The magical properties of Rosemary and its uses are numerous and far reaching. First, I’ll present the properties. Second, a brief history and the common names of Rosemary. Next, we will explore the magical properties of historical use and application.
In closing, I’ll present some mythology and folklore that puts its use in religious and cultural perspective. This is a LONG article of nearly 1,300 words and more than an entertaining “blip” post. I hope you take time to read the article in its entirety. Or, print it for your own grimoire.
Table of Contents
Rosemary Magical Properties
Masculine – Fire – Sun
Cleansing – Fidelity – Healing – Love – Memory – Protection – Purification – Youth
History of Rosemary
The original specific epithet Rosemarinus coronarium was given due to its use in chaplets or garlands which main guests at a feast were crowned. (Folkard, 525) The genus Rosemarinus means “dew of the sea” or Sea Dew as it was commonly found growing near sea-shores. (Folkard, 525)
Rosemary Common Names
Polar Plant, Compass-weed, Compass Plant, Rosemarinus coronarium, Incensier, Dew of the Sea, Elf Leaf, Guardrobe, Libanotis, Sea Dew
Rosemary Magical Properties In Application
Rosemary Mythology & Folklore
Every herb has a story to tell. These are the stories of the magical properties of rosemary.
Ancient Herbals Reference
Excerpts from Bankes’ Herbal by Miss Rohde:
-Take the flowers thereof and make a powder thereof and binde it to thy right arme in a linen cloath and it shale make theee light and merrie.
-Take the flowers and put them in thy chest among thy clothes or among thy Bookes and Mothes shall not destroy them.
-Put the leaves under thy bedde and thou shalt be delivered of all evil dreams.
-Also if thou be feeble boyle the leaves in cleane water and washe thyself and thou shalt waxy shine.
-Take the Timber thereof and burn it to coals and make a powder thereof and rubbe thy teeth thereof and it shall keep thy teeth from all evils. Smell it oft and it shall keep thee youngly.
-Make thee a box of the wood of rosemary and smell to it and it shall preserve thy youth. – (Greive, 682)
From the “Grete Herbal”:
“ROSEMARY. – For weyknesse of ye brayne.
-Against weyknesse of thebrayne and coldenesse thereof, sethe rosemaria in wyne and lete the pacyent receye the smoke at his nose and keep his heed warme.” (Greive, 683)
The power of Rosemary as a Woman’s herb:
-‘Where rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.” (Greive, 682)
-The Treasury of Botany alludes that the belief that rosemary will not grow well except where the mistress is master was so deep rooted that the Lords would intentionally injure thriving rosemary to destroy any notion that the Lord was not the authority. (Greive, 682)
Passing Over Ritual
“Come funeral flower ! who lov’st to dwell,
With the pale corse in lonely tomb,
And throw across desert gloom
A sweet smelling decaying smell.” – Kirke White (Folkard, 525)
Rosemary sprigs were carried in hand to funerals then distributed to the mourners as they left. The mourners would then place the rosemary sprigs on the coffin as it was lowered into the ground. (Greive, 682)
From “Shephard’s Week”
“Sprigg’s Rosemary the lads and lasses bore,
While dismally the parson walked before.
Upon her grave the Rosemary they thre,
The Daisy, Butter-flower and Endive blue.” – Gaye (Folkard, 526)
“In olden times, Rosemary garlanded the wassail bowl, and at Christmas the dish of roast beef, decked with Rosemary and Bays, was ushered in with the carol being –
“The boar’s head in hand bring I,
With garlands gay and Rosemary.” (Folkard, 526)
Rosemary along with a clove stuck orange was given as a New Year’s gift. (Greive, 681)
“Down with the rosemary and so,
Down with the baies and mistletoe,
Down with the holly, ivie all
Wherewith ye deck the Christmas Hall.” –Herrick (Greive, 682)
“On the eve of St. Magdalen, three maidens, under the age of 21, are to assemble in an upper room, and between them prepare a potion, consisting of wine, rum, gin, vinegar, and water in a ground-glass vessel. Into this each maid is then to dip a sprig of Rosemary, and fasten it to her bosom; and after taking three sips of the potion, the three maids are silently to go to sleep in the same bed. As a result, the dreams of each will reveal their destiny.” (Folkard, 527)
A variation on the same-
On the first of July, gather “a sprig of Rosemary, and a red Rose, a white Rose, a blue flower, a yellow flower, nine blades of long Grass, and a sprig of Rue, all of which are to be bound together with a lock of the maiden’s hair who wishes to work the spell. This nosegay is to be sprinkled with the blood of a white pigeon and some salt, and laid beneath the maid’s head when she retires to rest. Her dreams will then portend her fate.” (Folkard, 527-8)
Beyerl, Paul V. A Compendium of Herbal Magick. Phoenix Pub., 1998.
Beyerl, P. V. Master book of herbalism. Phoenix Pub., 1984.
Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Llewellyn Publications, 2016.
Folkard, Richard. Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics: Embracing the Myths, Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-Lore. Alpha Editions, 2019.
Grieve, Maud. A Modern Herbal: the Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs, & Trees with All Their Modern Scientific Uses. Dover Publications, 1982.
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