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Melissa officinalisMelissa officinalis
Lemon Balm

The mint family, of which lemon balm is one, are known to be ruled by Venus. That's why it's so neat that this plant is so beloved by bees (a Mars insect). That shows just how really complex planetary correspondence is. This magic herb has been grown for bees since the time of the ancient Greeks. In the past, new hives were rubbed with it to get bees to move in and feel at home, and it was also traditionally planted around hives--the flowers are tiny but make a ton of nectar. Obviously, it is a good candidate for bee magic, and as a Venus herb and a mint, it is a great aid for love charms. Try making a decoction and pouring it into bathwater for love magic (not to mention it smells terrific). It was also a favorite herb of the alchemist Paracelsus and is the focus of his primum ens melissa, an alchemical medicine that he called the source of all life. Top

Mundane Uses
Lemon balm is nice infused in some white wine or mead, which will comfort the heart and drive away sadness when drunk daily (sounds good to me!). The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked; they add a nice lemony flavor to salads or savories. This herb makes a good tea, especially for iced tea, and give a nice lemony sweetness to black tea. The tea is drunk for colds, excitable children (whether you are one or have some!), indigestion, and feeling a little blue; lemon balm is mildly sedative and antidepressant. It also has some antibacterial action and makes a nice mouthwash. This magic herb has long been an ingredient in various medieval herbal liqueurs, such as Benedictine and Chartreuse (I believe because of its popularity with medical alchemy), and it is also an ingredient in Carmelite water. Crushed leaves rubbed on the skin in the gardne help keep away bugs. This plant is also known as common balm, lemon balm, bee balm, and balsam. Top

Lemon balm in its first year in my gardenHow to Grow Melissa
Barely cover seed to germinate in 1-2 weeks at room temperature. Set out at 12-15"/30-38cm apart in full sun and rich soil. This perennial plant typically gets 12-18"/30-45cm tall. Like any mint, it can be aggressive--it spreads by runners, self-seeds, and can be propagated by cuttings. But it's a plant, not a monster. I have my lemon balm in partial shade, next to my brocs and some other aromatic herbs. It has formed some nice thick clumps in two years, but it is not taking over the garden by any means. If you feel concerned, plant it in a pot and sink the pot in the soil. It is hardy to zone 4: -30F/-34C. It is a good companion plant for members of the brassica family, and deer don't usually eat it. For drying, harvest leaves just before or after it flowers. Don't harvest when it's wet or the leaves will discolor. General growing info  Top

Melissa officinalis
100 seeds $3.25


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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Love Charms
Bee Magic
Venus Herb

2008, 2018 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission

Quick Carmelite Water

*1 bunch of lemon balm leaves
*the rind of one small lemon
*2 sprigs sweet marjoram (or 1/2 teaspoon of dried)
*1 cinnamon stick
*5 cloves
*1 nutmeg, grated
*1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
*piece of angelica root the length of your little finger
*1 pint brandy, vodka, or other spirits

On the New Moon, bruise the herbs in a mortar and pestle. Put them in a pint jar and fill with your chosen spirits. Let sit in a warm, dark place for two weeks, shaking daily. Strain, filter, and put up in a pint (8 oz) bottle. The longer you let this sort of tincture sit, the better it will taste. Store in a cool, dark place. Use to improve the complexion or as a compress in fevers. To make a cologne, use spirits of wine instead of brandy or vodka and add 20% water to the final produce.