Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosmarinus officinalis

Family: Lamiaceae

Genus: Rosmarinus

Species: Rosmarinus officinalis

Names: Rosemary, Compass Weed, Dew of the Sea, Elf Leaf, Libanotis, Rosmarin

Related: Hyssopus, Lavendula, Melissa, Nepeta, Mentha, Ocimum, Origanum, Pogostemon, Salvia, Scutellaria, Thymus

Plant description: Woody, perennial, evergreen shrub, native to the Mediterranean and Asia. Grows upright or trailing, with white, pink, purple or blue flowers. The plant tolerates drought and can become very old. The leaves are green on top and white underneath, covered in dense short wooly hair. The whole plant is aromatic. The leaves, dried or fresh, are used for flavoring food, e.g. potatoes. The essential oil contains various phytochemicals, including rosmarinic acid, camphor, caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, and the antioxidants carnosic acid and carnosol. It used medicinally and in perfumes.

Uses: culinary herb, aroma therapy, perfumery, herbal tea

Folklore and mythology: The name literally means “dew of the sea”, from Latin ros = dew and marinus = sea. In Greek myth the herb was draped around the goddess Aphrodite, when she rose from the sea. In Christian myth it was named “Rose of Mary”, after the Virgin Mary had accidentally colored the white flowers blue with her cloak, when she was resting. During the middle ages rosemary was worn by participants of weddings and the bride wore a crown of rosemary. Rosemary is believed to enhance memory and has been used as a symbol of remembrance during war commemorations and funerals. For the same reason it was also thrown into the graves of the dead. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia says,

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” (Hamlet, iv. 5.)

Don Quixote (Part One, Chapter XVII) mixes it in his recipe of the miraculous balm of Fierabras.

For cleansing a room, sprinkle the area with a bundle of mint, marjoram and rosemary twigs, which have been dipped in salt-water. Burn rosemary as a cleansing incense before any magical operation. Rosemary placed beneath the pillow ensures sound sleep and protects from nightmares. Hence it is also added to dream pillows. Placed beneath the bed it protects from all harm. It is hung above doorsteps to protect the house from thieves and carried to remain healthy. An infusion is used to wash the hands before healing work. Add to the bath water for a purifying and rejuvenating bath. A rosary made from the wood, aids memory. Burn the leaves for knowledge and receiving answers to questions. Smelling the wood preserves youthfulness. Healing poppets are stuffed with rosemary herb. Burn with Juniper berries to purify the room and aid healing. The crushed leaves wrapped in white linen are bound around the right arm to dispel depression and lift the mood. Rosemary is also a traditional ingredient in love and lust spells, e.g. it is part of incense or oils used in such context. Rosemary can be used as a substitute for Frankincense.

Magical attributions: cleansing, exorcism, healing, purification, remembering, concentration, love and lust charms, protection, sleep, youth, substitute for frankincense

Planet, element: Sun, fire

Propagation and plant care: via seed – patience is required. Sow under glass or transparent foil, cover with a thin layer of soil (double the thickness of one seed) and keep at a warm spot. Seeds germinate after 15-30 days. Germination time can be reduced with the help of gibberellic acid. The young plantlets grow slow and should be over-wintered indoors and planted out the second year, after adopting them successively to cooler temperatures. Hardy in temperate regions, needs frost protection in cooler areas.

Sources:

  • Wikipedia: Rosemary
  • Scott Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs
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