal– Parsley reduces inflammation and assists in cleansing the liver. It can also be used to strengthen the immune system, aid digestion, and is rich in Vitamin K and C.
Spiritual– Parsley is considered the herb of the dead, used in ancient cultures to honor those who have passed on.
Culinary– Sage marries well with pork, poultry, sausage, and seafood. I also put a bit of sage in homemade alfredo sauce, which surprisingly is the perfect addition.
Medicinal– Sage helps when dealing with digestive problems. It can also assist to relieve stress, lower cholesterol levels, reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Sage can be used as an essential oil or drank as a tea made from sage leaves using the same method as making rosemary tea.
Spiritual– Sage represents purification and protection. White sage smudge sticks can be used to cleanse a meditation area or your entire house, just make sure to open up a window or five depending on the size space you’re working with. Other herbs and flowers can be tied into a smudge stick to assist in cleansing negative energy.
Culinary– Oregano pairs well with chicken, beef, and pork. It’s another herb that is made for Italian cuisine, especially pasta and pizza. Bread, dipping oils, and herbal butter.
Medicinal- Oregano is great for promoting respiratory and immune system health. Oregano is also rich in vitamin K, iron, magnesium, and a great source of fiber and antioxidants. It helps reduce inflammation and ease minor aches and pains.
Spiritual– Oregano can assist to calm nerves and grant clarity and courage. Oregano can be added to charms and meditation to invoke joy and promote letting go of old habits or lovers. It’s also a great addition to a herbal protection sachet or an herb infused bath.
Herb garden photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.