Let’s face it, there are loads of books on using herbs for health and magic. I enjoy reading them all, because I love food and there are lots of tasty things that show up in books on herbalism. In reading books from different authors I’ve learned that there is more to herbs than taste or potential health benefits. Herbs, and plants in general, have a rich history you might never have suspected. Each plant, with its unique appearance, scent, physical make up, and taste has created its own mythology and place within cultures, religions, and spiritual practices. And no one tells a plant’s story better than Ellen Evert Hopman.
Hopman’s latest book, “The Sacred Herbs of Samhain: Plants to Contact the Spirits of the Dead” is a wonderful addition to her previous works. Like the herbs she talks about, this book has a wonderful back story that she shares in the acknowledgements:
I wish to thank Kevin Sartoris of Muse Gifts & Books in Marlborough, New Hampshire, who invited me to speak at the annual “Celebrate Samhain” event and suggested that I talk about herbs to contact the dead. I said, “Sure,” and promptly put together a talk. The Kevin asked, “Why not make the talk into a book?” and I said, “Why not?” and this volume was born.
Long time readers know how much I love Kevin, Muse Gifts & Books, and the Celebrate Samhain event, so, I was stoked to learn of the book’s origin. But enough back story, what is in “The Sacred Herbs of Samhain”?
The book is broken up into two parts. Part One is “Herbs of the Spirits and the Dead and How to Use Them at Samhain”, and Part Two is “Herbs, Foods, and Traditions of Samhain”. At the start, Hopman discusses how to use herbs in purification and protection, divination, and in relationships with spirits, fairies, and the dead. She then covers Dumb Suppers (a traditional feast honoring the dead), including their history, recipes for food, and rituals associated with them. Of course, Hopman also discusses Samhain itself, providing an example ritual and foods to be used as offerings.
She gives you some basic information for each plant or herb, including their more common usages. Then at the end of each entry, Hopman explains how they can be specifically used for the Samhain season. This takes what could have been a once a year book and turns it into a book that can carry you through the whole year.
“The Sacred Herbs of Samhain” is a good pick for those interested in plants and herbs, but it is an absolute must for those interested in integrating those plants and herbs into their Samhain observances.
You can learn more here.
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