Every year, Llewellyn puts out several almanacs and each year, they build a new perspective on what that almanac means. The Herbal Almanac always includes articles on growing herbs, on cooking with herbs, on herbs for health and for beauty, for crafting, and the history of them.
Some of these articles spoke to me on levels that didn’t involve my magickal side at all, such as Canantirniel’s “Plant-Based Fabric Dyes”. As a fiber artist, this was the first article to which I turned. I find it interesting that this annual is no longer aimed towards kitchen and hedge witches, but has broadened its scope to anyone interested in herbs in a variety of uses. But for those of us who are hedge witches, this annual continues to be a ‘must read’
Some of the recipes are fantastic. My favorite of that section was “Practical Pestos” by Suzanne Ress, mostly because they’re easy and accessible. Who doesn’t love a good pesto? There are some great bread recipes in Karen Christ’s “The Herbal Loaf” and some spicy blends in Elizabeth Barrette’s “Hot Stuff! Herbs for the Spicy Cuisine”.
There are some surprises in here. “Plants of the Bibles” by Cheryl Hoard walks the reader through the various plants mentioned in the Holy books of other religions. Lisa Mc Sherry, known most notably for her cyber paganism, shows off her earthier side with fantastic recipes and crafting ideas in “The Four Seasons of Garden Crafts”. (Ed. Note: Jeremy is a good friend of mine and he originally did not want to review the book and mention me. Then he read my article and called me to tell me that he had no idea I could write about non-cyber stuff. All I can say is: look for my articles in future Herbal Almanacs and other of Llewellyn’s annuals.)
Having collected these almanacs for the better part of a decade, each year I marvel at the diversity presented year after year. There are always new things to learn, for we stop growing if we stop learning. The thing that struck me most in this one is that it’s showing that the Pagan community is growing up; this can be used to supplement any teaching or 101-type book, but some, if not most, of these topics, while seemingly basic, are rooted in a more intermediate or advanced, more focused, study, and that pleases me to no end.
~review by Jeremy Bredeson
Llewellyn Worldwide, 2008
pp. 312, $8.99