Featured Book: The Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs

~Excerpts from The Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs by Richard Alan Miller~

In psychology, ritual is considered the celebration of a myth, which is achieved through a carefully constructed enactment of the myth. Because ritual is the externalization of something internal, myth has a more archetypal than logical structure to it. Rituals reveal values at their most fundamental level. Man expresses in ritual what moves him most. Therefore: The symbol always originates on the inside and is projected outward.

Ceremonies and rituals are the means provided by society for periodically drawing up the energy attached to symbols. As symbols sink back into the unconscious, ritual serves as a technique to bring them back into a more common awareness. Magic has been defined as “the science and art of causing changes to occur in conformity with will.” What this means is that conflict occurs when people are not living their true will. The purpose in learning magic is to discover that true will (not necessarily desire) and then live it. Therefore: Every intentional act is a magical act.


Whenever individuals change their perception of reality, they also change the ways reality can affect them. This has to do with attitudes, expectations, and projections. Therefore: Whenever individuals take a mind alterant, they are, by definition, performing an act of magic.

The following is a selection of powerful herbs and their uses.


Family: Tumeraceae.
Botanical Name: Turnera difl Usa.
Synonyms: Mexican damiana. Geographical Location: Tropical parts of the Americas, particularly Texas and Mexico. It is also harvested in Africa.
Habitat: Grows in dry soil; needs sun.
Botanical Description: A small shrub with ovate leaves that are broadest toward the top end. The leaves are smooth and pale green on the upper side and smooth on the undersides except for a few hairs on the ribs. The flowers are yellow, arising singly from the axilla of the leaves followed by a one-celled capsule splitting into three pieces. The flower has an aromatic smell and a bitter taste.

Primary Effects: Mild aphrodisiac and marijuana-like euphoria, lasting about an hour and a half.

Preparation: In his book, A Manual of Sex Magick, Louis J. Culling describes a damiana drink preparation:

Take 2 heaping tablespoons of dried damiana leaves and boil them in 1 cup of water for five minutes. Cool, strain, and drink in the evening. He recommends continual use over a two-week period for significant results.

Ritual Use: Below is a fine recipe for an aphrodisiacal cordial of damiana.

Soak 1 ounce of damiana leaves in 1 pint of vodka for five days. Pour off the liquid, strain, and filter through a conical paper coffee filter. Soak remaining alcohol-drenched leaves in pint of distilled or spring water for another five days. Pour off the liquids, strain, and filter as before. Warm water extracts to 160°F and dissolve in 1/2 to 1 cup of honey. Combine alcoholic and aqueous extractions. Age for one month. During the aging a sediment will form as the liqueur clarifies. The sediment is harmless but you may wish to siphon the clear liqueur from it. For best results, take 1 or 2 cordial glasses of the beverage nightly, The taste is exquisite. Small quantities of liqueur are excellent for any ritual oriented toward sex magic. Although its chemistry is unknown, damiana can be used as a sacrament to improve and tone sexuality.

Note of Caution: Excessive long-term use may be toxic to the liver.

Damiana can make a really fine smoke if used in a water pipe. For a marijuana-like high, a blend known as Yuba Gold is:

4 parts damiana leaf
4 parts scullcap herb
1/2 part lobelia herb
4 parts passionflower herb
1 part spearmint leaf



Family: Rubiaceae (Madder family). Botanical Name: Corynanthe yohimbe.
Synonyms: Pausinystalia, yohimba, yohimbehe, and johimbe. Geographical Location: Tropical West Africa, especially Congo and Cameroon.
Habitat:Jungle forests, low altitude. Botanical Description: A large tree that grows from 35 to 50 feet high. The leaves are 3 to 5 inches long and are oblong and oval in shape. The seeds are winged.

Primary Effects: Yohimbe acts as both a central nervous system stimulant and a mild hallucinogen. The first effects are a lethargic weakness of the limbs and a vague restlessness, similar to the initial effects of LSD. Chills and warm spinal shivers may also be felt, accompanied by dizziness and nausea. MDA produces a similar reaction and effect. A relaxed and somewhat inebriated mental and physical feeling, accompanied by slight auditory and visual hallucinations follows. Spinal ganglia are affected, causing an erection in males. The effects last from two to four hours.

Preparation: There are several techniques for preparing yohimbe. The traditional way is to bring 2 cups of water per person to a boil. One ounce ofyohimbe is then added to the boiling water and allowed to boil for less than four minutes. The heat is turned down and the brew simmered for twenty minutes. Strain the liquid and sip slowly about one hour before effects are desired. If you add 1000 milligrams of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), the bark tea will react to form yohimbine and yohimbiline ascorbate, soluble forms ofthe two alkaloids. The alkaloids are more efficient in this state in that they are more quickly assimilated by the body and tend to reduce possible nausea. It is also recommended that you fast for eighteen hours before ingesting yohimbe. The second technique is much more efficient. For one person, soak 1 ounce ofyohimbe bark shavings in ethyl alcohol or any drinking alcohol (gin or vodka works well) for an eighthour period. Strain the shavings and pour the liquid onto a flat cookie sheet, and let the alcohol evaporate. Use low oven heat (150°-250°F) to speed evaporation. The residue, amounting to 1 gram to 172 grams, will be yohimbine hydrochloride. This can be snuffed or placed under the tongue. The effects are more pronounced and the reaction occurs within ten to twenty minutes, rather than one hour.

Ritual Use:  Yohimbe is the finest sacrament that can be used for a pagan wedding ceremony. Whereas Christianity uses the duality of good/evil, the pagan draws energy from the male/female duality. One type of pagan altar is arranged by marking a circle on the ground, large enough to surround those who will participate in the ceremony. The altar is set in the center of this circle. An incense burner and six candles are placed on the altar. One candle is set at each quarter, (North, East, South, and West), and two remain on the altar during the rite. An image is chosen by the betrothed and this is also placed on the altar with a wand, usually fashioned from a willow branch. The image and the material of the wand are really your choice. The marriage rite is best performed at the. time of the new moon, when energy (soma) is flowing inward rather than outward. For this type of ritual, the altar is traditionally placed at the eastern edge of the ritual area. All candles are generally white, and the incense has a flower scent of the couple’s choice. An ancient Celtic custom has the bride wear a veil or net and an article of red or scarlet. The couple come with gifts for each other. These are placed on the altar before the ceremony. Wine and cakes should also be present for the orgy that follows. The pledge rings are fitted over the wand and given to the priest or priestess before the ritual.



To begin, the priest or priestess lights the candles and incense. They stand together with their backs to the altar (facing west), the priestess to the right of the priest. The priest holds his right hand aloft and says:

May the place of this rite be consecrated before the gods.
For we gather here in a ritual of love with two who would be handfasted. Come forward and stand here before us and before the gods of nature.

The man and woman step forward, the man to the right of the woman. The priestess says:

O beings of Air,
Be with us here. With your clever fingers tie closely the bonds between these two.
O beings of Fire,
Be with us here. Give their love and passion your own all-consuming ardor.
O beings of Water,
Be with us here. Give them the deepest of love and richness of body, of soul, and of spirit. O beings of Earth,
Be with us here. Let your strength and constancy be theirs for so long as they desire to remain together.
Blessed Goddess and Laughing God Give to these before us, we do ask, Your Perfect Love and Perfect Peace.
Blessed Be.
All: Blessed Be.

The priest then picks up the wand and rings and holds one end of it before him in his right hand; the priestess holds the other end with her left hand. The rings are between them.

The priestess speaks:

Place your right hands over this wand and your rings (his hand over hers).

The priest continues:

Above you are the stars below you are the stones. As time does pass, Remember. Like a star should your love be constant. Like a stone should your love be firm. Be close, yet not too close. Possess one another, yet be understanding. Have patience each with the other for storms will come, but they will go quickly. Be free in giving of affection and warmth. Make love often and be sensuous to one another. Have no fear, and let not the ways of the unenlightened give you discomfort. For the Goddess and the God are with you Now and always.

All pause for several seconds, then the priestess says:

Is it your wish to become one with this man? Is it your wish to become one with this woman?

Here the rings are exchanged, just before the final statement:

Then as the Goddess, the God and the Old Ones are witness to this rite, I now proclaim you primates [primary mates]!

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