The Magickal Botanical Oracle: Plants from the Witch’s Garden

This is a look-through of one of the most talked about oracle decks of late 2022, and that’s The Magickal Botanical Oracle: Plants from the Witch’s Garden by Christopher Penczak and illustrated by Maxine Miller.

The aesthetic is reminiscent of a Victorian botanical illustrations. It’s a witchier, grimoire art-esque version of A Curious Herbal  (1737) a la Elizabeth Blackwell. This is the plant kingdom as seen through the eyes of the witch– as alive, animate, and willing to commune with us.

You’ll find an assembly of rather unusual and iconic plants of magical lore. Specifically, these are the plants that are most called to share their gifts and powers with the witch.

Wolfsbane, for instance, was said to poison the tips of arrows to ward off wolves, and was used by Medea in her attempt to poison Theseus. Magically it’s a protective herb against night creatures, from werewolves and nightmares. You can use it to rinse magickal tools to empower them. The plant is sacred to Hecate.

Likewise, each card in this deck embodies a living plant spirit, not an archetype or idea, but an entity rooted in the material world of the flora. Thus, they are animated card who come to you as healers, teachers, and guides. I love how the illustrations aren’t just still life renderings of the plants, but really bring them to life with their associated myths, gods, and lore.

What this deck will teach you is how to commune with the spirits of nature. “We can ask the spirits of the land and trees for protection and guidance,” notes the guidebook. “We can ask the spirits of the weather to bring rain or hold back damaging winds. And we can ask the spirits of the plants to bring out their magick and medicine.”

Each plant type has its own collective spirit, likened to a group soul or oversoul, and this overarching intelligence manifests uniquely in each place that its found, interacting alchemically with a genius loci– the god or spirit of a place.

That overarching intelligence, that oversoul, is the power that gives a plant its magical properties. Or so espouses the premise of this deck and the belief system of its creators.

The Magickal Botanical Oracle consists of 32 plant spirits. Each card features the common name followed by the Latin, and a few keywords on traditional correspondences.

They’re also classified into four groupings by elements: Air for Life, Fire for Light, Water for Love, and Earth for Law. Likewise, each featured plant spirit connects astrologically to the planets. This Oracle system adopts a modern system, with correspondences between the plants and the Sacred Seven + Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

Henbane, for instance, pictured above, corresponds elementally to Earth and Water, and astrologically to Saturn and Jupiter. As spirit medicine, Henbane is used to help us reconnect with our ancestors, and particularly, to help seal away fear, trauma, and abuse.

Love the illustration for the Rose, rosa rosacae, corresponding with Venus, Mars, and/or the Sun, and with all four elements, as noted on the card and in the guidebook.

And I love that the creators connected the Rose with Card 21, with that illustration echoing the tarot World card. “Rose is the symbol of Beauty and Harmony, situated on the sixth Sephira, known as Tiphereth, on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. . . . Today, magicians and witches explore these mysteries through Hermetic Qabalah, and the Rose is the preeminent flower of he Western occult traditions, as the Lotus is to the East. Rose, per her placement on the Tree of Life, is associated with the heart and the Sun.”

Though there are 32 plant spirits, there are a total of 33 cards, with the 33rd being The Witch’s Garden, which is also the artwork featured on the card back. This is “the alpha and the omega of the work of the green witch.” Pictured here is the witch’s star, embodying the five elements of earth, water, air, fire, and spirit, and the foundation stones of the witch’s garden– the material, emotional, mental, energetic, and spiritual components assembled.

If you love plant-focused decks like the Seed and Sickle Oracle, the Botanica Tarot, The Herbcrafter’s Tarot, or the Botanical Inspirations Oracle, then Miller and Penczak’s The Magical Botanical Oracle will be right up your alley. I love its vintage aesthetic and most of all the art style. The artist-illustrator Maxine Miller is phenomenally talented and a deck collection isn’t complete without one that features her art. The guidebook is an invaluable introductory handbook to working with plants in witchcraft, accompanied by fascinating tidbits of legends and lore.

The deck absolutely lives up to its hype. An herbal grimoire in the form of hand-held picture cards and a beautifully illustrated guidebook– the matte finish box, Old World parchment backdrop, and the most ornate, detailed artwork that you can just get lost meditating with– it all comes together for a magical tactile experience.


FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received the deck from the publisher for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck and book.


3 thoughts on “The Magickal Botanical Oracle: Plants from the Witch’s Garden

  1. stankbeest

    I got this a little while ago, and it really is astounding. In addition to the superlative Artwork, this deck really speaks.
    Interesting too, that only recently has science discovered that plants actually do communicate – they are not just passive flora that are at the mercy of the elements. For example, when a tree is attacked by destructive insects, it sends out a chemical warning to the neighborhood. In response, nearby plants quickly produce toxins in their tissues that repel the insect invaders! So much of what we think we know is based on assumptions arising from our limited perceptions…


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