Rosemary is one of my favourite plants to work with, not just in a magickal sense but also to grow and cook with. It is an incredibly versatile ingredient both for spells and cooking.
It is native to the Mediterranean and Asia. The Latin name "rosmarinus" translates to "dew of the sea", the haze of blue flowers looking like water drops on the plant. It thrives in coastal climates but is a hardy plant that can be grown almost anywhere as long as there is sun and the soil does not water log.
The earliest written record of rosemary found is on cuniform tablets dating around 5000 BCE, and the ancient Egyptians used it in the funerary rituals, but the first really detailed writings about the plant we have come from the Greeks and Romans. Pliny the Elder writes about rosemary in his work "The Natural History", and Pedanius Dioscorides' "De Materia Medica", one of the most influential herbal books in history, also contains information about the plant.
It is thought that the Roman's brought rosemary to the British Isles when they invaded in the 1st century CE, however, we know that there was a lot of trans-European trade before this date so it is possible that it arrived earlier. The first British record of rosemary is from the 8th century when Charlemagne, who was a big rosemary fan, ordered it to be grown in the gardens of monasteries. Rosemary was introduced to the Americas during the 17th century and now has almost global distribution.
Rosemary has a long history of use and associations. It was a sacred plant to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In Greek mythology it is heavily associated with the goddess Aphrodite, in one of her two conception myths she rises from the sea wearing a garland of rosemary.
The plant has had many medicinal and folk uses over the centuries, and is often associated with the dead and remembrance. Shakespeare references this in Hamlet when Ophelia says, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember."
In magick, rosemary has a strong correspondence with protection. As well as this it is linked to love, healing, banishing, purification, enhancing memory, and sleep.
The other wonderful thing about rosemary is that it is a truly all purpose herb - if you're missing a spell ingredient it can be used in the place of any other herb.
Ways you can use rosemary
- Planting rosemary by the front door to your home is also said to welcome magick in to your home - you could also hang a sprigs of it there if you don't have room for a plant.
- Burn in incenses to cleanse and get rid of negative energy.
- Put some in a sleep pouch to go under your pillow to promote restful sleep and dispel nightmares.
- You can also add it to protection baths.
- Add to roasting vegetables - not only does it taste great but you can also add a little bit of magick to your cooking!
You can stock up on rosemary here:
- Leafy Medicinal Herbs: Botany, Chemistry, Postharvest Technology and Uses by Dawn Ambrose
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs: History, Botany by Deborah Madison, 2017