Most of us will relish large meals tomorrow, while giving thanks. Let us remember the history and traditional uses behind some of the more common Thanksgiving herbs, such as white sage, thyme, bay leaf, thyme, parsley — and their non-culinary uses in spells and rituals.
White sage, for example, was used as a medicinal remedy, as well as a space purifier:
As Wild Foodism reports on their blog, “Salvia is the largest genus in the mint family, and many of its species have been used by the indigenous peoples of North America (thistle sage, gray ball sage, purple sage, lyreleaf sage, black sage, etc.). I will be focusing solely on one particular species: Salvia apiana, or white sage.
The Cahuilla, Native Americans who primarily inhabit southern California, used white sage as a cold remedy and dermatological aid, and also seasoned their food with the aromatic leaves. Like the Cahuilla, other southwestern groups, such as the Kumeyaay and Luiseño, ate the seeds dry or as a porridge, known as pinole.”
Additionally for the Kumeyaay people, white sage was used as a spiritual cleansing tool. The leaves were burnt in a sweat-house to help purify the body from toxins associated with an illness. Leaves were also burned in living spaces to act as a form of fumigation. White sage tea was also drunk relieve diarrhea and indigestion as well. White sage is also known to be filled with antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial. Its properties promote overall health and target emerging infections. Sage tea is often drunk to soothe joint pain, colds, sprains, and kidney and liver troubles.
“Creeping thyme is another plant in the mint family. What was once a cultivated ornamental has escaped to become a somewhat invasive species here in the United States. Various states and provinces throughout North America host wild thyme, as do several countries throughout the world. As many are aware, thyme makes an excellent addition to Thanksgiving fare, contributing not only flavor, but medicine as well,” writes Wild Foodism.
Thyme is a powerful and popular herb known for magickal properties that have been used all throughout history. Ancient Greeks burnt thyme in their temples and sacred places to ward off negativity and raise the spirits, as it brought an aura of active tranquility. Roman soldiers would add it to their bathwater to increase bravery, strength and vigor. In Medieval England, ladies embroidered sprigs of thyme into their knights’ scarves to increase their bravery. During the height of the Black Plague epidemic in the 1300s, thyme was used to protect against disease. In the Victorian era, it was believed that a patch of thyme grown in the woods meant that fairies were nearby.
When working hard to achieve a goal that seems unachievable, thyme can be used in spells to help you keep a positive attitude. Thyme is also a great herb to be brewed into teas as it its known to relieve excessive gas from the stomach. Both the aroma and the tea helps against headaches.
Another of the Thanksgiving herbs is Bay leaf. In ancient times, Greeks and Romans used to perceive the bay leaves as a symbol of immortality and the Greek God Apollo, who is often represented wearing a bay leaf crown. Later, it became a symbol of nobility and victory as many Roman generals wore it on their heads during celebrations and victories. Garlands of bay laurel were also traditionally given to winners of the Pythian games in Greece and later the Olympic games. Bay leaves have a long history of warding off evil and protecting from psychic attacks, and boosting general magic. Additionally, they are extremely useful in divination, clairvoyance, and inducing visions. Bay leaves are used in clairvoyance and wisdom brews.Sleeping with a pouch of bay under your pillow might facilitate lucid dreaming!
Nowadays bay is used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce joint swelling and has been known to reduce arthritis symptoms. Additionally, bay leaf has been connected with lower blood sugar and is often used to help with diabetes.
For centuries, Greek soldiers believed that any contact with parsley before a battle signaled impending death. Because of its association with death, mourners planted parsley on graves to bring happiness to the deceased. It is used in rituals for death and dying as an offering for safe passage. In ancient Greece, the herb was dedicated to Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and the queen of the underworld. Meanwhile, in Rome, the plant was attributed with magical powers. It was believed that by eating the seeds, one could become invisible and get supernatural strength.
Parsley was even considered a “devil’s herb” in Europe! If planted on Good Friday, it was thought to bring misfortune to those who cultivated it. Making a tea with parsley, or wearing it in a charm or sachet, might increase strength, health, protection, and vitality. Parsley is associated with lust, good luck, communication, protection, purification, fertility, reincarnation, health, strength, vitality, divination, passion, meditation, rituals for the dead, and happiness. Parsley on food is supposed to protect the food from getting contaminated. When consumed it is said to increase the person’s fertility and lust. A wreath of parsley worn on someone’s head is supposed to delay inebriation.
This Thanksgiving, as we cook with these herbs (or use them for spells or rituals), let us be thankful for the earth and the plants that have taught us, and teach us, so much.
Special thanks to Annie Peterson for her research!