Bay Leaves, Organic
No collection of magick herbs would be complete without bay leaves, a wonderfully all-purpose herb. This herb is sacred to Apollo, god of healing, poetry, music, light, prophecy, and surprisingly, plague. It is sometimes called Daphne because of the ancient Greek story featuring Apollo. The nymph Daphne was the daughter of the earth, Gaia, and the river, Peneus. She admired the goddess Diana and like her, enjoyed the woods and hunting. She refused all suitors and wished to remain unmarried, as Diana did. Her father supported her in this. Apollo fell in love with her, but she did not want him. The more he pursued her, the more she ran from him. When he was about to catch her, she asked her father the river for help, and he turned her into a bay tree. Apollo said that if he could not have her for his love, he would have at least the leaves of the tree to decorate his harp and wear as a crown. That's why in ancient times, crowns for military victors were made of bay leaves. The painting below is a 15th-century rendering of this story. Top
In Magickal Incense & Oils
Sun herbs like this aren't usually connected to divination, but bay has a long association with that art. It was used to roof the Temple at Delphi, location of the famous oracle there, and nowadays inhaling the scent of these burning leaves is said to help increase psychic ability. Witches often stuff dream pillows with bay to help encourage divinatory dreams. This herb makes a nice incense when mixed either with white sandalwood (Mercury) or with other Sun substances like frankincense or cedar. Because of bay leaves' association with love, they are also combined with various other herbs to make a handfasting incense, and it is said to attract lovers, especially men, probably because of the myth about Daphne. You can make a good oil for dressing candles or blessing musical instruments (which are ruled by Apollo) by crumpling or grinding the herb and infusing them in Sun-warmed oil (sunflower would be a nice Sun oil to use--add a couple drops of vitamin E to help preserve it). Bay leaves are protective of the home and person (when worn as an amulet). During the waxing moon, wishes can be written on the leaves, which are then burned on the Full Moon to empower the wish. In the Celtic Wheel of the Year, this herb is associated with Imbolc, celebration of midwinter. In the zodiac, it is connected to Leo. Top
Soak this herb in
orange blossom water
and then dry them to add a nice
muskiness to their fragrance for pot pourri.
This herb laid in stored food or clothing help
repel bugs. It is not a good idea to eat it.
Chewing it up releases essential oils that can
burn your mouth. Even when cooking with it,
remove the leaves before serving the dish
flavored with it. This herb is an excellent
for flavoring savory sauces; one leaf easily
flavors the whole dish.
© 2004, 2016 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission