Ally - Now Remember Rosemary
an article by Susun S. Weed
Ophelia tells us: "There's Rosemary, that's for
remembrance". In Shakespeare's day it was common
knowledge that rosemary helped one remember. Today,
as then, herbalists agree: "For weyknesse of ye
brayne, sethe rosemaria in wyne and keep ye heed
warme". The leaves of this tough, evergreen shrub,
are valued for both medicinal and culinary uses.
And, the powerful antioxidant vitamins found therein
do help the brain work better.
(Rosmarinus officinalis) is an especially aromatic
member of the mint family. When grown in dry, poor
soils in hot areas, a little protected, but touched
by the winds, rosemary rewards us with minerals, vitamins,
and antiseptic, antibacterial volatile oils which
extract easily into water, vinegar, alcohol, and fat.
While evergreen, and thus usable at any time of the
year, rosemary is considered most medicinal when flowering.
A large pinch of dried rosemary in food acts as a
preservative. A strong brew of the fresh or dried
leaves makes a particularly effective wound wash.
herbals hint that rosemary exerts its influence magically
as well as physically. Burned as an incense, twined
into a wreath, or grown in a pot, rosemary protects
the house and those who live in it, especially the
women. Added to the wedding bouquet, it insures fidelity.
Tied with silk ribbons and given to the wedding guests,
it spreads loving kindness.
for Rosmarine, I let it runne all over my garden walls,
not onlie because my bees love it, but because it
is the herb sacred to remembrance, and, therefore,
to friendship †" said Sir Thomas More several hundred
years ago, with a smile.
de Bairacli Levy repeats an old, old story about rosemary:
When Mary and Joseph were fleeing with the infant
Jesus, Mary placed her damp blue cloak on the rosemary
bush to dry it. The rosemary, thus blessed, forever
more has had blue flowers, and the absolute power
to protect against evil. A sprig of rosemary hung
by the door banishes all thieves; a bush of rosemary
growing by the door allows only love to enter.
is a traditional Christmas decoration - partly because
it smells good, and partly because pruning rosemary
back mid-winter makes it stronger and healthier. So
don't hesitate to cut bunches of it for beauty. If
you take your decorative rosemary down before it gets
too dry, it can be used for cooking or as a smudge.
dense smoke (smudge) produced by burning dried rosemary
is equally favored in religious, mystical, and medicinal
settings. When frankincense and myrrh - expensive
and foreign resins - are in short supply, rosemary
stands in for them in the church's - or the pagans
- censors. During the plague years, and thereafter
in many hospitals, the burning of rosemary reliably
cleared the air and countered airborne infections.
By extension, rosemary was given to mourners to protect
them from contagion. It was laid in the coffin to
preserve the body. And it was cast into the grave
at the end of the funeral.
England, a branch of rosemary was placed in the dock
of the courts of justice as a preventative against
jail-fever. To ward off moths, lay it in your woolen
ladies, princesses, and even queens used rosemary
in many ways to enhance their beauty. They tied it
into a cloth to keep fleas away; they smelled it to
"keep youngly†; they soaked it in wine and used it
to wash their faces so they would be "light and lovely";
they added it to their bath water so they would "wax
shiny and be merrie"; and they stopped bad dreams
by placing rosemary under the bed.
ladies praise rosemary's ability to make their scalp
healthy and dander free, and their hair lush, thick,
and dark. To make a rosemary hair rinse, brew a full
ounce of dried rosemary in a quart of boiling water
overnight. After you've washed your hair, pour the
dark, sweet-smelling rosemary liquid over your head,
rubbing well into the scalp. Leave it be; no need
to rinse it out. If you have very bad dandruff, add
a tablespoon of borax per half cup of rosemary hair
rinse just before use. Lavaggio, a hair tonic made
from an Italian folk recipe that is 99% rosemary,
is available for sale for those who don't want to
do it themselves.
research has found that the heart has memory cells
just like the brain. No wonder rosemary is renowned
as a heart tonic, too! The oldest recipes call for
soaking several handfuls of fresh rosemary in a large
glass of white wine for several days, then sipping
the wine to ease palpitations, strengthen weak hearts,
and heal broken hearts. Rosemary in capsules, or rosemary
tincture in large doses, can raise blood pressure
however, so I stick to tea or external applications.
infused oil or ointment (not the essential oil, which
can cause poisoning) eases the pain of arthritis,
improves flexibility of the joints, counters and sometimes
cures eczema, and hastens wound healing. If you don't
have the oil, rosemary tea can be used instead.
tea has a beneficial effect on the lungs and breathing.
If you have a cold, rosemary tea is happy to help
you feel better. Too tired and sick to do anything?
Just throw a big handful of rosemary in canned chicken
soup and heat. For best effect, let steep for an hour,
then eat it. Ahhh. When imbibing rosemary tea, feel
free to add honey*, especially if your throat is scratchy
like all its mint sisters, is antispasmodic, mildly
so as a tea, more strongly in vinegar, and powerfully
as a tincture. Not only does it relieve nervous pains
and headaches, rosemary eases all digestive woes,
from gas to gall bladder problems. A tablespoon or
two of the vinegar on salad is an easy way to take
this remedy. Because of the danger of kidney damage,
I use small (1-5 drop) doses of rosemary tincture,
and only occasionally.
a seasoning, rosemary feeds the brain and helps prevent
cancer. As a medicine, rosemary restores memory and
wonder boxes made of rosemary wood are considered
magical. As rosemary is only happy when commanded
by a woman, its magic is most suited to the needs
of women. Perhaps Pandora's box was made of rosemary
wood. For sure, your life will be more magical when
you remember rosemary.
*Note: Do not give honey to babies under 12 months
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Susun S. Weed is the author of four highly-acclaimed
books on herbs and women's health: Wise Woman Herbal
for the Childbearing Year, Healing Wise, New Menopausal
Years the Wise Woman Way and Breast Cancer? Breast
Health! the Wise Woman Way. Ms. Weed lectures world-wide
on women's health and herbal medicine. From her
home in New York State's Catskill Mountains, she
directs the activities of the Wise Woman Center,
acts as editor-in-chief of Ash Tree Publishing,
personally oversees the work of 400 correspondence
students, and trains herbal and shamanic apprentices.
Susun has lived the simple life for nearly 40 years
as an herbalist, goatkeeper, homesteader, and feminist.
She has been called "a true radical - deeply rooted,"
"a modern pioneer," and "one of the founding mothers
of herbal medicine in the United States†.