Herbs are an absolutely wonderful thing to use in spellwork and rituals. Herbal magic is certainly a favorite of mine. However, there are times that you might not have the specific thing that a spell calls for. When that happens, what do you do?
Fear not my friends! You don’t need to cancel that ritual or spellwork just because you’ve run out of a particular herb. There are always options! Just like in cooking, there are substitutions that you can make in magic.
Generally, the following substitutions are accepted:
- Rosemary = any herb
- Rose = any flower
- Frankincense = any gum resin
- Tobacco = any poisonous herb
Beyond that, you’re going to need to have some knowledge. There are very few magical intentions for which only a specific herb will do. More often than not, there are a fair variety of herbs that can be used for a given intention. For example, balsam, bay, cinnamon, honeysuckle, lilac and mugwort can all be used for clairvoyance spells. If you don’t have one, you can use any of the others. If you keep a fairly well-stocked herb cabinet, you’re likely to have something on hand that will work for what you need. Even if all you have on hand is a decent selection of cooking herbs, you’ll have enough to do a pretty wide spectrum of spells.
I highly recommend having one or more herbal correspondence books on hand so you can look up substitutes quickly if you need to. You can search online, but it can be hard to find good information sometimes. Of course, I’ve written a very large and pretty great herbal magic book, so you could always grab a copy of that in paperback or ebook to have as a reference. *smiles* If you follow a particular tradition, you should have a book based in that tradition, along with a general reference. While most meanings are pretty universal, some traditions have special associations for certain plants.
It can also be helpful to know synonyms for various terms, so it’s easier to find other herbs you can use. To use that clairvoyance example again, herbs for precognition, premonition and telepathy could be used. As with any skill, the more you know, the easier it’ll be to find what you need.