What is a Simple? The author says that “a Simple is a philtre derived from a single herb and was an important element among the natural resources of the parish-pump witch, wise-women and cunning-folk. Simples are common kitchen ‘stuff’ that has been handed down through generations of country people in the form of family cures for everyday ailments.” Basically it’s using simple remedies culled from your local soil near at hand. The author gives an example as domestic plant medicine such as a cup of chamomile tea made from flowers picked fresh in your garden.

The book itself is broken into an introduction: Keep it Simple, and 5 chapters including: The Herb Garden, Preparation & Usage, The Simples, Complaints & Ailments, and Potpourri.

The author dives into the rich history all the way back to the 12th century. The use of a single herb as home remedies is a pagan practice that has been mentioned throughout the centuries. This book was fascinating as the reader takes a journey back to natural herbalism to aid with medicine. I admit I do not personally know much on the herbalism subjects but I was fascinated to find several of the herbs mentioned already naturally growing near my home. For anyone who practices natural herbalism, this book is for you.

One thing the author touches on is anyone with a sunny windowsill can grow herbs. A large garden in not necessary and most folks can tend a small herb garden as it doesn’t take much space. Fresh herbs are essential for making Simples at home and you don’t have to be an expert gardener to tend to these plants. Some common herbs mentioned are chamomile, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme etc. The author does note to be careful as people can have an allergic reaction to anything so be sure to use caution with any plants.

Even if the reader has never attempted to grow before, the author guides them in an easy to follow instructions to set up their own herb gardens. She also covers how to properly harvest and prepare the herbs for usage (including storing, drying, preserving and more).

The largest section is covered in the chapter Simples. They are alphabetical and will provide the Scientific as well as common names. Each entry will have information, how to create the Simple, magical uses, superstition and folklore and a personal note. This is the chapter that makes the book worthy to have a spot on your magical shelf to reference time and time again.  

This book has a lot of information for those interested in natural remedies. The author does a great job with citing sources, additional texts and historical references. I recommend saving a space on your bookshelf for this little gem of a book!

~review by Amber Barnes

Author: Melusine Draco
Moon Books, 2022
pp. 208, $18.95