Plant Profiles: Sage

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”Sage restores natural heat, comforts the spirit, helps the memory and quickens the senses.”

~William Turner (English Herbalist), 1551.

Sage is perhaps one of the most widely used herbs within modern witchcraft, so much so that some species, specifically wild white sage is becoming endangered in the wild due to over harvesting. The truth is though that the common species, Salvia officinalis, is extremely useful in its own right, both magickally and mundane.

Food & Drink

Sage is a favourite culinary herb of mine, adding depth to any dish, but my favourite meal of the week is a Sunday Lunch, of which sage is the classic herb to use. Whilst also used for flavouring meat, particularly chicken, my favourite thing to do with sage is to make stuffing. Here’s my quick and easy sage and onion stuffing.

You will need:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp of fresh sage, finely minced or chopped or 2 tbsp of dried sage
  • A pinch of salt and pepper to season

Heat the butter and oil in a pan and add the chopped onions, cooking until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and  bring together. If you need to, add water in small amounts until you get the right consistency. You can use the mixture to stuff the chicken, or if you don’t eat meat simply form into balls and bake for around 15 minutes at 180 degrees.

Sage can also be taken as a tea, though because of its strong taste, it can be something of an acquired taste if drinking for pleasure and so the tea is usually reserved for medicinal purposes.

Health & Home

Sage has many health benefits. Not only does it contain antioxidants but it is also antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal,  as well as being an astringent. Because of this it can be used in a wide variety of home remedies.

It can be used to treat mouth ulcers, sore throats and other infections of the mouth and throat. To make a tincture of sage, simply steep the macerated leaf matter in a good quality spirit for at least a week but longer if possible. I try to soak mine for a full lunar month. Strain the liquid into a clean jar or bottle, and dilute in water. Gargle 3 or 4 times a day. If you cannot use alcohol for whatever reason, then simply make an infusion of sage by pouring boiling water over the fresh macerated plant matter. Leave for ten minutes, strain, then leave to cool before gargling.

Because of its astringent qualities, sage can also be used to help ease the symptoms of catarrh, coughs and asthma by helping in the removal of phlegm from the chest and throat. Again gargling can help, or else use a face steamer, adding a few drops of sage essential oil. If you don’t have a face steamer, then simply use hot, steaming water in a large bowl. Add the oil and cover your head with a towel over the bowl so that the steam gathers inside. Spend a few minutes breathing in the warm, sage scented air.

As already mentioned in the previous section, sage can be taken as a tea though it can be unpleasant tasting. To disguise the taste, you can add honey (with the added bonus of its own healing qualities) or other herbs. The tea can help with digestive discomfort, and the tincture of sage can be taken, diluted in water (1 tbsp of tincture per glass of water) as a daily tonic.

Sage is antimicrobial and so it makes an excellent choice in the treatment of childhood injuries such as grazes, cuts and scratches. Use the infusion of sage, allow to cool and use cotton wool or a clean flannel or sponge to clean the affected area.

It is also because of its anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial qualities that sage makes the perfect herb to use in everyday cleaning. Simply steep macerated sage leaves in white vinegar for a week or longer, straining into a spray bottle and diluting with water at a ratio of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar. If you wish you can add essential oils to help improve the scent, though the vinegar smell fades quickly. Good oils to use include rosemary and lavender. Use the spray to clean worktops, mirrors and glass surfaces. For any other areas, do a patch test first.

Witchcraft

Today many practitioners use sage for smudging, a technique traditionally used by some Indigenous tribes of America to spiritually cleanse an area. In Scotland, the practice of burning herbs for purification is called saining. Within Obeah, sage is also burned for its purification qualities and for the ridding of evil, however it is not enough to simply burn the herb. The correct preparations must be made. The plant must be harvested in the correct way, with the correct words sang or spoken depending upon the specific use, and the spirit of the plant connected with. All of these things, along with the properties of sage that make it effective in the spiritual cleansing of an area.

Some herbalists use astrology to assign qualities to plants and to help treat certain illnesses. Sage is ruled by Jupiter. Jupiter is a planet particularly associated with philosophy and ideology and so with this in mind, sage is good for workings that help to deal with grief, loss a separation. It also promotes spiritual, emotional and physical health, as well as removes negativity, and so sage can be used in any workings that involve any of these aspects.

You can use sage as a loose incense, as a fresh plant on your altar, as a wash or vinegar to spiritually and physically cleanse your altar and working areas as well as any tools you may have. You can use the dried leaves in spell bottles, jars and amulets for protection.

And so you see just how useful this everyday herb really is, all of that wonderfulness disguised in an ordinary kitchen herb. Magick indeed!

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My name is Emma Kathryn, my path a mixture of non-Wiccan Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah, a blend that represents my heritage. A Devotee of Hekate, my witchcraft is what is needed when needed. I live in the middle of England with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs.
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My name is Emma Kathryn, my path a mixture of non-Wiccan Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah, a blend that represents my heritage. A Devotee of Hekate, my witchcraft is what is needed when needed. I live in the middle of England with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs.
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