The Sacred Herbs of Samhain: Plants to Contact the Spirits of the Dead (Paperback)
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A practical guide to using the sacred herbs of Samhain for healing, divination, purification, protection, magic, and as tools for contacting the Spirits
• Explores the identification, harvest, and safe practical and ritual use of more than 70 plants and trees sacred to the Celtic festival of Samhain, the origin of Halloween
• Details the most effective plants for protection from the mischief of Fairies, herbs for releasing the Dead, and visionary plants for divination and shamanic work
• Provides instructions and suggestions for a traditional Dumb Supper, offerings to the Land Spirits, Samhain rites, and recipes for the sacred foods of Samhain
The ancient Celts separated the year into two halves, the light half and the dark half, summer and winter. The festival of Samhain, from which the modern holiday of Halloween originates, marks the transition from summer to winter, the end of the Celtic year, a time when the barriers between the physical and spiritual world are at their most transparent. The herbs most characteristic of this time have specific magical and healing properties that echo the darker aspect of the year and offer potent opportunities for divination, contact with ancestors and Land Spirits, and journeys in the Otherworld.
Presenting a practical guide to the sacred herbs and trees of Samhain, Ellen Evert Hopman details the identification, harvest, and use of more than 70 plants and trees in healing, divination, purification, magic, and as tools for contacting the Spirits wandering the landscape at this liminal time of year. She explores the most effective plants for protection from the mischief of the “Good Neighbors,” the Sidhe or Fairies, as well as herbs for releasing the Dead when they are trapped on this plane. Identifying visionary plants used to induce ecstatic trance, Hopman explores how herbs have been used for millennia to aid in psychic travel and shamanic work and shows how one might safely use plants to take a voyage to the Otherworld. Drawing on her knowledge as a master herbalist, she also includes cautions to prevent harm and misidentification, along with advice on basic etiquette and common sense approaches to herb magic.
Detailing the history, rites, and traditions of Samhain, Hopman explains how to make an offering to the Land Spirits and provides instructions for the traditional Samhain ritual of the Dumb Supper, complete with recipes for the sacred foods of Samhain, such as Soul Cakes, Colcannon, Boxty bread, and dandelion wine. Woven throughout with mystical tales of folk, Fairy, and sacred herbs, this guide offers each of us practical and magical ways to connect with Nature, the plant kingdom, the Spirits that surround us, and the turning of the year.
About the Author
Ellen Evert Hopman has been a teacher of herbalism since 1983 and is a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild. A member of the Grey Council of Mages and Sages and a former professor at the Grey School of Wizardry, she has presented at schools and workshops across the United States and Europe. A Druidic initiate since 1984, she is the current Archdruid of Tribe of the Oak (Tuatha na Dara), an international Druid Order, a founding member of The Order of the White Oak (Ord Na Darach Gile), a Bard of the Gorsedd of Caer Abiri, and a Druidess of the Druid Clan of Dana. A former vice president of The Henge of Keltria, she is the author of The Sacred Herbs of Spring; The Sacred Herbs of Samhain; Secret Medicines from Your Garden; The Real Witches of New England; Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore; A Druid's Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine; A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year; Walking the World in Wonder – a Children’s Herbal; Being a Pagan; Tree Medicine, Tree Magic; and the Druid trilogy of novels: Priestess of the Forest, The Druid Isle and Priestess of the Fire Temple. She lives in Massachusetts.
Andrew Theitic is the editor of The Witches’ Almanac.
"Ellen Evert Hopman’s The Sacred Herbs of Samhain is a fascinating sourcebook of lore, history, magical methods, and practical information regarding plants sacred to the festival of Samhain. Samhain, observed at the end of the Celtic year as autumn turns to winter, is also noted for being a time when ancestral and otherworldly spirits are most likely to interact with the living. Though its focus is on the beautiful and haunting time of Samhain, The Sacred Herbs of Samhain can be used year round to appreciate and explore the cycles of our natural and mystical world."
— MEG NOLA, Foreword Reviews (July/August 2019)
“The Sacred Herbs of Samhain offers even more than bringing us into the magical world of spirits and fairies! I recommend that anyone fascinated by herbs embark on a literary herbal foray with Ellen Evert Hopman. Her in-depth knowledge of herbs provides a unique reference resource for the harvesting techniques, preparation methods, dosages, cautions, and use details for both physical and spiritual healing, complete with the fragrance of informative ancestral herbal lore.”
— Kathy-Ann Becker, author of Silencing the Women
“. . . a very straightforward, practical guide for those readers who want to actually put the information to use. This is the kind of book that gets dog-eared from sitting on your kitchen table or altar rather than dusty from sitting on your bookshelf. Highly recommended for all levels of practitioners.”
— Kirk White, author of Masterful Magick
“There are all kinds of herbalists but none as magical and profound as Ellen. I cherish every book--every word--she gifts us with.”
— Susun Weed, herbalist and author of the Wise Woman Herbal series
“Based on her impressive knowledge of herbs and the old-time practices of wise and witchy forest wives, Hopman offers a compendium of herbal medicinals in The Sacred Herbs of Samhain. A compelling look into Celtic herbal practices connected to the autumnal time of year when days are short and the veil between life and death is thin. The contents include all the how-tos and why you’d want-tos and why nots, with clear identification for practical and ritual usage provided by image and description. Beyond the practical are the entertaining, engaging tales of folk and fairy, of goddess and god, and of prophetic romance and/or death. This book is an invitation to delve into the shadows and realms of time gone by, the origins of the hallowed days of Samhain, Halloween, and other worldwide observances. A guide to keep by your side.”
— Marylyn Motherbear Scott, poet, author, and founder and high priestess of Magickal Cauldron
“A delightful collection of herbal knowledge and Celtic lore for Samhain. In addition to providing a significant reference on relevant magical and medicinal uses for herbs, trees, and more, Ellen provides complete instructions for a Samhain ritual and also a traditional Dumb Supper. Her easy-to-follow recipes for soup, breads, soul cake, dumb cake, magical ink, and even dandelion wine complete this gem. Recommended.”
— Morven Westfield, author of The Old Power Returns
“Another jewel in Ellen Evert Hopman’s collection, The Herbs of Samhain sparkles from beginning to end--from how to stay alive and dig mandrake to making elderberry sorbet and crowns of mallow leaves to how to spot where the fairies did battle the night before. I was entertained, challenged, and enthralled with each turn of the page as I partook of eclectic knowledge, Druid teachings, poetry, and recipes that have inspired me to more deeply weave herbs into my Samhain tradition. No doubt I’ll be coming back to this book many, many times!”
— Wendy Snow Fogg, founder and senior herbalist of Misty Meadows Herbal Center in Lee, New Hampshire
“Ellen Evert Hopman provides a potent reminder that it’s the relationship between the living and the dead that lies at the very heart of Samhain and Halloween. This crucial point is all too often overlooked amid all the commercialization and sensationalism that in recent years has come to surround this most profound of holidays. This book is a practical, comprehensive, clear, and useful guide to a wide variety of plants together with a great selection of spells, recipes, and fairy lore.”
— Judika Illes, author of Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells
“Ellen Hopman’s book is a treasure trove of herbal knowledge and wisdom. A great read!”
— Rick Allen, Grammy nominee and author of F ’n’ A!: My Crazy Life in Rock and Blues
"Ellen Evert Hopman, a prolific author of herbal manuals and handbooks is a long-time herbalist who cares deeply about your use of herbs. You can sense that easily because her handbook [ The Sacred Herbs of Samhain] is like a kit, containing lots of information and stories doled out in a practical way. One thing seems clear: herbs are our allies. Herbs guide us towards physical and mental health and the health of the planet, if we respect and use them right."
— Herbology East and West's Lotus, Lady, & Verse
“The Sacred Herbs of Samhain is a good pick for those interested in plants and herbs, but it is an absolute must for those interested in integrating those plants and herbs into their Samhain observances."
— The Magical Buffet
"What a perfect time of the year to review this book! Ellen Evert Hopman has written a very concise book on herbs to use in and around Samhain, and, most likely, at other time of the year, when one wishes to communicate with their ancestors. I really love this book and as a budding herbalist, this book will hold a place of honor on my herbal bookshelf."
"The Sacred Herbs of Samhain is an extremely useful and complete practical guide when it comes to the identification, harvesting and usage of different herbs and trees connected to the celebrations of Samhain."
— Aurora Sothis, Pagan Dawn: Journal of the Pagan Federation