Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Rosemary

Folk Names: Compass Weed, Dew of the Sea, Elf Leaf, Polar Plant
Gender: Masculine
Planet: Sun
Element: Fire
Powers: Exorcism, Immortality, Healing, Love, Mental Powers, Protection, Purification, Youth
Magical Uses and History: "As for Rosemarine, I lett it runne all over my garden walls, not onlie because my bees love it, but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance, and therefore, to friendship..." -Sir Thomas Moore

Rosemary has a long and rich history of both magical and medicinal uses. The name rosemary originates from the Latin ros meaning "dew" and marinus meaning sea, resulting in the folk name Dew of the Sea. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean shores and its like blue flowers mimic dew. Reference to rosemary dates back to the fifth millennium B.C, where we see references written stone tablets in cuneiform. Dioscorides, author of the famous De Materia Medica referred to rosemary as "warming," likely due to its powerful scent and "spicy" nature. This same scent was believed to improve memory. Scholars wore wreaths of rosemary on their brow (the typical wreaths they are often portrayed wearing) or chewed on the stems to improve memory, especially during exams.
Its powers of enhancing memory were so well known that later scholars, such as Sir Thomas Moore touted its memory-enhancing abilities and used it often. Shakespeare mentions it in his plays Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet in reference to remembering, especially the dead. In Hamlet, Ophelia says, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance, pray you love, remember." This is part of the herbs she mixes together before taking her own life. Juliet is also buried with rosemary so that she too may be remembered. This connection to death and remembrance was extremely common in much of Europe.

The Romans believed rosemary's strong scent and evergreen leaves were capable of preserving bodies and were therefore associated with immortality. Sprigs were carried during funerals by mourners then cast upon the graves prior to burial, again associated with memory. This tradition remained in much of Europe until the nineteenth century, where it simply fell out of style. However, rosemary is still often planted in graveyards and is considered a symbol of respect and remembrance for those we have lost. In Australia and New Zealand, the Army Corps commemorates those lost by wearing sprigs of rosemary on their coat lapel. Such such, rosemary can be used for a number of memory-related spells and rituals. Use it to anoint candles, smell sprigs to enhance your memory, sleep with it under your pillow to aid in dream recall, leave on an ancestral altar as an offering, or burn it to enhance your ability to receive messages during divination. 

Rosemary can also be used in immortality magic, as mentioned above. It wasn't just the Romans, however, that believed rosemary was a plant of immortality. The French also associated rosemary with immortality, using it to embalm and preserve the dead. In England, it was believed that bathing in a rosemary bath could preserve your youth and an old folktale recants the story of a queen who did this three times a day until her "old flesh" became "young and tender."

In the Middle Ages, rosemary became a popular herb for dispelling negativity. This is likely due to its strong scent, which naturally repels insects and the fact that its healing properties are well known. Rosemary is a natural protector, and therefore can be used in a number of healing spells and in protection magic. During the Black Plague, rosemary was a common herb contained in posies and was often burned in the sick room to protect those not sick. It later became common practice to burn rosemary to protect against evil spirits and witches. Today, rosemary wreaths can be displayed in the home to ward off negativity, burned to cleanse the home and objects, or used in other protection and healing spells.

Finally, rosemary is associated with love and fidelity. Rosemary is a traditional courtship and wedding herb, often used in bouquets during such occasions. The rosemary was often used to help the bride and groom remember their vows. In English folklore, it was said if you placed a plate of flour under a rosemary bush on Midsummer eve that the following morning the initials of your future lover would be written in the flour. Other folklore suggests that placing a sprig of rosemary under your pillow not only enhanced dream recall but also promoted dreams of a future lover. Placing rosemary under your bed is said to ensure faithfulness and fidelity, while sprigs of rosemary are dipped in gold and hung in the home to bring a happy marriage. Use rosemary in love spells to promote fidelity and happiness in a relationship. 

Rosemary can be used in a number of spells including:
     Protection Magic
     Healing Spells
     Love Spells
     Immortality Spells
     Attract Wisdom
     Memory Enhancement and Remembrance
     Funeral Magic

Medicinal Uses: Rosemary acts on the circulatory and nervous systems as a stimulant, hence why it is able to enhance memory and treat depression and headaches. Furthermore, it can be used to calm and tone digestion. Externally it can be used to ease muscle pain and to stimulate hair growth, especially for those suffering from premature baldness. Oil is the most effective. For depression, it can be mixed with Skullcap, Kola Nut, or Oats.

Preparation and Dosage: The leaves and twigs can be gathered throughout the summer, but are best when the plant is flowering. Internally rosemary can be taken as an infusion, tincture, or oil. To make an infusion pour 1 cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoons full of dried herb and infuse for 10-15 minutes. Drink up to three times a day. Rosemary oil can be taken internally per directions to speed up the recovery time from an illness. As a tincture take 1-2 milliliters three times a day. Externally rosemary can be used as an oil to soothe bruises, skin irritations, stimulate hair growth, or ease muscle pain. This should not be made yourself and follow the directions on the bottle. Women who are pregnant should not use rosemary oil.

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