As a person interested in both Herbalism and Art, this was an absolute gem to have found. This is like no other book I have ever read.
The first thing to note is it’s a truly breath-taking cover with gorgeous metallic detailing, and 36 oracle cards that can be used for insight; though one card, two card and four card draws. The illustrations are truly marvellous; so colourful and vivid. The style is reminiscent of that of 18th Century stained glass.
Instead of being a heavy-duty scientific textbook, this hardback takes a more magical and mysterious approach to herbs. Each of the 36 plants include a small summary of the plant’s physical characteristics and how these can be reflected on you in a metaphorical and mindful way. Each of the herbs you draw can help you to look at yourself and your life constructively and provoke you to question habits or repetitive thoughts you have. Many of the cards that I had drawn really hit home with me and made me think about the way I view myself.
What I particularly enjoyed was the fact that the summaries didn’t just tell me how I ‘should’ think or behave, rather would pose a question from the plant to you; the reader, such as: “What have you forbidden yourself?”, “Do you doubt your ability to visit the dark forest and come out stronger and more whole?” and “Are you gracing the world with your special skills?”. Each plant summary also offers some useful rituals and reflections that you can choose to use whenever you feel necessary; with the rituals often encapsulating symbolism to help you let go and move on from old habits and thought processes. There is also an abundance of thought-provoking quotes from a variety of figures, such as Desmond Tutu and Natalie Goldberg.
This book is a marvellous read for all people interested in herbs and self-reflection, and for those partial to exquisite artwork such as me. I implore you to experience this book yourself.
Reviewed by Samantha Daniel
The Illustrated Herbiary – Guidance And Rituals From 36 Bewitching Botanicals
Maia Toll, illustrated by Kate O’Hara