Image from Tasteful Garden
Also called Compass Weed, Dew of the Sea, Elf Leaf, Guardrobe, Incensier, Libanotis (Grek), Polar Plant, and Sea Dew. The evergreen leaves of this shrubby herb are about 1 inch long, linear, dark green above and paler and glandular beneath, with an odor pungently aromatic and somewhat camphoraceous. The flowers are small and pale blue. Much of the active volatile principle resides in their calyces. There are silver and gold striped varieties, but the green-leaved variety is the kind used medicinally.
It can be used in many form – tonic, astringent, diaphoretic, stimulant. The oil is also used externally as a rubefacient and is added to liniments as a fragrant stimulant. Hungary water, for outward application to renovate the vitality of paralysed limbs, was first invented for a Queen of Hungary, who was said to have been completely cured by its continued use. It was prepared by putting 1 1/2 lb. of fresh Rosemary tops in full flower into 1 gallon of spirits of wine, this was allowed to stand for four days and then distilled. Hungary water was also considered very efficacious against gout in the hands and feet, being rubbed into them vigorously. A formula dated 1235, said to be in the handwriting of Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, is said to be preserved in Vienna.
Oil of Rosemary has the carminative properties of other volatile oils and is an excellent stomachic and nervine, curing many cases of headache, especially those caused by feeble circulation, as it stimulates the brain and nervous system. The young tops, leaves and flowers can be made into an infusion, called Rosemary Tea, which, taken warm, is a good remedy for removing headache, colic, colds and nervous diseases, (care being taken to prevent the escape of steam during its preparation). It will relieve nervous depression, and a conserve, made by beating up the freshly gathered tops with three times their weight of sugar, is said to have the same effect.
A spirit of Rosemary may be used, in doses of 30 drops in water or on sugar, as an antispasmodic. Rosemary Wine when taken in small quantities acts as a quieting cordial to a weak heart subject to palpitation, and relieves accompanying dropsy by stimulating the kidneys. It is made by chopping up sprigs of green Rosemary and pouring on them white wine, which is strained off after a few days and is then ready for use. Rosemary and Coltsfoot leaves are considered good when rubbed together and smoked for asthma and other affections of the throat and lungs. Rosemary is also one of the ingredients used in the preparation of Eau-de-Cologne.
Rosemary may be dried by hanging sprigs in a warm place, then stripping the leaves and keeping them in a jar or plastic bag. Uses of this versatile herb include teas (infusions of the leaves) that make soothing tisanes, and lovely fragrant soaking baths. It is employed principally, externally, in hair-lotions, for its odor and effect in stimulating the hair-bulbs to renewed activity and preventing premature baldness. It forms an effectual remedy for the prevention of scurf and dandruff, and is used in enhancing hair rinses, (the tea is a wonderful hair rinse for red heads and brunettes, and an infusion of the dried plant (both leaves and flowers) combined with borax and used when cold, makes one of the best hair washes known). Rosemary is considered an excellent tonic for headaches, and stomachs. It is also a traditional memory sharpener. Shakespeare said in Hamlet . . . “There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” Leaves are used in cooking and for scented oils. It can be used it for poultry stuffing, and as a tea to soothe stress.
The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. At weddings, being first dipped into scented water, the flowers were often added to a bride’s headdress to insure fidelity. A Rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribbons of all colors, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year’s gift. In place of more costly incense, the ancients used Rosemary in their religious ceremonies. An old French name for it wasIncensier. The Spaniards revere it as one of the bushes that gave shelter to the Virgin Mary in the flight into Egypt and call it Romero, the Pilgrim’s Flower. Both in Spain and Italy, it has been considered a safeguard from witches and evil influences generally. The Sicilians believe that young fairies, taking the form of snakes, lie amongst the branches.
It was an old custom to burn Rosemary in sick chambers, and in French hospitals it is customary to burn Rosemary with Juniper berries to purify the air and prevent infection. Like Rue, it was placed in the dock of courts of justice, as a preventative from the contagion of gaol-fever. A sprig of Rosemary was carried in the hand at funerals, being distributed to the mourners before they left the house, to be cast on to the coffin when it had been lowered into the grave. In many parts of Wales it is still a custom. One old legend compares the growth of the plant with the height of the Savior and declares that after thirty-three years it increases in breadth, but never in height. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.
Rosemary is a masculine herb, ruled by the Sun and fire is its element, which gives this herb its strength and heavy aroma. Rosemary is used as a smudge or dried and sprinkled on coal to release the smoke to purify an area. The parts used in magic are the leaves, twigs. Placed in a dream pillow it prevents nightmares and brings peaceful sleep. Put under the bed it protects the sleeper from all harm. Healing poppets are stuffed with rosemary. The infusion is used to cleanse the hands prior to healing work. It is used in the bath for youthfulness, and purification, burned as incense for purification and cleansing vibrations and removing negativity prior to spell work. It should be hung in the entry to protect the home from thieves, and carried for good health and to improve the memory. When mixed with juniper berries it is used as a healing incense for sickrooms. It is an important ingredient in spells for protection, love, lust, mental powers, exorcism, purification, healing, sleep, and memory.
Rosemary usually may be safely substituted for any herb in magic spells and rituals.
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