Rosemary: For Remember Our Natural Selves
Pulling Ourselves Back to Center
The earth smelled moist as I entered the front garden. It was moonless night and the fire in the broken five-gallon cauldron commanded all my attention promising warmth and my very first ritual. But first I must pass under a threshold of climbing vines wrapped around a wooden sign that read REMEMBER. It was more than a call to evoke thoughts of what I may have forgotten, it was an invitation to re-member myself: to put my myself back together as a divinely guided soul bringing light and love to a human experience.
On the spiritual, magickal path we are constantly re-membering – pulling all our fragmented selves back to center. We re-member when we ground and connect to Mother Earth and Father Sky. We re-member when we act as a conduit for intention and manifestation. There is no better herb for remembering than Rosemary.
The people have known about rosemary’s penchant for remembrance for centuries and once again science is catching up. Recently researchers have discovered that certain phytochemicals in the herb prevent the degradation of acetylcholine, an important brain chemical needed for normal neurotransmission. Rosemary, once used in bridal bouquets to remember a special day and by ancient Greek scholars to improve memory in test taking, may soon be used to assist people with dementia. As Shakespeare’s Ophelia says to Hamlet, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance, pray you love, remember.”
So how did the people share the special qualities of rosemary? With story, of course. Long ago, according to old European legend, as the year came to a close, a cold came rushing over the earth in frigid blasts. Many of the trees lost their leaves. When the sun did not reach high into the sky, most dryads grew barren. Some dryads and plant devas wondered if the sun’s warmth would ever return. As snowstorms raged on and blinded their sight, most of them forgot altogether about the sun’s heat – most, that is, except for the evergreens. Rosemary was one of those evergreens. She kept the warmth of the sun close to her heart so that she never forgot the radiant glow upon her prickly leaves and purple flowers. Many moons passed this way. When the sun finally returned to the skies on Winter Solstice, growing stronger each day he looked across the land at all the leafless trees and grew sad. Has everyone forgotten me? The sun thought. As its golden rays of light rambled over the countryside, a beam on sunshine fell upon the beautiful dark green of the rosemary. You have remembered me, said the sun. I never forgot answered Rosemary. At that very moment, he blessed little rosemary with the gift of remembrance.*
Ritual for Remembrance
Even though there is an old saying “where rosemary flourished, the woman ruled,” rosemary is considered to be male in nature and associated with Leo and fire, but it’s also associated with Aphrodite and Mary. Additional lore says that rosemary flowers are blue and acquired their fragrance when Mary spread her blue cloak over a rosemary bush to dry while fleeing to Egypt.
This is a ritual to re-member your power and channeling this unique light you bring to the world. Light a blue candle for the protection of Mary’s cloak. Rub a handful of fresh rosemary leaves and inhale their piney scent. Recall the details of your first ritual or the first time you felt the ability to bend or shape the unseen forces. Keep smelling and perhaps watching the flame until you have the memory solid. Light a yellow candle for the warmth and energy of the sun. Lift the rosemary to your nose again and breathe deeply until you feel the power to draw your intentions and desires toward you. Light a green candle to represent the perennial nature of this plant and visualize the energy coming into your body, hold it and then release it out to the world watching a figure eight or infinity of protection, energy and abundance to move through you in a constant moving magickal stream.
Although it is a common plant, Rosemary is not ordinary. During the Middle Ages it was used for protection and was once burned in the house to keep the black plague from entering. People carried a twig of rosemary to protect them from the evil eye and hung sprigs of the herb over cradles to prevent faeries from stealing infants. However, rosemary is beleived to attract the good faeries. It was also thought to promote prosperity so merchants would often hire perfumers to infuse their shops with spirits of rosemary.
Rosemary contains salicylic acid, the forerunner of aspirin, so massaging the oil of rosemary into joints effectively eases arthritic or rheumatic pain or on the temples to relieve a headache or migraine. It also contains antibacterial and antimicrobial agents, and is used to treat a variety of skin disorders, including dandruff, and was burned in sick rooms to disinfect the air. It was traditionally used as an antiseptic, astringent, and food preservative before the invention of refrigeration.
My new favorite gift from this herbal ally is rosemary’s gift to increase circulation. The herb contains a flavonoid called diosmin, which has been shown to strengthen capillaries in the circulatory system. Disease grows in stagnation. Rosemary keeps everything moving and helps the lymphatic system release toxins and can help tone the skin.
Combine two cups of water and two tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves in a small pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer, until reduced by about half. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain through a fine strainer, and add three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This rosemary tonic can be used on your hair especially if you have oily hair, would like to stimulate hair growth or gradually get rid of gray hair. Rubbing rosemary oil on the ends of hair can reduce split ends. I like to use a rosemary tonic as a body toner then follow with a dry brush, always moving toward the heart. Alternatively, you can leave out the vinegar and simply make a rosemary infusion as a splash or sacred bath for ritual cleansing, blessing and purification. This is a great option when you have a meeting where you want to be remembered, could use an energetic boost or need extra special protection.
Rosemary means “Dew of the Sea” and is found in sandy and rocky places, mountains, along the seashore, cliffsides and of course gardens. Other common names include Polar Plant, Compass Weed, Elf Leaf, Guardrobe, Incensier, and Sea Dew. The leaves are dark green, small, shiny and aromatic. Its flowers are lipped, small and vary in color from silvery purple to dark blue. Rosemary can be cultivated from seed or may be propagated by cuttings taken in early summer from a non-flowering branch. with full sun and well-drained soil. Rosemary prefers regular pruning. It has a lot to offer.
Rosemary is a good companion plant for cabbage, beans, sage and carrots. It helps to keep away moths, bean beetles and carrot flies. Dried rosemary should be added early in the cooking so the flavors can infuse the dish.
Rosemary Aphrodisiac Salmon
Combine ½ cup Pinot Noir or favorite red wine, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary, ¼ teaspoons ground ginger in a sauce pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Season both sides of two salmon steaks with your favorite salt and pepper and brush with butter. Broil in over or barbeque for 7-10 minutes or until the fish easily flakes when you insert a fork into the thickest part and twist. When the fish is done, place on a platter, pour the sauce over the fish and serve with a glass of champagne (or the rest of the wine) for a memorable night of aphrodisiac pleasure.
Enjoy the many uses of rosemary and Remember Who You Are.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN WITCHES AND PAGAN MAGAZINE #35