Rosemary at Christmastime
As children we sensed the magic of the Christmas season, which was something that we could not necessarily identify or explain through words. It began several days before Christmas, and there was more to it than sugary sweets and unwrapping presents on that special day. What we were sensing was the shift of the winter equinox, aided by myriads of intelligent beings in multiple realms of existence, which we may call angels, devas, fairies, and elves. What is happening during this time is not always visible to the human eye but can be experienced deeply within the heart…a knowing there is so much going on beneath the surface that is preparing us and the Earth for new growth and expansion.
The elves assigned as “Santa’s helpers” are but one of the many kinds of elves who keep busy around this time. There are elves on the prairie, in the woods, perhaps in the cupboards, and for sure within the root systems of many old oaks, pines, and certain bushes, such as Rosemary…
Rosemary is one of the best known herbs used in Elfin magic, and along with pine, peppermint, mulberry, bay and other herbs, it is one of those often employed during the holiday season. It is highly favored by elves and humans alike for it versatility, at any time of year. The name “Rosemary” was coined by Pliny, who combined foam (ros) and sea (mare), indicating how often it grows very near to the seashores. The uses of this perennial shrub are widespread because it grows quite easily. It usually flowers in April to May, prefers a chalky soil and will grow up to four feet high.
Customs, Folklore & Magic
Rosemary has a variety of medicinal, culinary, and magical uses in many countries. In Irish gardens, Rosemary is planted to attract elves and fairies, as well as for its medicinal properties. In England, sprigs of Rosemary are hung on Christmas trees as blessings for helpful elves. In America, Rosemary bushes are also used as substitutes for pine Christmas trees. They are about the same height as Santa’s helpers! The people of Sicily believed that young fairies, in the guise of snakes, dwelled within Rosemary branches. The Greek gods of Mount Olympus valued a wreath of Rosemary more than one of gold. This richly aromatic herb was also said to be especially sacred to the goddess Aphrodite.
Rosemary eventually became a symbol of fidelity, due to its strong quality of sharpening the memory. Rosemary, the herb as well as the delicate blue-violet flowers are known to heighten intuitive and psychic abilities. A cup of Rosemary tea may assist in astral traveling, as it brings awareness and inspiration, along with protective qualities. A sprig of the plant could be worn as a amulet before “take off”. The dried leaves are sometimes placed in dream pillows to prevent insomnia and nightmares. Rosemary has been used since the Middle Ages to both drive out demons and repel insects.
The ancients ornamented their weddings and funerals with Rosemary. It was also burned as incense in sacred ceremonies, being a powerful cleanser of negative energy and general air pollution. Some people still smoke and inhale it, usually combined with other herbs, because it is known to be slightly euphoric.
Traditionally, Rosemary has been used as a heart and liver tonic in many cultures. Among its many functions, Rosemary is helpful in counteracting asthma, cold symptoms, migraine headaches, dizziness, indigestion, and brain fog. It is also often used in hair products to both strengthen and darken hair, and in toothpastes for its cleansing properties. Also known as Mi Die Xiang, it is used in Chinese medicine for its calming effects on the nervous system, and it can be very helpful in cases of shock or fear. Arabs sprinkle Rosemary powder on the umbilical cord of newborns because of its astringent, antiseptic, and also possibly for its calmative actions.
It was suggested by Nicolas Culpeper to rub Rosemary leaves to stiff joints and sprains. A bath filled with the fresh leaves can also be quite effective, or the essential oil diluted in a bit of some carrier oil can be rubbed onto sore spots. A medicinal oil can also be made by placing some Rosemary leaves in a jar with olive oil for one week in the dark. The leaves can remain in the oil or be removed before use. Water in which Rosemary has been boiled can be beneficial for the skin. The volatile oil in Rosemary includes pinenes, camphene, camphor, cineole, limonene, linalol, flavonoids, ursolic acid, octanone and oleanolic acid. In aromatherapy, it is used for depression, nervous exhaustion, rheumatism, aches and spasms. The mere scent of this magical herb is reputed to bestow wisdom and preserve youth. This is perhaps due to its ability to sharpen the memory and general mental faculties, in addition to its antioxidant properties.
Rosemary wine is popular in Europe, and the herb itself too of course used in the kitchen. This is one of the few herbs that actually improves in flavor the longer it is cooked. Because of it this it often adds the perfect touch to poultry that is baked or roasted. In general it adds a cool, spicy nature to foods.
A cheers and a toast to the widely revered herb Rosemary ~ an enlivening celebrated herb of the winter season… as the Renaissance herbalist of Strasbourg, Wilhelm Ryff stated (on Rosemary in the form of a tonic beverage, “The spirits of the Heart and entire body feel joy from this drink which dispels all despondency and worry”. For those so inclined, let us drink of the essence of Rosemary and be merry! 😀