In the second post of the October trilogy related to Halloween and all things aromatically witchy, we are taking a look at some of the aromatic plants which could cast a spell on your garden visitors in one way or another. Some have traditionally been used for love spells and potions; others, by my own interpretation and assessment, conjure up an image of magic in one way or another. And, above all else, don’t forget the aroma of many of these plants, which is, to me as an aromatherapist, the most bewitching power of any plant!
Some of these ancient plants, although used for their therapeutic properties in one form or another, were not as closely analyzed and scrutinized for their chemical make-up as they are today. Common people did not have access to the science of plants and it is probable that for this reason certain species were perceived to be “magical.”
This article takes a look at some of the folklore and magic associated with certain aromatic plants and it is by no means intended to be scientific “proof” of the historical claims of each plant. It is simply a guide to planting some aromatically witchy plants for your garden!
Aromatic Herbs for Love Spells
Many plants have been used to conjure up a love spell or two, including the herbs basil, lovage, and fennel.
According to folklore, a gift of basil (Ocimum basilicum) would cause the recipient to fall deeply in love with the giver, and they would never stray. In Romania, folklore goes as far to say that a gift of basil represented an official engagement. In Italy, a woman who places a pot of basil on her balcony is said to be looking for love – so be careful, where you place your basil!1 Basil has a sweet, herbaceous, even spicy aroma.
Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is a common herb which has been used in love charms, perhaps in part to the tendancy to break down its name into “love-ache.”2 Some say that lovage can aid in both love and sexuality and it has an ability to draw in a new lover.3 Lovage is another plant with a similar aroma to basil, so it would compliment it well within a herb garden.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is often used in rituals to awaken love, 4 along with acacia. Fennel has an anise-like, camphoraceous aroma and its umbels of yellow flowers make a show among many of the more traditional, green herbs of the garden.
Aromatic Plants which Inspire Love and Magic in the Garden
Nature sometimes has a way of indicating its purpose with subtle indicators to be found in its plants – or is that how humans interpret them? Take lilac (Syringa spp.) for example. Several lilac species have heart-shaped leaves. Common lilac flowers in the spring in a variety of colors that includes lilac, deep purple, white, and pink. Lilac is a deciduous shrub or small tree with an amazing aroma. It can probably cast its own love spell through aroma and appearance alone, whether or not it has been used in an ancient love spell!
Then there is rose (Rosa spp.). As a member of the Rosaceae plant family, rose has pinnate leaves, with serrated edges, that are arranged spirally. The flowers have five sepals, five petals and several stamens that are arranged in many ways. However, take a close look at a rose petal. Although not a true “heart” shape, you can see how rose petals are used as a symbol of love through their shape, texture, and (if aromatic) fragrance.
Viola, of the Violaceae plant family, does have heart-shaped leaves, and although not aromatic, it is used in herbal medicine. Its beautiful flowers consist of five petals, arranged in a memorizing symmetry and I find these little flowers bewitching in the garden as they are one of the few flowers here which continue to bloom through both sun and snow in the winter months.
Finally I would be remiss in closing out this article without mentioning witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), as an aromatically witchy plant for the garden. Witch hazel is one of the few plants in the aromatic garden which blooms from Fall through early winter with, in my opinion, some witchy looking flowers! It has spidery-looking flowers of white, yellow, orange, or red. The flowers have a spicy fragrance. It has alternate, oval-shaped leaves.The fruit is expelled upon maturity from its capsule – hence its name, snapping hazel. Perhaps a magical plant in more ways than one!
We can all use a little bit of love and magic in our lives and the garden is a great place to create an aromatically witchy theme for year-round enjoyment. Add in some plants which are traditionally used in broom-making, and you have many ingredients at your disposal to cast a spell on those who choose to wander through the plants. My closing thought is that aren’t all aromatic gardens a little witchy, given the aromatic ingredients, and their subsequent therapeutic powers? Enjoy!
Learn More About Aromatic Plants with Sedona Aromatherapie
If you would like to learn more about aromatic plants, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program.
Witchipedia website, Basil, available from: http://www.witchipedia.com/herb:basil
Alchemy-Works website, Lovage, available from: http://www.alchemy-works.com/levisticum_officinale.html
Herb Magic website, Lovage Root, available from: http://www.herbmagic.com/lovage.html
Egyptian Witchcraft website, Magical Properties of Herbs, Plants, and Trees, available from: https://www.egyptian-witchcraft.com/magical-properties-of-herbs-plants-and-trees/
The author of this article has a 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist (R). She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.