Rosemary, the Herb of Remembrance
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We’ve come to the end of our herbs for haunting series. Thank you for joining me! I could write volumes about each herb, and there are so many I didn’t mention. Next year I may start on October 1 and share for 31 days! I’ve just finished an Enhancing Your Life with Herbs e-book that I’ll be sharing soon if you sign up for my newsletters, so watch for it if you are interested!
We’re ending with rosemary, beloved by so many. You’ll find it in every major life event. It is hung over the cradles of infants to protect them, and given in bouquets to celebrate friendship, birthdays and anniversaries. Rosemary is carried in bridal bouquets to celebrate love and new beginnings and tossed into graves at funerals to cherished memories of those who have passed.
It was used as a strewing herb to ward off disease and the plague, and is used in hospitals and sick rooms to protect, purify and cleanse. If you are troubled by nightmares, put a sprig of rosemary under the bed and your dreams will be peaceful. Carry it tonight, Halloween, to protect you from all kinds of evil if you are brave enough to venture out!
Rosemary symbolizes remembrance and reminds us to look for diversity in nature’s gifts, including plants, animals and each other! We are all multifaceted with a wealth of gifts and talents to share and lessons to learn. Hopefully as you read through legends associated with the haunting herbs, you noticed that some characteristics are positive, and others have been negative. It’s the same with each of us. We have assets and deficits, wisdom to share and lessons to learn. Let’s practice tolerance, compassion and kindness as we move into Samhain and the shorter days and longer nights ahead!
The Devil’s Herb
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And you thought is was just an innocent garnish!
I had a question about why I wasn’t mentioning some of the deadly herbs associated with Halloween and haunting - aconite, belladonna, bittersweet night shade, jimsonweed, foxglove and others. I’ve painted them all, and done extensive research, but since they are poisonous, I’ve avoided highlighting them. As I stated at the beginning of this 14 day series. “this is a light hearted look at herbs” and I’ve avoided any that could be harmful.
Parsley, as we all know, is edible, but it does have some serious associations. The first parsley plant was said to have sprung up from the blood of Archemorus, the son of Death, when serpents devoured him. Evil associations continued from this dire beginning. It is recommended that you plant four times as many seeds as you will need in order to give the devil his due, and during its month long germination, roots must go to the devil and back nine times before the plant will grow. Women were advised not to plant the seeds as they could become pregnant instantly. In contrast, it has also been said to induce abortion.
Planting parsley on Good Friday during the rising moon was recommended for those willing to take a chance and hoping to avoid evil associations.
The most gruesome association I’m aware of is the October 1937 Parsley Massacre. Michele Wucker notes in The River Massacre, The Real and Imagined Borders of Hispaniola, "During just a few weeks in October 1937, Dominican soldiers killed 30,000 Haitians along the border because the victims' skin was dark, even though Dominicans were just a few shades lighter. On the Dominican border, dictator Trujillo's men asked anyone with dark skin to identify the sprigs of parsley they held up. Haitians, whose Kreyol uses a wide, flat "R", could not pronounce the trilled "R" in the Spanish word for parsley, "perejil.” If they pronounced parsley incorrectly, they were executed.
Of course, that was a racist dictator’s fault, not the innocent herb’s.
On a brighter note, Roman soldiers carried parsley for protection. Other legends recommend using it in your bath to immediately end all misfortune. And if you are heading out for an evening of heavy drinking, wearing a wreath of parsley on your head will prevent you from becoming intoxicated!
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When my two daughters were in their early teens we moved into a haunted 1820s farm house. Through research and conversations with neighbors about who had lived, and died, in our home, we determined she was probably a poltergeist.
I didn’t discover the powers of bay until later.
Hanging bay in a house haunted by a poltergeist will prevent them from actively creating mischief.
If I had known, would I have chased our ghost away with the bay? Probably not. We collected a myriad of amusing memories while living with the her. She seemed more mischievous and playful than dangerous.
If you are currently living with a poltergeist, you will need to decide whether you will chase her away or allow her to continue to disrupt your living space. Good luck!
An Herb to Prevent Haunting
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If you are concerned that someone who has recently died has intentions of coming back to haunt you, place rowan on their grave and they will be unable to escape!
Even if no one making threats has recently passed on, rowan, is still useful. Like Ash, sailors used it for protection against drowning, It can be used to make protective walking sticks, and carrying the berries will aid in healing from the plague or other illnesses.
It’s been used to make magic wands and incense, and will increase your psychic powers!
Adelma Simmons, beloved herbalist from Capriland who has sadly passed on, made necklaces by using red linen thread to string the berries to protect her pigs and cattle from being bewitched.
If you don’t find of any of these purposes useful, you cam always use it to make rowan berry chutney, jelly or wine!
Herbs that Cause Confusion!
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Mullein has always been one of my favorites! I was born in Greencastle, Indiana and James Whitcomb Riley, known as the Children’s Poet and also a Hoosier (Indiana native), wrote one of my favorite poems - The Pixie People. It described the pixie people, “pouring from the steeple of a mullein stalk.” There was, and is, no doubt in my mind that the fairies not only existed, but played and frolicked very near by around the numerous mullein stalks on my grandmother’s farm.
Their relationship to witches is controversial. Some say it is a witch repellant. Others say witches carry it as a torch to light their way. Folk names, such as Hag’s Taper, support that theory.
Mullein also comes in handy if you are working on a spell and you run out of graveyard dust! It’s a perfectly acceptable substitute!
Herbs to Aid Zombies
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If you present a Zombie with pistachio nuts - yeah, YOU do it- I’m not going anywhere near one!!! - after eating the nuts, they will be released from their trance and able to pass on to a peaceful death. Be sure to use the nuts that have been dyed red, as they will be the most effective!
Pistachios are also reputed to make love spells ineffective! If you are pining for someone you don’t even like, you may want to snack on some!
Haunting Herbs - Still Counting!
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Juniper, another evergreen, was often planted by the doors of homes, as well as being used in swags and wreaths, for the expulsion of witches, vermin, snakes, fleas and other unwanted pests. Like pine, witches were required under the devil’s law, to count each needle before entering a home. Juniper has been used in exorcism rituals, to guard against theft, and to deter evil forces. If carried, it will prevent the wearer from accidents, illnesses, curses and hexes, and encounters with ghosts!
Herbs for Counting!
Pine is frequently used in making protective wreaths to hang on doors during the holiday season. Many of the decorating ideas we have today began as protection. At one time, there was no understanding of illness as it related to plants, animals and people. Associating plants with protective properties gave people a sense of safety. Protections and cures were based on observing patterns. Some made sense. Some didn’t.
Evergreen wreaths and swags were originally placed on doors and windows because it was believed that witches were honor bound to count every pine needle before entering a home. Witches are easily distracted and residents hoped they would lose count and move on to unprotected homes.
Garlic is associated with the Greek goddess Hecate, representing witchcraft, magic and creatures of the night. It was said she could cause, or cure, a host of banes! Witches are multifaceted!
Garlic will protect you from evil, envious people, disease, vampires, threatening weather and the plague. It is a symbol of courage and strength and volumes have been written about it. When I first started studying herbs, the plague was a foreign concept. After living through the pandemic, my appreciation for some of these herbal associations had increased.
Garlic also increases lust and at one time brides carried garlic on their wedding day for good luck.
Herbs that Repel Evil
If you have an elderberry bush near your house, you are very fortunate! It will protect you and your loved ones from negative energy, sorcery and lightning. Elderberries are used in exorcism rituals and are known for repelling evil of all kinds Witches are known to live in elderberry bushes, which further supports my theory that not all witches are evil.
Welcome!! I’m Mikell (pronounced Michael). If you love spicing up your life with herbs, recipes, decorating and crafts, symbolism and rituals like I do, I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter and free Enhancing Your Life with Herbs e-book!
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!