Hello my lovelies and welcome to Wicca Now. I’ve been writing a lot about different herbs and plants recently. Check out these posts for herbs for protection, money herbs, healing herbs and herbs for self love along with posts on rosemary and cinnamon if you are interested in learning more.
Today I want to talk about one plant in particular, which just happens to be one of my absolute favourites. Let’s discuss lavender! It’s an all-rounder and can be used in most situations. We covered its magical uses in herbs for love, but here I’d like to answer some commonly asked questions about lavender and it’s meaning, along with its history and healing properties.
The History of Lavender?
Lavender has been used for a very long time, with the earliest documentation of it going back 2500 years. It used to be called “Spikenard” and is even referred to in the bible. The Ancient Egyptians would use lavender as a perfume and also in their mummification rituals. This may be because lavender has antibacterial properties so it would have been useful for keeping bacteria away from the mummy. Residue of Lavender has been found in decorative urns placed in the pyramids.
The Ancient Greeks found all out sorts of uses for Lavender perfume after they were introduced to it by the Ancient Egyptians. From here it spread into the Roman Empire.
The Romans used lavender for all sorts of things too. They used it in cooking, for bathing and for perfuming their houses. The Romans started using it to treat various sicknesses, and we think that this is where it’s use as a medicinal herb was born.
It was also widely used in Medieval and Renaissance France. Washerwomen were known as “lavenders” because they would wash clothes with lavender and then dry them on lavender bushes. The scent was meant to ward off infection and people appreciated the scent. Think about it, there were no showers, so a little lavender probably went a long way in making people smell a little less ripe.
The poorest of these washerwomen were reputedly often also prostitutes, which meant that “lavenders” came to have a double meaning. Funny, since today lavender is associated with purity. But this is more a comment on the worlds long history of slut-shaming so let’s not go there, I’m all about sex and body positivity.
Lavender has a long history of being used medicinally. Hildegard von Bingen, an amazing German nun who lived from 1098-1179, wrote down that she used a mix of alcohol (vodka, brandy or rum) and lavender in order to treat migraines.
During the 16th century, glove makers were licensed to use lavender to perfume their gloves. Interestingly, these glove makers were some of the most successful in avoiding cholera which was running rampant at the time. Lavender was also employed as a cure during the Great Plague in England in the 17th century, although I don’t imagine that it did much good in that instance. Its antiseptic qualities were probably not strong enough to fight off that monstrous disease.
Both Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria used to love Lavender, which helped it become a popular flower in England. It became a symbol of purity and cleanliness after Queen Victoria decreed it should be strewn around the castle floors. This meant that it released a delightful scent every time it was walked over, making the whole castle a lot more pleasant to be in and giving it the impression of being “cleaner”. It probably did help make things a little cleaner actually since it’s antibacterial and antiseptic.
In the 1600s, the Shakers introduced lavender to the Americas. They brought it with them from Europe and are thought to be the first people to start commercially farming it. They were celibate, so didn’t believe in lavenders more titillating attributes and instead stuck to the more simple things. They started making medicines and various other goods and with the help of a New York advertising agency, started exporting them all over the world. That takes us to today where lavender is still farmed all over the world, with its oil being highly prized by many people for it’s calming and soothing effects.
What does Lavender Symbolize?
Lavender is most commonly associated with love, devotion, purity and grace. It is often seen as a flower of serenity and it used in many religious ceremonies. It can be given as a gift, in which case it symbolises new adventures and opportunities. It’s seen as masculine and its element is Air. It is the flower of the astrological sign Virgo.
What Emotion does Lavender represent?
The predominant emotion that lavender represents is serenity and calmness. It is also often associated with love, and in particular, with the furthering and deepening of an existing love relationship.
What is the Spiritual Meaning of Lavender?
Due to its calming effects, Lavender is a spiritual healer and purifier. The burning of lavender flowers, or of lavender oil, should cleanse your spirit and ease your soul. It will help to cure heartbreak and eases sadness. If you are a believer in Chakras, the 7 energy centres contained within us, then lavender is a great tool for you. Blockages within these chakras caused by negative energy, can cause severe emotional and sometimes physical disruptions. Lavender is a spiritual energy purifier and will release and cleanse these negative energies so that you are balanced again.
Purple is also the colour associated with the crown chakra. The crown chakra is associated with our higher purpose and spiritual connections so lavender is an important spiritual herb overall.
How to Use Lavender Oil in your Spiritual Practises
- Rub the arches of your feet with oil to clear your energetic field
- Apply a drop of oil to the top of your forehead and anoint your forehead in a downward motion to bring your spirit into your body and open your crown chakra
- Purify your ritual candles and tools with a drop of oil to release any negative energies contained within them
- Purify yourself by running a bath and adding 8-10 drops of oil. Soak in the bath for 30 minutes
- Balance your energy fields by massaging a little oil gently into the outer ear
- Clear your mind by adding oil to a diffuser. Inhale positive energy along with the lavender vapour and exhale negative thoughts. Repeat this until you feel clear and positive
How did Lavender get its Name?
In ancient Greece, lavender was originally called Nardus, after a city in Syria called Naarda where a lot of lavender was sold and grown. The Romans changed this to Asarum because they thought that poisonous asps would live in the lavender bushes.
In Rome, it became common for wealthier people to have their clothes washed in lavender and to bathe with lavender in the bathwater. This kept them smelling fresh and clean and belayed a higher social status. Lavender was extremely expensive and one pound (450g) of flowers was sold for 100 Denarii. This was a whole month’s wages for a farm labourer and would have been an unspeakable luxury for many. Hence, smelling of Lavender meant that not only did you have the time and money to bathe frequently, you also had the funds to buy lavender when most people wouldn’t have been able to afford it.
Eventually, the Romans changed the name from Asarum to Lavandula, which comes from the Latin word “lavare” which means to wash, although it could just as well come from “livendulo” meaning livid or blueish.
Is Lavender Safe for Humans?
Lavender is considered safe for consumption. As with everything, caution is advised if you haven’t used lavender before. You may have an allergic reaction to it.
Younger boys are also not advised to use lavender oil as it can mess with their hormones and may cause gynecomastia. Gynecomastia causes breast tissue in males to increase and while it isn’t considered dangerous, it can cause body dysmorphia or psychological distress. Some people have a strong reaction to lavender oil being used on their skin. It can cause allergic eczema or contact dermatitis.
Does Lavender Actually Calm You?
Lavender has been used to treat a variety of complaints, such as migraines and burns, for a long time. Recently, however, people have started researching whether there might actually be a measurable calming effect from smelling lavender.
As it turns out, there is. Lavender contains a compound known as linalool, which when vapourised, has a measurable calming effect. An experiment was carried out, using mice, which proved that smelling this compound would noticeably calm them. Scientists carried out classical anxiety tests on the mice. During these tests, some of them were exposed to linalool vapours procured from lavender and some weren’t. The mice who got the lavender vapour, were much calmer, while not exhibiting any signs of decreased motor-functions or any other detrimental side effects. Many anti-anxiety medicines that are produced today have negatives side effects such as sleepiness and sexual dysfunction. This discovery is potentially quite groundbreaking for people who have to take these drugs.
It is interesting to note, that in order for the lavender to be effective, it has to be smelled. The mice who had impaired smell percieving abilities had no noticeable calming effects when exposed to linalool.
Does Lavender Help Anxiety?
As mentioned above, tests have concluded that linalool has a noticeable calming effect when smelled. This can now be used as an effective treatment for anxiety as the calming effect is specifically anxiolytic, meaning that it is an anti-panic and anti-anxiety agent. Next time you feel like you are spiralling down a black hole of anxiety and stress, add some lavender oil to a diffuser and try to meditate if you can. If you don’t have a diffuser, drip a little onto your pillow and allow yourself a short nap. Hopefully by the time you wake up the lavender has done its job and you’ll feel a little less anxious.
What are the Healing Properties of Lavender?
One of my favourite healing properties of lavender, apart from its epic ability to calm my anxiety, is its burn healing prowess. I opened a steamer while making dumplings a while ago and managed to quite badly burn a large patch of skin down the side of my wrist. I very carefully put lavender oil into the burn and then bandaged it up. I repeated this for a couple of days, at which point the burn was already much, much better.
Now, about a year down the track, what could have been a pretty nasty scar, is a marginally discoloured patch of skin that you almost wouldn’t know was that badly burned. Don’t get me wrong, if you have a bad burn, go and get it professionally treated! Lavender oil is amazing but only up until a certain point. It is antiseptic and antibacterial, so if the skin isn’t broken, it can help you to prevent skin infections.
Lavender is a great aid in treating insomnia and restlessness. It can also prevent insect bites from being super itchy, just add a dab of oil to the affected area. Lavender tea has been known to help with nausea and upset stomachs as well as easing internal gas.
What does Lavender do to Your Brain?
Aside from Lavender containing linalool, an anxiolytic agent which will ease anxiety, lavender has also been known to help people suffering from dementia. It is an analgesic, meaning it provides pain relief by blocking the production of prostaglandins. These constrict blood vessels, which restricts blood flow through the body. This, in turn, can increase body heat, which can cause fever. By restricting the production of prostaglandins, analgesics can reduce fever, inflammation and pain. It is great for headaches and can soothe migraines due to these properties. Check out the link to read an in-depth scientific paper about lavender and the nervous system, including what it does to your brain.
Uses of Lavender in Witchcraft and Magickal Practices
Lavender is a magical all-rounder. It’s great for spells and rituals involving love and attraction. It can also help you with sex and fertility magic. Use lavender when you’re casting spells for peace. It provides clarity and is great when doing psychic work as it clears your mind, leaving you much more open to the spirit world.
Lavender provides purification by dispelling negative energies. Indulge in a lavender bath if you feel as if negative energies are plaguing you. Purify your home by burning lavender smudge sticks. This will also protect you from malevolent spirits, the evil eye and jinxes cast with ill intent. Hang lavender charms in all 4 corners of your home for prolonged protection. Better yet, plant lavender in your garden for year-round protection and a good supply of lavender leaves and flowers.
Over-all, lavender is a wonderful plant which we should, in my opinion anyway, always have a store of. How can you go wrong? Pain-killing, sweet-smelling, anxiety-reducing, stress-relieving, protection-providing and purifying, does it get any more magical than that? It’s a great tool to help you sleep too! Check out this easy sleep ritual if you are having patches of insomnia.
I’ll leave you with a prayer I like to say when I need lavenders magical help. I recite it while burning a lavender smudge stick, or even just a single lavender flower. I always thank the lavender before I start, I think it’s nice to acknowledge how much it helps me.
A Lavender Prayer
“Magical lavender, help me see,
the calm and clear reality.
Magical lavender, bring me peace,
cleanse my soul and purify me.
Magical lavender, bring me good health,
protect my home and all those who dwell here.
Magical lavender, I invoke you,
strengthen my love and grant me your power.
So Mote it Be”
That’s all for today my lavender lovers, may your day be filled with love and peace and your night be filled with restful sleep.
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