An A to Z Guide to New Age Elements and
How to Use Them
1 The Power of Stones: Crystals and Gemstones
2 The Power of Herbs: Herbs and Spices
Saint John’s Wort
3 The Power of Flowers: Flower Essences
Star of Bethlehem
4 The Power of Scent: Essential Oils
5 The Power of Fire and Light
6 The Power of Sound
7 The Power of Insight: Divination Systems, Tools, and
Book of Shadows
Spirit Animal Appearances
8 The Power of Symbols
9 The Power of Movement
10 The Power of Touch
New Age is a broad term that is used to describe an Eastern-influenced
cultural movement that arose in the Western world in the 1970s. The New
Age movement has many subcategories, including medicine, spirituality,
and environmentalism, and it continues to thrive around the world today
in countless constantly evolving forms.
If you’ve ever browsed around a New Age gift shop or bookstore,
you’ve probably encountered a seemingly disconnected array of stones
and crystals, herbs and spices, candles and incense, and books on topics
ranging from astrology to yoga. Though these items all belong to
disparate cultural traditions from different parts of the world at various
points throughout human history, they are all part of the big New Age
For thousands of years, stones, herbs, and other natural elements
have been used in cultures across the globe to promote health and
prosperity, provide protection, ease pain and suffering, and facilitate
spiritual enlightenment. While modern advances in science and medicine
have brought us invaluable medications, treatments, and therapies, many
of the world’s oldest remedies and practices are still widely used and
considered highly effective.
Long before hospitals and pharmacies, there were plants. The first
humans were hunter-gatherers who relied on the environment for
survival. They learned which plants were toxic and which were beneficial,
and they developed remedies for illness and discomfort that were honed
and adapted over time. The same process occurred with other natural
elements, from stones to scents. In ancient Egypt, stones and crystals
collected from the earth were worn to draw sickness from the body. In
ancient China, herbs and roots were used to treat ailments ranging from
headaches to indigestion. Remains of incense dating back thousands of
years have been found all over the world. All of these practices have
persisted through history and continue to be used regularly in our
In this book, New Age novices and aficionados alike will find some of
the most treasured New Age elements and practices, organized into ten
chapters: stones, herbs, flowers, scent, fire and light, sound, insight,
symbols, movement, and touch. Each entry covers information on the
origins and various uses of the item or practice being discussed, including
physical, spiritual, and magical applications.
Many of the remedies and practices in this book belong to the
tradition of holistic healing, a diverse field of alternative medicine that
treats the whole person, not just a single ailment or condition.
Practitioners of holistic medicine believe that a person is made up of
parts and if one part isn’t working properly, it has a negative effect on the
whole. Holistic healthcare practices covered in these pages include herbal
medicine, acupuncture, and massage.
Some of the items discussed in this book have feng shui uses. Feng
shui is the ancient Chinese practice of arranging the objects in your
environment in a way that facilitates a free flow of energy. The bagua,
which means “eight-sided figure or octagon,” is your feng shui map.
You may also see references to chakras throughout the book. In
Hindu, yogic, and other traditions, the chakras are the energy centers in
the body, arranged vertically along the spine. Each chakra governs a
different kind of energy and connects to a different area of the physical
body. The seven major chakras, from the top down, are:
Crown chakra: Located at the top of the head, the crown chakra
controls mental energy and is our connection to the divine.
Third-eye chakra: This chakra, located between the eyes, is the
seat of intuition. It governs our imagination, wisdom, and decisionmaking.
Throat chakra: The throat chakra rules communication and
expression, and is the source of personal truth.
Heart chakra: This chakra is found in the middle of the chest and
is all about love, joy, and inner peace.
Solar plexus or navel chakra: This is the power chakra, the core
self, located in the center of the abdomen.
Sacral or base chakra: This is the pleasure center of the body,
located in the lower abdomen, below the navel. It is the source of
confidence and self-worth, and it also rules sexuality.
Root chakra: Located at the base of the spine, this chakra is the
foundation of the body and governs spiritual and physical grounding.
Some of the items found in these pages will be very familiar—you may
already have them in your spice cabinet, garden, or backyard—but you’ll
learn new ways to use and enjoy them. Others may be totally new to you,
and you may soon find yourself with a new hobby! Feel free to cherrypick
through the book and look up the items that most interest you.
Curious about the healing powers of crystals? Check out Chapter 1.
Looking for an herbal remedy for an ailment? Chapter 2 has you covered.
Perhaps you’re interested in some of the more magical New Age practices
such as numerology or tarot (see Chapter 7). And what on earth is
Rolfing, anyway? (Chapter 10 has the answer.) Be sure to check the
glossary for any unfamiliar terms you find along the way.
Let this handy book be your go-to reference for all things New Age. As
you read, remember that many of the items and practices in this book are
very personal and the way they are experienced depends on the
individual. What works for someone else will not necessarily work for
you. Listen to your heart, body, and mind as you try out these New Age
staples. Above all, enjoy the journey!
THE POWER OF STONES:
Crystals and Gemstones
Stones have been used for millennia to treat physical ailments
and balance the energies of the body, as well as to facilitate
mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. They work through
resonance and vibration, and through the minerals and other
substances they contain. For example, the high concentration of
copper in malachite can help reduce the swelling and
inflammation that cause joint and muscle pain, and an
analgesic called succinic acid is released when amber is warmed
by the skin, making it helpful for treating arthritis and
Stones can be found in two forms: raw and tumbled or
polished. Raw stones are in their natural state, which means
they may be sharp-edged or craggy and can be fragile. Tumbled
or polished stones have been “tumbled” with fine sand or grit to
smooth their edges. As a result of this process, tumbled stones
are much more durable than raw stones and can be kept
together (in a soft bag, for example), whereas raw stones should
be kept separate to prevent scratching and breakage.
There are two main approaches to choosing a crystal or
gemstone: You may be looking to treat a specific ailment or
issue, or you may be simply searching for a stone that resonates
with you. If you are completely new to the world of stones, your
birthstone might be a great place to start. Otherwise, you can
choose a stone by visiting a local store and browsing through its
offerings. If a stone catches your eye, pick it up, hold it in your
hand, and see how it feels. Trust your intuition. A stone that
attracts your attention and feels right is the stone for you.
Agate is a form of chalcedony, which is a variety of quartz. Agates form in
cavities in volcanic rock. Water and carbon dioxide bubble out of the
volcanic rock and rise to the surface, and over time the minerals crystalize
in layers. This is why agates generally have a banded appearance, with
layers of different colors. Agate is found all over the world but was named
for the Achates River (now the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy,
where agates were first found.
The use of agate goes back to the Neolithic era, when it was favored for
both healing and ornamentation. The ancient Greeks had many uses for
agate. For example, moss agate, which does not have the classic layered
appearance but instead has colors and patterns that resemble plant life or
landscapes, was considered helpful in ensuring a plentiful harvest. Many
cultures throughout history have believed that wearing agates protects
against tragedy and evil.
Healing Uses: There are many varieties of agate, and they have a wide range of
healing uses. Blue lace agate, named for its lavender-blue color and lace-like pattern, is a
calming stone that is used to soothe headaches, digestive discomfort, and skin issues,
especially eczema. Fire agate, whose iridescent rainbow colors are reminiscent of a flame,
can increase circulation and battle lethargy and depression. Because of agate’s connection
with the throat chakra, it is often worn around the neck to soothe coughs, sore throats, and
even dental issues.
Magical Uses: Agates exhibit both the strength of a stone and the fluidity of air
and water, making them useful as balancing and grounding stones. They are excellent for
stabilizing energy and combating negativity and bitterness. Agates are often used in
ceremonies concerning love, healing, protection, and courage, and many believe that a
person can tell only the truth when looking at an agate.
Feng Shui Uses: Because agates have a soothing quality, it’s helpful to place
them in any area of your home that would benefit from a gentle, calming influence.
Different varieties of agate can be used for different purposes around the home. A blue lace
agate can be helpful in the Health/Well-Being and Wealth/Prosperity sectors of your home,
while a fire agate can create energy in the Marriage/Relationships sector, such as the
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Agates raise consciousness and awareness
of the self, encouraging contemplation that can lead to deep spiritual understanding and
growth. They also enhance mental function and improve concentration and analytical
abilities, which can be helpful for problem solving. Additionally, agates can be used to boost
confidence and are specifically helpful with public speaking, stuttering, and related issues.
Contrary to its appearance, amber is neither a stone nor a crystal; it’s
actually fossilized tree resin. Trees secrete resin to heal wounds and
protect themselves against disease, and over time the resin dries and
hardens. Long after the tree is gone the resin remains, and over the
course of millions of years it becomes amber. Amber deposits have been
found in places all over the world, including Mexico, the Dominican
Republic, and the coast of the Baltic Sea. Baltic amber is the most wellknown
Amber has long been used in jewelry and other types of ornamentation,
and many cultures have believed it holds magical powers. The ancient
Greeks used amber to promote good health and ward off evil. The Aztecs
and the Maya burned it as incense. Today, in addition to its continued use
in jewelry and other art objects, amber is also valuable in the field of
science for the insects and plant life it often contains.
Healing Uses: Amber contains an analgesic called succinic acid, which is released
when it is warmed by the skin. For this reason, necklaces and bracelets of amber beads are
worn to ease arthritis and joint pain, as well as to soothe teething pain in infants and young
children. Amber is an ingredient in many ointments and creams for burns and insect bites,
and it is also used in cosmetics to destroy free radicals associated with aging. Wearing
amber opens the solar plexus chakra and balances the energy of the body.
Magical Uses: Because amber is warm to the touch and yellow or orange in color,
it is believed to hold the power of the sun, absorbed by the ancient trees that produced it.
Use amber in meditation to tap into the wisdom of our ancestors and remember past lives,
or to improve memory and boost confidence.
Feng Shui Uses: Place a piece of amber in the Health/Well-Being sector of your
home to support good health and create a feeling of balance and calm. In the northeastern
area, amber encourages self-exploration and wisdom. Place amber in pairs in the
southwestern area to strengthen relationships.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Amber helps you connect to your inner
wisdom, bridging the gap between your everyday self and your spiritual core. It brings out
your innate talents and abilities and enhances creativity so that you may more easily
achieve your goals. It can also be used for psychic or physical protection.
Amethyst is a variety of crystalline quartz that ranges in color from violet
to mauve. The color of the amethyst changes in response to heat;
depending on the temperature, it can become a range of colors, from
reddish brown to yellow and even colorless. The majority of the world’s
commercial citrine is actually heat-treated amethyst (see Citrine in this
chapter). The most significant deposits of amethyst are found in southern
Brazil, Uruguay, and Madagascar, and it is also found in parts of
Germany and Russia.
According to legend, the Greek god of wine, Dionysus, once pursued a
nymph named Amethyst, who wished to escape his advances. The nymph
asked for the help of the goddess Diana, who transformed her into a clear
crystal. When Dionysus saw what she had done, he threw wine angrily
upon the crystal, giving it its purple color. The ancient Egyptians believed
amethyst could assuage fear and guilt, and the Greeks and Romans used
it for protection against overindulgence in food and alcohol.
Healing Uses: Amethyst strengthens the immune system and supports
oxygenation in the blood. For headaches, rub an amethyst crystal on your forehead. Placing
amethyst under your pillow combats insomnia and brings pleasant dreams, and it may also
help you remember your dreams upon waking. Amethyst is often incorporated in
treatments for alcohol and drug addictions.
Magical Uses: This purple crystal has calming effects, defending against stress
and negative energy. Amethyst is connected to the third-eye chakra (located between the
eyes), which is responsible for intuition, and the crown chakra (at the top of the head),
which controls mental energy. Wear amethyst jewelry to heighten awareness and relieve
mental tension. As a talisman, amethyst brings feelings of pure happiness and love.
Feng Shui Uses: Amethyst is often used in purification rituals and can be
helpful in calming household turbulence. It can also bring change when needed. Place it in
the northeastern area of your home to foster wisdom.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Amethyst is the birthstone for the month
of February. It facilitates spiritual awareness and forges a connection to the inner self. It
also protects against psychic danger, especially during spiritual exploration. It is great for
use in meditation practices because it helps ease the transition to a meditative state and
Aquamarine is a blue-green, transparent variety of the mineral beryl,
which is colorless in its pure form. The blue-green color of aquamarine is
a result of the presence of iron in the crystal. The word aquamarine
comes from the Latin aqua marina, meaning “seawater.” The stone is
quite common, with major deposits occurring in Brazil, and it has also
been found in other parts of the world, including the United States.
Greek sailors believed aquamarine was the treasure of mermaids, and
carried it for good luck and protection as well as to prevent seasickness
on sea voyages. The crystal was believed to be especially powerful when
immersed in water. The Romans used aquamarine to cure throat, liver,
and stomach ailments. Aquamarine has long been used to counteract the
forces of evil and win the favor of the spirits.
Healing Uses: This crystal strengthens the cleansing organs of the body,
including the liver, spleen, and kidneys. It is also associated with the throat and heart
chakras. For this reason, wearing an aquamarine necklace can help regulate thyroid issues.
Aquamarine can also be used to calm an overactive immune system and is therefore helpful
with allergies. Place aquamarine crystals on the eyes for eye issues.
Magical Uses: Aquamarine is a calming and clarifying stone that is helpful for
filtering out unwanted thoughts, clearing up confusion, and bringing closure. With the
tranquilizing energy of the sea, aquamarine is ruled by the moon. To recharge and cleanse
an aquamarine crystal, place it in water on the night of a full moon. The soothing quality of
this stone makes it useful for calming fears and phobias.
Feng Shui Uses: Aquamarine uses water energy, which is characterized by
stillness, quiet strength, and purification. Water energy is traditionally associated with the
northern area of a room or home, making this a great place for aquamarine crystals. Use
aquamarine in the Career/Path in Life sector to ensure balance as your life unfolds. In the
southwestern area of the home, aquamarine can improve troubled relationships.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Aquamarine is the birthstone for the
month of March. It is a great relaxation and meditation stone. When meditating with
aquamarine, imagine yourself standing before a pool of clear, blue water. Release any
negative emotions into the water and watch them float away. Aquamarine is also helpful for
focusing energy toward the accomplishment of goals.
Aventurine is a variety of quartz with inclusions of mica and other
minerals that give it a sparkling appearance. The stone can be opaque or
semi-translucent and is commonly green in color; other colors include
blue, brown, and peach. The name aventurine comes from the French
aventure, meaning “accident,” pertaining to either its discovery or the
randomness of the inclusions found in the stone. Deposits are found in
Brazil, Austria, Russia, India, and Tanzania.
The ancient Tibetans prized aventurine and often used it for the eyes of
their statues, believing it improved sight and creativity. In many cultures,
aventurine is considered an opportunity stone that brings good luck in
any situation, from a first date to a job interview. It is especially
associated with money and games of chance, making it a favorite among
gamblers. Many also believe that aventurine can guard against
environmental and electromagnetic pollution.
Healing Uses: Green is the color of healing, and green aventurine is considered
an all-purpose healing stone. Specifically, it is associated with eyesight and is therefore
helpful to people with near- or far-sightedness or astigmatism. It is also associated with the
heart chakra, making it an excellent stone for people with cardiac or circulatory problems.
Wearing a necklace with an aventurine pendant places the stone near the heart and
increases its benefits.
Magical Uses: Aventurine is a very positive stone. It helps dissolve stress, anger,
and anxiety, and produces an overall sense of harmony and calm. It is especially useful
when getting over a disappointment or heartbreak, as it introduces a feeling of lightness and
an understanding that everything in life is temporary.
Feng Shui Uses: Green aventurine uses wood energy, traditionally associated
with the eastern and southeastern areas of a space as well as the Family/Foundation sector
of the home. Wood energy encourages growth and new beginnings, and it also enhances
vitality and abundance.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Aventurine has a stabilizing effect on the
mind and encourages perseverance in difficult times. It is helpful in letting go of old habits
and disappointments, and moving into the future. The stone encourages optimism and
increases motivation, helping you to achieve your goals. Meditating with aventurine can be
helpful during times that feel stagnant.
Calcite is the most common form of calcium carbonate, the major mineral
in limestone, marble, and chalk. It is colorless or white in its pure form
but may be almost any color—pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue,
brown, black, or gray—when impurities are present. Calcite is very soft (a
3 on the Mohs scale) and can be easily scratched, so it is rarely used in
jewelry. However, it is frequently used as a component in construction
materials such as cement, mortar, floor tiles, and countertops, as well as
paints and fertilizers. The clearest form of calcite is called Iceland spar,
because it is common in Iceland. Calcite is also found in England, Italy,
Germany, Romania, Mexico, and the United States.
Calcite gets its name from the Latin calx, meaning “lime.” The ancient
Egyptians favored it as an artisan material because of its softness and
workability, and used a harder, banded variety of calcite called alabaster
(distinct from the gypsum form of alabaster) to make ornamental and
ceremonial objects such as sculptures and cosmetic containers.
Healing Uses: Due to its acid-neutralizing effects, calcium carbonate is the major
active ingredient in most commercially available antacid tablets, including Rolaids and
TUMS. Calcite crystals can be used to encourage calcium absorption or to dissolve areas of
calcification in the body, making them useful for treating bone problems such as
osteoporosis and even bone cancer. Green calcite stimulates the immune system and battles
bacterial infections. Iceland spar, also called optical calcite, soothes the tension that causes
Magical Uses: Pink calcite is powerful for releasing fear and grief and clearing a
path for forgiveness. Blue calcite is a soothing stone that aids in recuperation and
relaxation. It is also associated with the throat chakra and therefore aids in communication.
Black calcite is helpful in past-life regression and recalling memories with the goal of letting
go of the past. It also serves to alleviate depression and stress following a traumatic
Feng Shui Uses: This is a great stone to have anywhere in your home, as it
removes negative energies from the environment around it. Calcite is especially helpful in
the Marriage/Relationships sector, particularly when a relationship is imbalanced or there
is a disagreement.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Calcite is a powerful energy cleanser and a
stabilizing stone. It can be used to calm the mind, connect with the intellect, and boost
emotional intelligence. It also enhances learning abilities, making it a wonderful stone for
students. Red calcite removes emotional barriers that prevent forward movement in life.
Yellow or golden calcite is helpful in meditation, as it encourages a deep state of relaxation
and opens the mind to spiritual guidance.
Carnelian is a variety of chalcedony that ranges in color from pink to
reddish orange to brownish red. The color is a result of iron impurities in
the crystal. Natural carnelian is increasingly rare, and many of the
carnelian crystals on the market are actually agates that have been dyed
and heat-treated. Agates masquerading as carnelian stones will have a
striped appearance when held up to the light, while natural cornelian will
have a more consistent, cloudy appearance. In addition to jewelry,
carnelian is used for cameos and intaglios. The most significant source of
carnelian is India, but it is also found in the United States, Peru, Brazil,
Uruguay, and Madagascar.
The ancient Egyptians considered carnelian sacred and buried their dead
with the stone to protect them on their journey to the afterlife. The
ancient Greeks and Romans wore it to protect against sin. The prophet
Muhammad is said to have worn a silver ring with an engraved carnelian
stone on the little finger of his right hand, making it an important stone
for Muslims. The emperor Napoleon famously wore an octagonal
carnelian ring that he found in the sands of Egypt.
Healing Uses: Due to its red color and iron content, this stone is associated with
the blood; it can be used to cleanse the blood, stanch excessive blood flow, and heal open
wounds. It also increases fertility and is beneficial during childbirth. Use carnelian stones to
improve vitamin and mineral absorption, and to ensure adequate blood supply to the
organs and tissues of the body. Carnelian connects with the sacral chakra, located between
the navel and the pubic bone, which is the pleasure center of the body.
Magical Uses: Carnelian is a great stone to use in past-life regression or in the
search for a “twin soul” or family. Its association with the element of fire makes it helpful
for rekindling passion or romance. Carnelian can also be used to cleanse other stones.
Feng Shui Uses: Carnelian uses fire energy, bringing warmth, illumination, and
passion to a space. This stone is associated with the southern area of a home or room, as
well as with the Fame/Reputation sector. Keep carnelian near the front door of your home
to secure protection and welcome abundance, and use it as an accent in a room where a
boost of energy is needed.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This stone promotes peace and protects
against negative emotions, both internal and external. It grounds its owner in the present
reality and encourages acceptance while banishing envy, rage, and resentment. Carnelian
also combats laziness and energizes its owner. Those looking for motivation and a creativity
boost will be well served by this stone.
Chalcedony is a microcrystalline type of quartz and a broad category that
includes some of the other stones in this chapter, such as agate, carnelian,
and onyx. “True” or “actual” chalcedony is the milky white, gray, or blue
variety of the stone, which often has a glowing, translucent quality. The
stone is found all over the world, including the United States, Mexico,
Brazil, Uruguay, India, and Madagascar. The name chalcedony is most
likely derived from Chalcedon, an ancient Greek city in Asia Minor.
Chalcedony has been in use going back to the Bronze Age, when it was
favored for carving seals, intaglios, and rings and other jewelry. The
Roman orator Cicero is said to have worn a blue chalcedony stone around
his neck due to its reputation for being beneficial during public speaking.
The Native Americans believed chalcedony to be sacred and used it in
Healing Uses: This stone promotes mineral absorption and prevents mineral
buildup in the body, and it can also be used to support lactation in breastfeeding mothers.
Additionally, chalcedony is said to lessen the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Blue
chalcedony is associated with the throat chakra, making it effective for treating sore throats
and other ailments of the neck area.
Magical Uses: Chalcedony is a nurturing stone often used to inspire goodwill and
stabilize relationships, as well as to assist in telepathy and thought transmission. It absorbs
and dissipates negative energy, paving the way for openness, generosity, and joy. Wear
chalcedony for protection while traveling or to prevent bad dreams. Blue chalcedony can be
used in weather magic and for treating illnesses associated with changes in the weather.
Feng Shui Uses: Blue chalcedony uses water energy, which is associated with
the northern area of a home or room and the Career/Path in Life sector. Use blue
chalcedony to calm, purify, and strengthen a space, especially one used for reflection or
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Chalcedony is often called the “speaker’s
stone,” used to ease self-doubt and facilitate clear communication. It is especially helpful to
actors, singers, salespeople, and others whose voices play a central role in their lives or
careers. Blue chalcedony in particular is a creative stone that opens the mind to new ideas,
enhances listening skills, and improves memory.
Citrine is a variety of crystalline quartz that ranges in color from pale
yellow to reddish brown depending on its origin and whether it is natural
or heat-treated. Natural citrine, found in Spain, France, Russia,
Madagascar, and the Congo, is quite rare. Most commercial citrine is
actually heat-treated amethyst, much of which comes from Brazil.
Citrine has been in use for thousands of years. It was used as a decorative
gem during the Hellenistic period in ancient Greece, and some biblical
scholars believe citrine is the tenth of twelve stones in Aaron’s breastplate
in the Book of Exodus. Citrine jewelry was very popular during the
Victorian and Art Deco eras, when it was commonly used in pendants and
Healing Uses: This crystal aids in digestion, stimulates circulation, and regulates
the metabolism. It also relieves depression, anger, and mood swings. Citrine is also helpful
in removing toxins, which is why it is often used in overcoming addictions. Wear citrine in
contact with the skin of the fingers or the throat for best results.
Magical Uses: Citrine is a success and prosperity crystal. It combats negative
energy and paves the way for growth. Use citrine to manifest abundance, both physically
and spiritually. Carry a citrine crystal in your wallet or purse to attract money or curb
overspending, or incorporate citrine while meditating on your goals to achieve abundance
in the broader sense. Citrine can also be used as an “aura protector,” warning against
Feng Shui Uses: Place citrine in the Wealth/Prosperity area of your home or
business, such as in the cash box. If nightmares or sleep disturbances are a problem, put a
piece of citrine under your pillow at night to encourage a good night’s sleep.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Along with topaz, citrine is the birthstone
for the month of November. It is associated with the solar plexus chakra, which is the power
chakra, the core self. Wearing a long necklace with a citrine pendant will stimulate this
chakra (located in the abdomen between the ribcage and the navel) and encourage
creativity. Meditating with citrine facilitates access to inner thought. Wearing citrine raises
self-esteem and combats destructive tendencies.
Clear quartz, also called rock crystal, is a hard mineral composed of
silicon dioxide, which is present in a variety of rocks, including sandstone
and granite. It is the second most abundant mineral on Earth after
feldspar and is located all over the world. Its abundance is attributed to
its stability at a wide range of pressures and temperatures within the
earth and its resistance to physical weathering once it has surfaced. The
origin of the word quartz is unknown (although it may come from the
Slavic word for “hard”), but the word crystal comes from the Greek word
krustallos, meaning “ice.” Clear quartz crystal comes in many forms,
including tumbled stones, pillars or points, and clusters. Natural clear
quartz is not to be confused with lead crystal, such as Swarovski, which is
According to an ancient Japanese creation myth, quartz formed from the
breath of the revered white dragon and was believed to represent
perfection. The Australian Aborigines used quartz in their rain and
cleansing rituals. Crystal balls made of clear quartz have been used to
divine the future since the Middle Ages, possibly earlier.
Healing Uses: Quartz is an all-purpose healing stone that amplifies healing
energy. It gets its power from its helical spiral crystalline form and piezoelectric quality.
Quartz crystals can be used for any condition, but they are especially effective for
stimulating the immune system and cleansing the organs. Placing quartz crystals on the
body clears blockages. Acupuncture needles coated in quartz are said to increase the
effectiveness of the procedure.
Magical Uses: Quartz crystals typically have six facets, which represent the six
chakras from the root to the third eye, with the point of the crystal representing the crown
chakra. This crystal works to increase consciousness, aids in past-life recall, and attracts
love. Place clear quartz in bathwater to remove negative energy from the body.
Feng Shui Uses: In feng shui, clear quartz is valued for its ability to hold and
emanate light, as well as to cleanse or purify the energy in a space. A clear quartz cluster or
crystal ball placed in the living room will bring harmony to the home. Do not place a clear
quartz cluster near your bed, as it can bring too much energy to the space and prevent
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Clear quartz is both colorless and contains
every color of the rainbow, and therefore works on all levels of being. It removes negative
energy and promotes clarity of thought. Use clear quartz during meditation to filter out
distractions. Wearing or carrying clear quartz opens the heart and mind to the wisdom of
the spirit realm.
Diamond is a crystalline form of carbon that is usually colorless but can
also be yellow, blue, brown, or pink. It is the hardest of the gemstones,
rating a 10 on the Mohs scale, and not nearly as rare as the jewelry
industry suggests. Diamonds are found in many parts of the world,
including Africa, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Russia, and the United
States. The word diamond comes from the Greek adamas, meaning
“hard” or “unconquerable,” which evolved into the word adamant.
Diamond was first mined in India as early as the fourth century B.C.E., and
the stone eventually made its way to European markets. By the 1400s,
members of Europe’s elite were donning diamond accessories. In the
early 1700s, Brazil established itself as a major diamond source, and in
the late 1800s large diamond deposits were discovered in South Africa. In
1888, British businessman Cecil Rhodes founded De Beers Consolidated
Mines Limited with mines in South Africa, and by 1900 De Beers
controlled 90 percent of the world’s rough diamond production. It was
De Beers that introduced the idea of the diamond engagement ring, with
the slogan “a diamond is forever” appearing in the 1940s.
Healing Uses: Diamond detoxifies and purifies the body, balances the
metabolism, and aids in the treatment of allergies and chronic conditions. It is also
beneficial for eye-related conditions, especially glaucoma, as well as dizziness and vertigo.
Use diamond to improve the function of the brain, nerves, and sensory organs, or to combat
aging and boost energy levels.
Magical Uses: Diamond is one of the few crystals that never need to be
recharged; instead, it can be used as a support stone, amplifying the powers of other
minerals. This stone increases the energy of everything it comes in contact with, but
beware; it can also increase negative energy. Use a diamond to shine a light on anything
negative that requires transformation.
Feng Shui Uses: Diamond is an ideal prism, both colorless and containing all
the colors of the rainbow. Hang a diamond crystal in any window of your home to harness
the sun’s power and disperse light and energy freely throughout the space. Diamond is
especially powerful in the Marriage/Relationships sector of the home.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Diamond is the birthstone for the month
of April. This stone clears fear and pain and encourages fortitude. It is especially useful for
creative individuals, as it stimulates the imagination and inspires inventiveness. Diamond
also cleanses and stimulates the crown chakra, which is the connection to the divine.
Meditate with diamond to clear any debris from around your inner light, allowing it to shine
Emerald is a variety of beryl that owes its green color to the presence of
the metallic element chromium and sometimes vanadium. The color
ranges from light to dark green, and it can be either transparent or
opaque. It is a relatively hard stone (7.5–8 on the Mohs scale), but
inclusions can affect its durability. Emerald deposits have been found in
Brazil, Columbia, Egypt, India, and the United States.
Emeralds were first mined in Egypt, as early as 330 B.C.E., and the ancient
Egyptian ruler Cleopatra famously loved the stone. The Inca and Aztecs
of South America considered emerald to be a holy stone, but when the
Spanish conquistadors arrived in the sixteenth century they exploited
those deposits for trading. One of the largest and most famous emeralds
is the Mogul Emerald, measuring 217.80 carats and about 10 centimeters
high. Dating from 1695, this stone is inscribed with Islamic prayers on
one side and engraved with flowers on the other. In 2001, it was
auctioned off at Christie’s of London to an anonymous buyer for $2.2
Healing Uses: Emerald stimulates the heart chakra and has a healing effect on
both the emotions and the physical heart. It is also beneficial for the eyes, lungs, spine, and
muscles. Worn around the neck, emerald can ease the effects of epilepsy and seizures.
Emerald also aids in recovery from infectious disease.
Magical Uses: Emerald enhances loyalty, unity, and unconditional love, but if the
stone changes color it is a sign of unfaithfulness. Wear this stone to ward off negativity and
encourage positive actions, but do not wear it constantly, as this can trigger negative
emotions. Emerald is especially helpful for enhancing psychic abilities and clairvoyance.
Feng Shui Uses: In feng shui, the color green is associated with wood energy,
which encourages growth and new beginnings and enhances vitality and abundance. Place
emerald stones in the eastern and southeastern areas of a space as well as the
Family/Foundation sector of the home to bring domestic bliss.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Emerald is the birthstone for the month
of May. Working through the heart chakra, this stone balances the emotions, strengthens
the connection to the divine, and provides support on one’s spiritual journey. Emerald is
excellent for meditation, as it focuses intention, raises consciousness, and gathers wisdom;
just be sure to use a clear and not an opaque variety of the stone for meditation.
Fluorite, also called fluorspar, is a mineral composed chiefly of calcium
fluoride that is often fluorescent under ultraviolet light and can be a
variety of colors, including blue, green, purple, yellow, and brown, as well
as colorless. The word fluorite comes from the Latin verb fluor, meaning
“to flow,” due to its low melting point. The stone is quite common
worldwide, with deposits found in Canada, the United States, Mexico,
England, Germany, and China, among other locations.
Fluorite has long been used as a flux to lower the melting point of raw
materials in the production of steel and, more recently, aluminum. The
phenomenon of fluorescence, first described by the mathematician and
physicist George Gabriel Stokes in 1852, takes its name from fluorite. The
stone’s relative softness (4 on the Mohs scale) has made it popular for
carving for thousands of years.
Healing Uses: Fluorite is a powerful healing stone. It strengthens the bones and
teeth, and also relieves pain associated with arthritis. Rubbing a fluorite crystal across the
body toward the heart provides pain relief. Use fluorite to battle infections, viruses, and skin
issues. Use blue fluorite for ear, nose, and throat problems. Yellow fluorite releases toxins,
aids the liver, and benefits cholesterol levels.
Magical Uses: Fluorite cleanses the aura and the chakras, especially the throat
and crown chakras. This stone also has powerful protective qualities, especially on the
psychic level. Use it to distinguish true feelings from outside influence and psychic
Feng Shui Uses: Fluorite is an excellent stone for feng shui, especially the green
variety, which harnesses wood energy. Place green fluorite in the eastern and southeastern
areas of a space as well as the Family/Foundation sector of the home to bring balance and
understanding. Surround family photographs with green fluorite stones to mend broken
relationships. Place fluorite near your computer to clear electromagnetic stress.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Fluorite integrates spiritual energies and
heightens intuitive powers. Use it in meditation to focus the mind and open the door to the
subconscious. Students especially will benefit from this stone, as it enhances learning
capabilities and concentration.
The term garnet encompasses a broad group of minerals that includes
almandine (deep violet-red), andradite (green to brown or black),
grossularite (pale green, pink, brown, or black), hessonite (brown or
yellowish brown), melanite (black), pyrope (deep red), rhodolite (rosered
or pink), spessartite (orange and red to brownish red), and uvarovite
(green). Garnet is a relatively hard stone (6.5–7.5 on the Mohs scale) and
is found worldwide. The word garnet most likely comes from the Latin
granatum, meaning “pomegranate.”
Ancient Egyptian pharaohs wore red garnet necklaces in life and were
entombed with them for the afterlife. The Romans wore signet rings of
carved garnet and used them to stamp wax seals on important
documents. It is said that garnet was the only source of light on Noah’s
Healing Uses: Garnet is a regenerative healing stone. It purifies and energizes the
blood, heart, and lungs, and assists in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Almandine
in particular is helpful for absorbing iron. Grossularite enhances fertility. Melanite
strengthens bones and soothes arthritis pain. Spessartite can be used to treat lactose
intolerance and calcium imbalances. Use uvarovite to reduce inflammation or fever.
Magical Uses: Garnet has a strong connection to the pituitary gland and the
third-eye chakra, the seat of intuition. Placing a garnet, particularly hessonite, on the third
eye assists with past-life recall. Wearing melanite around the neck unblocks the heart and
throat chakras, allowing the truth to be spoken. Placing spessartite under the pillow wards
Feng Shui Uses: Garnet revitalizes, purifies, and balances energy. Place a garnet
in the northwestern area of a space before going on a journey. Use it in the southwestern
area for assistance with partnership issues, and in this case always use two stones.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Garnet is the birthstone for the month of
January. This stone strengthens the survival instinct and is therefore helpful in a crisis or
any situation where there seems to be no way out. Andradite stimulates creativity and
dissolves feelings of isolation or alienation. Hessonite banishes feelings of guilt and
inferiority and encourages self-respect. Pyrope brings stability and vitality. Rhodolite
fosters contemplation, intuition, and inspiration.
Hematite is the mineral form of ferric oxide, one of the three main oxides
of iron. It can be black, silver, or red, and typically has a shiny
appearance. The word hematite comes from the Greek haima, meaning
“blood,” due to its high iron content and red color. Deposits are found in
Canada, Brazil, England, Italy, Switzerland, and Sweden.
According to legend, large hematite deposits formed in locations where
ancient battles were fought, as a result of blood being shed and seeping
into the earth. The Native Americans used powdered hematite to make
war paint. Today, ground hematite is still used to make pigments as well
as a product called jeweler’s rouge, which is used to polish metal.
Healing Uses: Hematite strengthens the blood supply, encourages the formation
of red blood cells, and aids in the absorption of iron. It is also helpful for treating circulatory
problems and anemia, as well as cleansing the kidneys. Hematite also ensures that fractures
heal properly, and assists with spinal alignment (place it at the base and top of the spine for
this), and it can draw heat from the body in the case of fever.
Magical Uses: Hematite is a grounding and protective stone that dissolves
negativity. It strengthens our connection with the earth, particularly during out-of-body
experiences, where it allows for safe travel and helps us bring back lessons to use in daily
Feng Shui Uses: Hematite is useful in the northern area of a space as well as the
Career/Path in Life sector of the home. Place hematite in the corners of a room to create a
protective spiritual grid. Carved hematite animals are excellent for feng shui, especially a
turtle, which is one of the celestial animals of feng shui. For grounding on the go, keep
tumbled hematite stones in your pocket, your car—just about anywhere!
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Hematite removes self-imposed
limitations and boosts self-esteem and confidence. It is an excellent stone for overcoming
compulsions and addictions, as it enhances willpower and survivability. Use hematite
during meditation to calm your thoughts and bring focus and concentration.
Jade comes in two forms: jadeite and nephrite. Jadeite is the harder,
more highly valued form, and nephrite is softer and more common.
Jadeite may be white, light to deep green, blue or blue-green, lavender,
orange, or red, while nephrite can be found in creamy white, light to deep
green, brown, and black varieties. Jadeite is found in Guatemala, Russia,
China, and Myanmar (Burma), and nephrite is found in Guatemala, the
Swiss Alps, Russia, China, and New Zealand.
Jade has been an important stone in China going back to the Neolithic
period, when it was first used in burial rituals. During the Han dynasty
(206 B.C.E. to C.E. 220), Chinese royalty were buried in jade burial suits to
protect them in the afterlife. In Chinese culture, jade is believed to be a
link between the physical and spiritual worlds and has long been prized
as a carving stone to make jewelry, tools and weapons, and decorative
and ceremonial objects.
Healing Uses: Jade is a powerful cleansing stone that treats the filtration and
elimination organs of the body, including the kidneys, spleen, and adrenal glands. It is
helpful to the bones and joints, particularly the hips. Jade’s restorative property assists in
treating infections and helping stitched wounds to bind and heal properly, and it is also
useful for fertility and childbirth.
Magical Uses: Jade is known as “the dream stone.” It assists in remembering
dreams and releasing suppressed emotions via dreaming. When placed on the forehead, it
brings insightful dreams. More generally, jade aids in releasing negative thoughts and
calming the mind. Wearing jade around the neck rebalances and unblocks the heart chakra,
bringing self-acceptance to the wearer and harmony to dysfunctional relationships.
Feng Shui Uses: Jade uses wood energy, bringing growth, nourishment, and
vitality to a space. Use it in the Family/Foundation and Wealth/Prosperity sectors of the
home. Jade dragons, fish, and frogs symbolize the Chinese element of wood and springtime,
and bring good luck and prosperity. Place these in the eastern area of the home for new
beginnings and opportunity.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Jade balances the personality and
integrates the mind and body. It encourages you to be yourself and recognize that you are a
spiritual being on a human journey. Jade prayer beads or beaded necklaces are useful in
meditation. As a travel stone, jade protects against harm.
Jasper is an opaque microcrystalline type of quartz that comes in many
varieties and is found worldwide. Its appearance varies widely due to the
presence of organic material and mineral inclusions. Leopardskin jasper
is named for its spotted look. The patterns of picture jasper look like
paintings of landscapes or other scenes from nature. Rainforest jasper
(also known as green rhyolite) has a mossy, earthy appearance. Red
jasper’s vibrant color is a result of its high iron content.
The ancient Egyptians carved jasper amulets and buried their dead with
jasper for safe passage to the afterlife. In many cultures, jasper has long
been known as the “rain bringer” and is used for the practice of dowsing
(searching for water underground). Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098–
1179), a German nun, writer, composer, philosopher, and mystic, wrote of
jasper’s healing properties and recommended its use to relieve hay fever,
cardiac arrhythmia, and temporary deafness.
Healing Uses: Jasper is a regenerative healing stone. Leopardskin jasper
provides support for the muscles and tendons as well as the bones, teeth, and hair. Both
picture jasper and rainforest jasper stimulate the immune system and cleanse the kidneys
and liver. Red jasper treats blood-related issues and encourages healthy pregnancy and
Magical Uses: Jasper is called “the nurturing stone.” Use leopardskin jasper to
journey into other dimensions with the goal of personal transformation. Picture jasper is
said to be the Earth Mother speaking to her children, sending messages from the past
through its images. Rainforest jasper can be used to deal with past-life issues. Placed under
the pillow, red jasper assists with dream recall.
Feng Shui Uses: Picture jasper and rainforest jasper use wood energy. Place
these stones in the eastern area of a room to encourage growth and expansion. Red jasper
uses fire energy, the energy of warmth, illumination, and activity, and is traditionally
associated with the southern area of a home or room.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Leopardskin jasper grounds your spiritual
practice and encourages you to stretch beyond your comfort zone in spiritual matters. Red
jasper helps you clear your mind for prayer or meditation, and it increases focus and
endurance during long spiritual ceremonies or practices.
Lapiz lazuli is composed of several minerals, including lazurite, which
gives it its intense blue color, as well as calcite and pyrite, which appear in
the stone as white or gold flecks. Lapis is the Latin for “stone,” and lazuli
is from the Persian lajward, which is both the name of the stone in
Persian and the place where it was mined. The word azure, which the
American Heritage Dictionary defines as “a bright blue, as of a clear sky,”
derives from lapis lazuli. This stone is found in the United States, Chile,
Argentina, Italy, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.
Modern-day Afghanistan was the source of lapis lazuli for the ancient
Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, and Roman civilizations. For thousands
of years it has been carved to make jewelry and decorative and
ceremonial objects, and powdered for use as a pigment. Lapis lazuli is one
of the stones used in King Tutankhamun’s 3,300-year-old gold burial
mask, and the blue turban in Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl
Earring (c. 1665) was painted with ultramarine pigment, made from
powdered lapis lazuli.
Healing Uses: Lapis lazuli soothes inflammation and provides pain relief,
particularly for migraine headaches. It also treats the throat, larynx, and thyroid, and assists
with ear issues, including hearing loss. Lapis lazuli supports the immune system and lowers
blood pressure. For eye issues, rub the area with a lapis lazuli stone heated in warm water.
Magical Uses: Lapis lazuli opens the third eye and balances the throat chakra.
Place this stone at the third eye to enhance psychic abilities, and wear it at the throat to
facilitate communication and encourage truth telling. Lapis lazuli is excellent for meditation
and spiritual journeying, as it brings harmony and deep inner knowledge.
Feng Shui Uses: This blue stone utilizes tranquil but powerful water energy,
which is traditionally associated with the northern area of a home or room as well as the
Career/Path in Life sector. Lapis lazuli is also effective in the Family/Foundation and
Knowledge/Wisdom sectors of the home.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Lapis lazuli is a truth stone. It encourages
self-awareness and helps you discover and accept your innate truth. Hold a tumbled lapis
lazuli stone in your hand and listen to your inner voice. Allow its cool, blue essence to
release any agitation, frustration, or anger you may be holding inside.
Malachite is a green carbonate mineral that typically has a banded
appearance and gets its color from its high copper content. Its name most
likely derives from its resemblance to the leaves of the mallow plant.
Malachite is quite common, with deposits found in Zambia, the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Romania, Russia, and the Middle
The ancient Egyptians wore malachite stones as adornments, and they
also pulverized the stone and used the powder as eye shadow, as did the
Greeks and Romans. In the Middle Ages, malachite was used to guard
against the “evil eye” and to cure stomach ailments. Throughout history,
many painters have used malachite as a pigment in their work, but that
practice has fallen out of favor due to the stone’s toxicity in powdered
Healing Uses: Malachite is a powerful stone that must be handled with caution,
preferably under the supervision of a qualified crystal therapist. Use malachite only in its
polished form, as the dust of the raw form is toxic if inhaled or ingested. Malachite eases
menstrual cramps and pain during childbirth, and it also reduces the swelling and
inflammation that cause joint and muscle pain. Additionally, this stone treats asthma,
lowers blood pressure, and enhances the immune system.
Magical Uses: This green stone amplifies positive energy and brings the heart
chakra back into balance. It can also be used for scrying or for accessing other worlds. Place
malachite on the third eye to enhance psychic vision.
Feng Shui Uses: Malachite absorbs negative energy and pollutants, particularly
radiation, and should be cleansed frequently by placing it on a quartz cluster in the sun.
Malachite uses wood energy and is most effective when placed in the eastern and
southeastern areas of a home or room.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Malachite is a stone of transformation; it
encourages risk-taking and brings change. Place malachite on the solar plexus to absorb
negative emotions and facilitate deep emotional healing. Place it on the heart to bring
balance and harmony and foster unconditional love.
Obsidian, also called volcanic glass, is molten lava that cooled so rapidly
it had no time to crystallize. It has an opaque, shiny surface and is
typically black but can also be brown, blue, green, red-black, silver,
rainbow, or “gold sheen” if minerals or other inclusions are present.
Other types of obsidian include Apache tears and snowflake obsidian.
Obsidian is found worldwide wherever there is volcanic activity.
Because of its smooth, curved surface and sharp edges, obsidian has been
used to make tools and weapons, especially arrowheads, for thousands of
years. It is less common in jewelry because it is not that hard (5 on the
Mohs scale) and is easily scratched. Apache tear obsidian gets its name
from legend: The U.S. cavalry ambushed a group of Native Americans of
the Apache tribe who were camped on a mountain. Three-quarters of the
Apaches were killed within minutes, and those who remained, realizing
they were outnumbered, chose to leap to their deaths rather than die at
the hands of the white men. Their loved ones wept when they discovered
their bodies at the base of the mountain, and black stones formed where
their tears fell. The legend says that anyone who holds an Apache tear
never needs to cry again, because the loved ones of those lost in the fight
with the U.S. cavalry have already cried enough tears for all mourners.
Healing Uses: Obsidian detoxifies the body, aids digestion, and dissolves
blockages wherever they occur. It also alleviates the pain of arthritis, joint problems,
cramps, and injuries. Apache tear obsidian assists with vitamin absorption. Snowflake
obsidian improves circulation.
Magical Uses: Obsidian is a powerful, cathartic stone. It brings tamped-down
negative emotions and unpleasant truths to the surface so they can be dealt with and
released. This stone also facilitates past-life healing. A large piece of obsidian can be used to
soak up environmental pollution. Obsidian placed by the bed or under the pillow draws out
stress and tension, but once surfaced, the causes of these issues must be resolved. Apache
tear or snowflake obsidian works best for this, and stones should be cleansed under running
water after use.
Feng Shui Uses: Place obsidian in the northern area of a home or room for
assistance with personal journeys. Place it in the Health/Well-Being sector for grounding
and protection. Because obsidian draws in negative energy, it should be cleansed regularly
and should not be placed anywhere where it will be forgotten or neglected.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Obsidian helps you to face your inner
darkness and integrate it into your life rather than burying it. Black obsidian balls are
powerful for meditation and scrying, but they should be used by only those who can
consciously process what they see and use the information for good. Place obsidian on the
navel to ground spiritual energy in the body. Place it on the third eye to tackle mental
Onyx is a type of chalcedony quartz that has a banded or marble-like
appearance and is relatively hard (6.5–7 on the Mohs scale). Most people
think of onyx as a black stone, but it also occurs in gray, white, blue,
brown, yellow, and red varieties. It is found in many parts of the world,
including the United States, Mexico, Brazil, and Italy. The word onyx
comes from the Greek onux, meaning “fingernail.”
According to mythology, one day while the goddess of love, Venus, was
sleeping, her son, Cupid, cut her fingernails with an arrowhead. The
clippings fell into the sand, where they were transformed into stone;
having come from part of an immortal being, the stone would never
perish. In his 1550 work, De Subtilitate, the Italian mathematician,
physician, astrologer, and philosopher Geronimo Cardano wrote of onyx
being used in India to “cool the ardors of love.”
Healing Uses: Onyx absorbs healing energies from the universe and then
transfers them to those in need of healing. Specifically, this stone treats illnesses of the
bones and blood, and it is also beneficial for the teeth and feet. Because of its connection to
memory, onyx can be used to heal old injuries and physical trauma.
Magical Uses: Onyx is said to hold the memories of the wearer, making it useful
for past-life work. It also offers protection during spiritual counseling, tarot card readings,
channeling, or any other practice that invites psychic influences. Place onyx next to your
bed to prevent nightmares or night terrors.
Feng Shui Uses: Onyx is an excellent stone for feng shui due to its stable,
supportive energy and protective quality. Black onyx is associated with the northern area of
a home or room as well as the Career/Path in Life sector. Keep onyx on your desk or
wherever you perform work for mental focus and grounding.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This stone recognizes and reconciles
dualities within the self. It anchors those who tend toward erratic behavior and encourages
self-control and steadfastness. Use onyx to overcome fears and anxiety, and for wisdom in
Opal is an iridescent mineral of hydrated silica. It is found in an array of
colors and varieties, including blue, cherry, chrysopal (blue-green), fire
(orange-red), green, and hyalite (clear, glassy). The most famous opal
deposits are in Australia, where it is the national gemstone, but it is also
found in the United States, Honduras, Brazil, and Slovakia. In 2008,
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found opal on Mars, suggesting
that liquid water remained on the planet’s surface a billion years later
than scientists had previously believed.
Australian Aboriginal legend describes the birth of opals: The Creator
came down to Earth on a rainbow to bring the message of peace to all
humans. On the spot where his foot touched, the stones became vibrant
with color and began to sparkle, and this is how opal came to be. Opal
plays a role in Sir Walter Scott’s 1829 novel, Anne of Geierstein, in which
he writes of “a superb opal, which, amid the changing lights peculiar to
that gem, displayed internally a slight tinge of red like a spark of fire.”
Healing Uses: Opal cleanses the body, fights infections, and purifies the blood;
cherry opal is especially helpful for blood disorders. Fire opal resonates with the abdomen
and lower back, treating the intestines and kidneys. Green opal strengthens the immune
system and battles colds and the flu. Hyalite, also called water opal, combats dehydration
and enhances water retention.
Magical Uses: Opal is a delicate stone that supports cosmic consciousness and
induces psychic and mystical visions. It reveals emotional information from the past,
especially from past lives, and helps to incorporate that information into the present. Blue
opal is particularly useful for this.
Feng Shui Uses: Generally speaking, opal uses water energy, the energy of
stillness and purification, making it useful in the northern area of a home or room as well as
the Career/Path in Life sector. Fire opal, on the other hand, uses fire energy, the energy of
heat, action, and passion. Use this stone in the southern area of a home or room or in the
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Opal is the birthstone for the month of
October. This stone is wonderful for artists, as it stimulates creativity and originality.
Chrysopal in particular opens the mind to new ideas and helps you to see the world with
new eyes. Fire opal assists in business matters as well as situations of injustice or
mistreatment. Green opal works wonders in relationships.
Rose quartz is the pale pink to reddish pink variety of the mineral quartz,
which is composed of silicon dioxide. The pink color is due to the
presence of titanium, iron, manganese, or dumortierite in the stone. Rose
quartz is found in the United States, Brazil, South Africa, Madagascar,
India, and Japan.
The ancient Egyptians believed rose quartz could prevent aging. They
used the powdered form in cosmetics to clear the complexion and stop
wrinkles, and rose quartz facial masks intended for use in the afterlife
have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.
Healing Uses: This stone’s connection to the heart chakra makes it useful for
strengthening the heart and circulatory system. Place rose quartz on the thymus (just above
the heart) to treat chest and lung problems. The stone supports skin regeneration, soothes
burns, and clears the complexion. It is also helpful for fertility, pregnancy, and birth issues,
and it assists those with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or dementia.
Magical Uses: Rose quartz is often used in love rituals and spells, and as a
divination tool when seeking guidance in matters of the heart. This stone helps to draw love
toward you; in existing relationships it restores trust and encourages unconditional love.
Use a rose quartz egg to grow love or enhance fertility.
Feng Shui Uses: Rose quartz uses subdued fire energy. Place rose quartz by
your bed or in the Marriage/Relationships sector of your home to attract love. If this proves
too powerful, use it with amethyst to calm things down.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Rose quartz purifies and opens the heart
on all levels, bringing deep inner healing and self-love. Wear the stone over the heart to
increase these benefits. For meditation, hold a piece of rose quartz in your “receiving” hand
(if you are right-handed, this is your left hand, and vice versa).
Ruby is a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminum oxide) that gets its
red color from chromium impurities, which make the stone glow under
ultraviolet light. The word ruby comes from the Latin rubeus, meaning
“red.” This very hard stone (9 on the Mohs scale) is found in many
locations worldwide, including Kenya, Madagascar, India, and Myanmar
Burma (now Myanmar) has been a major source of rubies since at least
C.E. 600. Burmese warriors embedded rubies in their skin for protection
during battle. Sanskrit medical texts prescribed rubies as a cure for health
issues such as flatulence and biliousness. Hindu lore says that a ruby’s
light cannot be extinguished or hidden by clothing.
Healing Uses: Ruby is a blood-related stone that stimulates the heart chakra. It
detoxifies the blood and benefits the heart and circulatory system. It also alleviates pain
associated with menstruation and regulates the menstrual flow. Ruby is helpful during
pregnancy, particularly for older women. In fact, this stone is helpful for all issues related to
reproduction, including infertility and impotence. Ruby also stimulates the adrenal glands,
kidneys, and spleen.
Magical Uses: This stone balances the energies of the body and invigorates the
mind. Use a ruby as a shield against psychic attack and vampirism of heart energy. Sleeping
with a ruby under your pillow brings prophetic dreams and wards off nightmares. Dreaming
of rubies indicates coming prosperity and good fortune—or unexpected guests.
Feng Shui Uses: Ruby uses fire energy, which brings warmth, light, and
passion. Place this stone in the southern area of a space as well as in the Fame/Reputation
sector of the home. This stone also brings abundance and assists in retaining wealth,
making it useful in the Wealth/Prosperity sector.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Ruby is the birthstone for the month of
July. It encourages you to “follow your bliss” and embrace life on Earth. This stone is
helpful for creative and intellectual pursuits, as it sharpens the mind, heightens awareness,
and enhances concentration. Ruby is especially helpful for providing a boost of energy when
you’re feeling lethargic or unmotivated.
Like ruby, sapphire is a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminum
oxide). Although sapphire is most recognizable in the blue variety, which
gets its color from traces of titanium and iron, this stone can be almost
any color, including pink, yellow, and green, as well as colorless. Another
variety is star sapphire, named for its inclusions of the mineral rutile,
which appear as a six-rayed star image or “asterism.” Sapphire is found in
Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Australia, and other locations
Sri Lanka has been an important source of gemstones for thousands of
years and has produced some of the most famous sapphires in the world.
The Star of India, exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History
in New York City, is a 563-carat star sapphire that is around 2 billion
years old. The Logan Sapphire, named after the person who donated it to
Washington, DC’s Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in
1960, is a 423-carat sapphire about the size of an egg, mounted in a silver
and gold brooch setting and surrounded by twenty brilliant-cut
diamonds. For centuries, sapphires have been associated with royalty, a
recent example of which is the sapphire engagement ring Prince Charles
gave to Diana, now worn by Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
Healing Uses: Sapphire regulates the glands and treats blood disorders, and it
also helps with sleep issues, such as insomnia. Green sapphire heals eye infections and
improves eyesight. Blue sapphire connects with the throat chakra and heals the thyroid;
wear it around the neck to increase these benefits. Yellow sapphire removes toxins from the
Magical Uses: Just as green sapphire enhances physical vision, it also improves
inner vision and assists in dream recall. Wear blue sapphire at the throat to release
frustration and facilitate self-expression. Star sapphire can enable a connection with
Feng Shui Uses: Each color of sapphire connects with a different kind of
energy. Blue sapphire, for example, uses water energy, bringing regeneration and rebirth.
For this reason, it should be placed in the northern area of a home or room, or in the
Career/Path in Life sector. Yellow sapphire uses subdued fire energy and is most effective in
the center of a home or room.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Sapphire is the birthstone for the month
of September. This stone brings peace of mind and serenity as well as spiritual power. Use
sapphire for self-exploration and to increase confidence. Use it in meditation to illuminate
Smoky quartz is a light to dark brown variety of quartz whose color and
smoky appearance are caused by aluminum impurities and either natural
or artificial irradiation of the stone. This stone is found in many locations
in the world, including the United States, Brazil, Madagascar, and
Australia. Cairngorm is a variety of smoky quartz crystal found in
Scotland’s Cairngorm Mountains.
Smoky quartz is the national gem of Scotland and has been important in
that region of the world going back to the time of the Druids, whose
earliest known records date back to the third century B.C.E. The stone was
used to make sunglasses in China in the twelfth century.
Healing Uses: Smoky quartz is very effective for pain relief, particularly
headaches and muscle cramps. For this purpose, place a crystal on the painful spot with the
point directed away from the body. This stone also regulates the fluids within the body and
assists in the absorption of minerals. Because smoky quartz is irradiated, it is excellent for
treating radiation-related issues and easing the negative effects of chemotherapy. However,
be sure to select naturally formed stones rather than ones that have been artificially
irradiated (artificially irradiated stones are usually darker in color, almost black and leaning
Magical Uses: Smoky quartz is a powerful stress reliever. To relieve stress, hold a
stone in each hand and sit quietly for a few moments. Smoky quartz also neutralizes
negative vibrations, guards against geopathic stress, and absorbs electromagnetic smog.
Feng Shui Uses: In feng shui, smoky quartz is a protective stone that is useful
when placed near the front door of a home. It also uses wood energy, which makes it
effective in the eastern and southeastern areas of a space as well as the Family/Foundation
sector of the home.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This stone has a strong connection to the
root chakra, located at the base of the spine, which is our anchor in the natural world. Its
grounding spiritual energy makes it excellent for meditation.
Tiger’s eye is a type of quartz that is typically yellow-brown in color but
can also be pink, red, or blue. It has a banded appearance and a silky
sheen, due to its fibrous structure. Sources of tiger’s eye include the
United States, South Africa, India, and Australia. Tiger iron is a related
stone, composed of tiger’s eye, red jasper, and black hematite. Blue or
blue-gray tiger’s eye is called hawk’s eye or falcon’s eye.
For thousands of years, the various “eye” stones have been considered
strong talismans with an “all-seeing” power. The ancient Egyptians used
the stone for the eyes in statues of gods. Roman soldiers carried tiger’s
eye for courage and protection in battle.
Healing Uses: Tiger’s eye treats eye issues and enhances vision, and it also assists
with neck and spinal problems. Red tiger’s eye speeds up a slow metabolism. Hawk’s eye
aids the circulatory system, bowels, and legs.
Magical Uses: As a talisman, tiger’s eye guards against curses. Placed on the third
eye, this stone enhances psychic abilities and balances the lower chakras. Hawk’s eye assists
Feng Shui Uses: Place tiger’s eye near the front door or a large window to take
advantage of its protective qualities. Hawk’s eye attracts abundance when placed in the
Wealth/Prosperity sector of the home.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This stone helps in solving problems and
resolving conflicts, and it also unblocks creativity. Place tiger’s eye on the solar plexus/navel
chakra for spiritual grounding. Red tiger’s eye is a stimulating stone that battles lethargy
and boosts motivation, helping you locate inner resources and accomplish your goals.
Topaz is a transparent silicate mineral of aluminum and fluorine that is
quite hard (8 on the Mohs scale). It is most recognizable as a goldenyellow
stone, but other varieties include brown, blue, pink, green, and
colorless. Deposits of topaz have been found in the United States, Mexico,
Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Australia.
Up until the eleventh century the word topaz, which comes from the
Greek Topazios, an island off the coast of Egypt in the Red Sea, was used
to describe green gemstones. (Topazios, also known as St. John’s Island,
was an ancient source of the green gem peridot.) However, in his Liber de
lapidibus (book of stones), Marbodus of Rennes (c. 1035–1123) stated
that the color of topaz is yellow, and from then on this is how the stone
was known. The twelfth-century German nun, writer, composer,
philosopher, and mystic Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) wrote
about the healing powers of topaz soaked in wine.
Healing Uses: Topaz is a wonderful healing stone. It aids digestion, stimulates
the metabolism, and combats eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Blue topaz
assists with issues related to the throat and vocal cords.
Magical Uses: Topaz is very supportive in affirmation, manifestation, and
visualization practices. Use topaz to make requests of the universe that you hope will
manifest on the Earth plane. In the form of an amulet, topaz alleviates sadness and mood
Feng Shui Uses: Topaz has a vibrant energy that replaces negativity with love
and joy. This stone is most powerful in the center of a space or in the Health/Well-Being
sector of the home.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Along with citrine, topaz is a birthstone
for the month of November. It is a mellow, empathetic stone that promotes truth and
forgiveness. When placed on the throat or third eye it enhances communication abilities.
Use blue topaz during meditation to access the higher self. Pink topaz helps to break old
Tourmaline is a crystalline silicate mineral containing aluminum, boron,
and other elements. It is found in almost every color, including
multicolored (elbaite) and pink-and-green “watermelon” varieties, but
the most common type is iron-rich black tourmaline, also known as
schorl. Tourmaline is found in the United States, Brazil, Africa,
Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka.
When tourmaline was first mined, no distinction was made between it
and other gemstones. Throughout history, “rubies” were often
misidentified red tourmaline stones, and green tourmaline was often
mistaken for emerald. Today, tourmaline is recognized and appreciated
in its own right, and was popularized in the United States beginning in
the late 1800s when Tiffany gemologist George F. Kunz praised the
stones found in Maine and California.
Healing Uses: The striations in a tourmaline crystal enhance energy flow, making
this an excellent healing stone, particularly in wand form. Blue tourmaline is useful for
identifying the underlying causes of a disease. Yellow tourmaline treats the digestive and
cleansing organs of the body, including the stomach, liver, spleen, kidneys, and gallbladder.
Red tourmaline heals the heart and blood vessels. Watermelon tourmaline helps to
regenerate the nerves.
Magical Uses: Tourmaline is a shamanic stone that provides protection during
rituals. It can be used for scrying or to indicate the direction in which a person should move.
Blue tourmaline brings psychic awareness and facilitates visions. Brown tourmaline is an
excellent grounding stone that also clears the aura. Wear black tourmaline to protect
against electromagnetic smog, radiation, psychic attack, and spells.
Feng Shui Uses: Black tourmaline uses water energy and is the best variety of
this stone for feng shui. It is most beneficial when placed in the northern area of a space or
the Career/Path in Life sector of the home.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Watermelon tourmaline activates the
heart chakra, providing a link to the higher self and promoting love, tenderness, and
friendship. Green tourmaline inspires creativity. Black tourmaline clears negative thoughts
and fosters a laid-back, positive attitude, regardless of the circumstances.
Turquoise is an opaque mineral that is found in various shades of blue
and green, due to the copper in its composition. The word turquoise
comes from the Old French turqueise, meaning “Turkish.” The stone is
found in the United States, Mexico, France, Egypt, the Middle East,
Russia, Peru, China, and Tibet.
This stone gets its name from the incorrect belief that it came from
Turkey. Though turquoise was traded in Turkey, it was imported from
other places, mainly Iran and the Sinai Peninsula. The ancient Egyptians,
Sumerians, and Aztecs prized turquoise, and some Native American
tribes consider turquoise a sacred stone that connects earth and heaven.
Healing Uses: Turquoise calms the emotions and promotes feelings of peace and
well-being. It can help to balance mood swings, reduce stress, and ease depression. Its
purifying properties can aid detoxification and protect against environmental pollution.
Turquoise aligns with the throat and heart chakras; therefore, wearing it as a necklace can
enhance communication, soothe throat complaints, and lessen emotional suffering.
Magical Uses: A popular stone for healing spells, turquoise can be worn or
carried to encourage emotional and physical well-being. As an amulet, it offers protection
against physical, psychic, and environmental harm. As a talisman, it brings good fortune
Feng Shui Uses: Place a piece of turquoise in the Wealth/Prosperity sector of
your home or business to attract fortune. Put it in the Marriage/Relationships sector to
encourage harmony and happiness in a romantic partnership. In the Health/Well-Being
sector, it draws healing energy and restores energetic balance.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Meditate with turquoise to improve your
connection with the spiritual realm. As it strengthens the emotions, turquoise helps you
gain confidence and release self-limiting behaviors. It can also reduce feelings of loneliness
and isolation, enabling you to realize a deeper link with “all that is.”
THE POWER OF HERBS:
Herbs and Spices
Behold the power of plants! All of the herbs and spices in this
chapter come from the ground and have myriad uses for the
mind and body. Although Western society has largely stopped
using plants for medicinal purposes, they can sometimes be
more effective, less expensive, and safer than their
Depending on the plant, you can use the leaves, flowers,
berries, and/or roots in fresh, dried, or powdered form. Some of
these items will already be in your spice cabinet or garden;
others you can easily obtain from the grocery or health food
store. You may be surprised to learn that some of these herbs
have uses beyond the ones you already know. For example, you
may be accustomed to including bay leaves in your homemade
tomato sauce, but have you ever used the leaves to make a
soothing digestive tea? Did you know that dandelions are not
only edible but also good for you? And here’s a fun one: In
addition to being a delicious culinary herb, sage is also used in a
practice called “saging” to remove negative energy from a space.
How cool is that?
Generally speaking, herbs are natural and healthy and safe,
but there are a few exceptions. If you are taking any
prescription medications, be sure to consult your doctor before
experimenting with herbal remedies, as this could result in
negative interactions. Also, some herbs, such as valerian, can be
habit-forming if taken in large quantities or for prolonged
periods of time. It is recommended that you start small when
trying herbal remedies and pay attention to your body’s
responses. If something doesn’t work for you, try something
else. There are plenty of herbs out there!
Angelica is an herb in the parsley family. The plant is tall with large
compound umbels of white or greenish flowers. The stems can be candied
and eaten, and the roots can be used for flavoring liqueurs. Angelica is
native to temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere,
including Norway, Lithuania, and Russia. Angelica comes from the Greek
angelos, meaning “messenger.”
According to legend, an angel came to a monk in a dream to reveal a plant
that would cure the plague (hence the name). Angelica is one of the main
ingredients in Carmelite water, a lemon balm–based tonic created by
Carmelite monks in the 1600s to cure headaches, promote relaxation, and
protect the drinker against poisons and spells. A related herb called
Chinese angelica, or dong quai, has been used in Chinese medicine for
thousands of years.
Healing Uses: Angelica is used to cure fevers, colds, and coughs, and it is
particularly effective as an expectorant to clear chest congestion. It is also helpful for
bringing on menstruation and relieving bloating or cramps; pregnant women should not
use angelica, as it could cause a miscarriage. Angelica contains compounds that act like
calcium channel blockers, which are used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure,
migraines, and Raynaud’s disease.
Magical Uses: Angelica protects against negative energy and attracts positive
energy. Grow angelica in the garden to protect the home. Sprinkle dried angelica leaves in
the four corners of the home to ward off evil spirits. Burn dried angelica leaves for exorcism.
Add angelica to bathwater to remove curses, hexes, or spells. Use angelica root in potpourri.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Angelica relaxes the mind and stimulates
the imagination. It offers strength and balance and is especially helpful during difficult
times when you feel cut off from your inner self. As an essential oil, angelica has a
revitalizing effect, making it useful for when you’re going through a sluggish period.
Arnica is a perennial herb in the Asteraceae or Compositae family, which
also includes asters, daisies, and sunflowers. The Arnica montana species
has yellow or orange flowers, and the flowers and roots are dried and
used for medicinal and other purposes. Arnica montana is native to
Europe and Siberia, but other species in the Arnica genus also grow in
North America, particularly in mountainous regions.
Arnica has several nicknames, including wolf’s bane (which it confusingly
shares with aconite) and mountain tobacco. Though it has a long history
of medicinal use in many cultures, the use of arnica is especially touted in
Germany. The German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832),
who suffered from angina, credited arnica with saving his life.
Healing Uses: Dried arnica flowers placed in bathwater will ease general aches
and pains. Arnica oil relieves muscle soreness, swelling, and inflammation. Arnica should
not be placed directly on an open wound; instead, place a compress of dried flowers and
roots over a bandaged wound for pain relief and to aid the healing process. This herb should
be taken internally only under the supervision of a certified herbalist, as it can cause
gastrointestinal distress and other negative reactions.
Magical Uses: Arnica flowers increase psychic powers. This herb is also
associated with the harvest and can be used in rituals to ensure the fertility of crops. For
protection, add the dried flowers to boiling water to make a tea, and then sprinkle the liquid
around the door and window frames of the home.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Following a traumatic experience, lots of
negative and painful emotions may be present. If not dealt with, these emotions can
manifest physically as illnesses and other conditions. Meditate with arnica essence to
release pent-up pain from past trauma, gain wisdom, and move forward in a balanced,
harmonized way. Arnica essential oil can be used in aromatherapy to promote positivity and
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an aromatic annual herb in the mint family
that is native to Africa and Asia. The word basil comes from the Greek
basilikos, meaning “royal.” A variant called holy basil, or tulsi, is native to
India and plays an important role in the Hindu religion.
In ancient Greece, basil was associated with grief and mourning. In the
sixteenth century in Europe it was believed that scorpions were attracted
to basil and that a basil sprig left under a pot containing a basil plant
would turn into a scorpion. A French doctor once wrote that smelling
basil would cause a scorpion to grow in the brain.
Healing Uses: As a tea, basil eases stomach pain, cramps, indigestion, and
constipation, and it also stimulates lactation in nursing mothers. The French herbalist
Maurice Mességué recommends basil for restlessness and migraines. The herb also has
antibacterial and antifungal properties (use the oil for best results in these cases).
Magical Uses: Basil is useful in love spells and love divination. To divine the
future of a romantic relationship, place two basil leaves on a live coal. If they remain where
you placed them and turn to ash quickly, the relationship will be harmonious. If they
crackle and move, the relationship will be rocky. Burn basil to cleanse a home of negativity.
Given as a gift, basil brings good luck to a new home.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Basil brings courage and strength to those
who are fearful and helps to clear clouded judgment. It also eases anxiety and improves
communication. Use holy basil for prayer and meditation or to enhance memory. Place basil
in bathwater to get over an old love or to invite new love in. See the basil entry in Chapter 4
to learn about the benefits of basil essential oil.
Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is an aromatic evergreen tree, native to the
Mediterranean region, that produces the bay leaf commonly used in
cooking. The leaves can be used fresh or dried (fresh is stronger) but
should be removed before serving because they are difficult to digest. A
bay leaf placed in a container of rice or flour is thought to deter pests.
In ancient times, a wreath of laurel was given as a sign of honor or victory
(hence the term laureate). To “rest on one’s laurels” is to rely on past
successes for future fame or recognition. The Greek god Apollo is always
depicted wearing a laurel wreath on his head to represent his love for the
nymph Daphne, whose father turned her into a laurel tree to protect her
from Apollo’s advances.
Healing Uses: Bay laurel oil can be used with massage to soothe muscle aches
and pains. As a salve, bay laurel soothes bruises, itching, and minor skin irritations. A tea
made of the leaves and berries aids digestion and has a calming effect. Adding bay laurel to
bathwater treats vaginal infections and assists with healing after childbirth. Burn bay leaves
in a sick room to purify the space following an illness.
Magical Uses: Bay laurel is very effective in purification rituals, especially
smudging. Mixed with sandalwood, it is useful for breaking curses. Use bay laurel during
meditation for clairvoyance. Place bay laurel in your pillowcase to encourage sound sleep
and induce prophetic dreams.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Bay laurel heightens intuition, awareness,
and perception. Burn a candle dressed with bay laurel oil to bring about personal change.
Write a wish or desire on a bay leaf and then burn it to make it come true. Use bay laurel
essential oil to boost confidence, encourage inspiration, and promote creativity.
Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) is a plant in the buttercup
(Ranunculaceae) family with tall, white flowering racemes (flower stalks).
A perennial plant, it is native to North America and typically grows in
woodland areas. Other names for black cohosh include black snakeroot,
due to its history as a snakebite remedy, and black bugbane, because it is
known to repel insects. A related plant, blue cohosh, has similar
The Native Americans have used black cohosh for centuries to treat a
number of conditions, including gynecological issues, kidney problems,
headaches, and depression. In nineteenth-century America, the plant was
used as a home remedy for rheumatism and fever, as a diuretic, and to
bring on menstruation.
Healing Uses: Black cohosh, which contains a compound thought to have
estrogenic activity, is used to treat hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and other
symptoms of menopause. For this reason, it is often prescribed as an alternative to estrogen
replacement therapy (also called hormone replacement therapy). It also eases premenstrual
tension and cramps. Black cohosh is occasionally used to treat skin conditions such as acne
and for healing following wart or mole removal. It can also be used to treat rheumatism,
lung conditions, and neurological issues.
Magical Uses: Black cohosh is a protective plant. Sprinkle it around the home,
burn as incense, or use the tea as a floor wash to keep evil and negative influences at bay.
Carry black cohosh in your pocket for courage, faith, and determination. Used in a sachet,
black cohosh preserves and maintains existing love or invites new love into your life.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Black cohosh assists with transformation.
Its black roots represent darkness in the past, and its white flowers are the promise of a
bright future. Use this herb to release yourself from old attachments and move confidently
forward into a new phase of your life. Added to bathwater, it brings courage.
This pungent spice comes from the pepper plant (Piper nigrum), which is
native to south India but also grows in other parts of the world,
particularly tropical regions. The small, unripe fruits of this plant are
dried (peppercorns) and ground to make the spice found in household
Dubbed “black gold,” black pepper has been used in India for thousands
of years. The ancient Egyptians also used this spice. The Egyptian
pharaoh Ramesses II (1301–1213 B.C.E.) was entombed with black
peppercorns in his nostrils, most likely for preservation and to maintain
the shape of his nose. His mummy is now on display at the Egyptian
Museum in Cairo.
Healing Uses: Black pepper has powerful digestive properties. The aroma and
spicy flavor of black pepper trigger the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid, which is
needed to digest protein, and they also stimulate the pancreas to produce important
digestive enzymes. Piperine, the alkaloid that makes black pepper so pungent, has
antioxidant qualities. In Western herbalism, black pepper is used in cold and flu remedies.
In Ayurvedic medicine, black pepper is mixed with honey to treat respiratory congestion.
Magical Uses: Black pepper banishes negativity and protects against evil, and can
also be used in exorcisms. It is useful for cleansing a previously occupied home for a new
owner. Carry black pepper with you to banish feelings of jealousy and to protect yourself
from the jealousy of others.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Black pepper is wonderful for relieving
anxiety and stress. It encourages you to release those negative influences and find your
inner source of power. Black pepper helps you “digest” unhealthy feelings toward yourself
and others, while providing the courage and stamina needed to get through the process and
move forward. Black pepper essential oil has various health benefits, such as supporting
digestion and soothing sore muscles, and it can also be used in aromatherapy to boost
Calendula (Calendula officinalis), more commonly known as marigold, is
a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region. The word calendula
comes from the Latin kalendae, meaning “calends,” the first day of the
month in the ancient Roman calendar. The more common name,
marigold, is a reference to the Virgin Mary.
According to legend, a Greek maiden named Caltha fell in love with
Apollo, the sun god. Consumed by her love, she waited in the fields all
night, hoping to catch first sight of him in the morning. Eventually she
wasted away and died, and a marigold, bright yellow like the sun,
appeared in the place where she had stood. In India, marigolds are sacred
to the goddess Mahadevi and are worn as garlands at the festival
Healing Uses: Place a compress saturated with warm calendula tea on wounds
and skin inflammations, including rashes and insect bites. You can also use calendula
essential oil for this purpose, as it has a gentle, cooling effect. Taken internally, calendula
cleanses the lymph system and aids in healing ulcers. This plant also relieves pain
associated with menstruation. One way to enjoy the herb’s health benefits is to use it as a
substitute for saffron in dishes such as yellow rice.
Magical Uses: Wreaths of marigold hung over a doorway are said to keep evil and
negativity from entering a home. Sprinkle marigold petals on the floor under the bed to
bring prophetic dreams. Burn marigold petals as incense for divination. Adding marigold
petals to bathwater assists with career aspirations.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Calendula projects a warm, healing light
and offers comfort to those who are fearful, nervous, or recovering from the shock of a
trauma. It encourages understanding and compassion and tempers anger and rash
behavior. In meditation, calendula brings clarity.
Cayenne pepper is a hot chili pepper that is commonly used in its dried or
powdered form to flavor dishes. It is a member of the genus Capsicum,
which also includes bell peppers, jalapeños, and others. This pepper is
native to the Americas and gets its name from the capital city of French
Records show that cayenne pepper was in use in Central and South
America as early as 8000 B.C.E. Christopher Columbus introduced the
pepper to Europe in the late fifteenth century. The American herbalist
and botanist Samuel Thompson (1769–1843) created an alternative
system of medicine that included cayenne pepper in many of its remedies
to restore the body’s inner heat.
Healing Uses: Cayenne pepper is a go-to cure for headaches, colds, and the flu. It
is also used to treat digestive and intestinal problems, including ulcers. Cayenne boosts the
metabolism and circulation and benefits the heart. It is also used to lower blood pressure.
Used as a counterirritant it soothes such conditions as rheumatism and arthritis. Cayenne
cleanses the body of toxins and poisons and supports the immune system.
Magical Uses: Cayenne pepper is useful for vision quests. It also enhances the
power of other herbs and speeds up the effects of spells. Scatter cayenne pepper around
your house to break bad spells or hexes. Used in love spells, cayenne adds “spice” to an
existing romance or brings new love. Include cayenne in purification rituals to clear away
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Cayenne pepper energizes the spirit by
energizing the body. This process brings heightened spiritual awareness of the invisible
world. Cayenne can also be used to bring spice and heat to romantic relationships, or to
cope with the pain of separation or divorce. This spice balances the heart chakra.
Native to Europe and the Mediterranean, chamomile is an aromatic
perennial herb in the Asteraceae family. The most commonly used variety
is German chamomile (Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla).
The flowers of the chamomile plant are its most useful part; with white
petals and yellow centers, they bear a strong resemblance to daisies. The
word chamomile comes from the Greek khamaimelon: khamai, meaning
“on the ground,” and melon, meaning “apple.”
Chamomile was used for medicinal purposes in the ancient Egyptian,
Greek, and Roman civilizations. Greek physicians prescribed it for fevers
and female issues. In her 1911 book, The Herb Garden, Frances A.
Bardwell praises chamomile for the positive effect it has on other plants.
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is used to flavor Spanish
Healing Uses: Chamomile is a calming herb that reduces stress. Drink
chamomile tea to ease stomach discomfort and aid digestion, or to relax in the evening and
ensure a good night’s sleep. For fevers, colds, and the flu, combine dried chamomile flowers
with boiling water and inhale the steam for up to 10 minutes. Chamomile tea can also be
applied externally, to treat burns, skin infections, and hemorrhoids. Chamomile essential
oil soothes sore muscles following exercise.
Magical Uses: Because chamomile creates abundance, it is especially useful in
money spells. To remove a curse or a hex, steep chamomile in warm water and then
sprinkle with basil. Spread dried chamomile flowers around the home to ward off negative
influences and provide protection. Add chamomile to bathwater to attract love.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Chamomile has a soothing, sedating effect
that is helpful when you are experiencing anxiety, going through a difficult time, or
recovering from a traumatic experience. When your mind won’t shut off, this herb has a
quieting effect that can bring calm and comfort. Use chamomile as incense during
meditation to feel centered and peaceful.
Cinnamon is the dried inner bark of certain tropical Asian trees of the
genus Cinnamomum. It is most commonly used in stick or powdered
form to add flavor to foods and beverages, but it also has various
medicinal and magical uses. Sri Lanka is a major source of cinnamon, as
are Indonesia and China.
Cinnamon has been used in Chinese medicine for over 4,000 years. In
ancient Egypt, it was not only consumed; it was also used in embalming
practices. Legend has it that the Roman emperor Nero (37–68) burned
all the cinnamon he could find on the funeral pyre of his second wife,
Poppaea Sabina, to punish himself for his role in her death. Cinnamon is
mentioned in the Bible as an ingredient in anointing oil.
Healing Uses: Cinnamon relieves stomach discomfort, including morning
sickness and motion sickness, and can be used to treat digestive problems such as gas,
diarrhea, and vomiting. Cinnamon is also useful for treating sore throats, coughs, colds,
headaches, and the flu. In Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon is used as a remedy for diabetes.
Magical Uses: Cinnamon relates to the element of fire and is therefore extra
powerful when burned. Burn cinnamon as incense to bring love or ignite passion. Use
cinnamon in love or sex spells, or to enhance psychic powers. Hang a bundle of cinnamon
sticks above the doorway to protect the home from negative influences.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Cinnamon is a powerful healer, both
physically and emotionally. It is the perfect spice for when you are feeling down or
depressed. Use it in a sachet to raise protective and spiritual vibrations. Cinnamon brings
good fortune in matters of money and business as well as games of chance. See the
cinnamon entry in Chapter 4 to learn about the benefits of cinnamon essential oil.
Clove is an evergreen tree (Syzygium aromaticum) native to the Maluku
Islands, an archipelago within Indonesia also called the “Spice Islands.”
The flower bud of this tree is used in its dried form, either whole or
ground—you may have one or both in your spice cabinet. The word clove
comes from the Latin clavus, meaning “nail.” Take a look at a clove and
you’ll see why!
Archaeologists found cloves in a vessel in Syria that dates back to 1721
B.C.E The ancient Chinese chewed cloves to freshen their breath. Experts
believe the world’s oldest clove tree, estimated to be between 350 and
400 years old, is one called Afo, located on the island of Ternate. In
Indonesia, clove cigarettes, called kreteks, are extremely popular.
Healing Uses: Cloves can be used to treat toothaches, gum problems, and bad
breath. Add cloves to tea to help clear up a respiratory infection. Eugenol, a natural
antiseptic found in cloves, makes this spice useful for treating acne. Cloves are packed with
antioxidants and are also effective for treating heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. Clove is
often used as a natural insect repellent. Use clove-infused water in a warm compress to
soothe aching eyes.
Magical Uses: Clove is a very protective spice. It can be used to ward off negative
forces, stop harmful gossip, and keep good friends close. Burn cloves to cleanse and purify a
space. Infuse wine or apple cider with cloves to create a delicious aphrodisiac. Wear cloves
in an amulet to stimulate the memory.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Clove dispels negativity and cleanses the
aura. It rejuvenates physical and mental energy and fosters courage and inner strength. It
can also be used for protection or to attract love. See the clove entry in Chapter 4 to learn
about the benefits of clove essential oil.
The term comfrey is used to describe various perennial herbs of the
genus Symphytum. It comes from the Latin confervere, meaning “to boil
together.” (The origin of the word fervent is also evident here—fervere
meaning “to boil.”) The most common variety is Russian comfrey, which
has pink or purple flowers. Comfrey grows well in most temperate
regions, including North America, Europe, western Asia, and Australia.
The ancient Greek physician, pharmacologist, and botanist Pedanius
Dioscorides (c. 40–90) included comfrey in his writings about herbal
medicine. Legend has it that comfrey was one of the herbs growing in the
Garden of Eden. In the New World, the settlers relied on comfrey to treat
various illnesses and conditions. It was once believed that adding comfrey
to bathwater could heal the hymen and restore a woman’s virginity.
Healing Uses: Comfrey is excellent for treating wounds, particularly those that
are dirty or have become infected (use a compress soaked with warm comfrey tea for this).
Its ability to heal broken bones earned it the nickname “knitbone,” and it also assists with
strains, sprains, and torn ligaments. As a poultice, it relieves bruises and soreness. This
herb also assists with coughs and other lung-related issues.
Magical Uses: Comfrey is used in rituals to protect travelers; place it in your
luggage to prevent your bags from being stolen. Wrap your money in a comfrey leaf for
several days before any gambling endeavors to increase your chances of winning. Burn
comfrey to let go of an unhealthy relationship. Use comfrey in healing and love spells, or
include in love sachets.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Comfrey is a grounding herb that provides
a sense of structure when things feel chaotic. It soothes emotional pain and provides
comfort during difficult times. Use comfrey to enforce boundaries, both physical and
spiritual. Add this herb to bathwater for spiritual cleansing.
Known to most people as a common weed, dandelion (Taraxacum
officinale) is a perennial plant with bright yellow flowers that is found
worldwide. The leaves, flowers, and roots are all used for various
medicinal and culinary purposes. The yellow flower heads mature and
turn into feathery, white seed heads that then disperse in the wind,
spreading the seeds far and wide. The word dandelion comes from the
Latin dens leonis, meaning “lion’s tooth.”
Because dandelion flowers open early in the morning and close in the
evening, the dandelion is sometimes called the shepherd’s clock. It is said
that if the seeds fly off a dandelion seed head when there is no wind it
means rain is coming.
Healing Uses: Dandelion is often used as a diuretic and to purify the cleansing
organs. It contains taraxacin and choline, which stimulate liver cell metabolism. It is also
rich in vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E, as well as calcium. A tea made from dandelion
roots is useful as a general health tonic. Rub the milky juice of the dandelion stem on warts.
Magical Uses: Blow on the white puffball of a dandelion seed head to check in
with a relationship: If one seed remains after blowing on the seed head three times, it
means your sweetheart is thinking of you. Then whisper a message to the flower and blow it
in the direction of your loved one. Drinking a tea of dandelion flowers increases psychic
abilities. Pour boiling water over dandelion root for divination. Include dandelion in a
dream pillow to ward off nightmares.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Dandelion stimulates the solar plexus
chakra, the core of who we are. It helps to focus scattered emotions and strengthen the
sense of self. This plant encourages those who are fearful of change to take action and move
forward in life. Dandelions are excellent for making wishes. Make your wish, and then blow
on the seed head to release your wish with the seeds.
Echinacea is a genus that includes several flowering plants in the daisy
family. These coneflowers, as they’re called, have pink or purple petals
and are native to North America. The word echinacea comes from the
Latin echinus, meaning “sea urchin”—a reference to the plant’s bristly
The Plains Native Americans used echinacea root as a painkiller and to
treat colds, sore throats, wounds, and snakebites. The purple coneflower
is still harvested by the Lakota people for medicinal uses. Echinacea was
very popular in the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, but its use declined after the introduction of antibiotics.
Healing Uses: Echinacea raises white blood cell count, stimulates the immune
system, and has anti-carcinogenic, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Chew on
the root or drink as tea to fight infection or prevent colds and flu—or to decrease their
duration if they have already taken hold. To relieve skin inflammation, burns, or insect
bites, saturate a compress in echinacea tea and place on the affected area. Echinacea
essential oil is very useful with massage. Rub it on the temples and the back of the neck to
relieve tension in the head, neck, and shoulders.
Magical Uses: Echinacea grown around the house brings prosperity and protects
the family from suffering. It can also be used as an offering to the spirits or to enhance the
power of spells. Burn echinacea as incense in cleansing rituals, making sure to let the smoke
waft freely throughout the space.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Many spiritual and physical ailments are a
result of denying who you really are. Echinacea awakens the true inner self and assists in
integrating that self with the outside world. This plant is also useful during major
transitions, giving you strength and stamina in times of change. Echinacea also brings the
mind and body into balance, creating a sense of inner harmony.
Evening primrose is a flowering plant of the Onagraceae family, which is
native to the Americas. Its cup-shaped yellow flowers have four petals
each and open in the evening (hence the name). The young roots and
shoots can be eaten like a vegetable, and the whole plant can be used for
medicinal and other purposes.
Many Native American tribes, including the Cherokee, Iroquois, and
Ojibwa, used evening primrose for various rituals and remedies. They
used it as a poultice to treat bruises, as a salve to relieve skin irritations,
and as a tea for weight loss. Evening primrose root was also heated and
applied to hemorrhoids to relieve pain and reduce swelling. The Shakers,
a religious sect founded in England in the eighteenth century, used
evening primrose in many of their natural remedies, including poultices
for wounds and teas for upset stomach.
Healing Uses: Evening primrose is high in essential fatty acids that are necessary
for good health. Women can take evening primrose oil as a nutritional supplement to ease
symptoms of PMS or to boost fertility. The oil can also be used to treat skin issues such as
eczema and rosacea by applying it to the affected area. A tea made from the leaves, stems,
and roots, applied externally, is nourishing for the skin.
Magical Uses: Because it blooms at night, evening primrose is great for use in
moon ceremonies. Add evening primrose to bathwater to enhance inner beauty or use it in a
spell for good luck in your career. It can also be used to attract faeries.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: As an evening bloomer, this flower shines
its own light in the dark and encourages you to do the same. Evening primrose stimulates
the solar plexus and heart chakras, allowing you to open yourself up to love without fear of
betrayal or rejection. It also enhances creativity.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a plant in the parsley and carrot family
with small yellow flowers grouped in umbels. Native to the
Mediterranean region, this herb is very flavorful and aromatic. All parts
of the plant, including the seeds, can be eaten, although the stalks are
tough and not used as often. The white bulb and green fronds have a
slightly sweet anise flavor.
Fennel has been used as a medicinal and culinary herb for thousands of
years. In ancient Greece, athletes ate the seeds as a health food and to
control their weight. The Romans had numerous medicinal uses for
fennel, including the treatment of eye ailments. In the twelfth century,
the German nun, writer, composer, philosopher, and mystic Saint
Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) noted fennel’s eye-healing properties.
Healing Uses: As a tea, fennel treats dizziness, coughs, and headaches. It can also
be used as an expectorant to clear congestion. Fennel supports digestion and relieves
abdominal cramps and flatulence, and it also increases milk flow in nursing mothers. The
essential oil is especially useful during menstruation. Chewing fennel seeds freshens the
breath. For animals, use fennel to get rid of a flea infestation by crushing the seeds and
either sprinkling them around the home or rubbing them into the animal’s coat.
Magical Uses: Burn fennel as incense to purify a space or to prevent curses. Hang
fennel over a doorway with Saint John’s wort to ward off evil spirits. Include fennel in
sachets to remove negativity. Use fennel essential oil for protection spells and rituals. It can
also be used in love spells and fertility rituals, as it is thought to boost sexual energy and
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Fennel is associated with strength,
courage, and protection, and it is particularly helpful in the face of danger. It improves
relationships, assists in establishing boundaries, and helps others trust in your word.
Fennel essential oil is excellent for grounding during meditation and other spiritual
Native to central Asia, garlic (Allium sativum) is an onion-like plant with
a bulb that separates into cloves. It has a strong flavor and odor; hence
the nickname “stinking rose.” Although it grows worldwide, China is the
largest producer of garlic. The word garlic comes from the Old English
garleac: gar, meaning spear, and leac, meaning “leek.”
The Romans used garlic to fend off evil spirits, and Greek soldiers carried
it to prevent misfortune. In Romania, it was common practice to place
garlic cloves in the mouths of the corpses of those thought to be vampires.
Many traits of vampires, including their aversion to garlic, are also
symptoms of a condition called porphyria, characterized by large
amounts of porphyrins in the blood and urine. (Garlic exacerbates the
Healing Uses: Garlic is used to improve digestion and ease stomach cramps. It
also cleanses the blood, increases circulation, and prevents heart attacks and strokes. Garlic
bolsters the immune system and protects against and fights off illness, including the
common cold and the flu. Garlic contains compounds that break down carcinogenic
chemicals. Ingesting too much garlic can cause stomach inflammation, ulcers, and anemia.
Magical Uses: Garlic is a very protective plant. It guards against negativity, evil,
and the envy of others. It can also be used for exorcisms or to break curses. Carry a garlic
clove with you when traveling over water to prevent drowning. Hang braided garlic above
doorways to discourage unwanted visitors. Use in spells to drive away an unwanted lover.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Garlic assists with spiritual healing by
removing negative energy and strengthening your inner self. It also fortifies willpower and
helps you keep your sights on your goals, even when faced with obstacles. Additionally,
garlic fights envy and jealousy in oneself and others.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a tropical Southeast Asian plant with
yellowish-green flowers and a pungent aromatic root. Gingerroot, as it is
also called, is used either fresh or dried for both medicinal and culinary
purposes. Because of its spicy flavor, this root is associated with energy
and vigor. “Ginger” is also slang for a person who has red hair.
Ginger has been featured in ancient Chinese medicine for thousands of
years. It was highly valued by the ancient Romans, but its use decreased
dramatically after the fall of the Roman Empire. It was picked up again in
Europe and in the sixteenth century was introduced to Africa and the
Caribbean. Jamaican ginger was the first spice to be grown in the New
World and exported back to Europe.
Healing Uses: Ginger has long been known as a stomach settler. It relieves
nausea and vomiting associated with migraines, morning sickness, and motion sickness,
and it is also helpful to those recovering from surgery or undergoing chemotherapy. Ginger
treats the inflammation associated with arthritis, not only masking the pain but also
fostering changes in the joints. Ginger is also a microbial herb that fights infectious illness.
Incorporating ginger into recipes and drinking it as a tea are the easiest ways to partake of
Magical Uses: Ginger adds fire to any magical activity. It speeds up the process of
spells and helps plans develop more quickly. It can also be used in spells to “spice up” an
existing relationship. As an amulet, ginger enhances health and protection. Burn powdered
ginger to break curses.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Ginger’s digestive qualities extend into
the spiritual realm. It helps you process ideas and emotions and provides the motivation
needed to bring them into the physical realm. As an essential oil, ginger can bring energy
and vitality. It is also a powerful aphrodisiac, corresponding to the sacral chakra, which
Ginseng encompasses several species of plants of the genus Panax with
forked roots and small greenish flowers grouped in umbels. The major
varieties of ginseng include Asian (Panax ginseng) and American (Panax
quinquefolius). Another major variety, Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus
senticosus), is in the same family as the first two but of a different genus.
The word ginseng comes from the Mandarin renshen: ren, meaning
“person,” and shen, meaning “root”—most likely due to the forked root
shape’s resemblance to human legs.
Ginseng has been used in China for 5,000 years. Because Chinese
emperors treasured the plant, it became highly valued and in demand.
The Native Americans are responsible for ginseng’s cultivation in North
America. The Cherokee, Iroquois, and other tribes used ginseng as a
remedy for various ailments and for general life enhancement.
Healing Uses: Ginseng is considered a panacea—a cure-all. It is an adaptogen, a
natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress, and it also lowers blood sugar levels.
Ginseng is associated with stimulation and virility and is a common remedy for impotence.
Those taking heart medications such as blood thinners should not take ginseng, as it could
result in a negative interaction.
Magical Uses: Ginseng is a powerful love herb. It generates passion and lust,
especially when drunk as a tea. Burn ginseng root or powder as incense to repel negativity,
drive away evil, and break hexes or curses. Carry ginseng root with you to attract love or
money. As an amulet, it brings good fortune, prosperity, longevity, and fertility.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Ginseng boosts both mental and physical
energy levels, which can then be used to harness internal power. It reduces psychological
stress and sharpens mental powers. Ginseng also aids in visualization fulfillment. Take
ginseng before meditation for enhanced clarity and a sense of calm.
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is a plant in the mint family with spikes of
blue or purple flowers and aromatic leaves. The hyssop plant is of
Eurasian origin but also grows in North America. Both the leaves and
flowers of the hyssop plant are used for medicinal and other purposes,
and hyssop oil is used as a flavoring and a fragrance. Beekeepers love
hyssop, as it produces a rich, aromatic honey.
Though it is not identified by name, it is believed that hyssop is one of the
aromatic herbs mentioned in the Bible as a purification substance,
particularly to cleanse the sinful. The herbs were dipped in water or
vinegar and then waved like a wand over the afflicted persons, often
Healing Uses: Hyssop tea is effective as an expectorant or cough suppressant,
and it can also be used to treat digestive and intestinal problems, including gas and loss of
appetite. Adding hyssop to bathwater eases the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
As a salve, hyssop treats bruises, insect bites, and bee stings. Hyssop essential oil can help
Magical Uses: This cleansing herb can be used to remove curses, purge
negativity, or purify a space. In the home, hyssop protects against thieves and trespassers.
Combined with other cleansing herbs like sage, it is useful for smudging to clear away
unwanted energies. Planted in the garden it creates a positive energy flow. Hyssop attracts
faeries and benevolent natural spirits and keeps wicked spirits at bay.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This herb promotes spiritual opening.
Add it to bathwater to cleanse the spirit, or burn it to break bad patterns, disengage from
negative attachments, and move forward in a positive way. Hyssop essential oil can be used
in aromatherapy to calm an anxious mind and bring clarity and focus.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is an aromatic tropical Asian grass
named for its citrusy smell and flavor. The stalks are used in cooking, and
the fresh or dried leaves, and the essential oil derived from them, are
used in medicine. Lemongrass oil is also used as a pesticide and a
Also known as “fever grass,” lemongrass has been used to treat fever in
India for hundreds of years. Ancient palm-leaf manuscripts found in
India were preserved with lemongrass oil. Indigenous Australians used
lemongrass as a drink and applied a lemongrass wash to sore eyes, cuts,
and skin irritations. Lemongrass appears in many Asian traditional
cuisines, including Thai and Vietnamese.
Healing Uses: Lemongrass has antibacterial and antifungal properties, as well as
lots of antioxidants. To treat acne, place lemongrass in boiling water, remove from heat, and
let the steam wash over the skin. It also has powerful pain-relieving properties, making it
useful for headaches, stomachaches, joint pain, and muscle soreness (use the essential oil
for these). Lemongrass tea alleviates coughs and soothes sore throats.
Magical Uses: Lemongrass is a powerful cleanser. It removes negativity and
brings good luck, making it helpful in spells related to career, love, and family issues. It also
increases psychic powers and can be used for psychic cleansing and divination. Use it as a
floor wash to clear away evil influences. In the bath, lemongrass leaves have a purifying
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Through its cleansing properties,
lemongrass removes obstacles and assists in spiritual opening. It enriches communication
and helps to make sense of confusing or frustrating situations, particularly with loved ones.
As an essential oil, it brings a sense of calm and clarity and also fosters forgiveness—in
ourselves and others. Added to bathwater, lemongrass boosts sexual energy. Used in
aromatherapy, lemongrass reduces tension and stress and heightens the senses.
Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is a perennial plant in the mint family
with small purplish to white flowers and aromatic leaves. Also called
sweet marjoram, this plant is native to the Mediterranean region. Its
fresh and dried leaves are used for culinary and medicinal purposes.
Oregano, a related herb, is sometimes called wild marjoram.
Marjoram was reportedly one of several herbs found in a 60,000-year-old
Neanderthal grave, indicating that the use of this herb is as old as
humanity itself. According to Roman mythology, the goddess of love,
Venus, gave this plant its scent to remind mortals of her beauty. In Greek
mythology, Venus’s counterpart, Aphrodite, created marjoram and grew
it on Mount Olympus. Aristotle claimed that tortoises ate marjoram after
being bitten by snakes, and therefore recommended it as a cure for
Healing Uses: As a tea, marjoram eases coughs, colds, and headaches. It also has
sedative properties, which can help with insomnia and general tension and stress. Use
marjoram essential oil with massage to soothe strains, sprains, and muscle aches. Apply a
warm marjoram poultice to ease muscle cramps. Marjoram also boosts the immune system,
aids digestion, and calms the stomach.
Magical Uses: Marjoram cleanses, purifies, and removes negativity. Grown in the
garden, it protects against evil. Use marjoram in love spells to attract a new lover, enhance a
current romantic relationship, or release the grip of a love gone bad. Include marjoram in
sachets to attract wealth. Place it under your pillow to bring revealing, meaningful dreams.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Marjoram has a warming, calming
quality, bringing peace to the mind, body, and spirit. It assists those who are grief-stricken
by fostering acceptance and clearing the way for happiness. Adding the herb to bathwater is
a great way to process grief. Burning marjoram helps you move beyond the past, accept the
changes in life, and look to the future.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a biennial Eurasian herb with edible
leaves. Varieties include flat-leaf (Italian) parsley and curly-leaf parsley.
The leaves have many culinary applications, while both the leaves and the
roots are used in medicine. The word parsley comes from the Greek
petroselinon: petro, meaning “rock,” and selinon, meaning celery.
The ancient Greeks associated parsley with death and used it in funeral
ceremonies. One legend says that parsley is slow to germinate because
the seed travels to the devil and back nine times before coming up, and
any seeds that don’t germinate were kept by the devil. Some people are
superstitious about transplanting parsley, saying that it brings bad luck.
Healing Uses: Parsley is rich in vitamins C, A, and B as well as iron and calcium.
It improves digestion and promotes cardiovascular health. A compress soaked in cooled
parsley tea soothes puffiness and swelling. Apply a parsley poultice to insect bites. Parsley
essential oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties and can be used to treat acne and
skin infections. Parsley root treats urinary and kidney conditions. Chewing on parsley
cleans the teeth and freshens the breath. Parsley may be used to bring on menstruation.
Pregnant women should not eat large quantities of parsley.
Magical Uses: Use parsley in spells to increase strength and vitality following
surgery or an illness. Use a mesh bag of parsley in a purification bath by holding it under
the running water. Place parsley on the plate to prevent food contamination. Burn the dried
herb as incense in rituals for the dead. Parsley enhances fertility and is often used as an
offering to mother goddesses.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Parsley is an uplifting herb. It restores a
sense of well-being and helps the user get out of a rut. Parsley also encourages love and lust,
bringing excitement and romance to a relationship.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a cross between watermint and
spearmint. This perennial plant has small purple or white flowers and
aromatic leaves that are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Peppermint is native to Europe and the Middle East, but it is cultivated
Greek mythology offers a creation story for peppermint: Hades, the god
of the underworld, seduced a water nymph named Minthe and they
entered into a relationship. When Hades’s wife, Persephone, found out
about the affair, she turned Minthe into a plant so that everyone would
walk on her. Hades then gave the plant a pleasant scent, so that every
time someone stepped on it they would be reminded of Minthe’s beauty.
Healing Uses: Peppermint treats cold and flu, particularly as an expectorant. It is
also excellent for digestive issues such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and
vomiting (this includes pregnancy-related discomfort). Peppermint contains menthol, a
natural analgesic. This, along with selenium and zinc, makes it useful for treating the
redness and irritation associated with dandruff. Inhaling the scent of peppermint oil
Magical Uses: Peppermint is a protective herb. Rub the leaves on furniture or
objects or burn dried leaves as incense in a new home to remove any negative energy.
Peppermint tea brings passion. Use peppermint in money and prosperity spells.
Peppermint essential oil brings alertness in the dream state and assists in remembering and
learning from dreams. For this purpose, use it as an inhalation or include the leaves in a
sachet placed underneath the pillow.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Peppermint is a natural stimulant. It
boosts energy and invigorates the mind, as well as increases awareness, perception, and
sensitivity. Peppermint essential oil cleanses the spirit, increases spiritual attunement, and
supports intuition. The essential oil is particularly useful for overcoming resistance to
change, as it eliminates fear of the unknown.
Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is a member of the rose family. Like a rose
bush, this plant also has thorny stems. The edible fruit of the raspberry
plant may be red, black, purple, or golden, depending on the variety. The
leaves also have culinary and medicinal uses.
As hunter-gatherers, Paleolithic cave dwellers are known to have eaten
raspberries. According to Greek mythology, Zeus’s nursemaid, Ida,
pricked her finger on a thorn of a raspberry bush and her blood dripped
onto the fruit, changing it from white to red. Another version of the story
says that the berries got their name when the gods found them growing
on Mount Ida. (Rubus idaeus means “bramble bush of Ida.”)
Healing Uses: Raspberry fruit and leaves are used in pregnancy to strengthen
uterine tissue, assist with labor, and prevent hemorrhaging during and following birth. Due
to its astringent properties, raspberry treats mouth sores, bleeding gums, and other oral
inflammation. As a gargle, raspberry soothes sore throats. The fresh or dried leaves can be
used in a tea to relieve digestive problems and nausea. Raspberry seed oil benefits the skin
and can be used as a natural sunscreen.
Magical Uses: The raspberry plant is associated with fertility. The leaf and fruit
can be dried and placed in an amulet to support the female reproductive organs or protect a
pregnancy. Steeping the berries in wine and serving it to a lover keeps a relationship strong.
Raspberry leaf enhances sleep and brings good dreams.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: First-year raspberry plants do not
produce fruit but are essential to the future fertility of the plant. This is a reminder to be
patient in creative endeavors, which may take time to fully reach their potential. The thorns
of the plant remind us to be gentle with one another.
Native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is
an aromatic evergreen shrub in the mint family with light bluish-purple
flowers and grayish-green, needle-like leaves. The leaves and oil are used
for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Rosemary has long been associated with immortality, memory, and
fidelity. The ancient Egyptians used rosemary in their embalming
practices. The ancient Greeks and Romans placed rosemary sprigs in the
hands of the dead and burned the herb as incense at funerals. Greek
students wore rosemary sprigs in their hair to boost their memories.
Rosemary was also incorporated into marriage and baptism ceremonies.
Healing Uses: Rosemary stimulates and strengthens the circulatory and nervous
systems, and is used to treat anemia and low blood pressure. Used in a warm poultice,
rosemary soothes sore muscles and joint pain. As a salve, rosemary soothes headaches,
muscle aches, and swollen feet. Rosemary tea aids digestion. This herb can also be used as a
natural insect repellent.
Magical Uses: Rosemary attracts faeries and positive energy and can be used in
fidelity spells. Add rosemary to bathwater to improve memory. Burn rosemary during
meditation or dream work to remember past lives. Placing rosemary under the pillow
assists with dream recall and banishes nightmares and unwanted dream visitations.
Rosemary can also be used in purification and cleansing rituals.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Rosemary is a stimulating, purifying herb.
Its memory-boosting properties make it a favorite among students and those whose work
requires memorization. Burn rosemary as incense for peace of mind or to cleanse the spirit.
For information on the use of rosemary essential oil in aromatherapy, see the rosemary
entry in Chapter 4.
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a perennial herb in the mint family with blue
to purplish flowers and aromatic grayish-green leaves. Native to the
Mediterranean region, sage has a long history of culinary and medicinal
use. The word sage comes from the Latin salvus, meaning “healthy.” A
related herb, clary sage, is covered in Chapter 4: The Power of Scent:
According to Greek legend, Cadmus, the founder and first king of Thebes,
discovered the medicinal properties of sage when the leaves were offered
to him in a religious ceremony. In the Middle Ages, sage was used to treat
fevers, liver disease, and epilepsy. It was once believed that young women
could use sage in magic to see their future husbands.
Healing Uses: Sage treats many common mouth and throat ailments, including
inflamed gums, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. Chewing the leaves cleans the teeth and freshens
breath. For sore throats, gargle with sage tea. As a hair wash, sage helps eliminate head lice.
Sage’s antiseptic qualities make it useful as a compress or salve for treating wounds. As a
facial steam bath, sage acts as an astringent for the skin and relieves congestion associated
with head colds.
Magical Uses: Sage is used in smudging practices to cleanse a person, object, or
space of negative energies or influences. This process, also called “saging,” involves burning
a bundle of dried sage leaves and letting the smoke waft over the person, object, or space.
The smoke attaches to the negative energy and carries it away (be sure to keep windows
open when saging to allow smoke to escape).
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Sage is a powerful herb, cleansing both
the body and mind of impurities. Burn sage as incense to re-establish physical, spiritual, or
emotional balance or to de-stress and relieve anxiety. In aromatherapy, sage essential oil
stimulates the mind and relieves mental fatigue and depression.
Saint John’s Wort
Native to Europe and western Asia, Saint John’s wort (Hypericum
perforatum) is a shrubby perennial with bright yellow flowers. When
rubbed, the flowers and leaves yield a red oil that has many medicinal
uses. This herb gets its name from its connection to Saint John’s Day,
celebrated in late June. The word wort comes from the Old English wyrt,
Originally a pagan celebration centered on the summer solstice, Saint
John’s Day, also known as Midsummer, is also a major religious holiday.
Depending on the cultural tradition, it may be celebrated any day
between June 21 and 25. Christians designated June 24 as the feast day of
Saint John the Baptist, but observance begins the day before, known as
Saint John’s Eve. In medieval Europe, wreaths of Saint John’s wort were
worn on this holiday and then thrown into bonfires to ensure a plentiful
harvest. The herb was also thought to protect against witchcraft.
Healing Uses: The most common medicinal use of Saint John’s wort is as a
treatment for depression, but it is also used for anxiety, insomnia, and headaches,
particularly migraines. An ointment made from the leaves and flowers relieves swelling,
muscle cramps, and rheumatism. As a tea, Saint John’s wort eases the symptoms of
Magical Uses: This protective herb can be burned to banish negative influences
or used in smudging rituals for exorcism. It is very useful for love spells and divination.
Place it under the pillow for romantic, prophetic dreams.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Saint John’s wort brings light in times of
darkness and acts as a calming influence. As a flower essence, it stimulates the solar plexus
chakra, helping those who feel vulnerable and fearful to find their inner power. Carry Saint
John’s wort to strengthen your convictions, especially when dealing with confrontations.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a perennial flowering plant native to
Eurasia. Its fragrant pink or white flowers are used for flower extracts,
and its roots (considered to be rather foul-smelling) are used for various
medicinal purposes. The word valerian comes from the Latin Valerianus,
meaning “of Valeria,” the Roman province where the plant originated.
The Greek physician Dioscorides recommended the use of valerian to
treat urinary tract infections and as an antidote to poisons. Legend has it
that the fabled Pied Piper used valerian to lure rats away from the town of
Hamelin, Germany, during the Middle Ages. Valerian was used to treat
shell shock in soldiers during World War I.
Healing Uses: Valerian has a tranquilizing and sedative effect on the nervous
system, making it excellent for treating insomnia, anxiety, and headaches. It is especially
soothing as a tea or added to bathwater. Valerian relaxes the muscles of the gastrointestinal
tract and has been used to treat cramping, diarrhea or constipation, flatulence, and irritable
bowel syndrome. Note that excessive or prolonged use of valerian may be habit-forming.
Magical Uses: Animals love valerian! Use the root in rituals to evoke animal
spirits. Sprinkle powdered valerian root at the front door to deter unwanted visitors. Burn
valerian to cleanse and purify a space. Used in bathwater, valerian provides protection from
negative influences. Include valerian in a dream pillow to ward off nightmares. As an
amulet, valerian provides protection from evil forces and malevolent magic, such as hexes
Personal/Spiritual Growth: In this area, valerian flower essence is
more effective than the root. Unresolved anger and negative emotions can lead to issues
including headaches, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Use valerian flower essence in
aromatherapy practices to unearth buried feelings of guilt, anger, and negativity and replace
them with self-love and acceptance. Valerian also helps you see the positive side of
seemingly negative situations.
Native to Eurasia, yarrow (Achillea millefolium), also known as milfoil, is
an aromatic perennial with small, feathery leaves and clusters of small,
white flowers. The whole plant is used in herbal medicine. The genus
Achillea gets its name from the Greek hero Achilles, and the species name
(millefolium) means “thousand leaf.”
According to Greek mythology, the great warrior Achilles used yarrow to
treat the wounds of his fellow soldiers during the Trojan War. Yarrow is
used in the ancient Chinese system of I Ching divination. It is said that
yarrow grows on the grave of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–
479 B.C.E.) in the Kong Lin Cemetery in China’s Shandong province.
During the American Civil War, yarrow was used as a surgical dressing to
stanch blood flow.
Healing Uses: Yarrow stanches both internal and external bleeding. It is also a
common remedy for colds and flu, and it helps to break fevers by promoting perspiration.
As a poultice, yarrow treats infections and swelling. Inhaling the steam from yarrow tea
calms allergies and aids respiratory problems such as asthma. Applied topically, yarrow
essential oil treats wounds; in aromatherapy it relieves stress and tension.
Magical Uses: Yarrow assists with all forms of divination. Drink yarrow tea
before divination to help focus the mind and avoid distractions. Yarrow is also useful in love
spells and for psychic communication with loved ones. It is especially helpful to newly
married couples. Hanging yarrow flowers above the bridal bed ensures that the marriage
will last at least seven years. Strewn across the threshold, yarrow protects the home from
Personal/Spiritual Growth: The protective and healing power of
yarrow extends to the personal and spiritual realms. It brings courage, clarity, and strength
and aids in decision-making. Drink the tea or carry a piece of yarrow with you to enjoy these
THE POWER OF FLOWERS:
Flower essences are infusions made from the flowering parts of
plants aimed at treating the emotional and mental aspects of
wellness. Although flower essences have been used in countless
cultures all over the world, perhaps the most famous name in
the discussion of modern flower essences is Dr. Edward Bach
Bach was a British physician, homeopath, bacteriologist,
and writer best known for developing a form of alternative
medicine called Bach flower remedies. Rather than basing these
remedies on medical research, he based them on humans’
psychic connection to plants. While he recognized the various
physical causes of disease, he felt there was also an unseen
emotional component to human health. He began to
experiment with plants and how they made him feel, and then
developed theories about the powers of each one. Bach believed
that when early morning sunlight shone on a plant, the light
transferred the plant’s power to the dewdrops that had collected
on its flower petals during the night. He began collecting the
dew but soon discovered it did not create a large enough yield.
This led him to soak flowers in spring water and place the
infusions in sunlight. Thus, Bach flower remedies were born.
This chapter contains quotations from Bach’s The Twelve
Healers and Other Remedies.
There are many companies out there that sell Bach’s thirtyeight
original flower remedies, along with other flower essences
and related products. You can also make your own! Flower
essences usually come in small dropper bottles and are meant
to be taken orally, either on their own or mixed into a beverage.
Follow the instructions on the bottle for best results.
Native to the Mediterranean region, borage (Borago officinalis), also
known as starflower, is an annual herb with blue or purplish star-shaped
flowers and bristly stems and leaves. The whole plant is edible, but the
flowers in particular are favored for their cucumber-like taste, which
makes borage flower essence cool and refreshing. It is believed the word
borage comes from the Arabic abu araq, meaning “source of sweat”—due
to its use as a sudorific (a substance that cools the body by stimulating
the sweat glands).
The Roman naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder (23–79) wrote that
borage “maketh a man merry and joyful.” Borage is also believed to be the
herb called nepenthe in Homer’s Odyssey—a drug that is supposed to
help one forget one’s sorrow. Borage flowers steeped in wine was a
medieval cure for melancholy.
Borage flower essence is known first and foremost as a courage enhancer, helping you find
the inner strength you need to overcome obstacles in life. It brings light and clarity during
dark times. Borage soothes the heavyhearted by opening the heart chakra, releasing the
emotions that cause depression and making way for optimism, enthusiasm, and joy.
Physically, it has a cooling effect, making it a popular addition to summer beverages such as
iced tea, lemonade, and fruit juice.
Cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera) is a deciduous shrub in the rose family
with white flowers and small red or yellow fruit. Both the flowers and the
fruit have culinary and medicinal uses, and it is also a popular
ornamental shrub. Cherry plum is one of Bach’s original flower remedies.
Not much is known about the history of cherry plum. It is believed to
have originated in Asia, and it is now cultivated in Europe and North
America as well. Cherry plums are a key ingredient in Georgian cuisine
such as tkemali sauce, kharcho soup, and chakapuli stew.
Bach categorized cherry plum under remedies for fear, “fear of the mind being overstrained,
of reason giving way, of doing fearful and dreaded things, not wished and known
wrong, yet there comes the thought and impulse to do them.” This kind of fear can consume
one’s life, causing depression, damaging personal relationships, and jeopardizing one’s
career. This flower essence provides assistance to those who live in fear of losing control,
losing their minds, or generally “losing it” by providing access to their deep personal
reservoirs of inner strength and wisdom. Once in touch with these inner resources, the
fearful person can find a way out of the cycle and loosen the grip that fear has on his or her
Mainly of Japanese or Chinese origin, Clematis is a genus of about 300
species of climbing plants in the buttercup family with flowers or fruit
clusters. The name comes from the Greek klematis, meaning “twig.”
Clematis is one of Bach’s original flower remedies.
The Native Americans used clematis as a remedy for migraines, nervous
disorders, and skin infections. Early American settlers used clematis as a
pepper substitute to spice up food since real pepper was expensive and
difficult to obtain.
Bach categorized clematis under “not sufficient interest in present circumstances.” He
wrote that this flower essence is useful for “those who are dreamy, drowsy, not fully awake,
no great interest in life. Quiet people, not really happy in their present circumstances, living
more in the future than in the present; living in hopes of happier times, when their ideals
may come true. In illness some make little or no effort to get well, and in certain cases may
even look forward to death, in the hope of better times; or maybe, meeting again some
beloved one whom they have lost.” This flower essence brings you back down to earth and
into the present so you can live a better life.
Malus is a genus of thirty to fifty species of deciduous trees or shrubs that
includes the domesticated orchard apple. Native to North America and
Eurasia, these trees have clusters of white, pink, or reddish flowers and
produce small, tart fruit sometimes used in culinary preparations such as
jelly or preserves. Crab apple is one of Bach’s original flower remedies.
The origin of the term crab apple is unknown. Theories include the taste
of the fruit, which is considered sour and disagreeable (like a crabby
person), and the crooked shape of the tree’s branches resembling a crab’s
legs. Some also suggest that it comes from a Norse word meaning “fruit of
the wild apple tree.”
This flower essence is recommended to those who dislike their appearance or personality or
otherwise have a negative self-image. It calms the obsession with those things we don’t like
about ourselves. Bach categorized it under “for despondency or despair.” He wrote: “This is
the remedy of cleansing. For those who feel as if they have something not quite clean about
themselves. Often it is something of apparently little importance; in others there may be
more serious disease which is almost disregarded compared to the one thing on which they
concentrate. In both types they are anxious to be free from the one particular thing which is
greatest in their minds and which seems so essential to them that it should be cured. They
become despondent if treatment fails. Being a cleanser, this remedy purifies wounds if the
patient has reason to believe that some poison has entered which must be drawn out.”
As discussed in Chapter 2, dandelion is a perennial plant with bright
yellow flowers that is commonly thought of as a weed but also has many
medicinal and culinary uses.
See the dandelion entry in Chapter 2.
Dandelion flower essence connects with the solar plexus chakra, where we store a lot of our
issues related to fear, anger, and self-worth. It helps you release negative feelings toward
yourself and others, and battles addictive and compulsive behaviors and thoughts. This
flower essence assists those who feel like they are caught in a cycle and therefore can’t enjoy
the natural flow of life. It teaches these individuals to listen closely to their own personal
needs and live in a more effortless, natural way.
Forget-me-nots include a number of species of flowering plants of the
genus Myosotis. The plant’s name is borrowed from the German
Vergissmeinnicht, and its small blue flowers have many uses in herbal
According to legend, during medieval times, a knight was walking next to
a river with his beloved and bent down to pick flowers for her. He lost his
balance and fell into the river, and his heavy armor started to drag him
under. Before drowning, he tossed the flowers up to his lady and shouted,
“Forget me not!” As a result, it is believed that those who wear this flower
will never be forgotten by their lovers.
When we feel that our world is small, it makes us feel lost and alone. Forget-me-not flower
essence calms and comforts by bringing you into contact with the larger spiritual world and
connecting you to other levels of consciousness. As a result, it enhances personal
relationships. In some cases, it may restore a connection to a lost loved one. This flower
essence offers guidance and a sense of purpose, as well as a feeling that everything is
Gentiana is a large genus of flowering plants with about 400 species.
Native to temperate regions of Asia, Europe, and the Americas, these
plants are known for their blue, trumpet-shaped flowers. Gentian is one
of Bach’s original flower remedies.
Gentian most likely gets its name from Gentius, an Illyrian king who
ruled during the second century B.C.E. and who may have been the first to
discover the plant’s medicinal properties. According to legend, in the
eleventh century, the Hungarian king Ladislaus prayed for divine help
with a disease that was afflicting his subjects. He then shot an arrow into
the air, and when he found it, it was embedded in a gentian root, which
proved to be the remedy needed to cure the disease.
Bach categorized gentian under “for those who suffer uncertainty” and recommended the
flower essence for “those who are easily discouraged. They may be progressing well in
illness or in the affairs of their daily life, but any small delay or hindrance to progress causes
doubt and soon disheartens them.” It lifts that downhearted feeling we get when things go
wrong and speeds up the process of bouncing back from setbacks.
Gorse is any of the flowering plants of the genus Ulex, which comprises
about twenty species of thorny evergreen shrubs. Native to Europe, these
plants have fragrant, edible yellow flowers and black pods. Gorse is one of
Bach’s original flower remedies.
Gorse was brought to New Zealand in the 1830s, and it rapidly took over
areas of cleared land and farmland. Over time it became known as an
invasive weed, and great sums of money have been spent on controlling
its spread. It is estimated that gorse covers between 3 and 5 percent of
New Zealand’s total land area.
Bach categorized gorse under “for those who suffer uncertainty” and recommended the
flower essence for those suffering from “very great hopelessness, they have given up belief
that more can be done for them. Under persuasion or to please others they may try different
treatments, at the same time assuring those around that there is so little hope of relief.” This
flower essence shines a light on the path out of despair, restoring one’s faith and helping
one to move forward.
Honeysuckle is a shrub or vine belonging to the genus Lonicera with
fragrant, tubular flowers and small berries. The genus gets its name from
the German botanist Adam Lonicer (1528–1586). Honeysuckle is one of
Bach’s original flower remedies.
There are many varieties of honeysuckle, including Japanese
honeysuckle, orange honeysuckle, and coral honeysuckle. Japanese
honeysuckle was introduced to the United States in the early to mid-
1800s for ornamental use and as a soil stabilizer. Orange honeysuckle
attracts hummingbirds. The Native Americans smoked the dried leaves of
coral honeysuckle to relieve the symptoms of asthma.
Bach categorized honeysuckle under “not sufficient interest in present circumstances.” He
recommended this flower essence for “those who live much in the past, perhaps a time of
great happiness, or memories of a lost friend, or ambitions which have not come true. They
do not expect further happiness such as they have had.” This flower essence helps us learn
from rather than live in the past, showing us that there is much to look forward to. This is
also good for homesickness and nostalgia.
Impatiens is a very large genus of between 800 and 1,000 species of
flowering plants of the balsam family widely cultivated for their colorful
flowers. Handle this plant and you’ll see where it gets its name—the ripe
seedpods burst open when touched. Impatiens is one of Bach’s original
Impatiens were discovered growing in eastern Africa and are believed to
have originated in Zanzibar, an island off the coast of present-day
Tanzania. The British physician and naturalist John Kirk introduced
impatiens to the Western world in 1896.
Bach categorized impatiens under “loneliness” and wrote that this flower essence is helpful
to “those who are quick in thought and action and who wish all things to be done without
hesitation or delay. When ill they are anxious for a hasty recovery. They find it very difficult
to be patient with people who are slow as they consider it wrong and a waste of time, and
they will endeavour to make such people quicker in all ways. They often prefer to work and
think alone, so that they can do everything at their own speed.” This flower essence helps us
relax, slow down, and understand that things take time. It also encourages us to be more
accepting when dealing with others.
Lily is a plant of the genus Lilium that grows from a bulb and has large,
often trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers can be a variety of colors and
are usually fragrant. Alpine lily, calla lily, Easter lily, and mariposa lily are
just a few of the many varieties of this plant.
According to biblical lore, lilies were found growing in Gethsemane after
Christ died—the garden where Jesus prayed and the apostles slept the
night before the crucifixion. In China, several lily species are cultivated as
root vegetables. Lily root is also featured in Japanese cuisine, especially
as an ingredient in chawan-mushi, a savory egg custard.
Alpine lily flower essence helps women integrate all sides of their feminine identities and
stay grounded in their bodies. Calla lily flower essence expands one’s notion of sexual
identity and is best taken with a partner. Easter lily flower essence manages the tension
between sexuality and spirituality. Mariposa lily flower essence enables us to act as mothers
to ourselves, healing feelings of separation and alienation and bringing comfort, joy, and
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a Eurasian perennial with rose-colored
flowers and trifoliate leaves (hence the genus name). It is largely used as
a cover crop, to protect and enrich the soil, and is also a favorite of
grazing farm animals. The idiom “in clover” describes a carefree life of
ease, comfort, and prosperity.
In ancient China, dried red clover was burned at altars as incense.
Medieval Christians associated this plant’s three-part leaves with the holy
trinity. There is a long history of red clover being used to treat cancer,
specifically breast, ovarian, and lymphatic cancers. Red clover became
the state flower of Vermont in 1895.
When mass consciousness threatens your sense of identity, red clover flower essence keeps
you firmly rooted in your beliefs. It supports self-awareness and helps you locate and act
from your own center of truth. This flower essence also encourages a calm demeanor in
crisis situations. Turn to it in times when cleansing or balancing is needed.
The genus Rosa comprises many species of shrubs and vines with prickly
stems and fragrant flowers. Most species are native to Asia, although
some are native to Europe, North America, and northwestern Africa. The
Latin rosa may be an Etruscan form of the Greek Rhodia, meaning
“originating from Rhodes”—a Greek city. Rock rose and wild rose are two
of Bach’s original flower remedies.
Ornamental roses were cultivated in the Mediterranean, Persia, and
China as early as 500 B.C.E. The French empress Joséphine de
Beauharnais (1763–1814) adored roses and maintained a famous rose
garden at her Château de Malmaison. Prior to her marriage to Napoleon,
she was known by the name Rose.
Bach categorized rock rose under “for those who have fear” and recommended the flower
essence as “the remedy of emergency for cases where there even appears no hope. In
accident or sudden illness, or when the patient is very frightened or terrified, or if the
condition is serious enough to cause great fear to those around. If the patient is not
conscious the lips may be moistened with the remedy.” He categorized wild rose under “not
sufficient interest in present circumstances” and recommended the flower essence to “those
who without apparently sufficient reason become resigned to all that happens, and just
glide through life, take it as it is, without any effort to improve things and find some joy.
They have surrendered to the struggle of life without complaint.”
Star of Bethlehem
Star of Bethlehem may be any of the plants of the genus Ornithogalum,
which grow from a bulb and have star-shaped white flowers. Some of the
plants of this genus are edible and eaten as vegetables, while others are
poisonous. Native to the Mediterranean region, star of Bethlehem is one
of Bach’s original flower remedies.
This plant is named for the star that guided the magi to Bethlehem to see
the baby Jesus. Because of its biblical name, it has come to be associated
with purity, hope, love, and happiness. It is also a popular choice for
religious ceremonies, weddings, and romantic gestures.
This is the flower essence for those unexpected, unfortunate events in life. Bach categorized
star of Bethlehem under “for despondency or despair” and suggested it “for those in great
distress under conditions which for a time produce great unhappiness. The shock of serious
news, the loss of someone dear, the fright following an accident, and such like. For those
who for a time refuse to be consoled, this remedy brings comfort.” Trauma can have longlasting
negative effects on the mind, body, and spirit. Star of Bethlehem flower essence
uncovers unresolved issues resulting from trauma so that they can be dealt with before they
begin to manifest in other harmful ways.
The genus Helianthus comprises about seventy species of sunflowers,
most of which are native to North America; a few are native to South
America. This tall plant has a large, round, yellow flower head with petals
reminiscent of the rays of the sun. The name comes from the Greek:
helios (sun) plus anthos (flower).
Evidence suggests that Native Americans cultivated sunflowers in
present-day Arizona and New Mexico as early as 3000 B.C.E., perhaps
even before corn. They ate the seeds, ground them to make flour, and
extracted oil from them. The Incas of South America treasured the flower
for its resemblance to the sun and associated it with Inti, the sun god. The
Spanish brought sunflowers to Europe in the 1500s.
Sunflower flower essence harnesses our inner radiance and lets it shine outward. It helps to
balance the crown chakra, which controls mental energy and is our connection to the divine.
It also fosters courage and self-confidence in those of us who mask our true selves hoping
for love and acceptance. This flower essence celebrates each of us as a unique individual.
THE POWER OF SCENT:
Essential oils are liquids that are extracted from aromatic plants
and then used for healing and therapeutic practices, known
collectively as aromatherapy. These fragrant oils are what draw
bees to flowers and cause you to stop and smell the roses. The
ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were the first to use
aromatic plant oils in baths and massage for healing and
therapeutic purposes, and these practices are still widely used
in modern aromatherapy.
The French chemist and scholar René-Maurice Gattefossé
(1881–1950) is considered the father of aromatherapy. His
fascination with essential oils began in the early 1900s when he
was working at his family’s cosmetics company, which is still in
business. He later used essential oils to treat the wounds of
soldiers during World War I. The Austrian-born biochemist
Marguerite Maury (1895–1968) subsequently developed
massage techniques incorporating essential oils that are still in
Essential oils are powerful, highly concentrated substances,
and most have to be diluted in a carrier oil (such as sweet
almond, jojoba, or grape seed) before use. Some essential oils
can be applied directly to the skin, while others should only be
used for their aromas. Always follow the instructions on the
bottle, making sure not to exceed the recommended number of
drops in each application, and don’t ever swallow essential oils.
To maximize their shelf life, keep oils in a cool, dark place,
either at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator. If you
keep them in the fridge, place them in a sealed container to
prevent the fragrance from affecting food. On average, essential
oils will keep for six months to a year if kept cool. If oil becomes
cloudy or begins to smell sour, throw it away.
Balsam is an aromatic tree resin that is used to make a variety of popular
essential oils. These include balsam fir, whose aroma brings to mind a
Christmas tree, and balsam of Peru, which smells like vanilla and
cinnamon due to the presence of vanillin and cinnamic acid. Balsam of
Peru comes from a tree of the genus Myroxylon grown in Central and
South America, primarily in El Salvador.
Balsam of Peru is a misnomer. Although balsam was collected all over
Central and South America, it was shipped to Europe from Peru—hence
the name. The first recorded export of balsam of Peru to Europe occurred
in the seventeenth century. Long before that, the Maya were using balsam
of Peru as incense for medicinal purposes.
Healing Uses: Balsam fir essential oil soothes muscle aches and pains resulting
from exercise, and also aids the respiratory system. Balsam of Peru essential oil treats skin
conditions, rheumatism, and respiratory issues, particularly those accompanied by a
productive cough. It also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it helpful
for healing wounds. However, balsam of Peru is one of the most prevalent allergies, so
proceed with caution when trying it for the first time.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Balsam fir essential oil stimulates the
mind while relaxing the body, creating a general sense of well-being. This is a wonderful
essential oil for moody people, as it serves to regulate and balance the forces within the
body. It is especially helpful for balancing the sacral and heart chakras. During meditation,
it serves as a grounding influence. Balsam of Peru essential oil reduces stress and mental
exhaustion, but be aware that it may also bring up negative emotions that have been buried.
Basil essential oil comes from the familiar culinary and medicinal herb
discussed in Chapter 2. Varieties include sweet basil and holy basil, which
are similar in appearance but have their own individual properties and
uses. Sweet basil has a fresh, herbaceous aroma, while holy basil has a
strong, spicy fragrance.
Holy basil, or tulsi, is native to India and is considered sacred in the
Hindu religion. Hindus regard the plant as a manifestation of the goddess
Tulsi and traditionally keep a holy basil plant in or near their homes. In
Crete, basil was placed on windowsills to keep the devil away.
Healing Uses: Rub sweet basil essential oil on the abdomen to relieve
indigestion, nausea, or stomach cramps. As an inhalation, both sweet basil and holy basil
essential oils can be used to treat coughs, congestion, asthma, bronchitis, and sinus
infections. Combined with massage, these oils relieve muscle aches and soreness.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Inhaling the scent of basil refreshes and
energizes the mind and eases headaches brought on by stress and tension. Sweet basil
essential oil gives you the courage you need when undertaking new experiences. It also
helps to clarify goals and plans. Holy basil essential oil opens your heart to receive the love
of your partner, and it fortifies your sense of purpose, enabling you to focus on life’s
Bergamot essential oil comes from the rind of the citrus fruit of the
bergamot tree (Citrus bergamia), which is commercially grown in
southern Italy. The fruit is generally not eaten due to its sour flavor, but
the oil has a fresh citrusy/floral scent. The word bergamot comes from
Bergamo, a city in northern Italy where the tree was first cultivated.
Although it takes its name from an Italian city, the bergamot tree is
actually native to Southeast Asia. Bergamot essential oil was first used in
perfumes and cosmetics, and it was later valued for its medicinal
properties. The oil is also an important ingredient in Earl Grey tea.
Healing Uses: Bergamot essential oil stimulates the mind and body, and aids in
circulation and digestion. Applied topically, it heals cuts, acne, cold sores, and psoriasis.
Just be sure to avoid the sun for twenty-four hours after applying bergamot essential oil to
the skin, as exposure to UV rays can cause discoloration of the skin or sunburn.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: The scent of bergamot essential oil has a
balancing, regenerating, and uplifting effect. It builds confidence and enhances your mood,
while helping you overcome obstacles and paving the way for new opportunities and
growth. It is especially valuable for those dealing with depression, stress, tension, or fear.
Use with massage or add to bathwater in these cases.
Carnation essential oil comes from the familiar flower (Dianthus
caryophyllus), which is native to the Mediterranean region. The oil has a
mildly sweet scent with notes of honey and spice, and it is typically found
in “absolute” form, meaning that it was extracted using chemical solvents.
The word carnation comes from the Latin carnatio, meaning “flesh.”
Flowers of the genus Dianthus are also known as “pinks.” The word pink
comes from the Middle English pinken, meaning “to push or prick,” a
reference to the flower petals’ jagged edges. The creation of carnation
perfume is attributed to American perfumer Mary Chess, who, after
becoming dissatisfied with commercial “toilet waters,” began making her
own fragrances using all natural ingredients in the early 1930s.
Healing Uses: As a massage oil, carnation heals, softens, and rejuvenates the
skin, and its soothing fragrance promotes relaxation. It treats a variety of skin conditions,
including eczema and rosacea, and soothes rashes and other irritations. It brings energy
and strength to those suffering from illness. This essential oil can also be used as an
antidepressant or to treat sleeplessness.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This essential oil is spiritually uplifting
and motivating. It fosters a feeling of openness and oneness with the universe, allowing the
soul to relax and luxuriate in all experiences. Carnation essential oil facilitates contact with
the deepest parts of ourselves so that we may sort through buried emotions and locate our
true desires. It is also a powerful aphrodisiac.
Cedar essential oil comes from the bark of the cedar tree, a coniferous
evergreen that is native to the western Himalayas and the Mediterranean.
Also called cedarwood, this oil has a woody, balsamic fragrance. Cedar
wood is a natural moth repellent, which is why it is often used to make
chests or closets for clothing storage.
The ancient Egyptians used cedar oil in the embalming process and as a
perfume, and they used the wood to make sarcophagi. The ancient Greeks
and Romans burned cedar as incense. Cedar is mentioned in both the
Bible and the Talmud. The Native Americans used cedar to enhance
Healing Uses: Cedar essential oil is high in sesquiterpenes, natural compounds
that stimulate the limbic system of the brain, which controls mood. For this reason, cedar
oil is used in aromatherapy to reduce stress, assist with sleep, and support relaxation. This
oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for treating skin issues
and wounds. Rubbed on the joints, it soothes arthritis pain.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This essential oil works with the heart
chakra to bring self-acceptance and love. It banishes fear and instills a feeling of safety and
security in yourself and in your environment. In addition to promoting relaxation, cedar
essential oil may also improve focus and encouragement in the pursuit of long-held dreams
Like the spice included in Chapter 2, cinnamon essential oil comes from
certain tropical Asian trees of the genus Cinnamomum. There are two
main varieties of this oil, one that comes from the leaves and one that
comes from the bark, each with its own properties and uses. Both have a
warm, spicy aroma, although the leaf oil is milder while the bark oil is
Despite cinnamon’s widespread use throughout the ancient world, the
Arab merchants who transported it managed to keep its origins secret
until the early sixteenth century. European explorers, including
Christopher Columbus and Gonzalo Pizzaro, set out in search of the
spice’s source, and Portuguese traders finally discovered cinnamon in
Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) around 1518.
Healing Uses: This essential oil supports cardiovascular and immune health and
has a general calming effect. Cinnamon bark oil contains aldehydes, which soothe the
nervous system. Eugenol, found in cinnamon leaf oil, has antiseptic and anesthetic
properties. Used around the home, this oil battles mold and bacteria, improving air quality.
Plus, it smells great! Note that some people are allergic to cinnamon, and those with
sensitive skin may find its “spicy” effect irritating.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Cinnamon essential oil provides warmth,
comfort, and mild stimulation. It opens the solar plexus chakra and allows you to release
old anger, resentment, frustration, and fear. This oil is perfect for those who want to let go
of the past and break old patterns. It also combats depression and addiction. Cinnamon leaf
oil in particular boosts motivation and creativity.
Like the herb discussed in Chapter 2, clary sage is a plant in the genus
Salvia that is native to the Mediterranean region. Clary sage essential oil
comes from the leaves of this plant and is commonly used as a flavoring,
in perfumery, and of course, in aromatherapy. It has an earthy,
The ancient Greek botanist and philosopher Theophrastus (371–287
B.C.E.) wrote extensively about the medicinal uses of clary sage. During
the Middle Ages, clary sage was called “clear eye,” due to the belief that it
improved vision and protected the eyes from the effects of aging. In
sixteenth-century England, this plant was sometimes substituted for hops
in the production of beer.
Healing Uses: This is an excellent essential oil for women, as it assists with
menstrual issues, childbirth, and symptoms of menopause, including mood swings. (Note
that it should be avoided during the first months of pregnancy.) For cramps, massage the oil
into the abdomen or lower back. Clary sage essential oil also benefits the skin and hair.
Inhaling the scent has a calming effect and helps battle anxiety and depression.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: If you suffer from a racing mind, this oil is
for you. It helps keep you relaxed and focused, so you can be in the present and go with the
flow. This allows you to access inner wisdom without the distraction of too much thought.
Clary sage essential oil opens the root and sacral chakras, grounding the spirit in the body
and boosting self-confidence and self-worth. It is also a powerful aphrodisiac and may
Like the spice discussed in Chapter 2, clove essential oil comes from the
flower bud of the evergreen tree Syzygium aromaticum. Clove leaf oil is
also used, but its effect is milder than that of the flower bud. This
essential oil has a sweet, spicy fragrance.
Cloves were found in Syrian pottery dating back to 1720 B.C.E. It was once
believed that cinnamon was the bark, clove was the flower, and nutmeg
was the fruit of the same tree. Cloves were one of the “big four” most
valuable spices during the medieval era, along with nutmeg, cinnamon,
Healing Uses: Clove boosts the immune and digestive systems and offers
antioxidant support. Like cinnamon, clove contains large amounts of eugenol, a natural
antiseptic and anesthetic. Eugenol is used in the dental industry to numb the gums. To
stimulate circulation and soothe muscular pain, rub clove essential oil on the affected area.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Clove gets to the root of pain and
discomfort—physical or emotional. It works with the solar plexus, heart, and throat chakras
to fortify the self, expand inner strength and vision, and draw out personal truth. Once the
truth has emerged, you will feel inspired to take action in that direction.
This essential oil comes from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree
(Eucalyptus globulus), which is native to Australia and cultivated
worldwide. The oil has a clean, medicinal scent—think Vicks VapoRub.
The word eucalyptus comes from the Greek kaluptos, meaning
“covered”—an allusion to the tree’s capped flower bud.
Scientists estimate that the eucalyptus tree has survived on Earth for 50
million years. Indigenous Australians have been using the branches of
this ancient tree to make a ceremonial wind instrument called the
didgeridoo for the past 1,500 years. The British botanist Sir Joseph Banks
(1743–1820) is credited with introducing eucalyptus to the Western
Healing Uses: Eucalyptus leaves are rich in eucalyptol, a natural compound often
used in mouthwashes and cough suppressants. Use eucalyptus essential oil with massage to
soothe sore muscles, or rub it on the chest to clear up productive coughs and congestion. In
some cases, it may ease the symptoms of asthma. This oil is an effective insect repellent,
and can be used to treat insect bites and stings.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This essential oil acts as a mental
stimulant, battling exhaustion and sluggishness and boosting positive energy. A whiff of its
fresh scent instantly rejuvenates the spirit, bringing relief to those struggling from
melancholy or depression. It also encourages emotional balance. To clear a cluttered mind,
add it to bathwater. Eucalyptus essential oil opens the solar plexus and heart chakras.
Frankincense is the aromatic resin of trees of the genus Boswellia, native
to Africa and Asia. The word comes from the Old French franc encens:
franc, meaning “free” or “pure,” and encens, meaning “incense.” Incense
comes from the Latin verb incendere, “to set on fire.” Frankincense
essential oil has a woody, balsamic scent.
The ancient Egyptians used frankincense as incense, perfume, a cosmetic
ingredient, an embalming preservative, and an offering to the gods. In the
Bible, frankincense is one of the three gifts the wise men bring to the baby
Jesus; the other two are gold and myrrh (see entry in this chapter).
Healing Uses: This essential oil benefits the skin and battles signs of premature
aging. It soothes sunburns, heals rashes, and prevents scarring, and it can also reduce the
appearance of stretch marks. As an inhalation, it treats bronchitis. To ease joint and muscle
pain, rub frankincense essential oil on the affected area.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Frankincense essential oil drives away
negativity and brings peace and balance. This is a wonderful oil for meditation, as it helps
with grounding, clears your mind, and deepens your spiritual connections. It also enhances
visions. Once you connect with your spiritual side, you can recognize and pursue your true
purpose. Add this oil to bathwater when you feel overwhelmed.
Native to China, Gardenia is a genus of tropical shrubs and trees with
glossy green leaves and fragrant white flowers. The oil, which has a sweet,
floral scent, comes from the flowers of Gardenia jasminoides, but the
roots and leaves also have medicinal uses.
This flower is named after Alexander Garden (1730–1791), a Scottish
physician, botanist, and zoologist. It was previously, and is sometimes
still, known as Cape jasmine. Dried gardenia flowers have long been used
in Chinese herbal medicine to treat anxiety, draw heat away from the
body, and reduce swelling.
Healing Uses: This essential oil can be used as an anti-inflammatory, an
antidepressant, or a sedative. It treats tension and headaches, and may reduce symptoms of
menopause. It can also ease dizziness. Added to bathwater, it has a relaxing effect and
prevents insomnia. As an inhalation, gardenia essential oil eases respiratory issues,
including sinus infections. Applied topically, it treats wounds and reduces swelling.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Gardenia essential oil fosters love and
harmony and works to improve mood. Add it to bathwater to ease a troubled mind. Use it
with massage to bring peace and serenity. This oil stimulates the heart chakra and can also
be used as an aphrodisiac, particularly in women.
This essential oil comes from the leaves of the geranium plant, a member
of the genus Pelargonium, which comprises hundreds of species. One of
the most prominent sources of this essential oil is Pelargonium
graveolens, native to the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
Although the oil comes from the leaves and not the flowers, the fragrance
is often compared to that of a rose.
There are actually two genera of geraniums: Pelargonium and Geranium.
When the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) created his plant
taxonomy, he grouped all of these plants together. The genera have since
been separated, but both are still generally known as geraniums. These
plants are sometimes called storksbill or cranesbill, due to the beak-like
shape of the seed capsule.
Healing Uses: This essential oil supports the circulatory and nervous systems,
and it is also excellent for the skin. It heals wounds and treats a number of skin conditions,
including acne, eczema, and athlete’s foot. Use it as an insect repellent or to relieve the itch
and discomfort of insect bites. As a massage oil, it soothes sore muscles.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Geranium essential oil has a strong
feminine energy. It soothes and nurtures the inner child, fostering a sense of calm and
peace. It lifts the spirit and helps to release negative memories and stress. This essential oil
provides comfort and reassurance in times of distress or disappointment. Added to
bathwater, this oil eases irritability. An inhalation before bed will relax the mind and
Jasmine essential oil comes from the fragrant white or yellow flowers of
vines or shrubs of the genus Jasminum, mainly Jasminum officinale,
which are native to Asia. In this case, essential oil is a misnomer, as the
flowers are too delicate to withstand the distillation process. Instead, this
oil is an absolute, which means it is extracted using chemical solvents. It
is rather expensive due to the large number of flowers needed to produce
it. This oil has a strong, sweet, floral aroma.
Jasmine absolute is called the king of oils (rose is the queen). A related
plant, Jasminum sambac, is very important in India. It is incorporated
into cultural traditions and ceremonies, and women often wear the
blossoms in their hair. Jasmine is the national flower of Pakistan, where
it is known as chameli. Jasmine tea is extremely popular in China.
Healing Uses: This oil eases cramps and mood swings associated with PMS and
menstruation. It is too strong to be used during pregnancy, but it is excellent for childbirth
(use it to massage the lower abdomen during labor). Jasmine absolute benefits the skin and
acts as an antidepressant. It is also a well-known aphrodisiac.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Jasmine oil is associated with female
energy, particularly sexual energy. It promotes the expression of intimate feelings and
enhances sexual vitality. It also boosts confidence and has a general uplifting quality. In
times of confusion, jasmine essential oil brings the true wishes of the heart to light. Add to
bathwater to relieve stress.
A flowering plant in the mint family, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
is the quintessential aromatherapy plant. Its refreshing floral scent makes
for a relaxing essential oil, and it also has many medicinal and household
uses. Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region.
The ancient Greeks used lavender in embalming practices. The ancient
Greeks and Romans used lavender for healing as well as for cleansing
purposes. In 1910, while working in the lab at his family’s cosmetics
company, the French chemist and scholar René-Maurice Gattefossé
(1881–1950) burned his hand and then plunged it into the nearest tub of
liquid, lavender essential oil. Later, he was astonished to see how quickly
his burn healed, and with very little scarring.
Healing Uses: The scent of lavender is extremely relaxing. It relieves headaches,
tension, anxiety, and insomnia, making it a wonderful addition to bathwater or a pillow.
Applied topically, this oil heals wounds, burns, eczema, acne, and other skin irritations.
With massage, it soothes muscle aches and reduces swelling.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This is the ultimate essential oil for peace
and calm, allowing for relaxation and restful sleep. It lifts the spirit and brings emotional
balance with its nurturing, reassuring quality. This makes it especially helpful to those
dealing with depression. Lavender unblocks the third eye chakra, quieting the mind and
facilitating higher states of awareness.
Lemon essential oil comes from the peel of the yellow fruit of the
evergreen tree Citrus limon, which is native to Asia and cultivated in the
southern Mediterranean region. This oil has a fresh, citrusy fragrance and
many therapeutic, medicinal, and household uses.
The exact origin of the lemon tree is undetermined, but many think it
may have been northwestern India. Arab traders then brought the plant
to the Middle East and Africa, and from there it traveled to Europe. Until
about the tenth century, the lemon tree was mainly an ornamental plant.
After that, it developed culinary and medicinal uses, such as a treatment
for scurvy, a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C.
Healing Uses: Lemon essential oil has antiseptic and astringent qualities, making
it excellent for the skin as well as household cleaning. It boosts energy, fights fatigue, and
improves mood. It also calms the stomach, relieves nausea, and improves digestion. Avoid
sun exposure after topical use of this oil, as it can “bleach” hair and cause skin irritation
such as blisters and burns.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: One whiff of this uplifting essential oil
clears away negative emotions and fosters a cheerful mood. It serves to purify the mind,
body, and soul. It also enhances focus and concentration and helps with problem solving
and decision-making. Lemon oil balances the solar plexus chakra.
Mint essential oil comes from the leaves of plants of the genus Mentha,
including peppermint (Mentha piperita), spearmint (Mentha spicata),
and bergamot mint (Mentha citrata). Most will recognize the fresh, sharp
aroma of this essential oil as that of chewing gum, toothpaste, liniments
for sore muscles, and other common products.
The word mint comes from the Greek minthe, which is also the name of a
nymph in Greek mythology. According to the story, Mentha angered
Persephone, who turned her into a pungent plant as punishment. Native
to Europe, Asia, and Australia, mint plants are cultivated in temperate
Healing Uses: Mint essential oil contains menthol, a natural compound that acts
as a topical anesthetic. Rub on sore muscles to cool and soothe the area, or on the abdomen
to relieve intestinal discomfort. This oil eases nausea, calms stomach cramps, and supports
digestion. It also alleviates stress and conditions resulting from stress, such as headaches
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This essential oil refreshes and revives the
spirit, eliminating fatigue and boosting energy. Peppermint oil supports awareness and
replaces negativity with positivity. Spearmint oil cools heated emotions and brings inner
peace and calm. Bergamot mint oil inspires spontaneity. Add any of these to bathwater for
Myrrh is the aromatic gum resin of trees and shrubs of the genus
Commiphora, native to northeastern Africa and the Middle East.
Historically, it has been used to make perfume, incense, and medicine.
Myrrh essential oil has a rich, woody aroma.
The ancient Egyptians used myrrh in embalming practices. The first
known medical use of myrrh (topical application to wounds) is
documented in a Greek text dating back to the fifth century B.C.E. In the
Bible, myrrh is one of the three gifts the wise men bring to the baby
Jesus; the other two are gold and frankincense (see entry in this chapter).
Healing Uses: Myrrh essential oil supports the circulatory, nervous, and digestive
systems. It also eases chest congestion and coughs; for this purpose, use it as an inhalation
or rub it on the chest. This oil has astringent, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties,
making it helpful for treating wounds. In a hot compress, it draws out infection.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: The high levels of sesquiterpenes in myrrh
essential oil stimulate the brain’s limbic system, which controls mood. Inhaling the
fragrance of this oil has a calming and uplifting effect, fostering a sense of peace and
tranquility. It encourages letting go of old wounds and allows for the forgiveness that is
necessary for moving forward. Use in meditation to establish spiritual balance.
Orange blossom essential oil, also called neroli, comes from the flower of
the bitter orange tree Citrus aurantium. Like lemon essential oil, it has
therapeutic, medicinal, and household uses. The oil has a sweet, citrusy
The ancient Egyptians used orange blossom oil for healing and
ceremonial purposes. French-born Marie Anne de la Trémoille (1642–
1722), a princess of Nerola, Italy, is credited with introducing bitter
orange oil as a fashionable fragrance; hence the name neroli. It has been
said that this oil is one of the ingredients in the secret recipe for the soft
Healing Uses: Orange blossom essential oil supports the digestive and nervous
systems and benefits the skin. Rub it on the abdomen to ease indigestion, and massage it
into dry areas to moisturize and rejuvenate skin. As an inhalation, it is an effective
treatment for insomnia or disrupted sleep, and it can lift depression and relieve anxiety.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This rich essential oil fosters happiness
and revitalizes the spirit. It opens the sacral chakra, the source of confidence and self-worth.
It releases insecurities and fosters a sense of inner peace and harmony. Keeping your mind
and body firmly rooted in the present, it allows you to harness your own personal power to
manifest your desires. Enjoy it added to bathwater.
This essential oil comes from the leaves of the shrub Pogostemon cablin,
a member of the mint family. Native to Southeast Asia, this plant is
extensively cultivated in India, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, the
Philippines, and South America. The oil has a musky, earthy aroma.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Indian silk traders packed
their cloth in patchouli to keep moths away, leading many to believe that
the cloth itself had a rich scent. Both patchouli oil and incense became
enormously popular in the United States and Europe during the hippie
movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Healing Uses: Patchouli essential oil is an excellent remedy for skin issues. It
hydrates and nourishes dry, chapped skin and clears up conditions such as acne and
eczema. Applied to the hair and scalp, it alleviates oiliness and dandruff. As an inhalation,
this oil soothes the nerves, relieves stress, and fights insomnia. It is also a powerful
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Patchouli essential oil balances the mind,
body, and spirit. It also helps us navigate around obstacles so we can take steps to achieve
our goals. Use during meditation to quiet the mind and ground and center spiritual
awareness in the body. Add to bathwater to ease mental exhaustion and emotional stress.
With massage, this oil boosts sexual energy.
Pine essential oil comes from the needles of the coniferous tree Pinus
sylvestris, also called Scots pine. These trees are widely cultivated for
ornamental use as well as for their timber and resinous sap, used to make
turpentine and pine tar. With its invigorating, woodsy scent, this oil has
therapeutic, medicinal, and household cleaning uses.
Native to Europe and Asia, the pine tree became a popular Christmas tree
choice in the United States in the 1950s, despite the fact that it does not
grow well in many areas of the country due to climate and soil
differences. The Native Americans chewed pine needles to treat scurvy;
chewing releases the oil, which is rich in vitamin C. Stuffing a mattress
with pine needles helps keep lice and fleas at bay.
Healing Uses: Pine essential oil has many of the same properties as eucalyptus
(see entry in this chapter). Used in massage or bathwater, it soothes sore muscles and
joints. As an inhalation, it treats respiratory problems, acting as an expectorant to clear
congestion. It is also an effective stimulant, boosting metabolism and increasing energy
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Pine essential oil clears and refreshes the
mind and grounds the body. It balances the heart and sacral chakras, fostering inner peace
and self-love. The powerful scent moves the spirit while allowing for acceptance and the
acknowledgment of inner wisdom. Meditate with this oil to lift a dark mood and enhance
Rosemary essential oil comes from the leaves of the herb discussed in
Chapter 2. The word rosemary comes from the Latin ros marinus: ros,
meaning “dew”—perhaps from the oil glands on the undersides of the
leaves—and marinus, meaning “of the sea.” This oil has a strong,
Rosemary essential oil is a staple in traditional Indian medicine. Before
refrigeration, this herb was often used as a food preservative. It is said
that inhaling the scent of rosemary essential oil brings back longforgotten
memories. The Swiss German physician and botanist
Paracelsus (1493–1541) valued rosemary oil for its powerful healing
Healing Uses: Applied topically, rosemary essential oil stimulates hair growth,
conditions the scalp and hair, and treats dandruff and split ends. It also benefits the skin,
particularly in cases of acne and eczema. This oil supports digestion and relieves stomach
cramps, constipation, and bloating. With massage, it soothes sore muscles.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: Rosemary essential oil overcomes fatigue
and rejuvenates the mind. It brings clarity, renews enthusiasm, and inspires creativity. This
oil will restore your passion for life and help you follow your true path. It also serves to
remind us that we are spiritual beings and that there is more to life than what is seen.
Sandalwood essential oil comes from the fragrant inner heartwood of
trees of the genus Santalum, particularly Indian sandalwood (Santalum
album) and Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum). This oil has a
warm, woody aroma—the Australian variety is milder than the Indian.
It takes forty years for an Indian sandalwood tree to reach maturity and
produce essential oil of the highest potency. Due to illegal logging, there
is currently a shortage of Indian sandalwood trees, which has caused
Australian sandalwood to become more prevalent on the market. Both
varieties have a long history of use as incense, perfume, and medicine.
Healing Uses: Sandalwood essential oil is high in sesquiterpenes, natural
compounds that stimulate the limbic system of the brain. This is the area of the brain that
controls breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance.
This oil has an overall relaxing effect, making it an excellent sleep remedy. It also has
antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent qualities.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This essential oil warms the heart and
fortifies the inner self. It assists in overcoming vulnerability and emotional challenges.
Working with the root and sacral chakras, this oil facilitates grounding and increases
confidence and sensuality. This is an excellent essential oil for meditation, as it encourages
quiet focus and brings the attention inward.
Tea tree essential oil comes from the leaves of the melaleuca tree
(Melaleuca alternifolia), which is native to Australia. Also called
melaleuca oil, this essential oil has a fresh, medicinal aroma.
The discovery of the melaleuca tree is commonly attributed to the British
explorer Captain James Cook (1728–1779) and his sailors, who brewed an
infusion using the tree’s leaves to fight scurvy; hence the name “tea tree.”
However, the indigenous Australian Aborigines were using the leaves to
treat headaches and respiratory problems long before Cook arrived.
Healing Uses: Tea tree essential oil is excellent for the skin and can be applied
topically to treat acne, wounds, burns, infections, and insect bites. It also has antiviral
properties, making it an effective treatment for colds and flu. As an inhalation, it acts as a
stimulant, increasing circulation and boosting the immune system. Used during massage,
this oil soothes muscular aches.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This essential oil boosts energy and
renews optimism and self-confidence. It stimulates the mind as well as the body,
sharpening focus and refreshing thought processes. Tea tree essential oil helps to heal
emotional wounds, releasing feelings of distrust, guilt, and shame. Add to an amulet to
Vanilla essential oil is derived from the dried brown pods of Vanilla
planifolia, a climbing vine with trumpet-shaped white flowers related to
the orchid. Because this oil is extracted using a solvent, it is technically an
absolute, not an essential oil. It has a sweet, balsamic scent.
The Totonac people of the eastern coastal and mountainous regions of
Mexico were the first to cultivate vanilla and were the world’s main
vanilla producers until the mid-nineteenth century. The Spanish
explorers who arrived in Mexico in the early sixteenth century gave the
plant its name: The Spanish vainilla is a diminutive of vaina, meaning
“sheath”—a reference to the shape of the seedpod.
Healing Uses: Vanilla absolute is calming and comforting. It has a general
relaxing effect on the mind and body and is commonly used to relieve stress, tension,
anxiety, and panic attacks. It also has antidepressant qualities. Used in massage, vanilla
absolute is a powerful aphrodisiac.
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This warming absolute dissolves anger
and frustration, relaxes the mind, and fosters a sense of inner peace. It stimulates the sacral
chakra, boosting self-confidence and encouraging intimacy. It also has a very sensual
quality; use with a partner to deepen physical connection. In meditation, it brings the spirit
Ylang-ylang essential oil comes from the fragrant flowers of the tropical
Asian tree Cananga odorata. It is native to the Philippines and
Indonesia, but it is also grown in Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and
the Comoro Islands. The oil has a sweet, floral scent.
In Indonesia, ylang-ylang flower petals are strewn on the beds of
newlywed couples. In the Philippines, ylang-ylang flowers are used to
adorn religious figures, and women wear strings of the flowers around
their necks. Ylang-ylang oil is a main ingredient in the famous perfume
Chanel No. 5.
Healing Uses: Ylang-ylang essential oil is very calming and relaxing, making it
effective for treating stress-related high blood pressure. It also relieves depression and
sleeplessness. Applied topically, this oil benefits the skin and supports hair growth. Added
to bathwater, it soothes symptoms of PMS and menopause, including irritability and mood
Personal/Spiritual Growth: This essential oil is perfect for those who
have trouble forgiving or being kind to themselves. It aids in releasing negative emotions
such as anger and fear and boosts positive emotions, self-esteem, and spiritual awareness.
Ylang-ylang works with the heart chakra to increase self-love. It also encourages harmony
by balancing male and female energies in the body.
The Power of Fire and Light
It’s difficult to overstate the impact of fire on human life. From
light and heat to cooking and cultural traditions, fire plays a
central role in almost everything we do. In fact, some believe
that it is the use of fire that actually makes us human. Several
years ago, the British primatologist Richard Wrangham
proposed his “cooking hypothesis” to explain our evolution
from bipedal apes into modern human beings. His hypothesis
states that the use of fire is responsible for the relatively speedy
development of Homo erectus, which emerged just 500,000
years after Homo habilis, the first creature generally considered
to be human. Wrangham argues that once our predecessors
started cooking food, it sped up the process of evolution,
leading to smaller teeth, a smaller digestive tract, and a larger
Archaeologists have not yet discovered evidence that proves
Wrangham’s hypothesis, but they recently came closer than
ever before. In 2012, a team of archaeologists discovered traces
of a million-year-old campfire in South Africa’s Wonderwerk
Cave. Prior to this, the earliest evidence of human-controlled
fire was a series of hearths found in Israel dating to between
690,000 and 790,000 years ago.
Regardless of whether the use of fire directly contributed to
the development of human beings as they exist today, there is
no doubt that fire is one of the most important elements in our
lives. In this chapter, you’ll discover various ways of harnessing
fire and light to benefit your mind, body, and spirit.
There’s not much to a candle—just a solid mass of tallow, wax, or another
fatty substance with a wick running through the center that is burned to
provide light. But these simple objects come in all shapes and sizes, from
pillars to tapers to votives, and there are seemingly countless applications
for candles in cultural, religious, and other traditions. They are also used
in various healing methods, including candle therapy, aromatherapy, and
color therapy (see entry in this chapter). The word candle comes from the
Latin candere, meaning “to shine.”
The ancient Egyptians are believed to have been the first to make and use
candles, although their candles did not have wicks and were instead more
like torches, made of reeds dipped in melted tallow (animal fat). The
Romans are credited with being the first to use wicked candles, which
they made by dipping rolled papyrus in melted tallow or beeswax. Wicked
candles were also used in ancient China, Japan, and India. Hanukkah, the
Jewish holiday that centers on the lighting of candles, dates back to the
second century B.C.E.
In addition to providing light, candles have been used throughout history in spiritual
ceremonies and traditions as well as for healing and therapeutic purposes. Candle therapy is
a practice that unites the body, mind, and spirit. Focusing or meditating on a flame has a
relaxing effect that has been shown to reduce stress and can even improve conditions such
as high blood pressure. Scented candles may be especially effective in these practices. You
can also buy unscented candles and add your own scents to them using flower essences or
essential oils (see Chapters 3 and 4). In the magical realm, candles are often used in spells,
rituals, visualizations, and more. Another fun activity is to try making your own candles at
home. In addition to personal use, they make great gifts!
Incense is a natural substance, often combined with essential oils, that
releases an aromatic smoke when burned. There are two main types:
combustible (or direct-burning), which burns on its own, and noncombustible
(or indirect-burning), which requires a separate heat source.
The most common form of combustible incense is paste formed around a
bamboo stick, but it may also be paste formed into a cone shape. Both
forms are lit and then the flame is blown out, allowing the resulting
ember to smolder. Non-combustible incense is usually in whole,
powdered, or paste form and heated on charcoal or in a container over a
flame or coals. The word incense comes from the Latin verb incendere,
which means “to set on fire.”
The ancient Egyptians burned resins as incense for their pleasant scent
and also incorporated them into their ceremonial and embalming
processes. The ancient Greeks and Romans also burned resins as incense
and used them during cremations. Frankincense and myrrh (see entries
in Chapter 4) were among the first resins burned as incense, and
aromatic herbs and spices also have been used throughout history for this
purpose. The Chinese have been burning items such as cinnamon and
sandalwood as incense since as far back as 2000 B.C.E.
There are many reasons to burn incense, but perhaps the simplest is that it smells good. You
may burn incense to counteract a foul odor or to refresh the air in an unventilated area or
sickroom. Many believe that the smoke of incense can also clear away negative energies,
making way for new, positive energy. For this reason, it is recommended that you burn
incense in a new home to remove any negative influences from the previous owners.
Rosemary, sage, and thyme are favorites for cleansing and purifying a space. Incense
burning is also a great accompaniment to meditation—frankincense and sandalwood are
excellent for this. Often incense will be made up of two or more ingredients; for example,
the Indian incense nag champa contains frangipani and sandalwood. Incense may also be
incorporated into magic spells, rituals, and other practices.
Now that you know all about candles and incense, you may be wondering
how to physically incorporate them into your home. After all, a burning
candle or stick of incense can’t just be placed on the table and left
unattended. Luckily there are all sorts of holders, tools, and other
products that will help you enjoy the flickering flames and smoky scents
without fear of setting the house on fire. These include candlesticks,
lanterns, jars, sconces, censers, and incense burners.
Archaeologists have found incense burners dating back to 3000 B.C.E. The
ancient Chinese, Japanese, and Mesoamerican civilizations all used
censers (vessels for burning incense), and censers also appear in the
traditions of religious institutions such as the Eastern Orthodox Church
and the Roman Catholic Church. The menorah, a nine-branched
candelabrum used in celebration of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, is one
of the most historically and culturally significant candleholders. There is
one candle for each night of Hanukkah, plus a shamash or “servant
candle,” which is used to light the other eight.
If you’ve ever gone camping, you are probably well acquainted with the lantern, a portable
case, usually with transparent sides, for holding and protecting a light—historically a candle
but nowadays an electric light is usually substituted. In the home, almost any type of holder
may be used to display a candle. Candles are commonly displayed in candlesticks on the
table to create ambience while dining, and jars, sconces, and other holders may be used
around the home. Incense burners range from the simple to the complex. An ash catcher or
boat burner is typically a strip of wood that catches ashes as they fall from an incense stick.
The most common form of burner for cone incense is the brass burner—a small brass bowl
with a lid. Loose incense burners are essentially little charcoal grills, with a divider between
the burning coals and the incense, or a simple bowl of sand upon which the burning
charcoal is placed.
Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is a treatment that consists of
exposure to daylight or artificial light. It is often prescribed in cases of
seasonal affective disorder (SAD), non-seasonal depression, delayed
sleep-phase disorder, and certain skin conditions, including psoriasis,
eczema, neonatal jaundice, and even skin cancer.
Light therapy, once called heliotherapy, is not a new idea. The ancient
Egyptians discovered that exposure to the sun could disinfect and prevent
disease. The ancient Greeks built structures called solaria for sunbathing,
with the purpose of treating skin ailments and increasing health and
vitality. The Incas of Peru worshipped the sun god, Inti, and had many
ceremonies and rituals based around the sun. In India, the solar deity
Surya is important in the Hindu religion, and worship includes a series of
“sun salutations” performed at dawn.
Those who suffer from the winter blues may actually have seasonal affective disorder (SAD),
a mood disorder caused by lack of exposure to sunlight and characterized by low energy and
symptoms of depression, such as sleeping too much. Even if getting outdoors is not an
option, you can use an artificial light box indoors to “cheer up” your brain. This treatment
may also help sufferers of non-seasonal depression. Those with delayed sleep-phase
disorder typically don’t fall asleep until the early hours of the morning, and then they are
too tired to wake up for school or work. Light therapy upon awakening has been shown to
advance one’s sleep phase; this is often done in combination with light restriction in the
evening. While artificial light boxes designed for these conditions filter out UV light, light
therapy treatments for certain skin conditions require UV light to be effective. In these
cases, the light exposure slows down cell growth and inhibits inflammation that causes
conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Color therapy, also called chromotherapy, is an alternative healing
method that uses colored light to balance the energies of the body.
Although color therapy is not a widely used practice, it is gaining
popularity in the holistic and natural therapy realms with patients
suffering from depression, those recovering from stroke, and others.
Tools used in color therapy may include lamps, candles, gemstones,
crystal or glass prisms, and colored eye lenses.
The use of color therapy goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians
and Greeks, who used colored stones and crystals for healing purposes.
The Persian philosopher and scientist Avicenna (980–1037) wrote
extensively about the importance of color in medical diagnosis and
treatment. He believed that red increased circulation, blue slowed the
blood, and yellow reduced pain and inflammation. In the Hindu, yogic,
and other traditions, each of the chakras, or energy centers in the body,
corresponds with a different color: The root chakra is red, the sacral or
base chakra is orange, the solar plexus or navel chakra is yellow, the heart
chakra is green, the throat chakra is blue, the third-eye chakra is indigo,
and the crown chakra is violet.
Color therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for a wide range of illnesses and
conditions. Blue light is used to treat neonatal jaundice. Exposure to white light benefits
those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In athletes, red light is shown to
provide quick bursts of energy, while blue light assists with steadier energy needs. Pink light
has a tranquilizing effect and can be used to calm aggression, hostility, or anxiety. Yellow
stimulates the mind and body and can benefit those dealing with depression. If you think
you might benefit from color therapy, you can purchase one of many products on the
market designed for this purpose, or you can seek treatment with a practitioner who
incorporates color therapy methods into his or her practice.
The Power of Sound
Our modern lives are extremely noisy. From the rumble of
passing traffic to the hum of heating and cooling systems to the
audio pumping out of our televisions, stereos, and computers,
we rarely have the luxury of focusing on just one sound—let
alone complete peace and quiet. For most of us, it’s difficult to
remember a time before all the noise, and perhaps we’ve grown
so accustomed to it that we don’t even notice it anymore. But
whether or not we’re aware of it, all those competing sounds can
clog our minds and prevent us from achieving deep focus and
For contrast, let’s go back for a moment to the beginning of
human history, a time before highways and electricity and the
Internet. Back then, the only sounds to be heard were the
sounds of nature—wind in the trees, a rushing stream, insects
and animals and fellow human beings. Musical instruments and
song are just about as old as humanity itself, so throw those in
there, too. Now imagine a world with just these sounds.
Peaceful, isn’t it?
This chapter is all about the power of sound to transport you
to a quieter, simpler time, or perhaps deeper inside your own
mind. The instruments and practices discussed in these pages
have long histories and multiple applications in various
spiritual traditions. Perhaps you’d like to add chanting to your
yoga practice or incorporate flute music into your meditation
routine. Maybe you’ll even try your hand at learning a new
instrument or join a group activity such as a drum circle.
However you choose to experiment with these powerful sounds,
they will surely open up a new dimension in your life.
A bell is a hollow musical instrument that produces a ringing tone when
struck. It is usually made of metal, but it may also be ceramic, glass, or
another material. A bell is typically cup-shaped with a flared opening, and
the striking implement may be a “tongue” inside the bell or a separate
mallet or hammer used on the outside of the bell. Tubular bells, or
chimes, are a common variation. Bells are often associated with religion
and spirituality, but they may also be used in healing and other practices.
The earliest evidence of bells dates back to the third millennium B.C.E. in
Neolithic China. These pottery bells were replaced with metal bells about
1,000 years later. Bells have long played a prominent role in both eastern
and western religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity.
Historically, they have been used as church bells that call worshipers to
services, as instruments used in musical performances, and as tools in
agricultural and domestic labor, either to help keep track of animals or to
call workers in from the fields. The largest existing bell, the Tsar Bell,
weighs 222 U.S. tons and is on display in Moscow’s Kremlin Museum.
The most significant bell in American history, the Liberty Bell, which was
rung in July 1776 to mark America’s independence from Britain, is
located in Philadelphia.
Bells have many musical and practical uses, but in the New Age realm, bells are often
incorporated into spiritual practices. For example, in meditation, the sound of a bell may
help keep your mind focused in the present instead of wandering off into the past or the
future. This is often an option in group meditation, but if you are meditating alone, you can
try listening to a recording of bells during your practice. In magical practices, bells may be
used to summon spirits, or to mark the beginning or end of a ceremony or ritual.
Chanting is a practice similar to singing except instead of using your full
vocal range you use a limited range of notes or even just one note.
Chanting is common in many religious traditions as well as in spiritual
practices such as yoga and meditation. Chants are also used in
recreational settings, such as sports events and music performances. The
word chant comes from the Latin cantare, meaning “to sing.”
Although the exact origin of the practice of chanting is unknown, it has
long been a prominent part of many of the world’s most ancient religions,
including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. In
Buddhism, chanting is a way of preparing the mind for meditation.
Gregorian chant, named for Pope Gregory I (c. 540–604) and
traditionally sung by church choirs, is practiced in the Roman Catholic
religion. Both Hinduism and Islam include the practice of chanting
mantras (see entry in this chapter). In Judaism, portions of the Torah are
often chanted during services.
Perhaps you are already familiar with chanting as part of the practice of your religion, or
you may have been introduced to chanting at a yoga class or meditation retreat. If you’ve
never chanted before, don’t worry. It can feel a bit awkward the first time you try it, but
before long you’ll be basking in the many benefits of this ancient practice. In meditation,
chanting turns the mind inward and allows you to stay present, focus on the sound of your
voice and your breath, and begin a process of self-observation and discovery. Chanting at
the beginning of a yoga class is a great way to prepare your mind for what you’re about to
experience and to stay present in your body. The vibration and sound can also help you
push through any mental, emotional, or physical barriers. When chanting in any kind of
group setting, you’ll find that the practice serves to unite those present and create a feeling
A drum is a percussion instrument consisting of a hollow cylindrical shell
with a membrane (also called a drumhead or drum skin) stretched over
one or both ends. A sound is produced when the membrane is struck with
the hand, a stick, a mallet, or another implement. The word drum is most
likely of imitative origin, or onomatopoeia, meaning that the sound of the
word is meant to imitate the sound associated with the object. Drums
have many musical, ceremonial, spiritual, and military applications.
The drum is one of the world’s oldest musical instruments, dating back to
6000 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia. The ancient Greeks and Romans used a
shallow circular drum called a tympanum in worship ceremonies. The
“talking drum” of West Africa, whose tone can be regulated to mimic
human speech, has been in use for 2,500 years. The drum kit—a
collection of multiple drums played together—first appeared toward the
end of the nineteenth century. Throughout history, drums have been used
for military purposes, such as to rally troops or intimidate the enemy.
In addition to enjoying the sound of drums in music, you may also consider incorporating
drums into your spiritual practices. For example, shamanic drumming induces a trance-like
state with the purpose of connecting with the spiritual dimension of existence. It typically
starts out with a slow rhythm that steadily increases and then slows again at the end of the
session. You might try listening to a recording of drums during meditation, or perhaps join
a local drum circle to get in on the action and experience the unifying powers of this ancient
A flute is a high-pitched woodwind instrument that consists of a slender
tube that is closed at one end and has keys and finger holes on one side.
Sound is produced when breath is blown into an opening near the closed
end. The oldest known flutes are made of bone or ivory; more modern
flutes are made of wood or metal. A person who plays the flute is called a
The world’s oldest known musical instruments are flutes made of bird
bone and mammoth ivory. Discovered in caves in southwestern Germany,
these flutes are estimated to be between 42,000 and 43,000 years old.
Flutes have been central to Indian classical music since 1500 B.C.E. The
Hindu deity Krishna is typically depicted playing the flute. The German
inventor and musician Theobald Boehm (1794–1881) is essentially
responsible for the flute as we know it today. His system of flute keywork
is known as the Boehm system.
Flute music is considered very relaxing, which makes it a popular choice for meditation and
other spiritual practices. Tibetan flute music is wonderful for meditation, particularly Zen
Buddhist meditation, as it produces a deep sense of inner calm and well-being. Chinese
bamboo flute music is another great option for your spiritual practice. If you are looking to
take up a new hobby, you might also enjoy playing the flute yourself! Its focus on
breathwork is actually quite meditative. (See the entry on breathwork in Chapter 9 to learn
more about this.)
A gong is a musical instrument that consists of a metal (usually bronze)
disk that makes a loud, resonant sound when struck with a padded mallet
or hammer. The disk generally has a rim and either is flat or has a raised
knob called a “boss” or “nipple” in the center. Gongs are usually
suspended vertically from a cord, although there are also gongs that are
played horizontally, such as bowl gongs.
The gong originated in China and later spread to Southeast Asia and
Africa. Ancient gongs had many uses, including calling workers in from
the fields, announcing military presence, and aiding in meditation and
ceremonial practices. Gongs are prominently featured in gamelans, which
are Indonesian orchestras composed entirely of percussion instruments.
Sculptural gongs serve as both a musical instrument and a piece of art.
The sound of a gong adds a new dimension to meditation and other spiritual practices. The
tone keeps your mind focused in the present and, depending on the size of the gong, the
vibration can sometimes be felt physically, bringing awareness back to the body. One very
popular New Age practice is the gong bath. This is a form of sound therapy in which a gong
master plays a gong in the center of a room while “bathers” lie on the ground around the
gong and soak up the sound and vibration. It’s best to do this in a private or group setting
with an actual gong so you can “feel” its power, but you can also try it at home with recorded
A mantra is a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated mentally or aloud
as part of a spiritual or other practice. It is believed that the use of a
mantra can have a powerful or even life-changing effect. In Hinduism,
mantras are considered sacred. The word mantra comes from the
Sanskrit mantrah, meaning “counsel,” “prayer,” or “hymn.”
Mantras are a major component of the Vedas, a body of ancient Indian
texts composed in Sanskrit. Dating back to roughly 1500 B.C.E., the Vedas
are the oldest Hindu texts and among the oldest sacred texts in the world.
In Hinduism, mantras accompany ritual acts. In Buddhism, mantras are
chanted in meditation and to achieve enlightenment. Perhaps the
simplest and best-known mantra is “Om,” which is known as the
“pranava mantra,” or the supreme mantra. (In Sanskrit, prana means
“life force.”) Many yoga classes open and close with the chanting of this
A mantra can serve various purposes in your spiritual practice. Starting off a meditation or
yoga session with the chanting of a mantra can help you state your intention for the session
and keep your mind focused throughout. You might also choose to use a motivational
mantra for times during your practice where you feel stuck or uninspired. Even something
as simple as “I can do this” can help get you through tough times in a spiritual practice or in
daily life. A mantra can also be a sort of prayer—to a deity, nature, the universe, or yourself.
You can use an established Hindu, Buddhist, or other mantra, or you can make up your
A rattle is a hollow percussion instrument that makes a sound when
shaken. It can be made of almost any material and contains tiny items
such as seeds, beans, or pebbles that make the rattling sound. The word
rattle is most likely of imitative origin, or onomatopoeia, meaning that
the sound of the word is meant to imitate the sound associated with the
object. Etymologically, it comes from the Old English hratele, a kind of
plant with rattling seed capsules.
The rattle is one of the oldest musical instruments. It comes in many
different forms, from the maraca, a Latin American instrument that
consists of a dried hollow gourd traditionally played in pairs, to the egg
shaker, which is small and egg-shaped. Native Americans use wood,
rawhide, gourds, and other materials to make rattles used in tribal dances
and ceremonies. Shamans of northern Asia and North and South America
use rattles for healing, divination, and communication with spirits. The
rattlesnake has a natural rattle at the end of its tail to warn away
predators. However, this is not a true rattle, as there is nothing inside the
tail that is causing the sound. Instead, the sound is emitted when the
various “buttons” or segments of the tail vibrate against one another.
These segments develop throughout the snake’s life as it repeatedly sheds
Rattles aren’t just for babies, although they do help infants develop cognitive and motor
skills. Adults can also benefit from the power of the rattle. In meditation, the sound of a
rattle has a similar effect to that of a drum or a gong (see entries in this chapter): It focuses
your attention and keeps you grounded in the present moment. You might also try using a
rattle in the shamanic tradition of calling upon spirits for aid during a struggle.
A singing bowl is a percussion instrument that is actually a type of
standing bell. The bowl produces a sound when struck with a mallet or
other implement, or when the implement is rubbed along the rim of the
bowl. The resonant sound is reminiscent of singing; hence the name.
Singing bowls are most often metal, usually a copper-heavy alloy, but
may also be made of quartz crystal.
The singing bowl originated in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, Nepal,
and India and is now used worldwide. Traditionally, singing bowls were
made of a combination of seven metals corresponding to the seven
“planets” that were known at the time: gold (the sun), silver (the moon),
copper (Venus), iron (Mars), tin (Jupiter), mercury/quicksilver
(Mercury), and lead (Saturn). There is also a connection to the seven
chakras, or energy centers, of the body. In some Buddhist practices, the
sound of the singing bowl signals the beginning and end of a period of
silent meditation. In Japan, singing bowls are used in funeral ceremonies.
Singing bowls are used in many spiritual and holistic health traditions for relaxation,
meditation, and healing. You can meditate on the sound of the bowl itself or you can use the
sound as a way to focus your attention on the present moment. The singing bowl is
sometimes used at the end of a yoga practice during shavasana, or corpse pose, to aid in
relaxation following a strenuous session. Singing bowls are available for purchase in most
New Age stores as well as online.
A tuning fork is a two-pronged metal (usually steel) device that is used to
tune a musical instrument. When struck, it resonates at a specific,
constant pitch based on the length and mass of the two prongs. The
longer the prongs, the lower the tone. The tuning fork is also used as a
musical instrument in its own right and has been used in medicine to
diagnose hearing impairments.
The British trumpeter John Shore (c. 1662–1752) invented the tuning
fork in 1711. Prior to this invention, wooden pitch pipes were used, but
their vulnerability to temperature and humidity made them unreliable.
The American physicist Albert Michelson (1852–1931) used the tuning
fork in his groundbreaking work on measuring the speed of light.
Beginning in the 1960s, tiny quartz crystal tuning forks have been used as
the timekeeping elements in some clocks and watches. These timepieces
kept much better time than their balance-wheel predecessors.
In addition to its musical and timekeeping applications, the tuning fork is used in a wide
variety of healing methods and spiritual practices, including massage, meditation, hypnosis,
Reiki, and yoga. The resonant tone and vibration induce a state of relaxation, relieving
stress and bringing mental clarity. For healing purposes, you simply strike the tuning fork
and then place it near the affected area. You can also do this with any chakras, or energy
centers of the body, that need balancing. For best results with tuning fork healing, seek the
guidance of a professional.
A wind chime is an arrangement of suspended tubes, rods, or bells spaced
close together so that when the wind blows they collide and produce a
jingling sound. Wind chimes may be almost any material but are most
often glass, wood, metal, or ceramic. They are typically hung outside the
home, in the garden, or in another location where they can be enjoyed
both visually and aurally. The word chime derives from the word cymbal,
which comes from the Greek kumbe, meaning “bowl.”
The earliest evidence of wind chimes, found in Southeast Asia, dates back
to roughly 3000 B.C.E. Made of bone, wood, or bamboo, these early wind
chimes were used to ward off evil spirits. Wind chimes are also a
fundamental part of the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui and are
thought to support the flow of chi, or universal energy.
The simplest use of a wind chime is for relaxation. The pleasant jingling sound can calm and
focus the mind, reduce stress, and bring clarity. You might also find this helpful during
practices like yoga and meditation. If you don’t have a wind chime of your own, you can use
a recording of wind chimes; there are many available online. For feng shui use, be sure to
revisit the bagua in the Introduction of this book to match the material of your wind chime
to the appropriate sector of the home. For example, metal is associated with the western
area or the Children/Creativity sector, while wood is the element for the eastern area or the
THE POWER OF INSIGHT:
Divination Systems, Tools, and
The New Age items and practices in this book have a wide range
of uses and applications, and come from cultural traditions that
may have originated thousands of years and thousands of miles
apart. But what they all have in common is a connection to
something outside the realm of the visible world. Tapping into
the unseen forces of the universe requires an open mind, an
open heart, and a sense of adventure, and nowhere is this more
important than in the area of divination.
Divination is the practice of foretelling future events
through supernatural means. If you thought crystal balls only
appeared in children’s stories about wizards, think again! Not
all of the systems, tools, and practices in this chapter deal
specifically with telling the future, but they are all means of
gleaning information that cannot be observed with the naked
eye—or any of the other four senses. From searching the stars
for information about the events in our lives (astrology) to
searching our dreams for important messages (dream
interpretation), the topics covered in this chapter add a new
dimension to our daily lives and show us that perhaps there’s
more to life than meets the eye.
Astral projection, or astral travel, is a type of out-of-body experience in
which the astral body leaves the physical body and travels in a separate
dimension known as the astral plane or spirit world. The astral body is a
supersensible body, meaning it is beyond or above perception by the
physical senses. Many people believe there is a silver cord that connects
the two bodies during astral projection, which allows the traveler to
return to his or her physical body when the experience ends. Some
believe that dreaming is a form of astral projection.
The exact origins of the practice of astral projection are unknown. What
is clear, though, is that the idea of astral travel is rooted in the ancient
religious belief in an afterlife. In many religions, it is believed that when
the physical body dies, the spirit or soul continues on or ascends to a
higher realm. The ancient Egyptians believed the soul had the ability to
hover outside the physical body. The ancient Indian religions of
Hinduism and Buddhism include a belief in reincarnation, which is the
rebirth of the soul (or spirit or consciousness) in another body after
In the New Age world, it is generally believed that astral projection is a skill you can learn,
like swimming or riding a bike. It simply takes practice. Most astral travel practices look a
lot like meditation: You find a comfortable position in a quiet place, close your eyes, and
achieve a state of complete relaxation and focus. From there, your mind does the work of
moving your soul from your body. But why would you want to do this in the first place?
There are many reasons, but perhaps the most compelling is that we are mortal creatures.
No matter what we do, our physical bodies will age and eventually fail. Thinking about our
mortality can cause immense fear, grief, and sadness. But what if there were more to us
than what we see in the mirror? The idea of an astral body and a life beyond the physical
world brings many people a feeling of peace. It also helps in dealing with the loss of loved
ones. Astral projection is a way of getting in touch with our non-physical selves and learning
about who we are on the deepest level.
Astrology is the study of the sun, moon, stars, and planets based on the
premise that there is a connection between these celestial bodies and the
events that happen here on Earth. A major component of astrology is the
zodiac—the band of sky demarcated by the path the sun takes as it travels
around the Earth over the course of a year. In Western astrology, the
twelve signs of the zodiac—Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo,
Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces—are used to
generate one’s horoscope, a forecast of a person’s future based on the
position of the stars and planets on a given day, usually the person’s
birthday. But there are many other forms of astrology, some going back
thousands of years. Chinese astrology also includes a zodiac that is
divided into twelve parts, but in this case it represents twelve years, not
twelve months. Each year in the Chinese zodiac is represented by a
different animal. Vedic astrology is the traditional Hindu system of
astrology. Its Indian name, Jyotish, means “science of light,” referring to
the idea that the celestial bodies shine their light and energy upon the
The Babylonians are generally credited with the creation of astrology—
although it is believed that they adopted the idea of the zodiac from the
ancient Egyptians. Early on, astrology was largely used to predict weather
patterns for agricultural purposes, but over time the practice broadened
to include forecasting natural disasters, war, and other events that
affected human life. Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle
studied astrology and contributed to it being considered a science.
However, the two related fields of astrology and astronomy eventually
diverged, and today astrology is generally considered a pseudoscience.
There are many ways to incorporate astrology into your life. The horoscopes you find in
magazines and newspapers can be fun to read, but they’re not always based on true
astrology. If you really want to get into the study of astrology, there is a wealth of resources
out there—from books and websites to professional astrologers—to help you get started. A
fun first step is to go online and get a copy of your birth chart, a diagram that depicts the
positions of the celestial bodies at the moment when you were born.
An aura is a field of energy surrounding a person or object. Some believe
that the ability to see auras can be learned and honed with practice;
others believe that only certain people are endowed with this skill or
“gift.” In an aura reading, a psychic, healer, or other specialist examines
your aura for information about your thoughts, feelings, and other
personal attributes. Sometimes auras appear as layers of colored light
surrounding a person. Other times auras are invisible but can still be
sensed or perceived by the specialist. The word aura comes from the
Greek aura, meaning “breath.”
The concept of auras is ancient and is found in many spiritual traditions.
In the Bible, references to light surrounding certain figures are often
interpreted as references to auras. Many depictions of Jesus, Mary, and
other biblical figures include shining halos or radiant layers of light
surrounding their bodies. In Hinduism, the colors of a person’s aura are
considered to be kundalini energy, which resides at the base of the spine
until it is activated (through practices such as yoga) and propelled
upward through the chakras. The colors of the Buddhist flag (blue,
yellow, red, white, and orange) represent the colors of the aura that
surrounded the Buddha when he achieved enlightenment.
Like a palm reading or a tarot card reading (see entries in this chapter), an aura reading can
be a fun and interesting way to learn more about yourself. Of course, the success of an aura
reading has a lot to do with the skill and experience of the specialist you visit. Find a wellrespected
aura reader in your area or solicit a suggestion from someone you trust. Also,
make sure you go into the experience with an open mind. A good time to get an aura
reading is when you are at a crossroads in your life, are uncertain about your feelings on a
certain matter, or have questions about something you’re experiencing. Some aura readers
will discuss your past and future as well as your present, while others will only evaluate your
aura in the present moment.
Biorhythms are rhythmic biological cycles that affect our physical,
emotional, and intellectual activity. Many believe that by charting these
biorhythms mathematically we can predict our level of activity in each of
these areas. Most biorhythm models use three cycles: a twenty-three-day
physical cycle, a twenty-eight-day emotional cycle, and a thirty-three-day
intellectual cycle. The idea is that by monitoring the highs and lows of
these cycles, you can improve your life. For example, you might try to
avoid having difficult conversations with your partner during emotional
lows, or you might wait until a time of physical highs to engage in an
One of the first people to study biorhythms was the German physician
Wilhelm Fliess (1858–1928), a close friend of Sigmund Freud. He labeled
the twenty-three-day cycle “male” and the twenty-eight-day cycle
“female,” the latter due to its connection to the female menstrual cycle.
Charting biorhythms became a popular practice in the 1970s, in part
because of a series of books by Bernard Gittelson, including Biorhythm:
A Personal Science. At the time, it was common to see biorhythm
machines in video arcades and biorhythm charts alongside horoscopes in
newspapers. You could even buy your own personal hand-held biorhythm
calculator, such as the Casio Biolator.
Biorhythm theory is not as popular as it once was, but there are still many people who chart
their biorhythms and many physical and mental health practitioners who chart the
biorhythms of their patients with the goal of improving overall health or treating certain
conditions, such as sleep disorders or depression. The simplest way to get started with
biorhythms on your own is to try one of the many biorhythms calculators that are available
online, most of which can generate your biorhythms chart based on your date of birth.
Book of Shadows
A book of shadows is an important text in the Neopagan religion of Wicca
containing religious texts and instructions for magical rituals and spells.
When books of shadows first appeared, there was only one book per
coven (group of witches), kept by the high priest or priestess, but
nowadays it is common for each witch to have his or her own copy.
Today, a book of shadows often resembles a journal, with personal
thoughts and reflections on one’s magical experiences in addition to more
formal texts, recipes, and instructions.
The British Wiccan Gerald Gardner (1884–1964), widely regarded as the
“father of Wicca,” is credited with creating the first book of shadows in
the early 1950s, although Gardner himself claimed the practice of keeping
a book of shadows was ancient. Gardner’s book of shadows was
composed with the help of Doreen Valiente (1922–1999), a British
Wiccan who assisted in bringing Wicca to the attention of the general
public through her several books on the subject.
Wiccans believe books of shadows are sacred tools that should only be kept and used by
those active in the Wiccan religion. But even if you’re not a witch, there is wisdom to be
gained from reading books of shadows that are publicly available. Many Wiccans post their
books of shadows online, and you can also borrow these books from the library or buy them
from various online and brick-and-mortar booksellers.
Channeling is the practice of serving as a medium through which a spirit
communicates with a living person. This can take two forms: In the first,
the medium serves as the middleman in a conversation between a spirit
and a client (often a bereaved relative or spouse). In the second, the
medium goes into a trance wherein he or she vacates his or her physical
body and allows the spirit to use it to communicate directly with the
client. In the latter case, the medium may not be aware of the
conversation taking place.
Attempting to communicate with the dead is an ancient practice found in
many cultures. Shamans and witch doctors traditionally contacted the
spirits. Channeling gained widespread popularity through the rise of
Spiritualism, a nineteenth-century religious movement in the United
States and the United Kingdom. Spiritualism is based on the beliefs that
the spirits of the dead both desire and are able to communicate with the
living, that spirits are more advanced than the living, and that spirits can
give the living useful knowledge that they can apply in their lives.
You can try your luck with a Ouija board, but if you’re serious about contacting spirits, you
should consult an experienced and respected medium. If you hope to contact the spirit of a
deceased loved one, it is advised that you let some time pass before visiting a medium. This
is to allow your grief to subside a bit (overwhelming expressions of grief could disrupt the
medium’s process) and also because spirits are not always ready to communicate shortly
A crystal ball is a globe made of quartz crystal or glass used to see
spiritual visions, a practice known as scrying. Sometimes this is done
with the purpose of predicting the future, although many believe that the
images seen are simply a reflection of one’s own subconscious thoughts
The Druids, a priestly caste among the ancient Celtic people who appear
as prophets and sorcerers in Welsh and Irish legend, are believed to have
been the first to use crystal balls. In the Middle Ages, use of crystal balls
by fortune tellers was widespread. John Dee (1527–1608/9) was an
adviser to Queen Elizabeth I who devoted much of his life to the study of
divination. The British Museum in London holds a crystal ball that
supposedly belonged to Dee.
Anyone can buy a crystal ball, and indeed there are many on the market, both in stores and
online. Some people use crystal balls in much the same way they use crystals and gemstones
—for healing, magical, or spiritual practices (see Chapter 1)—and crystal balls require
similar care, such as cleansing and charging. If you’re new to crystal balls, though, it is
recommended that you visit a professional seer to see what this practice is all about.
Dowsing is the practice of searching for water, minerals, or other
materials underground using a Y-shaped rod called a dowsing or divining
rod. The dowser holds one branch of the Y in each hand so that the stem
of the Y is pointing straight ahead. Then the dowser walks slowly over
places where he suspects the materials might be found. When the
dowsing rod dips toward the ground, it is indicating where the discovery
will be made. Alternatively, a pair of L-shaped rods may be used. The
dowser holds one rod in each hand (holding the short leg of the L) and
walks over the area in the same manner. When the two rods cross each
other, X marks the spot.
Dowsing originated in Germany in the fifteenth century as an attempt to
find metals. The German priest and professor Martin Luther (1483–
1546), an important figure in the Protestant Reformation, denounced
dowsing for metals as an act of occultism that therefore broke the first of
the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” More
modern applications of dowsing include searching for buried human
remains, locating archaeological sites, and detecting energy fields.
These days, dowsing is not recognized as a scientific way to locate materials underground
(in fact, many studies have shown that its probability of success is no greater than pure
chance), but that doesn’t stop lots of people from dabbling with dowsing as a hobby. If
you’re interested in trying it yourself, check out some of the many websites and books
devoted to the practice. Some claim that a natural sensitivity to certain phenomena, such as
Earth’s magnetism, is required for successful dowsing, while others say it is a skill like any
other that can be developed with practice.
When our bodies go to sleep at night, our minds remain active, producing
dreams—whether we remember them or not. Some dreams are bizarre
and otherworldly, and others feel so real that we’re surprised (and often
relieved) when we wake up. But what, if anything, do dreams mean?
Dream interpretation is the practice of assigning meaning to our dreams,
which we then apply to our lives in different ways. A dream dictionary is a
tool used for interpreting dreams that includes specific images or
situations found in dreams, such as a car, a house, a school, falling, or
Humans have always been fascinated by dreams. The ancient Egyptians
believed that dreams were a means of divine intervention and had priests
interpret their messages. The ancient Greeks took dreams to be omens of
things to come. The Austrian neurologist and “father of psychoanalysis,”
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), asserted that dreams are a form of wish
fulfillment—subconscious attempts to solve conflicts and act out our
deepest impulses. In his book The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud wrote
that the messages in dreams are disguised in order to get them past the
“censor” of the preconscious; thus, dreams have to be decoded or
interpreted for their true meanings. The Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung
(1875–1961) took Freud’s theory one step further and proposed two
approaches to interpreting dreams: the objective and the subjective. In
the objective approach, the people in a dream represent who they actually
are: Your mother is your mother, your father is your father, etc. In the
subjective approach, each person in a dream represents some part of
yourself: For example, if there is a mother in a dream, that person
represents maternal aspects of the dreamer.
Interpreting your dreams can be fun and enlightening. The first step is to record your
dreams in detail so that you don’t forget them. Keeping a dream journal (see the entry in
this chapter) is a great way to do this. Next, you can consult a dream dictionary (there are
many available online) or a dream interpreter to discover the meaning behind a given
dream. Depending on the resource or person you consult, you may get either a vague or
specific interpretation. For example, falling in a dream may represent general fears or
anxieties about something in your life, or it may mean that a specific part of your life—your
job, your relationship—is rapidly moving in the wrong direction.
As discussed in the previous entry on dream interpretation, our dreams
may contain important information or messages that we can then apply
to our lives. However, this information is of no help to us if we can’t recall
our dreams, which tend to fade away soon after waking. A dream journal
is a great solution to this problem, and getting started is as simple as
keeping a notebook and a pen next to your bed. Then you simply record
your dreams as soon as you wake up so you can capture them in the
greatest detail possible. In addition to recording the content of the dream,
you may also choose to record your own interpretation of the dream for
future reflection. The act of keeping a dream journal is believed to assist
with future dream recall, and it can be particularly helpful in the pursuit
of lucid dreams—dreams in which the dreamer is aware that he or she is
The origin of the dream journal is unknown, but it has existed in some
form or another for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of recorded
dreams was found on 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian clay tablets. The
ancient Egyptians recorded their dreams using hieroglyphics and
proposed interpretations. The ancient Greeks and Romans also recorded
their dreams, believing they were messages from deities or the deceased
and that they could predict the future. The Greek philosopher Aristotle
(384–322 B.C.E.) wrote about lucid dreams, observing that “often, when
one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that
what then presents itself is but a dream.”
Many people keep a dream journal and perform dream interpretation as a hobby, while
others treat it as a more serious component of an intellectual, psychological, or spiritual
endeavor or practice. In any case, it’s easy to start a dream journal and see where it takes
you. If you prefer to keep a digital dream journal instead of a paper one, there are several
apps that you can use to record your dreams using your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
You might also consider using an audio recording device to narrate and record your dreams
ESP, which stands for extrasensory perception, is the ability to receive
information using the mind rather than the five physical senses (sight,
hearing, smell, taste, and touch). It is also known as the sixth sense.
There are many types of ESP, including clairvoyance (paranormal
seeing), clairaudience (paranormal hearing), and clairsentience
(paranormal sensing or feeling). For example, a clairvoyant individual
has the ability to “see” events or people that do not exist in the present
time, a clairaudient person is able to “hear” past or future events or
voices, and a clairsentient person can “feel” the emotions of others.
Beginning in the late 1920s, while employed at the newly founded Duke
University, the American botanist J.B. Rhine (1895–1980) and his wife,
Louisa, performed research in a field they called “parapsychology,” which
covers such abilities as telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition.
Parapsychology built on the existing field of “psychical” research, whose
main goal was to find evidence of an afterlife. In one of the Rhines’s ESP
experiments, a “sender” would look at a set of ESP cards bearing a series
of symbols, and the “receiver” would say which symbol was on each card.
The Rhines’s work led to the development of the Duke Parapsychology
Laboratory in 1935 and the official recognition of parapsychology as a
field of experimental science.
Despite the controversial nature of the topic (and flat-out rejection by a significant swath of
the scientific community), the field of parapsychology still exists today, although in a much
different form than it did when the Rhines created it. Their experiments with cards have
been replaced by more modern techniques that measure the physiological characteristics of
psychics and healers, among other methods. Some say that we all have psychic abilities that
we simply need to uncover and hone, while others believe that only a select few are born
with these abilities. Whatever your stance on the issue, there is a seemingly endless array of
books, films, websites, and other media that deal with the topic of ESP, allowing anyone to
make a hobby out of studying (and even practicing) this fascinating phenomenon.
Graphology is the analysis of handwriting for the purpose of discovering
something about the writer. Graphology has many applications, from
employment procedures to criminal psychology, but in the New Age
sense, it is simply an interesting way to learn about one’s personality and
character traits. There are numerous systems of handwriting analysis,
including integrative, which looks at how strokes are used; symbolic,
which looks for symbols in the handwriting; and holistic, which looks at
the handwriting as a whole.
The Italian philosopher Camillo Baldi (1550–1637) published what is
generally recognized as the first book on graphology in 1622. The French
priest and archaeologist Jean-Hippolyte Michon (1806–1881), who wrote
and lectured widely on the topic of handwriting analysis, is said to have
coined the term graphology. Graphotherapy, the practice of changing a
person’s handwriting with the goal of changing his or her personality,
originated in France in the 1930s and later spread to the United States.
As a non-professional pursuit, handwriting analysis is a fun way to learn more about
yourself and others. An easy way to get started is to read up on the topic and perhaps take a
graphology test (there are many available online). You could also take some graphology
classes, such as those offered through the American Society of Professional Graphologists
(ASPG). The ASPG website (www.aspghandwriting.org) has some interesting resources,
including analyzed samples of famous people’s handwriting.
The I Ching, or the Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese text
containing sixty-four interrelated hexagrams originally used for
divination, along with commentaries attributed to the Chinese
philosopher Confucius (551–479 B.C.E.). The hexagrams represent nature
and human endeavor in terms of yin and yang—the seemingly opposing
and yet complementary forces of the natural world. The I Ching uses a
type of divination called cleromancy, in which an outcome is determined
by seemingly random means (such as flipping a coin or rolling a die) but
was once believed to reveal the will of God.
The I Ching has evolved over the course of thousands of years. The text
originated in a Western Zhou divination book called the Zhou yi, which
was assembled between the tenth and the fourth centuries B.C.E. The Zhou
yi offered a guide to cleromancy using the stalks of the yarrow plant (see
entry in Chapter 2), although it is not clear how the stalks translated to
the numbers or lines used in the hexagrams. Ultimately, the I Ching
evolved into the cosmological text we know today with a series of
commentaries known as the “Ten Wings.”
If you’re new to the I Ching, you may be a bit overwhelmed by its ancient origins and
apparent complexity. Hexagrams? Yarrow stalks? How is a person supposed to use this
thing anyway? Worry not; there are many modern interpretations and techniques that
simplify the act of consulting the I Ching for guidance and wisdom, one of which is a series
of coin tosses you can perform. There are lots of online resources with step-by-step
instructions for using the I Ching, as well as countless books, classes, and workshops for
those interested in this ancient text and its modern applications.
Numerology is the study of numbers, their meanings, and their effects on
human life. There are many different forms of numerology that
originated in cultures all over the world. Gematria, for instance is a
system that assigns numerical value to a word or phrase. An example is
the Hebrew word Chai, meaning “alive,” which translates to the number
18, making this a lucky number among the Jewish people. Birthdates are
considered important numbers in numerology, and the “life path”
number is the sum of a person’s birth date.
Numerology has its roots in ancient Greece and the studies of
philosophers and mathematicians such as Pythagoras (c. 570–c. 495
B.C.E.) who believed numbers were the universal language of truth. In the
Arabic system of numerology, each letter of the Arabic alphabet has a
numerical value. In Chinese numerology, even numbers are considered
lucky, due to the belief that good luck comes in pairs.
There is no limit to how deep you can go into the practice of numerology. A quick online
search will reveal countless resources about this ancient system. But if you’re new to
numerology, you probably want to start with the basics. Try one of the many websites that
will generate your numerology chart based on the letters of your name and your birth date.
You can also calculate your own life path number by adding up the digits of your birth date.
For example, if you were born on October 23, 1972, the equation is 10 + 23 + 1972 = 2005.
Then you add those digits together: 2 + 0 + 0 + 5 = 7. Once you know your life path number,
you can learn about the meanings behind this number. Another fun way to explore
numerology is to have your numbers read by a professional numerologist.
Palmistry, also called palm reading or hand analysis, is the practice of
foretelling the future based on the lines, marks, and patterns on the
palms of the hands. There are two main approaches to this practice:
Chiromancy deals with the lines on the palm, and chirognomy deals with
the shape of the hands and the color, shape, and texture of the palm and
Palmistry is an ancient practice. While the exact timing is unknown,
historians believe it originated in India and then spread to China, Egypt,
Greece, and eventually Europe. The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–
322 B.C.E.) observed, “Lines are not written into the human hand without
reason. They emanate from heavenly influences and man’s own
individuality.” During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church condemned
the practice of palmistry, declaring it a pagan superstition. One of the
major figures of palmistry’s revival in the nineteenth century was Captain
Casimir Stanislas D’Arpentigny (1798–1872), a Frenchman who is
credited as the first person to formulate a system of hand-shape
classification. In his 1938 book, How to Know People by Their Hands,
palmist Josef Ranald analyzed the handprints of Franklin Delano
Roosevelt, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler.
Despite its historical ups and downs, today the practice of palmistry is alive and well. If
you’re interested in having your palm read, just search for a reputable palm reader in your
area (chances are, there will be more than one). If, on the other hand (no pun intended),
you’re interested in learning the art of palm reading yourself, there are countless resources
out there, from books to websites and beyond. Organizations such as the American
Professional Palmistry Association (www.palmistrylessons.com) and the International
Institute of Hand Analysis (www.handanalysis.net) offer classes, materials, and online
In various cultures, it is believed that the lives we are currently living are
not our first—or our last. Hindus and Buddhists, for example, believe in
reincarnation, the rebirth of the soul (or spirit or consciousness) in
another body after death. Many who believe in reincarnation also believe
that it is possible to recall our past lives through various practices such as
hypnosis and meditation. Past-life recall is the process of remembering
those former lives and gleaning information from them that can assist us
in the present.
The Upanishads, a collection of ancient Vedic Sanskrit texts that
contributed to the theology of ancient Hinduism, mention both
reincarnation and past-life recall, specifically past-life regression, a form
of past-life recall using hypnosis. The French psychologist and
philosopher (and contemporary of Freud) Pierre Janet (1859–1947) is
recognized as one of the first people to make a connection between the
events in a subject’s past life and his or her present-day trauma. Both
Janet and Freud experimented with past-life regression as a therapeutic
In a New York Times article from 2010, Cornell-trained psychiatrist Dr. Paul DeBell stated
that belief in reincarnation “allows you to experience history as yours. It gives you a
different sense of what it means to be human.” If this interests you, then past-life recall is
for you. You can explore the practice on your own or with the assistance of a hypnotist,
therapist, or other specialist. There are countless books, websites, and other resources that
offer information on past-life recall for beginners, including specialists who are practicing
in your area. As discussed in Chapter 1, amber and opal are two stones that can be used in
meditation to help remember past lives. Burning rosemary during meditation or dream
work also aids in past-life recall (see Chapter 2).
A pendulum is an item that swings freely from a fixed point under the
influence of gravity. You are probably familiar with pendulums as the
timekeeping elements of certain types of clocks, but they have many other
applications. They are used in religious traditions as well as practices
such as dowsing (see entry in this chapter). Pendulums also have a
variety of spiritual and healing uses.
The Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and
mathematician Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) became interested in the
study of pendulums after observing a swinging chandelier. He went on to
make an important discovery about pendulums: The time it takes for a
pendulum to complete one swing remains almost exactly the same,
regardless of the size of the arc it makes. Building on Galilei’s work, the
Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695) built the first pendulum
clock in 1656. Censers—incense burners that swing at the end of a chain—
appear in various religious and cultural traditions, such as Catholicism.
Radiesthesia is the use of a pendulum to locate an object or substance or to assess the
energy (or “radiation”) of a subject. One example of this is dowsing, which was discussed
earlier in this chapter. Instead of using a dowsing rod to locate water or minerals
underground, a pendulum may be used. The process is very similar: You assign meanings to
the various movements of the pendulum (for example, swinging from left to right means
there is water) and then walk slowly over the search area. Another way to use pendulums is
to get answers to questions about your life. You simply “program” the pendulum (deciding
which movement means “yes” and which means “no”), and then you ask questions out loud
and wait for answers. Pendulums are also used for locating imbalances in the chakras and
Runes are the letters of a set of related alphabets used by ancient
Germanic peoples prior to the adoption of the Latin alphabet. However,
runes were much more than letters as we think of them today; each rune
was a symbol of a principle or power, and it was believed that writing a
rune invoked the force it represented. In addition to general writing
purposes, runes were used to make calendars, encode secret messages,
and cast spells. The word rune comes from the Old English run, meaning
“whisper, talk in secret.”
Runes are believed to have derived from one of the many Old Italic
alphabets used by the Mediterranean peoples of the first century C.E. The
runic alphabets were in use between the third and the thirteenth
centuries and were replaced with Latin through the process of
Christianization in Europe. The Meldorf brooch (also called the Meldorf
fibula) bears what is possibly the oldest known runic inscription. It was
discovered in Meldorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, in 1979 and dates
back to the mid–first century C.E. However, scholars disagree on whether
this inscription is truly runic or proto-runic.
Like the I Ching or tarot (see entries in this chapter), you can use runes to receive messages
and spiritual insight. You can visit a rune reader for an experience that is somewhat similar
to a tarot card reading, or you can learn how to cast runes and read them yourself. Begin by
reading up on runes and buying a set of your own. They are usually in the form of small tiles
or pebbles and may be made of wood, stone, crystal, metal, or even bone. Rune reading is
not to be confused with fortune telling; the runes don’t give you direct advice or exact
answers. Instead, they offer hints and variables and leave you to work out the details using
Scrying is the practice of gleaning information from images “seen” in a
reflective, translucent, or luminescent surface. But this is not like looking
at your own reflection in the bathroom mirror; instead, the images seen
reflect inner spiritual visions. A scrying mirror may be made of a variety
of materials, such as crystals, glass, or water. The word scry is actually
short for descry, which means to catch sight of or detect. Descry comes
from the Old French descrier, meaning “to call, cry out.” (See also the
crystal ball entry in this chapter.)
Today, the visions received through scrying are thought to come from
one’s own subconscious, imagination, or inner spirit, while in the past it
was believed they came from gods, spirits, or other divine or ethereal
influences. The legendary Cup of Jamshid is a famous scrying mirror that
appears in Persian mythology. The cup was said to be filled with an elixir
of immortality in which the whole world was reflected. The French
apothecary and seer Nostradamus (1503–1566) used a bowl of clear water
for scrying and then wrote about his visions. Joseph Smith Jr. (1805–
1844) founded the Mormon religion based in part on information
obtained through the reflections in seer stones.
Although some firmly believe that only a select few possess scrying abilities, the general
consensus is that anyone can learn this ancient art with practice. To begin, get yourself a
scrying mirror. You can purchase one in a store or online, or you can make one yourself.
There is a wide variety of options out there in terms of materials and forms. As you learned
in Chapter 1, malachite, obsidian, and tourmaline are stones that can be used for scrying.
You could also try Nostradamus’s bowl-of-water technique. Next, you must achieve a
meditative or trance-like state that allows for deep inner focus and exploration. Finally, with
practice, visions will appear. There are countless resources, including books, websites, and
organizations, where you can learn specific scrying methods and how to interpret the
visions you see.
A shaman is a person who acts as a medium between the visible physical
world (ordinary reality) and the invisible spirit world (non-ordinary
reality). Shamans have different roles depending on the culture, but in
general they perform healing, divination, and other rituals and practices.
A shamanic journey is a process in which a shaman enters an altered
state of consciousness and then travels to the spirit world for any number
of reasons—to heal the sick, locate lost souls, or glean information about
Shamanism is an ancient spiritual practice dating back tens of thousands
of years. It has existed in many cultures worldwide, from the Mayan and
Aztec people of Mexico and Central and South America to the Hmong
people of China. The American anthropologist, educator, and author
Michael Harner (born 1929) is a major figure in contemporary Western
shamanism. He founded the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and wrote
the classic book The Way of the Shaman.
In some cultural traditions, a person must be “called” or born into shamanism, or at least
undergo extensive training. Others believe that anyone can attempt to contact the spirits
while in an altered state of consciousness. If you’re interested in trying shamanic
journeying, there are many methods available. One is to listen to a repetitive sound, such as
drumming or rattling, to achieve a meditative, trance-like state. Once this state is achieved,
your journey may take any number of forms. It may feel like meditation—a deep exploration
of your inner self—or you may have the opportunity to communicate with spirits, who could
appear to be people or animals (see the spirit animal appearances entry in this chapter). For
assistance with your method and interpreting what you see on your journey, consult some
of the many resources available in print or online (such as the Foundation for Shamanic
Studies website, www.shamanism.org), or seek the guidance of a shaman, healer, or other
Spirit Animal Appearances
Spirit animals (also known as spirit guides or power animals) are spirits
that appear as animals in dreams or visions achieved through various
spiritual practices, such as meditation and shamanic journeying (see
entry in this chapter). Each animal has its own significance or meaning,
but these meanings vary widely depending on which tradition you
consult. Spirit animals are similar to totems found in some indigenous
The concept of spirit animals originated in ancient totemistic and
animistic traditions. Totemism, a system practiced by the Native
Americans and the Australian Aborigines, among others, includes the
belief that every human being has a spiritual connection to another living
being, such as a particular animal. Animism is related belief held by
Neopagans and other groups that non-human entities (including animals,
plants, and in some cases even inanimate objects) have individual spirits.
The ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras (c. 570–c. 495 B.C.E.) is quoted
as saying, “Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul.” Michael
Harner’s book The Way of the Shaman includes a chapter on power
It is generally believed that you do not choose your spirit animal; it chooses you. You may
see the same animal over and over in dreams, or you may have repeated encounters with a
certain animal in your waking life. In scrying practices, visions may include animals, and in
meditation and shamanic journeying, animal spirit guides may appear and offer guidance.
Once you have discovered your spirit animal, your task is to learn its significance and
discern any messages it is trying to relay to you. There are numerous spirit animal guides
available online, and you can also seek the guidance of a healer, shaman, or other specialist
to learn the meaning and messages of your spirit animal.
The tarot is a deck of usually seventy-eight cards that were originally
created for card games but now are also used for divination. The deck is
divided into two sections: the major arcana (twenty-two cards) and the
minor arcana (fifty-six cards). Each card features a specific concept or
archetype—for example, Justice or The Lovers. It is believed that the
cards you select can provide answers to questions and show you what you
need to see in order to make certain decisions and moves in life.
The tarot (originally known as trionfi) originated in the mid-fifteenth
century in Europe, where it is still used to play card games. It wasn’t until
the eighteenth century that tarot card reading first appeared as a
divination practice. The French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette (1738–
1791), also known by the pseudonym Etteilla, is credited with
popularizing tarot as a divination method and issuing the first tarot deck
created specifically for this purpose.
There are two ways to get involved with the tarot: You can visit a tarot card reader and have
your cards read, or you can learn the art of tarot card reading yourself—or both! Many
people have their cards read only when they feel they need guidance or want to reflect on
where they are in life, while others do it on a regular basis. Tarot card readings are relatively
quick (as short as fifteen minutes) and typically very affordable, so it’s worth trying if you’ve
never had the experience. Once you’ve had your first reading, you may feel inspired to buy
your own deck and learn how to read the cards yourself. There are endless resources that
can help you do this, including online courses, workshops, books, and websites.
A vision quest is a Native American rite of passage that has been adapted
as a New Age practice. Traditionally, you spend time alone in a natural
environment with the objective of forging a connection with yourself and
the forces of nature. During this period of seclusion, you may receive
insight in the form of a vision that relates to your purpose in life.
Depending on the tradition, a vision quest may also involve fasting
and/or altering your state of consciousness.
Vision quests are performed in many Native American cultures, and each
has its own nuances and specifications. In traditional Lakota culture, for
example, young teenagers undergo a vision quest known as Hembleciya,
which means “crying for a vision or dream.” Before beginning the quest,
the quester spends time in a sweat lodge to cleanse the mind and body.
Then, a medicine man prepares the quester by offering information,
guidance, and sometimes a substance to help alter the person’s
consciousness. When the quester returns, he or she discusses the
experience with the medicine man, who offers interpretations and advice
for how to proceed.
Anyone can undertake a vision quest, but there is potential for serious danger if you are not
adequately prepared. To ensure a successful experience, seek the counsel of a vision quest
expert before setting out, or try a guided vision quest instead of going solo. If you are going
to be fasting, altering your state of consciousness, or questing in a location where the
elements could cause you problems, make sure you have safety precautions in place and
alert loved ones to your plans before beginning your quest.
The Power of Symbols
Symbols appear in almost every area of our lives. From the
colors that brighten our world to the numbers and words we use
to quantify and communicate, human society functions largely
through the use of symbols. The word symbol comes from the
Greek sumbolon, meaning “token for identification.”
The subjects in this chapter play important roles in many of
the other topics discussed in this book. While reading about the
power of stones in Chapter 1, you learned how their color is
used in the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui, as well as how
it relates to the chakras, or energy centers, of our bodies. You
also discovered how numbers are used in studies such as the I
Ching and numerology (see entries in Chapter 7). In addition to
colors and numbers, in this chapter we’ll discuss the
importance of shapes, sigils, and words as symbols throughout
history and in our modern-day lives.
What we identify as color is really just the perception by our eyes and
brains of the spectrum of light and its interaction with objects and
materials. The perception of color also varies by individual and by
species. Those who are colorblind lack the ability to see certain colors or
to distinguish between colors. Dogs and cats see in color, but they can’t
see all the colors that their human companions do. As a symbol, color
plays a central role in almost everything we do, from singing the blues to
stopping at red lights.
Humans have always used color as a form of expression, the earliest
evidence of which is cave paintings from the Paleolithic era. The ancient
Egyptians used color to represent specific characteristics. For instance,
Osiris, the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, is always
depicted with green skin—the color of rebirth. Many of the ancient Greek
and Roman statues carved in white marble that survived to the present
day—such as the Lovatelli Venus from the first century C.E.—once bore
bright paint colors that wore off over time. Color also plays an important
role in religion. In Christianity, for example, purple is associated with
penance and is used during the seasons of Advent and Lent.
There are many fields that feature color symbolism. Color psychology, for instance, is the
study of how color affects human behavior. Professionals in this field have made fascinating
discoveries and even instituted changes based on color that have improved our daily lives.
For example, based on evidence that the color blue has a calming effect, in 2000, the city of
Glasgow, Scotland, instituted blue streetlights in certain areas and found that crime
decreased as a result.
As discussed in the numerology entry in Chapter 7, numbers can be used
for much more than arithmetic. They have many New Age applications,
from divination to healing. One concept in the study of numbers that
relates to the New Age realm is infinity—space, time, or a quantity with
no limit—which is prominent in the areas of both theology and
philosophy. As symbols, numbers hold great importance in various
religious, cultural, and other traditions.
Tallying is considered the first abstract numerical system. Place value
systems came next, such as the Mesopotamian base 60 system (c. 3400
B.C.E.) and the Egyptian base 10 system (c. 3100 B.C.E.). One of the most
important historical figures in relation to numbers is the ancient Greek
philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (c. 570–c. 495 B.C.E.), who
believed that numbers were the basis of the entire universe. A school of
philosophy based on his beliefs called Pythagoreanism emerged in the
fifth century B.C.E. Certain numbers have special significance in different
cultures. For example, while the ancient Egyptians considered thirteen a
lucky number, in the modern-day Western world, this number is
considered so unlucky that there is a phobia associated with it
As previously mentioned, numerology is one popular New Age use of numbers (see the
numerology entry in Chapter 7). Another is using numbers in magical practices. There are
many spells and rituals that incorporate numbers, based on the belief that each number has
its own magic properties. You might choose to use a certain number of candles in a spell, or
begin a ritual on a certain day of the month. Birth numbers and personal lucky numbers are
especially good for this.
Shapes are fundamental to the way we see and interpret the world around
us. From simple geometric shapes such as the circle and the square to
more elaborate shapes like the triskelion—an ancient symbol consisting
of three bent or curved lines radiating from a common center—shapes
carry profound meanings in various religious and cultural traditions as
well as New Age practices. The word shape comes from the Old English
gesceap, meaning “a creation.”
The origins of geometry, the branch of mathematics concerned with the
shape, size, and relative position of figures, can be traced to ancient
Mesopotamia and Egypt around 2000 B.C.E. The ancient Greek
mathematician Euclid (birth and death dates unknown, though he was
known to be active around 300 B.C.E.) is considered the “father of
geometry.” Platonic solids are three-dimensional polyhedra named for
the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Plato (c. 428–348
B.C.E.), who theorized that the “classical elements,” an early term for the
states of matter, were made of these solids.
One modern-day application for the study of shapes is in the field of psychology. The
bouba/kiki effect, which was first observed by the German psychologist Wolfgang Köhler
(1887–1967) in the 1920s, suggests that the human brain attaches abstract meanings to
shapes and sounds in a consistent way. In his experiment, Köhler showed participants two
shapes, one jagged and one rounded, and asked them to identify which was called “takete”
and which was called “baluba.” The result was a strong preference to call the jagged shape
“takete” and the rounded shape “baluba.” This experiment was repeated in 2001 using the
words “bouba” and “kiki” with the same result: The vast majority of participants paired the
rounded shape with “bouba” and the jagged shape with “kiki.”
The basic definition of a sigil is a seal, such as one used with melted wax
to seal an envelope. However, in the New Age sense, and particularly with
regard to magic, a sigil is an image that acts as a symbolic representation
of the user’s desire or the intended outcome of a magical spell or ritual.
The word sigil comes from the Latin signum, meaning “sign.”
In medieval ceremonial magic, the term sigil referred to occult signs
representing angels and demons that could be summoned through the
practice of magic. These sigils were considered equivalent to the names of
these beings and therefore gave the magician a certain amount of control
over them. One method of creating these sigils was to convert the names
of the angels and demons to numbers, which were then incorporated into
“magic squares” (arrangements of numbers in square grids where each
number is used only once and each row, column, and diagonal adds up to
the same number). When lines were drawn between the numbers, an
abstract figure appeared.
Although sigils are typically used by experienced practitioners of magic, anyone can create a
sigil and use it in a ritual with the goal of manifesting a desire. Here’s a simple process you
1. Write a simple sentence in all capital letters using the present tense that embodies
your desire as if it were already a fact. For example, instead of writing, “I WANT TO
BE HAPPY,” write, “I AM HAPPY.”
2. Cross out any duplicate letters and rewrite the letters that remain: “I A M H P Y.”
3. Choose how you will incorporate these letters into a symbol. Some easy options are to
use the letters themselves to create an image, or to convert them to numbers or
Roman numerals based on their positions in the alphabet. For example, “I” is 9 or IX,
“A” is 1 or I, and so on.
4. Once you have created your sigil, you can incorporate it into the ritual or practice of
your choice, such as meditation.
Words are the smallest meaningful units of language that can stand on
their own. We use words in both written and spoken form to express
ourselves, to communicate with one another, and to document our
experiences. Unlike some of the other topics in this chapter, words are
purely symbols; their entire purpose is to represent something else—an
idea, an object, an emotion, a sound. In the New Age realm, words have
various applications, in magic, healing, and other areas.
Etymology is the branch of linguistics that deals with the history of
words, their origins, and how their forms and meanings have changed
over time. The word etymology comes from the Greek etumologia:
etumon, meaning “true sense of a word,” plus logia, from logos, meaning
“one who deals with.” It is believed that written language began around
3200 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia.
Words are central to many New Age healing and spiritual practices. Chanting and mantra,
covered in Chapter 6, are two examples of ways you can harness the power of words.
Another practice, called “imprinting water,” combines words and water to create a
homeopathic remedy for dealing with emotional issues, energy blockages, or trauma. The
idea behind this practice is that words have their own vibrations and water can be
imprinted with these vibrations. One way to do this is to write a word, such as love, on a
piece of paper, tape it to the outside of a glass bottle, and then fill the bottle with water. It is
then your choice how you use the water: for drinking, for watering plants, for cooking, etc.
It is believed that the energy from the word (and your intention in choosing that word) will
then be incorporated in the water’s use.
The Power of Movement
Lest you think this book is all about sitting still and quietly
meditating, in this chapter we’re going to talk about an
important aspect of the New Age lifestyle: movement! Humans
are active beings. We run, jump, swim, stretch, dance, play, and
perform, all using our unique, amazing bodies. Not only is
movement crucial for our physical health; it’s also essential for
our mental and emotional well-being. These days it’s more
important than ever to take some time each day to put down
our phones, step away from our computers, and get moving.
The topics covered in this chapter include all types of
movement, from the subtle but vital act of breathing to the
intricate gestures and postures found in practices like Qi Gong
and yoga. Some of these, such as dance, may already be very
familiar to you, while others, like mudras, may be mysteries. All
the more reason to dive in and learn more about the power of
movement, and who knows, by the end of the chapter you may
find yourself with a new hobby.
Meditation is discussed throughout this book as a spiritual practice that
involves sitting or standing quietly and focusing your attention inward to
achieve a state of calm or to perform deep personal exploration. However,
that’s not the only form meditation can take. Active meditation is a style
of meditation that includes physical movements, such as jumping or
dancing, followed by silence. The movements allow for both physical and
emotional release, while giving the mind a break from thought and worry.
The Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher Osho (1931–1990) created
a number of active meditation techniques, which he believed were more
applicable to modern life than traditional meditation practices. One such
technique is called “dynamic meditation,” which involves four stages of
movement with music and one stage of silent reflection. Osho’s other
active meditation methods include kundalini “shaking” meditation, which
involves shaking the body and dancing, and nadabrahma “humming”
meditation, which involves humming and hand movements. Osho also
believed these active meditation techniques served as helpful preparation
for more traditional meditation.
Active meditation has many of the same benefits as standard meditation, plus a few bonus
perks. In addition to calming the mind, you also get to invigorate the body by using your
muscles, getting your heart rate up, and boosting blood circulation. You can practice active
meditation alone or in a group setting. There are many online tutorials and videos that can
help you practice at home, or you can attend a class, workshop, or retreat in your area.
There is also a wide variety of active meditation music available for download or streaming
online. As with any type of meditation, it’s helpful to set an intention for your session before
you begin. You can focus on this intention mentally or announce it out loud as a chant or a
mantra (see entries in Chapter 6).
The breath is central to many New Age practices, including Qi Gong, tai
chi, and yoga (see entries in this chapter). But breathwork is also a
practice in itself. Consciously controlling our breathing is thought to
influence our mental, emotional, and physical states, reducing stress and
tension and increasing relaxation and focus. Specific techniques include
pranayama, Holotropic Breathwork, and integrative breathwork.
Breathwork is an ancient practice that is integral to countless spiritual
and healing endeavors. In Hinduism, the breath is considered the source
of the life force (prana). Pranayama (extension of the life force or
breath) is a type of breath control that is incorporated into many spiritual
practices. The Czech psychiatrist Stanislav Grof (born 1931) developed
Holotropic Breathwork, a trademarked method of accessing “nonordinary”
states of consciousness. Integrative breathwork, described as
“an evocative musical journey utilizing breath,” was developed by
Jacquelyn Small, who founded the Eupsychia Institute in Austin, Texas.
Breathing is a natural, involuntary process. Our bodies do it whether we’re thinking about it
or not. But taking the time to focus on the breath can have numerous benefits for both the
mind and body. When we’re not concentrating on it, we often revert to shallow breathing,
which means we don’t take in as much oxygen as we could. Consciously taking deeper, fuller
breaths can help oxygenate the blood, which in turn helps our bodies work better, from our
brains to our feet. There are countless ways to use breathwork, from incorporating it into
your meditation or yoga routine to practicing it at your desk at work. There are many
wonderful breathwork resources available online, but classes and workshops are especially
good opportunities to learn from trained breathwork therapists and healers. There are also
professional breathwork training programs for those who are interested in becoming
Dance is one of our most beautiful and satisfying modes of expression.
From ballet to hip hop, there is a type of dance for every mood or
occasion. In the New Age realm, dance appears in a variety of practices,
usually as a form of tension release or physical expression; an example of
this is active meditation (see entry in this chapter). Typically, music and
dance go hand in hand, as discussed in Chapter 6: The Power of Sound.
It is likely that humans have been dancing since our very beginning, but
the earliest known documentation of dance is found in 9,000-year-old
cave paintings discovered at the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya
Pradesh, India. Chinese pottery from the Neolithic period features images
of people dancing in lines holding hands. In the ancient Egyptian, Greek,
and Roman civilizations, dance was a part of life and was incorporated
into many ceremonies and rituals, including funerals.
The options are limitless when it comes to dance. Dancing by yourself in the privacy of your
own home is a great way to blow off steam and have a little fun, but group classes and
workshops offer an opportunity to learn from experienced teachers and to try dances that
involve partners or larger groups of people. Many gyms, meditation centers, yoga studios,
and other places where you may already have a membership also offer dance classes.
Dance/movement therapy is another option you might be interested in checking out. The
American Dance Therapy Association defines dance/movement therapy as “the
psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social
integration of the individual.” Their website (www.adta.org) has lots of helpful resources
A labyrinth, also known as a maze, is an intricate structure of
interconnected passageways through which it’s difficult to find your way.
Labyrinths have had many purposes throughout history, from deterring
or trapping an enemy to enhancing prayer or devotion. Today, many
people enjoy the New Age practice of labyrinth walking, which consists of
walking through the passages of a labyrinth as part of spiritual
exploration, contemplation, or prayer. The experience simulates the path
of life, which is full of twists and turns and where the future is always just
out of view.
In Greek mythology, King Minos of Crete commanded the architect and
artist Daedalus to design and build a labyrinth to hold the Minotaur, a
creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man. The Minotaur was
eventually killed by the hero Theseus. As the story goes, the labyrinth was
so complex that even its creator had trouble escaping from it.
Labyrinths also appear in the Christian tradition. An example is the
labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral in France, which was constructed in
the early thirteenth century. Though little documentation exists, it is
believed that labyrinths such as the one in Chartres symbolize the long,
arduous path that pilgrims would have followed to visit places of worship
during the medieval period.
This is one of the few practices in this book that you can’t undertake on your own—
assuming you don’t have a labyrinth in your backyard or the space to build one. Luckily,
there are labyrinths all over the world that are open to the public. The website
www.labyrinthos.net has a “worldwide labyrinth locator” as well as a photo library and
various other resources. Another great resource is the nonprofit organization Veriditas
(www.veriditas.org), whose mission is to inspire “personal and planetary change and
renewal through the labyrinth experience.”
Mudras are symbolic gestures and movements that are featured in
Hinduism and Buddhism, and also appear in classical Indian dance,
meditation, yoga, and tantric practice. Although some mudras involve the
entire body, most are performed with the hands. In yoga, mudras are
often used in combination with pranayama breathwork (see the
breathwork entry in this chapter). The word mudra comes from the
Sanskrit mudra, meaning “seal, mystery.”
During the Vedic period in India (c. 1750–500 B.C.E.), mudras were
performed during the chanting of the Vedas, the ancient scriptural texts
of Hinduism. When Buddhism emerged in the sixth century B.C.E., the use
of mudras was expanded to Buddhist rituals, iconography, and
meditation practices. In Indian classical dance, mudras involve hand,
arm, and body movements as well as facial expressions. Various Asian
martial arts also make use of mudras.
In addition to being interesting and fun, mudras can take your spiritual practice to the next
level. By performing these gestures and movements, you can enhance the flow of energy,
which can benefit the mind, body, and spirit. One well-known mudra you may already be
familiar with is the chin mudra, which is commonly used during seated meditation. While
sitting cross-legged or in lotus position, place the hands on the knees palm up and join the
tip of the index finger and thumb of each hand. The circle created by the fingers signifies
unity and facilitates the flow of energy. There are hundreds of other mudras you can learn
about online or by taking classes or workshops in practices such as kundalini yoga (see the
yoga entry in this chapter).
Qi Gong is a Chinese spiritual practice in which physical exercises or
movements are performed in a meditative state with the purpose of
aligning the body, breath, and mind and cultivating and balancing qi
(chi), or “life energy.” Qi Gong is a part of many healing and spiritual
practices as well as martial arts training techniques. The term Qi Gong
comes from the Mandarin qigong: qi, meaning “air, spirit, energy of life,”
plus gong, meaning “skill.”
Qi Gong is estimated to be more than 4,000 years old, with roots in
ancient shamanic rituals consisting of meditative practice and gymnastic
exercise. Over time, Qi Gong was adopted into other practices and
traditions, such as Chinese medicine, Confucianism, Taoism, and
Buddhism. Two important figures in modern Qi Gong are Jiang Weiqiao
(1873–1958), who was one of the first Qi Gong experts to introduce the
exercises to the public, and Liu Guizhen (1920–1983), who is credited
with coining the term Qi Gong.
Qi Gong is not only an enlightening spiritual practice; it also has numerous health benefits,
from stress relief to increasing flexibility and strength. The best way to get started is to
attend a class or workshop so you can receive in-person instruction and guidance from an
experienced teacher. If there are no offerings in your area, don’t worry; the Internet has
plenty of Qi Gong information and tutorials. The National Qigong Association hosts an
annual Qi Gong conference, and their website (http://nqa.org) is a terrific source of
information about the practice as well as upcoming events across the country.
Ritual movements are any movements or gestures that are performed as
part of a ritual or ceremony, such as bowing one’s head or pressing one’s
hands together during prayer. These movements may express a person’s
intention in performing the ritual, such as atonement, or they may serve
as preparation, such as striking a certain pose or preparing the body in
some way. The word ritual comes from the Latin ritus, meaning “rite.”
Ritual movements are a component of many ancient religious and
spiritual practices. A common ritual movement performed in Catholicism
is making the sign of the cross with one’s hand. The fingertips first touch
the forehead, then the lower middle of the chest, then the left shoulder,
and finally the right shoulder. In Islam, a series of movements
accompanies daily prayers, which are performed five times a day at
specific times. These movements include kneeling on a prayer rug, facing
the direction of Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad. The
worshiper bends down to place his head and hands on the floor.
Ritual movements are included in most religious practices, usually in combination with
prayer. If you were raised with or currently practice a religion, chances are you are familiar
with several ritual movements already. If not, you may have learned ritual movements
through practices such as meditation or performing magic. For example, incense is often
used in combination with movements to waft the smoke toward oneself or throughout a
space in preparation for meditation or to cleanse a space of negative influences. Whatever
ritual movements you choose to try, you will probably find that they add another dimension
to your practice, and over time you may feel that they have become a necessary part of your
ritual or routine.
Tai chi is a Chinese martial art that is closely related to Qi Gong (see entry
in this chapter) and practiced in various styles, from fast-paced selfdefense
techniques to slow-paced meditative movements. The term tai
chi comes from the Mandarin tài jí quán: tài jí, meaning “great,
ultimate,” and quán, meaning “boxing.”
The origins of tai chi are largely unknown. One legend says that a Taoist
monk named Chang San-Feng created tai chi based on the movements of
animals. (In fact, some of the movements are named for animals and
various natural phenomena—for example, “embrace tiger, return to
mountain.”) It is more likely, though, that tai chi is rooted in a
combination of Chinese philosophy (such as the concepts of chi and
yin/yang) and martial arts such as kung fu. Today, the practice of tai chi
continues in China and beyond. World Tai Chi and Qigong Day
(www.worldtaichiday.org) is celebrated on the last Saturday of April
each year in hundreds of cities across the globe.
The three main reasons to practice tai chi are health, meditation, and self-defense. Tai chi is
an excellent stress reliever that has been shown to ease anxiety and depression, lower blood
pressure, and improve the quality of sleep. As a meditative practice, it serves to keep you
grounded in your body and in the present moment. And while the slower styles of tai chi
may not seem very helpful in the realm of self-defense, the movements are the foundations
of powerful, fast, and effective martial arts techniques.
Yoga is an ancient Indian physical, mental, and spiritual practice that
incorporates controlled breathing, prescribed body postures, and
meditation. While it is not always practiced as part of a religion, yoga is
an integral component of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. There are
numerous styles of yoga, including hatha, kundalini, and ashtanga. The
word yoga comes from the Sanskrit yogah, meaning “union, joining.”
As a result of the oral transmission and once-secretive nature of yoga’s
history, it is not known exactly when the practice began. It is generally
believed to be at least 5,000 years old, but some estimates suggest its
roots may reach as far back as 10,000 years ago. The oldest known
written reference to yoga appears in the ancient Hindu body of texts
called the Vedas. (Vedic yoga is based on these texts.) According to
legend, the Hindu deity Shiva created hatha yoga, a basic form of yoga
that has become very popular in the United States. Yoga was brought to
the attention of the Western world in the mid-nineteenth century, along
with other aspects of Indian philosophy and tradition.
Yoga is practiced worldwide, in homes, parks, gyms, studios, and various other venues.
There are endless yoga videos available online that you can incorporate into your home
practice, but if you’re new to yoga, it is best to start with a class taught by a certified yoga
instructor. Hatha yoga is a basic form that offers all the yoga basics without too many
challenging asanas, or postures, making it great for beginners. Kundalini yoga, which
focuses on awakening and channeling energy throughout the body, includes chanting,
meditation, and breathing techniques in addition to postures. Ashtanga is a physically
demanding style that generates heat in the body—and lots of sweat! This type of yoga is
great for those who are more fitness focused.
The Power of Touch
As one of the five senses (along with sight, hearing, smell, and
taste), touch is one of the fundamental parts of human life. We
use touch to relate to one another and to experience the world
around us, and the simple act of touching or being touched has
proven extremely powerful in the realm of health and wellbeing—
both physical and emotional. Each of the practices
discussed in this chapter uses touch in a different way.
Acupressure involves putting physical pressure on specific
points of the body with the aim of relieving pain. Massage
includes rubbing techniques designed to promote relaxation,
increase circulation, and relieve sore muscles. Reiki is a method
in which a practitioner places the palms of his or her hands on
different parts of the patient’s body with the intent of
transferring healing energy. The other topics you’ll learn about
in this chapter are acupuncture, reflexology, and Rolfing.
Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that has been
adopted by the Western world as a form of alternative medicine. Closely
related to massage and acupuncture (see entry in this chapter),
acupressure is based on the concept that energy flows through
“meridians” in the body. It is believed that putting physical pressure on
certain points—such as the fleshy web between the thumb and index
finger—can clear energy blockages in these meridians and thereby restore
or maintain health.
Although the Chinese have been practicing acupressure for over 5,000
years, and other Asian countries such as India and Japan have their own
ancient versions, this technique was unknown to the Western world until
the seventeenth century, when it was first introduced in Europe. It wasn’t
until the 1970s that the practice really took hold in the United States.
Have you ever found yourself rubbing your temples when you have a headache? If so, then
you’re already familiar with acupressure. This ancient practice has been shown to be
enormously effective at relieving pain and discomfort resulting from stress, injury, and
chronic conditions such as arthritis, even when other options, such as prescription drugs,
have failed. But acupressure is not just for those seeking to treat a specific ailment. Many
people partake in this practice regularly, similar to massage, to increase circulation, release
tension, and maintain general health. If you’re interested in giving it a try, you have the
option of self-treatment or making an appointment with a certified acupressurist.
Information about both is available online.
Much like acupressure (see entry in this chapter), acupuncture is a
traditional Chinese medicine technique that is now used worldwide. The
difference between the two? Needles. Acupuncture targets the same
pressure points used in acupressure, but instead of applying physical
pressure to those points, fine needles are inserted into the skin. But don’t
be alarmed; the needles are so tiny that typically you don’t even feel
them. The word acupuncture comes from the Latin acus, meaning
“needle,” and pungere, meaning “to prick.”
The exact timeline of acupuncture is unknown, but it is believed to have
developed out of the practice of acupressure somewhere between 2,000
and 4,000 years ago. Many Americans first learned about acupuncture by
reading an article written by the journalist James Reston (1909–1995)
that was published in the New York Times in July 1971. Reston wrote
about his experience of having an appendectomy while visiting China and
being treated with acupuncture for the pain following the surgery.
While traditionally acupuncture was believed to be effective due to its interaction with chi
(the “life force”) and meridians of energy, modern medicine has revealed that the practice
stimulates the signaling systems of the body, including the nervous system, which is
responsible for the way pain registers in our brains. Like acupressure, acupuncture has
proven an effective technique for pain relief in cases where other remedies have been
unsuccessful. Unlike acupressure, this is not something you can experiment with at home.
Instead, make an appointment with a certified acupuncturist. While most people end up
trying acupuncture as a last resort, it’s better to give it a try earlier in the process so that you
can avoid the possibility of unnecessary surgery, prescription drugs you don’t need, and
other unpleasant experiences.
Massage is an ancient form of bodywork that involves rubbing or
kneading parts of the body to aid circulation, induce relaxation, or treat
pain and injury. Popular types of massage include Swedish massage, deep
tissue massage, and hot stone massage. The word massage comes from
the Arabic masaha, meaning “to stroke, anoint.”
Evidence suggests that most of the ancient civilizations practiced
massage, from the Egyptians to the Chinese. The ancient Greek physician
Hippocrates (c. 460–c. 370 B.C.E.), who is often referred to as the “father
of Western medicine,” wrote extensively about massage, stating, “the
physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly also in
rubbing.” Pehr Henrik Ling (1766–1839), who pioneered the teaching of
physical education in Sweden, is often called the “father of Swedish
massage”; however, others claim “Swedish massage” is actually a
misnomer and its true creator was Johann Georg Mezger (1838–1909), a
Dutch physician who incorporated massage into his practice in the
second half of the nineteenth century.
Massage is both a wonderfully relaxing experience and a tried-and-true method of easing
pain and discomfort. There are many self-massage techniques that you can experiment with
on your own, but for the full massage experience, make an appointment with a certified
massage therapist. There are lots of different types of massage you can try. Swedish
massage, which involves long strokes, circular pressure, and stretching, is what most people
in the Western world think of when they think of massage. Deep tissue massage is similar to
Swedish massage but focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue, tendons, and connective
tissue. In a hot stone massage, a massage therapist uses heated stones to warm and relax
The term reflexology has two meanings. It is both the study of the
reflexes of the body and how they affect behavior, and a massage
technique that involves finger pressure, particularly applied to the hands
and feet. The basis of this alternative medicine technique is related to the
foundations of acupressure and acupuncture (see entries in this chapter):
Practitioners believe certain points on the hands and feet correspond to
different areas of the body, and that introducing pressure to those areas
can treat ailments and conditions that manifest elsewhere.
Modern reflexology has its roots in various ancient bodywork practices,
including acupressure and massage. Though the practice was not
documented in any specific way until relatively recently, there is
significant evidence that reflexology was practiced by a number of ancient
civilizations. In Egypt’s Saqqara burial ground, the Tomb of Ankhmahor,
also known as the “Physician’s Tomb,” which dates back to 2330 B.C.E.,
includes an image that depicts two men having their hands and feet
Like other forms of massage, reflexology is something anyone can try, either on their own or
with a certified specialist. There are lots of resources available online, from self-treatment
techniques to listings of reflexologists in your area. The Reflexology Association of America,
a nonprofit member organization whose mission is “to elevate and standardize the quality
of reflexology services available to the public,” offers lots of information on its website
(http://reflexology-usa.org). The International Institute of Reflexology website
(www.reflexology-usa.net) is another great resource, with reflexology charts and a list of
trained reflexologists by state.
Reiki is a Japanese alternative medicine technique in which a practitioner
places the palms of his or her hands on (or above) specific areas of the
patient’s body as a way of transferring energy to the patient for the
purposes of healing. The practice is based on the Chinese principle of chi
(or qi), the “life force.” The word Reiki comes from the Mandarin língqì,
which is a combination of “numinous spirit” and “energy.”
The Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui (1865–1926) is known as the creator
of Reiki. According to the inscription on his memorial stone, erected in
1927, Usui taught Reiki to more than 2,000 people during his lifetime.
Hawayo Takata (1900–1980), a Japanese-American woman born in
Hawaii, is credited with introducing Reiki to the Western world. Her
teacher, Dr. Chujiro Hayashi (1880–1940), was trained by Usui in the
The practice of Reiki is available to anyone and can be learned with time and practice. There
are many self-treatment methods you can try, or you can visit a certified Reiki practitioner.
A Reiki session is similar to a massage: The patient lies on a table and spends time both face
up and face down so the practitioner can access both sides of the body. Unlike massage, the
patient is typically fully clothed. Reiki treats the whole person, including the body, mind,
emotions, and spirit. In addition to the myriad health benefits, it is also a wonderful
Rolfing is an alternative medical treatment defined by the Rolf Institute
of Structural Integration as “a form of hands-on manipulation and
movement” that “works on the web-like network of connective tissues,
called fascia, to release, realign and balance the whole body, potentially
resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain.” As a
guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007, the Turkish-American
surgeon, author, and TV personality Mehmet Oz (born 1960), also known
as Dr. Oz, described Rolfing as “even deeper than deep tissue massage.”
Rolfing is named for Ida Rolf (1896–1979), an American biochemist who,
in the 1940s, developed structural integration, a type of bodywork that
focuses on the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles, blood
vessels, organs, and nerves of the body. In the 1950s, Rolf and her son
Richard taught classes in various locations throughout the United States.
The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, founded in 1971 and based in
Boulder, Colorado, has produced more than 1,500 practitioners of Rolf’s
Rolfing is not as popular or widespread as some of the other practices covered in this
chapter, but you may still be able to find a certified Rolfer in your area. The Rolf Institute of
Structural Integration’s website (www.rolf.org) offers lots of great information as well as a
search function to find a Rolfer by location.
absolute: in aromatherapy, an extract obtained through the use of
adaptogen: a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress and
assists in normalizing bodily processes
aphrodisiac: something, such as an herb or a food, that arouses or
intensifies sexual desire
aromatherapy: the use of fragrant materials or substances, such as
herbs and essential oils, to affect one’s mood and promote overall health
astral body: a supersensible body that survives the death of the physical
body and is capable of ascending or traveling to other realms of
bodywork: the use of physical therapy techniques, such as massage, for
the purpose of enhancing physical and emotional health and well-being
botanist: one who studies or works with plants
chakras: the energy centers of the body, arranged along the spine
chi: an ancient Chinese principle that represents the life force believed to
be present in all things; often referred to in traditional Chinese medicine
counterirritant: a remedy that causes irritation at the surface to relieve
a deeper source of irritation
deciduous: a plant or tree that loses its leaves at the end of the growing
divination: the practice of foretelling future events through
evergreen: a plant or tree with leaves that remain green year-round
expectorant: a remedy that facilitates the removal of phlegm or mucus
from the respiratory tract
faeries: magical spirit creatures often depicted as young, winged,
feng shui: the ancient Chinese practice of positioning objects in a way
that facilitates a free flow of energy
genera: plural of genus
genus: in biology, a category designating a group of species that are
closely related and usually exhibit similar characteristics; in a scientific
name, the genus is capitalized and italicized
heartwood: the older inner wood of a tree or shrub; it is typically darker
and harder than the younger outer wood (called sapwood)
insomnia: a sleep disorder characterized by an inability to fall asleep or
remain asleep for an adequate amount of time
lucid dream: a dream in which the dreamer is aware that he or she is
Mesopotamia: an ancient region of southwestern Asia between the
Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in modern-day Iraq; home to numerous
early civilizations, including the Babylonians and the Sumerians
misnomer: an error in naming a person or place
Mohs scale: a scale for classifying minerals based on hardness; ranges
from 1 (softest) to 10 (hardest)
Neolithic era: the period of human history beginning around 8000
B.C.E. characterized by the development of agriculture
note: in aromatherapy, a distinctive component of a complex flavor or
occult: relating to supernatural or magical influences, powers, or events
onomatopoeia: the use of words that imitate the sounds associated
with the actions or objects they refer to
out-of-body experience: an experience in which the mind/soul/spirit
leaves the physical body and views the body from a higher plane or
vantage point; often includes travel to other planes or realms such as the
astral plane or spirit realm
Paleolithic era: the period of human history that began about 2.4
million years ago and lasted until between 15,000 and 11,500 years ago;
also known as the Stone Age due to the early stone tools that have been
found dating back to this period
panacea: a remedy for all diseases, evils, or difficulties; a cure-all
papyrus: a paper-like material made of plant pith used by ancient
civilizations as a surface for writing and painting
poultice: a soft, moist, heated mass placed on an inflamed or irritated
part of the body to stimulate or soothe it
raceme: a stalk of a flowering plant with flowers arranged singly along
an unbranched axis; from the Latin racemus, meaning “a bunch of
Raynaud’s disease: a circulatory condition caused by insufficient blood
supply to the hands and feet; named after the French physician Maurice
reincarnation: the rebirth of the soul (or spirit or consciousness) in
another body after death
resin: a substance secreted by a plant or tree that heals wounds and
protects the plant or tree against disease
scrying: the practice of gleaning information from images “seen” in a
reflective, translucent, or luminescent surface, such as water or a crystal
smudging: the process of using directed smoke to cleanse a person,
object, or area
taxonomy: a system of classifying and naming organisms that indicates
natural relationships; the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) is
known as the father of modern taxonomy
totem: an animal, plant, or object serving as an emblem of a group of
people such as a family or clan
umbel: a flat-topped or rounded cluster of flowers; characteristic of
plants in the parsley family
Wicca: a Neopagan religion based on the practice of ceremonial
witchcraft; developed in England during the first half of the twentieth
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The encyclopedia of crystals, herbs, and new age elements.
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1. Occultism–Encyclopedias. 2. Crystals–Miscellanea–Encyclopedias. 3.
Herbs–Miscellanea–Encyclopedias. 4. Flowers–Miscellanea–
Encyclopedias. 5. Essences and essential oils–Miscellanea–
Encyclopedias. 6. New Age movement–Miscellanea–Encyclopedias. I.
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