I've been studying for some time now and I'm feeling the impulse to shift directions slightly. I've got an urge to start growing herbs and learn about tinctures and remedies. As much as possible, I want to grow herbs myself (and harvest what I can locally, but I'm not 100% sure how much of that I'll be doing; my part of the country is a semi-arid desert). This means that I'll be having things outdoors for part of the year and moving them indoors for the winter.
So a couple questions:
1) Is there a great "get started" type of book that blends the practical and the magickal? I've read Cunningham's guide to herbs, but it definitely focuses more on the magickal, and doesn't do as much with the "home gardening" aspect as I would like.
2) What herbs would you say are the essentials - things I'll want to have on hand and appreciate that I grew myself?
I'm a huge fan of herbalism, both magickal and medicinal. There is a great book for medicinal herbalism called The Complete Idiot's Guide to Herbal Remedies by Frankie Avalon Wolfe. Not only does this book have great starter recipes, but it has sections in the back for herbs and another for ailments.
I believe the essential herbs to have on hand are: chamomile, comfrey, echinacea, eucalyptus, ginger, lavender, marigold, rosemary, spearmint, St. Johns Wort, and valerian.
Please keep in mind that working with herbs can be just as dangerous as popping pills you are unfamiliar with. Just because herbs come from nature doesn't mean they aren't dangerous when used in the wrong way or given to the wrong person.