Today’s VENUSfrequency radioshow topic of Heralism and nature’s miracle plants got me to these pages of Legend and Lore of Herbs. Let me start a little popculture – like look into this matter– starting with a spotlight on Rosemary!
Rosemary’s name is derived from its Latin name, Rosemarinus, meaning “dew of the sea”, and referring to its blue flowers or to the fact that this herb thrives by the seashore, especially in Spain where its thick growth covers the cliffs. To explain the range in the color of rosemary’s flowers from a pale bluish-white to a deep blue, Christian legend claims the flowers were originally whit but were turned verying shades of blue when Mary hung her blue cloak over a rosemary bush. Since the rosemary plant seldom grows higher than a man’s height, it was belived that rosemary grew to the height of Chris in 33 years, and after that it grew thicker but not higher.
Rosemary, one of the most beloved of all herbs, has been associated with remembrance from the time of the ancient Greeks when students studying for examinations wore garlands of rosemary to strengthen their memories. It was also lined with happy memories, fidelity, and love; thus it became a wedding flower in Europe from the time of Charlemagne. Members of the wedding party carried sprigs or small branches of rosemary, which were often gilded, while the bride wore a garland fashioned from it. It is still worn by some brides today in Europe. Rosemary became a funeral flower too in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe because it symbolized the memories of loved ones.
Mourners brought sprigs of it to the funeral and dropped them into the grave. Robert Herrick, a seventeenth-century English poet, in his poem “The Garden” said of rosemary: “Grow it for two ends, it matters not at all. Be’t for my bridal or my burial…”
Many folk beliefs endowed rosemary with magical qualities.
In the Middle Ages, it was placed under the pillow to repel evil spirits and bad dreams. It was also good against witches and the plague. As a love charm, it was said if young man tapped a girl (or vice-versa) on the finger with a blooming sprig of rosemary, this action would make the couple fall in love with a wedding soon to follow. In England, a rosemary plant flourishing outside a house was a sign that the wife was the boss of the household. Because of this believe, some man were known to sneak out at night and cut off the plant’s roots to hide the truth from their neighbors. Another belief held that a man indifferent to rosemary’s perfume would be incapable of giving true love to a woman. In Belgium children were told that babies came from rosemary plants.
The versatile rosemary has had still other intriguing uses. Applying rosemary powder to the body has been credited with putting a person in a merry frame of mind. In contrast, in France at one time, combing the hair daily with a comb made of a rosemary wood was a preventative against giddiness. And perhaps best of all, Banke’s Herbal of 1525 claims that smelling rosemary often will keep a person young. From The Herb Book by John Lust