Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Book Review: The Sacred Herbs of Spring by Ellen Evert Hopman

Beltane, sabbat, herb magic, herbal remedies, book review, witchy, witchcraft, herb craft, magical herbs

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Yes, I know. A second book review in a row, but this is mostly what I have been doing to distract myself from some of the things going on in my life. In case you don't follow me on IG or FB, my youngest cat, Charlie, was recently at the emergency vet for several days. He is home now and doing well considering, but needless to say it was an extremely scary 4 days on top of COVID-19 closing almost everything around me, including my work. So reading and working from home is mostly what I have been doing to distract myself. But I am glad I've been reading because this book was great!

Hopman's previous book, The Sacred Herbs of Samhain, keeps popping up in my Amazon suggestions and I've seen it reviewed and posted about numerous times over the past couple of months. I am certainly interested in the book and when I was given the opportunity to review her newest book, The Sacred Herbs of Spring, I jumped on the opportunity. I was not disappointed! Hopman is a Druid and master herbalist, and it shows in her writing. Each chapter is filled with herbs and plants scared to Beltane based upon what you can use them for. Much like my herbarium posts, Hopman discussed each plant's folklore and their medicinal uses. For many of the plants, she also includes delicious recipes for culinary dishes as well as herbal remedies. Each description also comes with an extensive warning, allowing the reader to make an informed choice as to which plants they may or may not want to use. Furthermore, Hopman includes extensive research and cites her sources faithfully. As a scholar, I greatly appreciated her attention to detail.

My favorite chapter was over herbs to use to contact spirits and the Otherworld, but I felt some of the entries were lacking. There was much more Hopman could have included in this chapter, but for those interested in Otherworldly travel, it's a great introduction to some of the herbs you can use. Apart from otherworldly travel, Hopman also includes extensive sections on protection, clarity, love, and to attract nature spirits. She ends the book with a discussion of Beltane traditions, folklore, and foods. Her writing style is authoritative and scholarly but not boring. She weaves a story about each herb, sucking the reader in. I gobbled this book up in three days and strongly encourage anyone interested in plant folklore or herbal uses purchase this book up!

My only complaint about the book is that it does not, in fact, include a detailed description of what the plants look like. While I know a lot about herbs, there were some that I was not sure what they looked like and found myself Googling them. The temporary ARC I read had botanical prints at the beginning of the book, but not paired with the herbs in each chapter. I strongly encourage readers, especially those with limited herbal knowledge, to pair this book with a companion field guide. Hopman includes all the scientific names, so using a field guide should be rather easy. When it doubt, avoid using an herb unless you are 100% sure you are picking the right thing. Buying online from a reputable dealer is best for those unskilled in herbal identification.

The Sacred Herbs of Spring by Ellen Evert Hopman is available for pre-order now and will be released on May 1st, 2020 so pick up your copy today!

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  1. I am profoundly sorry about everything that's been going on regarding darling Charlie. Please keep us informed (here and/or on IG) as to how he - and you - are doing.

    The more literary reviews the merrier in my book (sorry - I really am a sucker for puns). Thank you for shining the spotlight on this engaging title. You've hooked me on it for sure and I will be aiming to pick up of my own when feasible.

    May you and sweet Charlie both have a far better and less stressful week ahead.

    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. Thank you, Autumn. I always look forward to hearing from you. Thankfully he got a clean bill of health and is happy at home on some new food to prevent future problems.

      This book was so great and I can't wait to pick up her Samhain book. I'm sure it's amazing as well! This is by far one of the best researched books on herbal folklore I've read in quite some time!


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