Sometimes, kitchen magic is born out of necessity. While in my daydreams (which are many), I live in a city with a new-age scene the size of San Francisco and can find any old herb or magical ingredient at the drop of a hat (Mugwort? Sure, no problem. Frankincense? Oh, just let me pop over to the shop down the street!)

Snap back to reality: I live in a small college town in a beautiful part of the country. A girl just can’t buy incense in this town, which is probably why I stock up on incense and essential oils like a squirrel gathering acorns for a long winter whenever I get the chance. I might be a new-age girl, but this isn’t a new-age town. And so my journey into kitchen witchcraft begins.

Let’s face it, we’re blessed with a lot of perks that are thoroughly 21st century. Online bulk suppliers of herbal goods (Mountain Rose Herbs is a personal fave.) and three-hour drives down the interstate to bigger cities weren’t an option long ago. So, I’d infer–feel free to slap me ;)—that, for centuries, magic-workers worked with what they had (often known as hedge-witchery). Gathering moss in the woods, snipping some rosemary from the garden, and allowing the kitchen knife used to cut last night’s potatoes to serve as the sabbat athame might be a far cry from high magic but were most likely a reality for magic practitioners throughout the ages. And since every witch has his/her own style, born of personal preference and circumstance, I’ve found my way to kitchen witchin’. This blog entry shares some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up on the way.

The magic of herbs makes for a wonderful read whether you plan on practicing some magic on your own or if you’re cooking up a spell for a character. For characters, it’s fun to pull out all of the stops and call upon those rare plants and incenses that give a book that otherworldly quality. But it’s also fun to see what our magical beings can brew with a bit of cinnamon or allspice!

Books like those mentioned below[i] are full of practical spells and magic-workings that don’t call for an extensive Internet shopping spree (‘cuz I told my husband I’d stop those…). What I love about kitchen witchin’ is that I can grab some cinnamon or basil from the cupboard and, Voila!, magic is in the air. Magic is in everything, from the farthest land to the closest cabinet. Spices from India or the backyard each contain their own correspondences and have uses for magic.

What I love about kitchen witchin’ is that I can grab some cinnamon or basil from the cupboard and, Voila!, magic is in the air. Magic is in everything, from the farthest land to the closest cabinet. Spices from India or the backyard each contain their own correspondences and have uses for magic.

Here are a few personal faves from my own spice rack:

Basil: Oft sprinkled into Italian dishes, basil is readily available and affordable in both its fresh and dried forms. It’s also easy to grow outdoors and in. It can be grown in a garden or a container and makes a good selection for indoor windowsill gardens. Common uses: prosperity spells, health, protection.

Chamomile: From tea to bath sachets, chamomile is a notorious insomnia buster and calming herb. Combine with lavender to decrease stress. Common uses: reduces stress, aids meditation, promotes sleep and healing.

Cinnamon: Bursting with energy, the scent of cinnamon can invigorate any home. From cinnamon sticks to ground cinnamon, this zesty herb works well for spells related to success and prosperity. Common uses: energizing, success, confidence booster.

Lavender: Easy to grow or to procure, lavender is notorious for its calming, relaxing scent. Lavender essential oil is affordable and versatile. Common uses: to promote calm and relaxation, meditation, healing spells.

Mint: Best reserved for container gardens, mint has a tendency to overtake any space in which it’s grown. Looking lovely in a ceramic pot, fresh mint works on its on as a tea or as a garnish or ingredient in a multitude of dishes. Peppermint essential oil is one of the most affordable and makes a wonderful addition to foot scrubs. Common uses: invigorating when an energy boost is needed, promotes prosperity.

Orange peel: Full of warmth and energy, any citrus is your ally when you’re seeking vitality. I especially love the scent in the winter, when sunshine is far from sight in northern regions. Easy to find at the grocery store, the scent of oranges evokes a happier state of mind. Common uses: energizing/rejuvenating, symbol of sun, fire element.

Rosemary: A small, needled shrub with a pungent scent, rosemary instantly makes me think of earthy magic. I always feel this rugged yet fragile plant is meant to be part of a spell. It’s known as the herb of remembrance. Common uses: banishing negativity, protection spells, remembrance.

Salt: Often overlooked, salt’s ability to cleanse and purify makes it a powerful magical tool. Coarse sea salt is especially beautiful and links to both water (the ocean) and the earth. Bath salts draw impurities out, cleansing for body, mind, and spirit. I often fill a seashell with salt to adorn my altar during rituals. Common uses: cleansing, purifying spells, banishing negativity.

Vanilla: Available as the vanilla bean or the more-common vanilla extract, the scent of vanilla conjures up thoughts of feminine allure and passion, which explains why it’s so often used in perfumes and body products. Associated with femininity and hinting of passion, it’s the stuff legendary love spells are made of. The essential oil can be fairly pricey, but scented candles and incense are readily available. Common uses: love spells, beauty/glamours.

Here are some lovely reads about kitchen/herb magic:

Cottage Witchery. Ellen Dugan.

Herb Magic for Beginners. Ellen Dugan.

The Wicca Garden: A Modern Witch’s Book of Magickal and Enchanted Herbs and Plants. Gerina Dunwich.

Green Witchcraft: Folk Magic, Fairy Lore, and Herb Craft. Anna Moura.

The Real Witch’s Kitchen: Spells, Recipes, Oils, Lotions, and Potions from the Witches’ Hearth. Kate West.

[i] Author’s note: I mention these works purely as reference material. These are my personal recommendations.