Today we’re putting the spotlight on one of a Witchs’ best herbal friends, Sage! Now, even people brand new to Paganism have either heard of Sage or even used it. Sage is an incredibly versatile plant, with uses in medicine, cooking, and of course ritual and magic work.
What is Sage?
First things first, let’s learn a little bit about this magical plant.
Sage is a member of the Salvia genus. There are well over 900 varieties of Salvia, and not all of them are edible. Most people tend to refer to plants as Sage in this genus if they are edible, and Salvia if they are ornamental. Sage grows well in most places. Ornamental Sage/Salvia is drought tolerant and can be used in landscaping. Bonus: Bees love it!
There are many different kinds of edible and medicinal Sage. Most people grow common sage, also known as garden or kitchen Sage. White Sage is a very popular medicinal plant, and one many Pagans use in their rituals.
Besides that fact that it tastes and smells absolutely amazing, Sage does have many other properties aside from the cooking ones you may already know.
Antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti-catarrhal, astringent, diaphoretic, expectorant, emmenagogue, febrifuge, nervine, astringent, alterative, diuretic, carminative, stimulant
Sage is a wise, protective herb. It brings luck and prosperity. Due to the amount of tin contained within the leaves, Jupiter is a planet that aligns well with Sage.
Due to its color, many also consider it a Moon herb.
Sage grows on earth, smells like earth, then it must be an Earth associated herb too!
Basic uses for sage include cleansing, healing, preserving, redeeming and knowledge. Helping cope with grief and loss, it can help with a variety of emotional problems. It can help heal and preserve memory. Everyone’s favorite use, banishing, by smudging all the things.
Here’s the low-down on the best ways to cultivate, grow, and enjoy your Sage. Please note…I have a notorious black thumb, I kill anything that is remotely green, and even I was able to grow a wild-looking Sage bush!
- Soil: Sage thrives in well-drained, sandy, loamy soil, and prefers a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Do not over-fertilize; though the bush will grow faster, the taste of the leaves will be less intense. Let her take her time!
- Sun: Plant Sage bushes in medium to full sun. If growing indoors, place pots near a sunny window.
- Water: Sage is fairly drought-tolerant (what gave it such a good shot in my household…since I forget to water them). Even when it looks a little wilted, a bit of water will perk the plant right up. Wait until the soil is dry to give it a thorough watering.
- Spacing: Sage grows in a round, bush-like fashion. Individual plants should be spaced between 24″ to 36″ apart.
- Companion Planting: If you are gardening outdoors or in a communal plant setting. Sage likes to be near carrots, strawberries, tomatoes, and cabbage. Because bees absolutely love this plant, it is recommended to allow some of the bushes to flower (note that taste is not affected by letting the plant flower!) You can also plant Sage in your perennial flower gardens for a bit of fragrance and greenery.
- Grow Zones: Sage grows as a perennial in zones 5-8. If you live in colder or hotter climates, it will probably grow as an annual that needs to be replanted every year.
- Propagation: Sage can be planted by seed, though most will find it easier to grow from cuttings or layering. The easiest way is to purchase a young plant from your local store!
- Best time to plant: If planting young Sage bushes outside, wait until the ground temperature is 65F or one to two weeks after the last frost. Aka…after Spring has taken hold!
I’ve heard that a Sage plant should be retired after 4-5 years as the leaves begin to lose their flavor. I’ve never grown a single plant that long, so I’ll leave that up to the discretion of the individual gardener!
Sage can be harvested on an as-needed basis, clipping just above the area where two leaves meet. For richest aroma, harvest early in the morning, after the morning dew has dried.
Since I’m a crappy gardener, I have to differ to better gardeners wisdom here. For what I’ve read, you should do larger harvests about twice a season to encourage prolific growth. I just cut some when I need it, so up to you! But if you decide to do larger harvestings just keep in mind that you won’t want to take more than half the plant, and you don’t want to do it within two months of your first frost date.
I’ve chopped up my Sage plant…now what?
Now we get to preserve that sucker for our own use! If you are planning on cooking with Sage…well since I don’t cook much I can’t help much with preparation. But did find this amazing article which explains some good ways to use that amazing Sage you collected. You can view that at the link below.
First things first, after you’ve harvested your lovely sage, you’ll want to give it a good rinse. Sage leaves have a fuzz on them which makes dirt cling to it.
For our very own Pagan uses, you’ll most likely be drying Sage. My preferred method is to simply hang it out to dry in a secluded spot out of the way. It just feels more natural, just make sure it is away from direct sunlight. If you are drying just a few leaves you can set them on a paper towel on a counter where they won’t be disturbed, and in a few days should be nice and dry.
You can also use a dehydrator if you’re fancy! On the lowest setting, it should take about a day.
If you’re in an absolute hurry, you can dry it in the oven, on the lowest setting until evenly crisp.
If you got this far, then I guess you really did want to learn about Sage! Congrats and thank you for sticking in there. Of course, most everyone will be familiar with Sage smudge sticks, but there are countless other uses for this noble herb. Here is a shortlist:
- Decongestant – when infused with honey or added to homemade cough syrup.
- Oxymel for colds – click HERE for information on what the heck an Oxymel is, and what it’s used for!
- Face tonic for Acne
- Various methods used in cooking
- Spell work(detailed below)
Spellwork and Magical Uses
You want to know where to toss that Sage when creating spells and rituals, I know…so here’s a quick list of uses!
- Prosperity Work: I like to create small talismans or prosperity pouches by including Sage, and other prosperity items for myself and friends.
- Cleansing: Smudge everything! You can also create a handy Sage spray if you’re not into filling up your rooms with smoke!
- Mental Clarity: Can burn a dry leaf while meditating, using some oil or anointing candles with Sage oil has the same effect.
- Breaking bad/old habits: Burn some sage along with a photo or symbol of what you’re looking to get rid of. Visualize the separation while the Sage burns.
- Wishes: Love to have children write a small simple wish on the back of a Sage leaf, and then burning it to release their wish into the world. You can also place it under a pillow until the wish is granted!
- Blessing your Sacred Spaces: Sprinkle crushed dried leaves on your alter, or around your house to create a sanctuary space filled with protection and blessings.
- Banishing Nightmares: Place some leaves of Sage under your pillow or around the bed to banish bad dreams and offer protection during sleep.
I hope you have enjoyed this quick workup on Sage! Remember this makes a great inclusion in your Book of Shadows! as a reference for herbalism and spell work.
Until next time!