Lavender

Lavender

Origin: Europe, Asia, and northern/eastern Africa

Family: Lamiaceae
Sub-Family: Nepetoideae
Tribe: Ocimeae
Scientific Name: Lavandula angustifolia (also L. officinalis)

Folk Names: Spike, elf leaf, false nard, nardus

Magical

Element: Air
Day: Wednesday
Planet: Mercury
Zodiac: Virgo
Associated Celebrations: VernEx
Deities: Hecate, Mercury, Saturn, and Vesta

Magical Properties: Chastity, communication, creativity, divination, happiness, healing, legal, longevity, love, meditation, peace, protection, purification, relaxation, spirituality

Substitutions: Chamomile, rose, valerian

Lore

Ancient Rome Lavender was often considered a type of nardus, despite being unrelated to true spikenard - Pliny the Elder referred to L. stoechas as “false nard”. The Romans used nardus in perfumery, spiced wine, and soaps. At the time, a pound of flowers cost roughly the same as a farm labourer’s monthly wage.

In the Middle Ages, it was believed that carrying lavender gave one the ability to see ghosts. It was associated with love, and believed to be an anaphrodisiac. by the Renaissance period, it was believed that wearing lavender with a sprig of rosemary would preserve a woman’s chastity.

Lavender was introduced to England in the Elizabethan period. Queen Elizabeth was said to always keep a jar of lavender preserve at her table, and it was also popular as a strewing herb and in linen cupboards. Soap-maker William Yardley managed to gain a monopoly on lavender in England by the 1770s.

In Victorian England, lavender perfume was incredibly popular amongst sex workers, who used it to attract and identify themselves to potential clients.

Magical Uses

  • Burn with sandalwood to attract helpful spirits.
  • Lavender can be used to change the way one thinks about love.
  • Hang dried lavender flowers by the front door to cleanse and bless those who enter.
  • A small amount of lavender oil can be added to inks used for writing love letters or love workings.
  • Use a sprig of lavender as an asperger brush to sprinkle water around a space to purify and protect it.
  • Lavender is often used in sleep sachets to dispel any anxiety that might surface as you try to fall asleep, and promote a calm, protected sleep.
  • To divine whether a wish will come true, place lavender under your pillow while focusing on your wish. If you have dreams related to your wish, it’s likely to come true, while unrelated dreams suggest it’s unlikely to manifest.

Botanical

There are over 40 recognised species of lavender, ranging from annuals and short-lived perennials through to more long-living perennials.

Type: Herbaceous shrub Plant Height: 1m-2m Leaves: Often narrow and grey-ish, most are covered in very fine hairs Flowers: Compact purple-ish flowers form on raised leafless stems; the individual flowers are tubular with 5 petals

Etymology: The name ‘lavender’ has been related to two Latin words: lavare (to wash) and livere (blueish). Angustifolia is Latin for “narrow leaf”.

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