Webs of Woven Words, Threads, Stitches and Enchantments
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The Magic of Bay Laurel
(Laurus nobilis) AKA Baie, Bay Tree, Greecian Laurel, Laurel, Laurier d’Apollon, Laurier Sauce,Lorbeer, Nobel Laurel, Roman Laurel, Sweet Bay.
Both leaf and berry are used as well as the essential oil.
Sacred to both Apollon and Artemis. In Greek myth, the lovely Daphne, a nymph, was transformed into a bay tree to escape pursuit by Apollo, thereby remaining, as she wished, a virgin. Apollo, heartbroken, made a crown out of bay leaves and branches and wore it to honor her. Romans dedicated this herb to Fides, goddess of honor and fidelity. In another myth, Hermes is said to have invented fire by striking a pomegranate against a Bay Laurel tree.
The Pythias, Priestesses of the Delphic Oracle, chewed the leaves to induce their prophesies and enhance communion with Mother Earth, Gaia and then Apollon - this is in addition to the inhalation of the fumes from natural gases that rose from deep within the earth. It is also thought that the seeds of henbane were burned as well, intoxicating the priestess and opening the way for prophesy.
Both ancient Greeks and Romans were known to crown victors of competitive games as well as scholars with wreaths of laurel to honor them.
In the 17th century it was believed that bay leaves were protection against witchcraft. Of course, we know that is not the case as withes use bay leaves. However, bay leaves are very protective, bay trees were planted around homes to defend against curses. Folks believed that bay would protect one’s home from being struck by lightning and damaged by thunderstorms.
Planet: Sun, Jupiter
Bay has been used in magic and ritual for thousands of years. Culpeper, in his herbal, wrote that Bay was known for its ‘mystical’ properties, and noted that Bay Laurel is a ”Tree of the Sun, under the Celestial Sign Leo, and resisteth Witchcraft very potently” – also noting that ‘all the evil old Saturn can do to the Body of Man’…That neither Witch nor Devil, Thunder nor Lightning will hurt a Man in the place where a Bay-Tree is”.
- Use in teas for clairvoyance and to aid divination. As mentioned, the ancient Greek Oracles at Delphi and priestesses of Apollo chewed Bay leaves to enhance their trance states when giving prophecies, and burned Bay as an incense.
NOTE: Use caution when burning or ingesting! Ingesting is not recommended. Instead, use an infusion to mist about the area during divination, to wash a scrying mirror, add to a scrying bowl of inky water or perhaps a tea, lightly brewed, using just a bit of a leave and not brewed strong. *
- Wear as an amulet to ward off evil and negativity, burn or scatter in exorcism rituals.
- Place in the windows to guard against lightning. Purifies the home.
- To remove curses and evil spells, mix crushed or powdered bay leaf with sandalwood powder, burn on a charcoal.
- Use in wash water to clean floors as well as sprinkling the powdered herb, then sweeping, to rid the home of crossed/cursed conditions.
- To ensure a long and lasting love, a couple should break a twig from the tree, together break the twig in two and each keep a half.
- Add a few drops of the essential oil to a cup of water in a spray bottle, mist your pillow to induce prophetic dreams. According to Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, place bay leaves beneath your pillow for the same purpose.
- Use a sprig of Bay to asperge water during purification rituals or place in a bowl of water to wash the hands before entering sacred space.
- Bay is appropriate for the consecration of musical instruments.
- Use Bay oil or infusion to consecrate candles and other magical tools; asperge or mist home or sacred space to clear unwanted energies.
- Write your desire or need on a bay leaf, then burn to bring the spell to fruition.
- Write charms or draw symbols of protection on the leaves and hide about your home to keep it safe from all manner of ill will and misfortune.
- A Bay tree planted near the home, or bay leaves hidden in the home, are said to protect those within from sickness.
- Bay leaves give strength when worn during athletic competition.
- Burn a candle dressed with the essential oil to bring about needed change within oneself.
* Caution: Please note, care should be taken when using bay as it can be toxic when taken internally. The berries can induce miscarriage/abortion, so caution is advised if one is pregnant. That being said, most people add the leaves as seasoning to food, but do not eat the leaves, removing them before serving the dish.
A Dictionary of Greek & Roman Mythology, Michael Stapleton
Plants of the Gods, Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hoffman
The Oracle, William J. Broad
Natural Magic, John Michael Greer
Hoodoo Herb & Root Magic, Catherine Yronwode
Keep Bay Close By, Sherry Eldridge
Personal experience and experimentation
copyright 2011 E A Kaufman
The above post is offered for informational purposes only and is in no way a recommendation to consume the herb in any manner, nor is it a guarantee for the spells and lore mentioned.