Beloved Herb: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Perhaps one of the most beloved and well-known of herbs, Rosemary has been written about and celebrated for ages. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “there’s rosemary – that’s for remembrance – pray you, love, remember.” Always a romantic herb, Greek and Roman newlyweds wore wreaths of rosemary on their heads, and in the 17th century it was also traditionally used in bridal bouquets as a charm for a happy marriage.

Rosemary’s lovely name comes from the latin “ros” and “maris,” meaning “spray (dew) of the sea.” Indeed, rosemary’s effects on the human body and mind are as refreshing as its name implies. I like to use rosemary in my memory tonic blend, since it has been associated with relieving headaches and preventing alzheimer’s disease, as well as improving memory and focus. In addition, the fragrant aroma brightens up the mood and clears any negative energy in a room. The gypsies often hung sprigs of rosemary for protection against evil forces in their homes. Rosemary is an herb ruled by the sun, so its energy is very vibrant, uplifting, joyous, and bright. Like most sun-herbs, it is helpful for improving circulation in the body.

One of my favorite tales of Rosemary is the one told often in the books of Juliette de Bairacli Levy, an herbal elder whose 100th birthday would have been today. In the film Juliette of the Herbs, she tells a story of her child’s leg being very badly cut up after climbing a jagged wall. The cut was very deep, and bleeding was profuse. Juliette took a bundle of rosemary leaf and put it on the wound, wrapping it. The child fell asleep and his leg was good as new shortly after. Ever since, Juliette felt a great gratitude and connection to this lovely plant, one that is so easy to love.

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