How To Find Love, Bring Good Luck, & Protect Yourself From "Bad Spirits"

Photographed By Atisha Paulson.
Hocus pocus, want to get mentally focused? Try stepping away from your medicine cabinet and toward your spice cabinet. You may already be familiar with herbal medicine, which uses plants to help heal the mind and body; in fact, you might already be using it. Either way, useful herbs and spices are already lurking in your food, your tea, and even those little bottles of essential oils someone gifted you two years ago (you know, the ones that are probably still sitting in your bedside drawer).
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In the spirit of all things Halloween/magical/mystical, we spoke to two women who are well-versed in the practice of herbal remedies — Starr RavenHawk, a self-taught Wiccan elder high priestess, and Karen Rose, a master herbalist and owner of Sacred Vibes Apothecary in Brooklyn. So, grab some kukicha and light the candles. Let’s talk herbs.
What are the best remedies for fall?
Karen Rose: "If you had to choose an oil...it would have to be lavender essential oil, because it is antibacterial and antiviral. So, it's great to have when people around you are sick; it can also be used to relax."
If someone wanted an herbal remedy to bring luck for an upcoming job interview, what would you prescribe?
Starr RavenHawk: "Basil...parsley, jasmine, and bay leaf...as an infusion, or as a [ritual] oil."
What about for protection and warding off "bad spirits" or bad luck?
KR: "[Burning sage] changes the energy for the home, so if you’ve had an argument or some form of stress, it removes negative energies. Then, you would burn something to bring positive energies in, like frankincense."
What would you prescribe for someone who wants to invite romance into her or his life this fall?
SR: "You could use rose, lavender, and jasmine for love. That combination is pretty good; take a mortar and pestle and grind the herbs together. It brings out such a beautiful smell. You can use it as a potpourri or in tea."
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Photographed By Christy Kurtz.
Why use an herbal remedy for medicinal purposes?
KR: "Plant medicine does not just improve symptoms; it approaches healing the whole of the body — as opposed to Western medicine, which may just approach the symptom. That’s one reason we would use plant medicine: to be able to take care of the body as a whole. Another reason is that it is accessible, approachable, and requires few invasive methods."
How long have you been practicing herbal remedies?
SR: "For Wicca, almost 30 years. I’ve been working with herbs throughout those 30 years, but more using them for magickal [sic] purposes and spell work."
KR: "For 17 years. I learned herbs from my grandmother, and then...in Arizona at the Educational Center for Botanical Medicine and [as an] apprentice to other herbalists."
What must-have herbal remedy do you practice on yourself?
SR: "It’s a mixture of several things — coconut oil, lavender, chamomile, mugwort, elderflower, marjoram, juniper berry, eucalyptus, and coriander — all herbs and oils that I mix together [for my chronic pain]. It’s awesome; it works well for me, and I love it. I don’t go to therapy without it. [Also], I’m not saying don’t go to a doctor. Absolutely, go to a doctor... But, my doctor acknowledges the fact that I’m holistically inclined."
Have you ever experienced or heard of a strange reaction to an herbal remedy?
KR: "Often, people take herbal medicines for a physical response, but what they find is that the body also responds in an emotional way to the plant medicine that they’re taking. So, plant medicines work beyond the physical response; sometimes, it’s your spirit or emotion that needs healing, and plant medicines can address that also."
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