Plant Magic: Wisdom from the Green World

Whether you live in a city or the countryside, the magic of plants can be found everywhere and sometimes where you least expect it. Be open and explore the magic that surrounds you.

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Thyme for Magic

Known as common thyme, Thymus vulgaris, is anything but common. It is one of the classic herbs in Mediterranean cuisine with a history that dates to ancient times. Used by the Greeks and Romans to preserve meat, the flavor caught on and became an ingredient for a number of dishes. It was also discovered to be a healing antiseptic. In addition to treating a range of ailments, thyme was tossed onto fires to purify areas for ritual.

The name is believed to have come from the Greek word thumus, meaning “smoke” referring to its use as a fumigant, or “courage” because the herb was believed to foster certain qualities. (Jack Staub, 75 Exceptional Herbs, 223.) Sources differ whether it was the Romans who took the plant over the Alps into the rest of Europe and Britain. It did not take long for thyme to become a universal staple in gardens and medicine chests.

French emperor Charlemagne had thyme planted in all his gardens, and German abbess Hildegard of Bingen extolled its use for skin problems. In the Middle Ages, thyme was used as a strewing herb to freshen and disinfect rooms, especially during plague years.

Thyme’s purification properties make it ideal for preparing ritual space and consecrating altars. Burn a pinch or two and lightly waft the smoke around the area. Sprinkle dried leaves on your altar to stimulate energy for divination and psychic work, as well as any type of work involving the fairy realm. Wear a fresh sprig when contacting them.

Hang a dried sprig of thyme anywhere you need clear negative energy. Keep fresh or dried thyme with you to enhance awareness for clairvoyance. Include thyme to increase the effectiveness of spells involving love, luck, and money. Place a sachet under your pillow for help in remembering or interpreting dreams.

In addition to its range of magical uses, this delightful herb is my favorite for culinary and medicinal purposes. Thyme is one of the Scarborough herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme) that go well together in so many foods. Along with oregano and basil, thyme completes a great trio for pasta dishes as well as an herb butter.

In addition to great taste, this herb fights infection and provides support for the immune system. Classically combined with rosemary for culinary purposes, an infused oil made with these two herbs for cooking during the winter can help prevent colds and flu. Thyme is useful for a range of respiratory problems including chest colds, wet coughs, sore throat, hay fever, and sinusitis. Its warming and drying properties aid in clearing congestion. For a respiratory tea, combine equal amounts of thyme and sage or use thyme medicinal honey in your favorite tea to soothe your throat. It’s also an ingredient in Listerine.

There are two ways to make a medicinal honey. Herbs can be crushed or chopped and put directly into the honey or they can be tied into a piece of cheesecloth or muslin for easy removal. Herbs placed directly into the honey can be strained out before storage or left in. Fresh herbs should be removed before storage because their water content can lead to bacteria growth.

Medicinal Honey Recipe
½ cup dried herb, crumbled, or ¾ cup fresh herb, chopped
per cup of honey

Pour the honey into a mason jar and set it in a saucepan of water. Warm it over low heat. When the honey becomes a little less viscous, add the herbs or herb sachet. Use a butter knife to stir loose herbs throughout the honey or to submerge the herb sachet so it is covered. Continue warming it for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, set aside, and then put the lid on after it has cooled. Store out of the light in a cupboard at room temperature for a week.

Reaching 8 to 12 inches tall, thyme is a branching, shrubby herb with woody base stems. The stalkless, lance-shaped leaves are gray-green on top and lighter underneath. The small, pink to lilac or bluish-purple flowers grow in little clusters at the ends of the stems and bloom in midsummer. Small amounts of thyme can be harvested throughout the growing season or the entire plant can be cut down to 2 inches before it blooms. Don’t worry, it will grow back and give you a second crop. This herb freezes well, or it can be hung in small bunches to dry. This herb grows well on a windowsill, making it easy to have fresh thyme all year.


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The author of over a dozen books, Sandra is an explorer of history, myth, and magic. Her writing has been featured in SageWoman, The Magical Times, The Portal, and Circle magazines, Utne Reader and Magical Buffet websites, and various Llewellyn almanacs. Although she is a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, she travels a solitary Goddess-centered path through the Druidic woods. She has lived in New York City, Europe, England, and now Maine where she lives in an 1850s farmhouse surrounded by meadows and woods.  


  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert Sunday, 05 August 2018

    Really found this interesting and a good and helpful description of one of my favorite ingredients in my daily cooking. I understand also that it is excellent for the immune system. BTW Where in coastal NE do you live?

  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ Sunday, 05 August 2018

    One of my Cretan friends makes tea of thyme and throumbi (summer savory) for colds and flu. It works! Even thyme alone works.

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