Magick Herbs & Incenses – Our ancestors knew that there is a power within the herbal smoke, and it changes and raises the vibrations and assists with magick.
Magickal herbs are used in various ways, burning a different kind of sacred herbs, incense, and resins as a manifestation base for spirit evocations, as offerings to the spirits, gods, demons, rights, and other entities. They can also be used for cleansing your body, healing, meditation, setting up a sacred place for your magical workings… opening, and closing rituals, consecrating your magical tools, divination, shamanic journeying, and so forth.
Magick Herbs & Incenses – Smudging
Smudging is a really powerful ancient practice. The popular “Sacred Smoke Bowl Ritual” is typically performed at the beginning of a ceremony to clear out negative energy and create a clean ritual space. Abalone shells with smudging sticks are often used as tools to perform smudging rituals. Smudging sticks are herbs that are tied into a bundle for easier handling and for creating thick solid smoke. Most used herbs for smudging are Mugwort and White Sage. In Nordic shamanism and sorcery – we also use e.g. Juniper and Pine.
Sweetgrass, Sage and Cedar were commonly used by Native Americans and later adopted by Wiccans. Personally, I use mostly White Sage, Juniper, Pine, and Mugwort. In Northern Tradition, Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is one of the nine sacred herbs and It can be used for spiritual cleansing, protection, healing, and consecration. You can smudge daily before meditation or any ritual, and also after rituals if you feel necessary… it all depends on the situation, especially if you work with darker forces and entities. Like personal daily hygiene, your spiritual hygiene is also important, otherwise you may encounter problems with your body, health issues, etc.
When smudging, light one end of your smudge, allowing it to catch fire and burn for several seconds. Once the flame extinguishes, blow carefully on the lit end and the smudge will start to glow and smoke. Lay the smudge stick on abalone shell, smudge pot, or fire bowl. Start smudging and let the smoke fan over and around yourself and your ritual space. To fan the smoke, I recommend using feathers from your spirit animal to get that extra power, or a large feather (eagle), or feather bundle (eagle, hawk, raven, falcon, eagle owl, etc.) or simply your hand. Personally, I use raven feathers tied in a bundle or just my right hand. Sit down in your ritual space with your lit smudge and start meditating and centering yourself and continue from there.
In many traditions, shamanic smudging involves a four directions ceremony or prayer, which sends specific kinds of smoke and energy into the four directions. In Native American traditions they begin facing East, then South, West, and North before finally turning East again, and closing the circle. Abalone shells symbolically represent the water element, while the unlit herbs represent earth, the lit, burning herb represents fire and the smoke represents air. Different tribes and traditions have different rites and practices. Personally, when working with malevolent spirits, I walk (holding the smudge or fire bowl/charcoal burner) counterclockwise (widdershins) around my ritual space/magick circle, and when working with benevolent spirits, I circle clockwise (deosil).
Of course, abalone shells are not necessary, and you can use whatever works for you. Many times, I use my wooden bowl, carved with some of my personal runes and symbols. If you’re using loose herbs or resins, use a smudge pot, charcoal burner or fire bowl, add some sand in the bowl, light the herbs (or resins) using self-lightning charcoal and you’re all set.
Another effective way to use magick herbs is to collaborate with candle magick, by anointing your candles with herb powders or making your own candles, mixing dried, grinded herbs with the candle wax. Fire is one of the three main gateways to the spirit realms, the other two are water and blood.
The Nine Sacred Herbs in Northern Tradition
“A snake came crawling, it bit a man. Then Woden took nine glory-twigs, Smote the serpent so that it flew into nine parts. There apple brought this pass against poison, That she nevermore would enter her house.”— Lacnunga (“Remedies”)
In Norse/Nordic Tradition, the Nine Herbs Charm that Odin/Woden (Old Norse Óðinn) discovered, is recorded in the 10th-century Lacnunga (“Remedies”) Anglo-Saxon manuscript. The charm references to nine sacred herbs and each plant connecting to one of the nine worlds of the known cosmology. More info about Lacnunga can be found here: The British Library Lacnunga Manuscript
There is some mystery around the nine sacred herbs, and some different variations and alternatives do exist. The only way to find what works for you is to experiment and actually work with the gods, plants, and plant spirits. Any of the following herbs can also be used in candle magick – when making your own ritual candles, add the dried, grinded leaves in your candle mix. Also, when pulverizing the dried flowers, you can use them to anoint your candles.
1. Mugwort/Mucgwyrt (Artemisia vulgaris) – Finnish “Pujo”. This is the herb of Midgårdr. In Norse/Northern Sorcery & shamanic practices, it is used as an offering, for purifying and creating a sacred place. You start and end the ritual with burning Mugwort. It is also used in divination work, to gain prophetic dreams, and also to aid in scrying rituals – placing plant leaves underneath or around your scrying bowl, mirror, etc.
2. Plantain (Plantago major) – Old Norse, læknisblað, “healing leaf”. Finnish “Piharatamo”. The herb of Helheimr, the plant of the dead. Nature’s band-aid, used for healing, strength, and protection. Also used in Necromancy to conjure spirits of the dead and journeying to the Underworld. When brewed as a tea, used for divination and gaining vivid dreams. The most powerful parts of the plant is the root (I call it Hela’s finger) and the leaves. In Finnish lore, the Maid of Death is also called “Tuonen Neito” (the Bride of Tuonela) and she rules the Kingdom of Death, the Underworld “Tuonela”.
3. Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) – Finnish “Isovesikrassi”. The Herb of water spirits. The plant of Niflheimr (“the dark home”), land of primordial ice, cold, water, and mists.
4. Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) – Finnish “Kamomilla/Jalosauramo”. The Sun herb. This is the solar plant of Asgård, the home of the Aesir. When burned, Chamomile is used for communicating and working with the Aesir. It also attracts money and brings good luck, improves your health, and banishes negativity. Chamomile can be used in incenses for sleep and meditation.
5. Nettle/Stiðe Nettle (Urtica dioica) – Finnish “Nokkonen”. The fiery plant of Mars. The plant of Múspellsheimr, the realm of fire. Nettle is an ancient herb of protection and it can be burned for purification and to drive out negativity or unwanted spirits. Nettle can be used to remove curses and hexes and send them back to their owner.
This magick plant is sometimes incorporated into rituals of the ordeal and a source of dream power. For instance, children in the Kawaiisu tribe (Southern California Native American tribe) who wished to study and learn sorcery and witchcraft, had to walk through nettles. Nettle is also has been associated with death and burial customs. In Norse myth, nettles (stiðe) are associated with Thor (Finnish “Ukko” the god of Thunder) and with Loki. Nettle as a magick herb is also mentioned in the Necronomicon. Nettle likes to be burned in bonfires.
6. Crab Apple (Pyrus malus) – Finnish “Omena”. The plant of Vanaheimr, “The home of the Vanir”. Crab Apple can be used in different kinds of fertility, wisdom, and clairvoyant charms and spells. It provides the gaining of knowledge and illumination. Apple is a great wood for making your magick staff/wand (Old Norse “Stafr/vǫlr”). In Norse tradition, the apples also represented long life, wisdom, and love. Apple is the tree and symbol of immortality. The Goddess Iðunn, “The Rejuvenating One”) was the keeper of the apples of youth, which she fed the Norse Gods and Goddesses to keep them forever young. Apple wands were also used in love, healing, and cleansing rituals.
7. Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) – Finnish “Saksankirveli”. The plant of Álfheimr, “The Home of the Elves”. In Finnish folk magic Sweet Cicely was used as a healing and medicine plant. It is believed that Cicely tea combined with Fennel, protects from elf-shot (In Finnish lore also “witch’s shot”) which is believed to be caused by invisible elves or witches shooting invisible arrows at a person or animal, causing sudden shooting pains localized to a particular area of the body – usually lower back pains or a stroke. Cicely also improves and boosts in the Gift of Sight.
8. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – Finnish “Fenkoli/Saksankumina”. The plant of Niðavellir, and Svartálfaheimr, “The Homeland of the Black Elves and Dwarves”. Like Sweet Cicely, it protects from elf-shot (In Finnish lore also “witch’s shot”) which is believed to be caused by invisible elves or witches shooting invisible arrows at a person or animal, causing sudden shooting pains localized to a particular area of the body – usually lower back pains or a stroke. Other magickal uses for Fennel include consecration, divination, energy, meditation, Summer rituals, courage, fertility, longevity, and love. Like Cicely, Fennel also improves and boosts in the Gift of Sigh, clears your mind, and helps to improve memory.
9. Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare) – Finnish “Kyläneidonkieli”. the plant of Jötunheimr, “the homeland of the Jötnar (giants and trolls)”. Can be used in ritual in honoring spirits, gods, and other deities associated with the herb, also when working with a snake totem, or different deities associated with snakes. As a medicine plant, it is used for headaches, skin problems, fevers, healing snake bites… and protect people from being bitten by snakes.
Alternatives for some of these herbs are:
Attorlaðe/Cockspur Grass (Echinochloa crus-galli), Finnish “Rikkakananhirssi”.
Stune Lamb’s cress (Cardamine hirsuta) Finnish “Mäkilitukka”.
Mægðe Mayweed (Matricaria discoidea), Finnish “Pihasaunio”.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), Finnish “Maustekirveli”.
Fille Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Finnish “Timjami/Ajuruoho”
It is believed that Óðinn learned the secrets of these herbs through his use of nine twigs, each twig inscribed with the runic first-letter initial of a sacred plant.
Other Magick Herbs & Incenses
Below, I have listed some other herbs and their basic properties I personally use in my magical practice.
Dragon’s Blood (Daemomorops draco) – Dragon’s Blood is actually a red resin, which is harvested from a variety of different plant species. It is a very popular choice for incense and ritual purposes. It is used for protection, banishing, sexuality, love, and healing spells. I often use Dragon’s Blood with blood magick and offerings. In many Hoodoo and folk traditions, it is also used for power and good fortune. Dragon’s blood corresponds to the element of fire and the planet Mars.
Lavender (Lavandula) – lavender is often associated with love spells, as well as for workings to bring calmness and peace. Lifts your spirit and helps you to sleep, relieves pain and heals wounds, scars, and burns.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) – for calming, purifying, and cleansing, removing any obstacles standing in your way. Mostly used by Native Americans and both Hoodoo and Mexican Folk Magic traditions.
Myrrh (Commipihora myrrha) – for grounding and physical healing. Myrrh is also helpful aid to meditation. I personally use Myrrh also, when working with the Jötunn, Thurs, Rökkr and other giant gods and goddesses… e.g. Hela, Loki, Angrboða, Surtr etc.
White Sage/Sacred Sage (Salvia Apiana) – used to clear negative energies from space, objects, and people. Brings relaxation and also boosts your memory. Native Americans used Sage by burning smudge sticks around the border of ceremonial altars to clear and remove negative energy. The Sage leaves were often scattered around alters and sweat lodges to keep away evil spirits.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) – Associated with wealth, love, and sexual power, and it can be used in a variety of magical workings and sorcery. Personally, Patchouli is one of my favorite herbs. Good “earthy” ingredient for money magick rites and oils and helpful aid in meditation. Helps to release negative emotions.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) – Correspondences with Water and Air. Used for purification and healing. Eucalyptus sharpens the mind and senses and relieves mental exhaustion. May be used for depression.
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) – Used for thousands of years in many spiritual and magickal ceremonies and rituals. Often used as a purifier when creating a sacred space, and for consecrating and anointing magical tools and altars. It is believed Frankincense has powerful vibrational energies, so many people like to use it while meditating, doing Energy Work or Chakra Practice. In spells used to bring joy, strength, health and success.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – Airy female element. Used for consecration, divination, energy flow, dreams, exorcism, good luck, spirit offering, success, money, prosperity, transformation, psychic development, cleansing, purification, and transformation.
Thurses of Múspellsheimr – In dark Múspell-workings and sorcery you can use herbs, plants and trees like: Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), Hemlock (Conium masculatum) Yew (Taxus baccata), Mistletoe (Viscul album), Belladonna (Atropa belladonna), etc. Thurses of Niflheimr – In dark Nifl-workings and sorcery you can use herbs, plants, and trees like Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), Dragon’s Blood (Daemonorops draco), Juniper (Juniperus communis), Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), etc.
Babylonian & Sumerian – Juniper is the traditional incense used in Mesopotamian rites, and many ancient texts which have survived, make reference to juniper as being the link and gateway to the spirit realms. Oak is used for Underworld workings and sorcery, representing the roots of deep dark earth. The Sumerians called an incense offering “Nadeg”.
The more you work with different spirits, gods, herbs, plants, and trees, etc. the more experience, understanding, and insights you will gain from them. Let your intuition be your guide and never ignore your “inner voice” …