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Field of Lavender

History of use

Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint family known for its beauty, its sweet floral fragrance and its multiple uses. The origin of Lavender is believed to be from the Mediterranean, Middle East and India. Its history goes back some 2500 years.

The ancient Greeks called Lavender nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda and was commonly called Nard. Lavender was one of the holy herbs used to prepare the Holy Essence and Nard, or ‘spikenard’ is mentioned in the bible in the ‘Song of Solomon’ and In John, Chapter 12, Mary is said to have anointed the feet of Jesus with the very costly “ointment of spikenard”

Around 65 A.D., Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician serving with the Roman army, wrote “De Materia Medica,” in which he described the medicinal uses of many herbs. Even today, it is considered one of the most influential herbal books.

The Ancient Greeks used lavender to fight insomnia and back aches and that it is antibacterial and antiseptic properties help wounds heal. It was prescribed by Dioscorides, the Greek surgeon whose De Materia Medica became the pharmaceutical bible for 1,500 years. He knew it gave protection from plague but not why the fleas that transmit it, avoid it.

The Romans put bunches between their sheets to guard against bedbugs and washed their clothes and hair with it to repel moths and lice. Its Latin name is lavandārius, from lavanda (things to be washed), from the verb (to wash). Lavender flowers were sold for 100 denarii per pound, about the same as a month’s wages for a farm labourer or fifty haircuts from the local barber! The Romans used lavender in soaps and carried it with them as they travelled the Empire.

Ancient Egyptians used lavender in their funerary rights and mummifying process as well as for perfuming their clothing and body. Cleopatra supposedly used lavender to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. King Tutankhamen’s tomb was filled with lavender and centuries later when the tomb was opened, it still held a slight scent.

In France, the latin lavāre evolved into “laver”. In Medieval and Renaissance France, women who took in washing were known as “lavenders.” Clothes were washed in lavender and laid to dry on lavender bushes. In the 16th century France glove makers were licensed to perfume their wares with lavender and apparently never suffered from cholera. It was a favourite of Charles VI of France whom demanded that his pillow always contain lavender so he could get a good night’s sleep. Louis XIV loved bathing in lavender scented water.

The English word lavender is thought to be derived from the French. When introduced into England in the 1600s, It is said that Queen Elizabeth prized a lavender conserve at her table and fresh lavender flowers throughout her residence. Lavender was commonly used in teas both medicinally and for its taste.

In 17th century London, people tied small bunches of lavender to their wrists to prevent the deadly diseases such as plague and cholera. In the 1652 book The English Physician, Culpeper wrote, “two spoonfuls of the distilled water of the flowers taken helpeth them that have lost their voice; as also the trembling and passions of the heart, and faintings and swoonings.” During the plague, lavender was included in a version of the “Four Thieves Vinegar” recipe. The Tudor believed a lavender brew taken by maidens on St. Luke’s Day would reveal the identity of their true loves.
Queen Victoria took an interest in lavender in 19th century England and English lavender became popular. The Victorians used lavender in gardens and both queens used products from the famous lavender company, Yardley’s of London. The botanic name Lavandula was created by Linnaeus a Swedish botanist and physician.
Until World War I, Lavender was still used in the UK as an antiseptic wash during surgery.

Lavenders many Uses

English monks grew lavender in their gardens for use as a healing herb. Physicians used it to heal and cleanse wounds and aid in easing a variety of complaints. Midwives occasionally used lavender as a protective and cleansing agent to aid in childbirth.

Lavender oil is used as a disinfectant, an antiseptic, an anti-inflammatory and for aromatherapy. for treating bruises and insect bites sunburn and small cuts, burns and inflammatory conditions and even acne.
Lavender oils are also used for internal medical conditions, among others indigestion and heartburn, soothe headaches, migraines and motion sickness when applied to the temples.

It is frequently used as an aid to sleep and relaxation. hyperactivity, insomnia, headaches, toothaches, sore joints, and rumbling digestive systems, as a mild sedative and an aid to relieve neuralgia pain when used in the bath.
As a member of the mint family, Lavender has been used for centuries in the preparation of food either by itself or as an ingredient of Herbs de Province. Lavender delivers a floral, slightly sweet and elegant flavour to salads, soups, meat and seafood dishes, desserts, cheeses, baked goods and confectionery. For most cooking applications it is the dried flowers that are used although the leaves may also be used.

Grow lavender in your garden and you will have fewer snails, slugs and aphids but bees and butterflies will be attracted to the flowers.

The fragrance of lavender can be used to calm horses.
Dried lavender flowers are popular for weddings as decoration, gifts and confetti. In Ireland, brides wore lavender garters to protect them from witchcraft.

For centuries lavender has been thought to be an aphrodisiac. Placed under the beds of newlyweds, Lavender ensured passion. Put in the pillows of Alpine maidens it brought hopes of romance.
Early household use, started with lavender strewn on the floors of castles and sick rooms as a disinfectant and deodorant. It was sold in bunches by street vendors and placed in linen closets as an insecticide to protect linens from moths. Lavender was burned in sickrooms to clean the air.

Dried Lavender flowers are used extensively as fragrant herbal filler inside sachets to freshen linens, closets and drawers. As an air spray, it is used to freshen in practically any room
Lavender was said to drive off the evil eye and chase away demons and evil spirits. In Spain and Portugal, lavender was traditionally strewn on the floor of churches or thrown into bonfires to avert evil spirits on St. John’s Day around midsummer.

In Tuscany, pinning a sprig of lavender to your shirt is a traditional ward against the evil eye. Fashioned into a cross, it was hung over doorways and at the entrances to homes to protect the inhabitants against evil spirits.
Maidens who wanted to remain chaste carried a sprig of lavender to repel unwanted advances. As a complete opposite, ladies of ill repute often used lavender scented perfumes to attract clientele.
At Midsummer’s Eve, it was a component in the blend used to summon faeries, brownies, and elves.

Lavender for the mind, body and spirit

Lavender can be used by itself or in combination with other herbs such as white sage, sweetgrass or palo santo sticks as a smudge to cleanse your environment of negativity, and neutralise any stale, lingering bad vibes. Infusing your space with Lavender sets the intention for a peaceful, grounded energy before making art, studying, working, practicing yoga, meditation, saying prayers or affirmations, chanting mantras, pulling tarot or oracle cards, gathering in circle, and engaging in any type of sacred ceremony.
Lavender nurtures creativity and self-expression.
Lavender is associated with the third-eye chakra whose attributes include intuition, imagination, visualisation, and concentration.

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Herb of Grace

Herb of grace poster

We came across Herb of Grace we went “what is that as well”

Rue (Ruta graveolens, strong smelling rue), common rue, or herb-of-grace, is a hardy evergreen ornamental plant and herb.
Most Western European languages have similar names for rue: English and French rue, Dutch ruit and German Raute all go back to Latin ruta, which itself was borrowed from Greek rhyte. The ultimate origin of the word is not known. In English rue may also mean “remorse”,

Origins and history of Rue

Rue is a herb but isn’t commonly used in modern kitchens because of its bitterness. Rue was a very common spice in ancient Rome, often being used for country-style food like moretum, a spicy paste of fresh garlic, hard cheese and herbs (coriander, celery, rue) The Romans cultivated rue and brought it with them when they visited prisoners, because they believed the plant would avert “the Evil Eye”.

The Chinese used Rue to counteract negative thoughts or wishes. Celtic wizards said that rue was a defence against magic and could be used to promote healing.

Rue was sacred to the early Jewish and Egyptians whom believed it was a gift from the Gods. The Native Americans used rue for spells One love spell, involved placing a branch under the light of the moon before giving it to their love and they claimed they would win the heart of their love forever.

Rue is also a common ingredient in witchcraft and spell making. During the Middle Ages it was a symbol of recognition between witches.

The legend of rue lives on in playing cards, where the symbol for the suit of clubs is said to be modelled on a leaf of rue.
Shakespeare refers Rue in Richard II:
Here in this place
I’ll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace;
Rue, even for ruth, shall shortly here be seen,
In the remembrance of a weeping queen.’

Rue in Medicine

Rue has a long history of use in both medicine and magic and is considered a protective herb in both disciplines It was used for nervous afflictions, digestive problems and as an antidote to poison. Many cultures believed it was as a protection against evil.

Rue is mentioned by many writers (e.g. Pliny, Shakespeare) as an herb of remembrance, warding and healing. Early physicians considered rue excellent protection against plagues, pestilence to ward off poisons and fleas. It is one of the most well-known of the magical protective herbs and is often used in modern magic spells forwarding and protection.

Hippocrates recommend Rue as it constituted the main ingredient of the famous antidote to poison used by Mithridates. The Greeks regarded it as an anti-magical herb because it served to remedy the nervous indigestion they suffered when eating before strangers, which they attributed to witchcraft. In many parts of Europe from the Middle Ages onwards, it was considered a powerful defence against witches, and bestow second sight.

Rue was once believed to improve the eyesight and creativity and Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci regularly ate the small trefoil leaves.

At one time the holy water was sprinkled from brushes made of Rue at the ceremony before the Sunday celebration of High Mass. This why it was named the Herb of Repentance and the Herb of Grace. ‘There’s rue for you and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays.‘ The Catholic Church also used a branch of rue to sprinkle holy water on its followers during this time known as the “herb of grace”
(Luke 11:42) “But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

Rue essential oil has many health benefits and can help as an anti-arthritic, anti-rheumatic, antibacterial, anti-fungal and insecticidal aid. Rue itself has been used as an, sedative, digestive, anti-epileptic, and anti-hysteric substance.

The anti-fungal properties of rue also help to heal the de-complexion of the skin, to reveal a more beautiful and clear skin. Rue helps our body fight against fungal infections such as dermatitis and athletes’ foot. The antioxidant properties of rue ensure that your skin repels the free radicals that cause premature ageing of the skin, keeping your skin young and happy. Rue oil is often used in spas for providing therapeutic facial steams and for hair treatment, to give you hair that shines with health.