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The Treadwell’s Book of Plant Magic
Christina Oakley Harrington
Do not be deceived by the simplicity of this elegant little herbal. The Treadwell’s Book of Plant Magic is exactly what it claims to be, no less and—amazingly—no more: a meticulously researched, historically authentic magical herbal. It thoroughly equips the reader to make magic with plants, but it does not offer medical remedies and is not chock full of spells made up by the author. The majority of the book is about the plants themselves, their historical usage and exactly how to employ them for magical concerns. It includes a collection of multi-plant spells at the end, but it is far briefer than what you’ll find in most herbals on the market. The reason for this is what sets this herbal apart from and above the rest: these spells are all historical. With over 400 citations of 70 texts ranging from Ovid to Culpeper to obscure collections of folklore, Christina Oakley Harrington thoroughly supports every claim she makes about every plant she includes.
Each page of The Treadwell’s Book of Plant Magic is a new treasure, from a folklore love spell using sage and Greek lore—used by Alexander the Great—on the use of mint for truces to Hildegard’s cypress water to exorcise spirits, ragweed brooms from Cornwall and Lady Elizabeth Gray’s borage syrup for melancholy. If these plants seem familiar from your pantry, your favorite walk in the woods, or the last stint of weeding you did in the garden, that is because Oakley Harrington eschews the exoticism of modern magical herbalism. Based in London, she focuses on traditionally European plants and encourages her readers to forage for native species. However, the vast majority of plants she discusses are also found in North America and much of the world. To avoid both the ecological exploitation and cultural appropriation associated with many popular magical plant species, she wants readers to look to the past to rediscover the magic of the plants around them.
If you buy one magical herbal, buy this one. If you think you don’t have room on your shelf for another, throw out two and buy The Treadwell’s Book of Plant Magic—you’ll still come out ahead.