Copyright V.Bramshaw 2009.
Traditionally, herbs gathered for ritual or magical purposes are cut with the boline or bolline – the white handled knife. The boline blade can be either straight or sickle shaped, although you will probably find the sickle shaped version much easier for gathering herbs. Folklore says that herbs should never be cut with blades of iron or steel, as this can discharge the plants’ magical virtues.
Contact with the floor or with the hands is also not recommended, so if you can cut the herbs directly into a basket or a paper bag; this helps conserve their energy. The ideal time of day to begin your harvest is early morning, just after the dew dries off the leaves, as herbs concentrate their essential oils in the night and release them when the sun warms the plant in the morning.
Draw a circle in the soil around the herb with a wooden staff or wand and project your intention upon the herb itself, asking permission from the herb before cutting. Three circles should be drawn around the plant when harvesting mandrake. Ensure that the wind is at your back as you harvest the herb; the wind should never be in your face when harvesting for magical purposes, and when cutting, you should never take more than you need.
Always thank the plant for what it has given you; some say that either spittle or blood should be left upon the cut branch as an offering to the plant. If the herbs are going to be used fresh, you should collect them immediately before using them, as the longer they are cut the less potent they will be. If you are planning to dry them, you should lay them out to dry straightaway after they have been cut, to avoid them withering before the drying process begins.
Excerpt from Craft of the Wise