I’ve always absolutely adored books, especially books of herbal lore and wisdom, and as I get older my collection of books seems to increase exponentially every year. At the rate I am going, I will soon need at least one large room just for all of my books, let alone the rest of my numerous posessions! I have quite an assortment of favourites, and to pick just a few to review is such a difficult task that I’m afraid I probably picked more than I should have done! I was tempted to grab up about 20 of my favourites and curl up around them on the sofa with a smug smile, whilst muttering ‘my precciiiooouuuusssss’ under my breath, but I suppose that would probably gain me even more odd looks than I currently receive regularly! As it stands, I never go anywhere without at least one herb related book stashed in my handbag – a bag which already looks like something out of Mary Poppins! I’m more inclined to drag a well stocked bookshelf out of it than a coat stand, though…
First up – Brighid’s Healing, by Gina McGarry. This is an absolutely fantastic, inspiring, warm and welcoming book with loads of herbal recipes in, but more importantly (to me anyway) it also has a lot of spiritual information to do with healing – deities connected with healing, and plenty of common sense, down to earth advice on commonplace health problems. What I particularly like about this book is that the author has given so many gorgeous recipes with lovely names (I do love descriptive and beautiful names for my remedies! Call it one of my many eccentricities…) Plus, she talks about the various stages of life and ways to honour them, with recipes to celebrate menarche, pregnancy, menopause, and also some information on herbal remedies for men and ways of celebrating events important to men. So often these days herbals tend to be quite biased towards women’s health and celebrations, and it is really refreshing to come across a herbal that tries to honour both sexes equally. This is definitely one of my favourite books, and one that I can’t recommend highly enough to any herbal fanatic with any shamanic inclinations.
I love any and all topics to do with herbs – and for anyone with any interest in all the many uses of herbs, not just for medicine but across the board, this book is a must. Not only does it give brief information on many different herbs and their medicinal uses, it also touches on myth, lore and legend, magical uses and planetary information associated with herbs, including how to figure out astrological associations with various plants and their meanings. Well worth having on your bookshelf for sheer interest if for no other reason!
The next book on my list is well worth having, but I do have a couple of bug bears to mention about it. The main one, I think, is that this book has been written by a feminist, and has a very strong feminist slant that is quite often anti male. While this does have its uses sometimes, I really don’t approve of trying to skew the balance of things too far back in the other direction. This world needs balance, where both men and women are equally valued for different reasons, not to have women suddenly valued more than men. While I agree that women have been treated quite badly throughout much of history, I am not and have never been strongly feminist. Refering to a talisman as a ‘taliswomyn’ and calling women womyn is, to my mind, not going to help matters at all. There. Rant over.
Rant aside, this is actually a very good book indeed – the information covered on the selection of herbs is detailed and fascinating, with plenty of recipes, tidbits of lore and emotional indications for various herbs. It is an astrological herbal, which means that each of the traditional planets has a certain number of herbs ascribed to it in this book which are then covered in some detail by the author. Worth having, just be patient with the feminism if you are not overly fanatical about it!
I love love LOVE this book! My mother bought it for me as a gift on my 17th birthday if I remember rightly and I was immediately captivated by the gorgeous photography, and the masses of information included in it. The book follows the celtic tree year, and has a chapter on each tree, with its medicinal, magical and emotional uses, as well as the ogham letter for each tree and the lessons that can be learned from it – all accompanied by the most breathtaking tree photography I’ve come across thus far. If you love trees and don’t already have a copy, you need this book. Nuff said.
There are a multitude of other books that I absolutely adore but I think I may stop here for the time being or I will still be sitting here, reviewing books at midnight! One day, I aspire to having a room in my house just for my books, with gorgeous dark wood book cases, overstuffed moss green velvet chairs with brocade cushions and side tables carved from rich coloured woods. Oh, and it must have stained glass tiffany style reading lamps. I’m determined. Knowing me, it will probably be next door to the workroom, where all my dried herbs and medicine making kit will be stored. My bed will be crammed into the attic, and every other square inch of the house will be full of herbs and herb paraphernalia. But I digress.
Books are fantastic. I love them, and I hope you will enjoy the books I’ve briefly reviewed above. I’m currently working my way through Plant Spirit Wisdom by Ross Heaven – I haven’t read enough about that yet to review it, but if anyone is interested I can certainly put up a review when I’ve finished it 🙂