The heroine in my Coffee & Crime mystery series, Ellie Gooden, frequently uses stones and herbs in her spiritual and everyday life, and I am often asked by readers about the ones I mention that she uses. For instance, when she first moves into her cabin in the first book in the series, Restless Natives, she smudges her house to cleanse it of any stuck or negative energies which might be lingering there from the cabin’s previous owner.
In my series, because my main character is frequently dealing with the sometimes negative energy of the dead, a lot of what she does involves either cleansing or protection, so today, I thought I’d spend a few moments giving you a minuscule example of the kinds of herbs and stones Ellie and other practitioners use both for those purposes. This is by no means comprehensive, just some of my personal favorites. So put down your besom, pull up your stool, and put on your
witch’s thinking hat and have a listen.
Just as regular old table salt absorbs that red wine you spilled on grandma’s white table cloth, or the oil from your cast iron skillet, salt is also a great absorber or dampener of psychic energy of all kinds. Used for centuries in casting protective circles and barriers, it has the advantage in the modern age of being readily available. Used on doorsteps, windowsills, in the corners of your house, or in the traditional ritual circle, salt does the job effectively and economically!
A stone used by many for protection from all sorts of happenstances, amethyst is a beautiful purple gem stone with a calming, balancing nature, readily available at your local rock shop or metaphysical store. Familiar to many people and great protection for travelers, lore also states it can help guard one against psychic attacks (something Ellie learns in Book Four!).
I love all the color variations of tourmaline, but many of my pagan friends tout highly the potent protective properties of this black translucent stone. Some traditions consider this stone able to create a psychic shield to dispel both negative energies and malign entities, and is carried by a couple of ghost hunters of my acquaintance. It is also sometimes believed to help turn around negative thought patterns as well as assist in taking that energy and sending it down a more positive path.
Not only is this little herb an aid in relaxation when drunk as a tea, but it can also help you fight off psychic attacks, especially when used in combination with other herbs like calendula, which I also use in skin and joint salves. It has a pleasant, apple-like scent, and a mild flavor and goes great with a little honey. Plus, the little white flowers are charming in your garden!
Sage and other ‘smudging’ herbs
While the practice of smudging with sage is common place among modern pagans, it has stirred some controversy among some Native American activists, who consider ‘smudging’ by white shamans a form of cultural mis-appropriation. While smoke and the burning of incense or herbs has been used by many cultures across the world, it is always important to respect the spiritual beliefs and practices of all peoples, especially if you are imitating or adopting another cultural tradition into your own practices. To avoid this, I grow my own herbs to use when cleansing a space, relying on my own European and Celtic heritage for herb choices; primarily lavender, rosemary and mugwort. This also acts as a protection against some shady business practices as some commercially produced ‘smudge’ bundles can contain toxic substances. Besides, I find that the connection between growing and tending my herbs gives my cleansing rituals more meaning and punch.
Here’s an herb almost everyone is familiar with, and one that goes great with pizza! Not only can you use this lovely, fragrant herb in cooking, but you can create a wash with it that some practitioners swear by to ward off negative influences and promote a peaceful and harmonious home. Asperge the walls of your home or your body for a barrier against negativity.
And there you have it. Just a smattering of possibilities!
If you’re at all interested in learning more about crystals and stones, or herbs, I highly recommend the following websites:
Or check out almost any book by the late, great author, Scott Cunningham.
I hope you’ve found this peek into the magickal world interesting! As with anything of a spiritual nature, most things are open to interpretation and your mileage may vary. In the end, it’s all about the energy you put into it, rather than the object itself, no matter the purpose. Keep putting out positive energy, keep love and hope in your heart, and the world will be a better place for it!