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Each year, Llewellyn produces the Herbal Almanac with some wonderful authors and great articles dealing specifically with herbs, their magical and mundane uses and advice on growing and caring for them. The 2008 Almanac is no exception, giving us some well known authors (Dallas Jennifer Cobb, Susun S. Weed, and Elizabeth Barrette, for example) there are quite a few gems by some new authors (Zaeda Yin and Krystal Bowden are two).

The actual almanac information is a mere 16 pages long, if you include the basic information about the phases of the moon. This information is in the form of moon tables describing the moon’s phase, movement through the zodiac, corresponding element, phase and – nature. It is this latter quality that is most useful to those of us who work with herbs. Herbs harvested in a barren time will have very different properties from those harvested at a fruitful time and the same is true for planting herbs. For all that the almanac section is so short it is worth the price for those who take growing and harvesting herbs seriously.

But the additional material is a pleasure! Divided into various sections by topic and themes, this year’s almanac is typical: Growing and Gathering Herbs, Culinary Herbs, Herbs for Health, Herbs for Beauty, Herb Crafts and Herb History, Myth and Lore. With this annual, Llewellyn has signaled a move away from herbs and their use in magic, likely as a way to reach a wider audience. Although maybe there are only so many ways you can say that cinnamon is used in spells calling for money! As always, the introduction reminds us that "The old-fashioned remedies in this book are historical references used for teaching purposes only. . . . The contents are not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe, or substitute consultation with a licensed health-care professional. . . . Herbs are powerful things; be sure you are using that power to achieve balance.”

Some articles I especially liked were Cobb’s “The Herbal Landscape” with her ongoing pleasure in all of the properties of gardens shining through in each sentence, and Barrette’s “Shadowplay: Herbs for the Shady Garden” (very useful for my garden space, in fact). Smythe’s “Breakfast and Brunch Delights” had some especially delicious recipes that I enjoyed making (particularly the Lemon Basil French Toast) and Bowden’s “Tips and Tricks for Weary Feet” was perfectly practical.

In fact, there wasn’t a single article I disliked, even though a few of them (notably the “Hot Flash Herbs” and “Teen Girl’s Garden”) weren’t relevant. That is impressive for a collection of 35 articles in variety of topics. Although you can sit down and read it through, cover to cover, I feel it lends itself best to being perused over time, dipping in at odd times, or used as a reference for future plans.

This is one of the best herbal almanacs available, and it will surprise the readers with its facts and information. Highly recommended for anyone interested in herbs. 

by various authors

Llewellyn Worldwide, 2007

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