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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: Rosemary


Rosemary: Rosmarinus officinalis. This evergreen shrub is native to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea, but is grown in gardens over much of the world. It's narrow, needle like leaves are dark green above and white beneath, with a clearly visible vein down the center and edges that roll down. Its flowers, white or pale blue, bloom in the spring in most climates. Rosemary is mildly poisonous in large doses, and should be taken internally only in small amounts. An essential oil is extracted from the flowers.

Temperature: Fiery–warm and dry in the second degree.
Astrology: Sun in Aries. It is associated with the fixed star Alphecca.
Lore: Rosemary's name comes from the Latin ros marinus, "dew of the sea," and in its native habitat it flourishes on seaside cliffs. The most important traditional use for rosemary was to strengthen the memory; students in ancient Greece would wear rosemary garlands while preparing for examinations, and in the Renaissance rosemary gardens were a favored location for practicing the magical Art of Memory. It was also held to clear the mind, prevent giddiness, and banish depressed moods.
Safety Issues: Rosemary is somewhat poisonous in large doses. The essential oil should be avoided during pregnancy and by epileptics.
Parts Used: Leaves, root, and essential oil.
How Used: Living plant, amulets, sachets, seasoning for food, incense, baths, washes, oils, and scents.
Magical Uses: For all its fiery and solar symbolism, rosemary has an important magical link to the Moon, and through it to the ocean and to oceanic energies; use it whenever you need a solar force compatible with Moon magic or sea magic. At the same time, like most solar herbs, it has substantial protective powers and can be used to banish nightmares and hostile spirits. The root makes a fine incense, with similar scent to frankincense and many of the same magical effects.
source: Encyclopedia of Natural Magic, by John Michael Greer


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