Entering Hekate’s Garden is not a standard herbal resource. Written from the perspective of a devotee of Hekate, the magical uses of herbs is forefront. Circe, Medea and Hekate open the book with a bit of historical mythology, a bit of modern revisioning. The use of some Greek words throughout the text could be off putting to readers who aren’t good with foreign words. If the Greek myth of Jason isn’t at the forefront of your mind, Medea’s thoughts on how the world misconstrues her actions, could be lost on you. The entire format of the book is done with a kind of ritualistic intent that underscores that this is a book of witchcraft.
There are 39 plants described and which are associated with Hekate, the ancient Greek Goddess of witchcraft. The descriptions have herbal uses and magical correspondences together in a wholistic plant spirit witchcraft approach. What does this mean? The magical uses are intertwined with the usual herbal information in a way that would be familiar to our ancestors but is unusual nowadays. Chapters on plants include formulations like Medea’s Flying Ointment for inducing a trance state, recommendations for using walnut in divination, recipes for incense and the use of birch for healing emotional trauma.
Hekate is seen as a Goddess who can both heal and harm. Some of her devotees have poison gardens and this book discusses poisonous plants associated with Hekate. The author even uses a poisonous plant on her own body as part of a ritualistic practice which she sees as a devotion to her patron Goddess. I would caution that this book like poisonous cleaners, should be kept away from children and those who cannot distinguish between the safe and the dangerous.
Brannen includes her own personal gnosis in her descriptions of plants and their uses. This comes from her own experience working magick and doing journey work with the spirit of plants. Readers may have different experiences and outcomes. I found her description of working with moss in magick to be very interesting and rang true but I didn’t always have the same feeling with all the plants. The thing about personal gnosis is that it is personal. The spiritual connection to plants will call more strongly to readers who have their own practice of journeying to the spirit world.
This book is going to be of most interest as a reference for those who plan to utilize plants in magickal practice and who feel a connection to Hekate.
~review by Larissa Carlson
Author: Cindi Brannen
Weiser Books, 2020
pp. 173, $ 22.95