Good morning, evening, or wherever the day and this post find you. This week we are discussing the many abilities of the lavender plant, flower and—to a lesser degree—oil. By some estimates there are about 25 different lavender plants in existence today, though one can easily imagine a scenario where we—in our infinite wisdom of all things—haven’t yet discovered them all, nor ever will.
Genus and Species: Lavendula officinale or L. vera
Powers: Love, Protection, Sleep, Chastity, Longevity, Purification, Happiness, Peace
In ancient times the plant grew plentifully around the now non-existent Syrian city of Nardus. It is for this reason that the Greeks called lavender “nard,” and that The Bible—variously in Mark, Luke and Song of Solomon—refers to lavender as “nard” or “spikenard,” depending on the translation. The Romans used lavender oil and lavender flowers in their baths to create a clear and inviting atmosphere. Ancient Egyptians were known to use the plant in the funeral rites, including the mummification process. Some centuries ago, lavender oil and lavender water were used by prostitutes to attract potential customers; and conversely, during the Renaissance a woman’s chastity was saved or maintained if she wore a sprig of lavender along with a sprig of rosemary.
Medicinally, lavender can be burned or smoldered in a room to rid the inhabitant of insomnia and help them achieve a deep sleep. Lavender is said to have a primal effect on our mood, causing those who suffer from mental or emotional ailments to achieve a resounding joy just by engaging with the plant—touching, smelling, examining. If taken internally, it is said to help boost the longevity of one’s life. For those dealing with acne, steep a tablespoon of lavender flowers about eight ounces of water and, once cool, rub that water on the affected area—this method is also useful for treating puffiness. By carrying around the flowers in a sachet, smelled at intervals, lavender is said to heal even the most vicious headache. The plant can also be used to fight diabetes, faintness, anxiety and muscle spasms—either by smelling the plant of ingesting, as the case may be.
Lavender has, in magic, long been associated with love—the creation and attraction of—and retains that connection to this day. To attract a lover, or at the very least an admirer, wear a lavender sachet about the neck, then meditate on the coming encounters. One may also consider rubbing some paper with a lavender sprig, then writing a letter to a lover; this could be a sensual experience as well as a literary one! Lavender, for one reason or another, is especially effective at drawing in and charming men, especially through any of the above mentioned means. The flowers can be strewn about a home’s floorboards to maintain a peaceful living space—the Catholic Church has been known to use such a practice; did they know they were practicing a little bit of magic? If worn in a sachet or some sort of pendant, it can protect against a cruel spouse. And to see ghosts, protect oneself against the evil eye, and ward off negative energies simply carry a bit of lavender in the pocket. Any one up for a little ghost hunting?
Until next time, Novices, stay studious.
Smith is a cookie connoisseur, moonlight meanderer, and aesthete at large. His work has appeared in 13 Experiments, Folio, Stone Soup Review, SLUG Magazine, Salt Lake City Weekly, and CATALYST Magazine. He earned his BA in English from The University of Utah and currently writes from a room with many plants.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
Herbs and Things by Jeanne Rose
The New Healing Herbs by Michael Castleman
This post made possible by a generous contribution from:
The Original Oil Shop, 150 S. State St. SLC, UT