Magic 101 - Part 5 - Connecting with the Land through Foraging
Alright, boring legal stuff first. I'm not formally trained on any of this stuff, I'm not an expert, please don't assume that everything I say is completely accurate. Do your own research, listen to experts (I really adore BlackForager), don't eat poison.
Foraging, in and of itself, is not inherently magical. It can be used as a survival skill or, if you're like me, it can be used to help out your grocery bill.
However, connecting with the land you live on? With nature? That can be a very important step for magical practice. Getting to know the plants that grow around you and learning how to use them in spells can give you a much deeper connection than simply buying dried herbs from Etsy.
(I love Etsy and there's nothing necessarily wrong with dried herbs, but you get what I'm saying, right?)
"But wait," you say. "I live in a city! It's just concrete! I haven't seen a blade of grass in years!!!!!" Go for a walk and pay close attention. You'll find something. A dandelion growing on the sidewalk can be just as magical as that Europeon mandrake root you had imported. The difference is that you get to meet the dandelion while it's alive.
So, how to safely forage?
Rule number one: Use your head. That's actually basically all of the rules, but here are the details:
DO NOT ingest something until you are 100% sure that you have the right identification. Here are my identification steps:
1. I use an app called Picture This to take a few photos at different angles of the plant. If I get the same result each time, I'll move on to...
2. Google "______ lookalikes" to see if there's anything else that it could be. If I feel certain that this is not any of the lookalikes and that it's what my app tells me, I can go to...
3. Google again! Type in "____ edible" to see if what you have found is safe to eat. PAY ATTENTION TO THE SOURCES. DO NOT GO OFF SOME RANDO'S BLOG (unless that rando is me telling you to check your sources).
DO NOT take more than one-third of the plant (unless it's invasive, in which case, go nuts). There are animals who depend on these plants for survival, plus you want to make sure the plant can grow again later. Don't be greedy. Only take what you need and leave the rest. To be honest, you probably will rarely need even a third of the plant.
Stay away from mushrooms. As a beginner, mushrooms are best left alone. So many of them look alike and so many of them are poisonous despite looking perfectly harmless. Stick to plants at first.
Here are a few of the plants I started out foraging and what they can be used for:
Yellow wood sorrel - a yummy snack, altar decoration
Violets - subtle flirtation, tea, altar decorations
Mock strawberries - altar decoration (edible but not great)
Pokeberries - ink, dye, altar decoration (not edible)
White clover - symbol of luck, altar decoration
Dandelion - wishes, resiliency, altar decoration
I live in the United States, so of course where you live will affect what grows around you. Be careful and have fun!