Nature Magic & Self-Care
If you question the presence of magic, inhale the sweetness of wild honeysuckle in the air, watch a deer dart through a grassy field, or simply gaze above at the clouds, animating into faces right before your eyes. Everyday actions serve as reminders: a walk in fresh air enlivens the spirit, as does an elixir, made with fresh herbs and spices from the garden. Long before the existence of science, the only form of healing was rooted in the earth’s bounty. Today, this age-old practice is intermingled with all forms of holistic medicine/healing, including herbology, astrology, botany, alchemy, and any practice based on elements found in nature.
Sabrina Rose Nelson, inherited the tradition of nature magic from her mother and grandmother. We reached out to Nelson to learn more about the practice.
Tell us a little about nature magic and your lineage. How does this way of living enhance your life and help ground you?
SN: Nature magic is subtle, and lives in small everyday actions. What we eat, what we grow, how we walk, how we engage with the world around us. To me the core of nature magic is simply recognizing that everything is nature, everything is connected. Trees, humans, rocks, dandelions, rivers...all alive, all intimately connected. My grandmother was a big gardener (that was the core of her practice), and many of the women in my family (from my maternal side, who come from Scandinavian and slavic heritage) practice/practiced different forms of natural healing.
How is this different from what we think of traditional witchcraft?
SN: with nature magic, the natural world is where your magic takes place. Your garden, the pond, your favorite tree, your soup pot, those are all your cauldron.
DW: Can you share some of your daily self care rituals?
SN: It's quite important for me to spend at least a few minutes each morning writing and stretching, accompanied by an herbal tea latte of some sort. Tea plays a fairly big part in my entire day, actually. I also must get a few minutes of fresh air, and love to sit on my balcony and read. I love it both emotionally and physiologically. I am also a huge fan of baths, especially because I don't currently live near a body of water.
Does nature magic influence the foods you eat?
SN: It does! I incorporate a lot of herbs into my meals, both for health benefits and their magical properties. I also emphasize fresh, local, ethically-sourced foods. For example, raspberries can be the most magical and healthful food ever, but if you're getting it from a source that exploits their workers and/or the environment, that's the opposite of nature magic. Starhwak wrote, “To practice magic is to bear the responsibility for having a vision.” A huge part of practicing any form of nature magic is to live in such a way that honors and respects the earth and everyone on it.
DW: What are some ways you manage stress through nature magic?
SN: Herbs! I love taking passionflower and skullcap as tinctures. I adore making tea with equal parts catnip, lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lavender. And I also love California poppy, both as an essence and a tincture! Also simply going outside to look at a tree and breath.
DW: How do the cycles of the moon affect your choices?
SN: Quite a bit! Astrologically, my natal moon is in Cancer, making me particularly affected by the moon's rhythms. I allow my cycles of rest and creation to mirror the moon. Near the dark moon I sleep in more and generally adopt a slower pace for dreaming and visioning, whereas near the full moon I am in more active creation mode. I also tend to my herbal garden according to the cycles of the moon.
DW: Are plants and stones part of your daily rituals?
SN: I work with plants all day every day, through tending to my budding herb garden and creating and taking herbal remedies. I love to begin my day with a dandelion root and reishi latte, and end it with a calming tea blend. Throughout the day I'm also taking specific herbal tinctures, oxymels or elixirs, depending on the season and my intention.
DW: Is manifesting a practice in nature magic? If so, how might one try it?
SN: Oh, most certainly! For me the core of manifesting is recognizing that nature themself is abundant--and since we are nature, so are we! When manifesting, I like to work with the moon. I visualize planting a seed of desire at the new moon. Sometimes I will write out my intentions on a piece of paper and bury it. As the moon waxes, I imagine myself watering that seed with love and trust. I love working with mugwort, moonstone and labradorite when setting the intention, and dandelion and quartz when tending to it. More than anything, I look at the moon as a physical anchor of what I am creating, and channel lunar energy to plant, grow, and harvest my intentions.
DW: What are your favorite teas, potions, elixirs to create calm or creatively inspire?
SN: For calming, I love a simple tea made with catnip, lavender and lemon balm. In a pinch, I also love my passionflower and California poppy tinctures. For creativity, I adore mugwort in every form: tea, tincture, salve, oil, and hydrosol spray. It has a wonderful way of infusing everything with magic, sparking dreams and creative flow.
DW: How accessible is nature magic to someone who hasn't grown up in the practice? What’s a natural way to start?
SN: Though access to "nature" is unfortunately very limited to many, I think nature magic itself is quite accessible, and it starts with recognizing the simple truth that everything is nature. We are nature. The patch of moss on the outside wall of your building is nature. The dandelion growing out of a crack in the sidewalk is nature. Rocks, grass, trees, even if they stand small and alone, are all nature. The essence of nature magic (to me) is aligning myself with the truth that everything is connected and that the trees and the ocean and the plants, all of it, is imbued with the same vitality, the same life, that humans are. Everything else-- rituals, tools, practices-- flows from there.
DW: What books would recommend to someone who wants to learn more about nature magic?
SN: As an herbalist, I'm quite partial to the plants and herbal lore. I adore "Secret Medicines from your Garden" by Ellen Evert Hopman, as well as "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Also Cunningham's classic Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, and of course "Women Who Run With The Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, "Emergent Strategy" by Adrienne Maree Brown, and all of Mary Oliver's poetry. I also want to mention my favorite guilty pleasure fiction book, Alice Hoffman's "The Rules of Magic," which incorporates quite a bit of delightful nature magic.