Anyone worth their salt working with the Hedge Druid’s Craft has got to
know at least something about the local flora. To access the realm of
plants means that we must come into good relationship with them. We
begin to see the interdependence that we have on plants, the fact that
we could not survive without them. The very fact that plants give off
oxygen which we need to breathe, and take in the carbon dioxide that
we exhale shows the very fundamental nature of this relationship, of
give and take. The Hedge Witch, the Wise Woman, or the Druid would
have a working knowledge of the plants in her area, their physical and
spiritual/magical uses. Here I will go through a few of the plants in my
local area in the East of England, which I work with, to give you an idea
of how we can work with the realm of plants as a Hedge Druid.
Sometimes charms were used when picking and harvesting a plant.
Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica published in the early
twentieth century is full of country wisdom gleaned and recorded for
posterity. Many of the charms and blessings in this six-part work are
obviously of Pagan origin, and have been adapted for use by Christians.
There are many examples of charms to be said for picking various herbs,
and I would recommend taking a look at this material, as well as Morgan
Daimler’s book By Land Sea and Sky, wherein she offers a re-Paganised
version of the text. Always remember to give back for what you take: say
a prayer of thanks, bury a penny in the soil, or give an offering of milk
or honey to the plant. Also, never take so much that the plant will not
recover. If you require the root, ensure that other plants are growing
nearby. If it is the only plant in the area, leave it alone. Grow your own
if you can. Note that harvesting and collecting many wild plants in
Britain have strict laws surrounding them. Plants growing near roadsides
may be too polluted to use; allow common sense to guide you.
Before you begin working with any plants, you must know exactly
what species you are working with, whether it is poisonous or not,
edible or inedible. Some plants will be contraindicative with certain
medications, and so once again you must consult a qualified herbalist or
medical doctor before ingesting any herbs. Some are poisonous merely
through contact with the skin, and so when picking herbs you absolutely
must know what you are doing. There are several plants and fungi here
in the British Isles that are deadly; do not become a statistic.