Have an Herbal Halloween

Here we are in October, the month of Halloween! When we think of Halloween, we think of scary characters like ghosts, witches, and vampires. We think of carving jack o’lanterns and placing them on our front porches. Pumpkin spice is everywhere and in everything. But did you know that there are herbs, many of which you might grow in your garden, that are associated with Halloween? As you know, Halloween evolved from many ancient festivals and rituals, and the herbs, many of which were associated with harvest and magic, were used in these activities.

Artemisia (Mugwort) – used to protect against evil spirits. This herb was also said to play a role in dreaming and divination. If you wanted to cast demons out of a possessed person, then you definitely wanted to wear a sachet of mugwort to protect yourself. And come Halloween, it might even keep the little miscreants from egging your house.

Chamomile – To repel magic or psychic attacks, sprinkle or plant chamomile around your house. Still single and not having much luck attracting the right partner? Make yourself a garland of chamomile; it will attract suitors. It also attracts good luck, so maybe the suitor will be rich.

Rosemary – want to keep that spouse or significant other from straying? Then rosemary is what you want. This herb was used to cast spells to ensure fidelity. Also, a rosemary bundle was supposed to keep negative energy and evil people from entering your house. So if you want to avoid family conflict on Thanksgiving, hang some rosemary over your door. Then those troublesome relatives will disinvite themselves, and peace will reign over the dinner table!

Sage – People talk about receiving sage advice, and why not? Sage is associated with wisdom, protection, purification, and immortality. An old legend states that carrying around a sage leaf will attract money – which you can then use to purchase more seeds, plants, and gardening supplies!

St. John’s Wort – an herb with strong medicinal value, it also plays a role in repelling bad luck and evil spirits, and, in combination with other powerful herbs, it was packed in amulets and talismans for protection. And, to prevent fevers and promote good luck, wear a sprig of St. John’s Wort around your neck.

So if this celebration of scary creatures is leaving you feeling a little creeped out, then a few of these powerful herbs hung around your door, scattered around your yard, or worn on your person should put your mind at ease that these evil creatures won’t be able to get anywhere near you. And while you’re at it, remember to hang a garlic braid on your front door. Garlic keeps the vampires away. Heck, garlic keeps everybody away!

Here Comes the Bride, All Dressed in – Herbs?

Wedding bells are ringing out for some happy couple somewhere. And it’s time to decorate the church, synagogue, mosque, or wherever it is that the wedding is being held. And how shall we decorate it? Why, with flowers of course. And with herbs.

Wait a minute, you’re saying to yourself. Did he just say – herbs? At a wedding? Yes, that is exactly what I said. And no, I haven’t been sniffing any of those “other” herbs. This is not a new idea that I just invented. The use of flowers and herbs in wedding ceremonies is thousands of years old. In ancient Greece, brides carried fresh marjoram bouquets and wore fragrant myrtle crowns. In ancient Rome, brides wore rosemary and roses in their hair. In 17th century England, brides had gilded branches of rosemary tied with silk ribbons carried before them during the wedding ceremony. And in the Middle East, brides were adorned with gilded wheat and fragrant orange blossoms, symbols of wealth and fertility.

Why not borrow some ancient cultural wisdom and use herbs as part of your next wedding ceremony? Where to start? Here are some ideas (wedding planners, take notes.).

Rosemary – Rosemary was used in weddings for at least 2,000 years as a symbol of fidelity, loyalty, and remembrance. There are a variety of ways to decorate with rosemary. They can be placed in the bride’s bouquet, the groom’s boutonniere or in the flowers carried by the parents. Pots of rosemary can also be placed near the altar or in the reception room.

Sweet Marjoram – A symbol of joy and happiness, sweet marjoram was favored as a wedding herb by ancient Greeks and Romans. Brides carried it in bouquets; the wedding paths were strewn with it, and it was also used to crown the heads of the wedding couples. The Greeks also burned it in special temples as an offering to their gods.

Myrtle – Many cultures have used myrtle for weddings and other festive occasions. In ancient Greece, myrtle was an ancient emblem of the goddess Aphrodite, and was a symbol of love and passion. The Bible refers to myrtle as a symbol of divine generosity. In England, myrtle represented peace, home and restfulness, and sprigs of it were added to bridal bouquets. And in Germany and Switzerland, brides wore myrtle crowns on their wedding day.

Rue – Rue was believed to be an herb of vision, virtue, and virginity. In Latvia and Lithuania, rue was considered to be the most important of all the herbs. Brides wore crowns of herb leaves on their wedding day, and after the wedding, the bride carried a pot of rue from her mother’s home to her new home.

Ivy – Ivy was revered as a symbol of friendship, fidelity, and marriage. In ancient Greece, Ivy was sacred to Hymen, the god of marriage and the wedding feast and Dionysus, the god of wine and festivity, and bridal alters in ancient Greece were wreathed with strands of ivy. In modern times, many brides use it in their bouquets without knowing its 2,000 year history.

There are many ways to incorporate herbs into a modern day wedding. For starters, herbs can be added to the bridal bouquet. Make sure to choose herbs that will complement the flowers. Fresh or dried herbs can be added to flower petals in the flower girl’s basket. Herbs can be placed in bags and given to the wedding guests to toss in place of rice. Use roses for love, rosemary for remembrance, marjoram for happiness, and lavender for devotion.

Herbs can be a wonderful addition to any wedding. Why not use some in yours?