top of page

Lavender in myth and magic

Lavender symbolizes stability and silence.

Its name comes from the Latin verb lavare, which means to wash; since ancient Greek and Roman times until today, it has entered our bathroom, while also clothes are washed and perfumed with its distinctive aroma. It blooms from April to August, while its tops must be collected when it is in bloom so that when it dries, its scent remains as well as its beneficial effect.

In ancient times, lavender was being used as an insect repellent when in the countryside or the gardens. In folklore, lovers exchanged lavender flowers as a symbol of devotion. They also said that if a young woman had a pouch of dried lavender on her, she would find her soulmate. In Ireland, tradition has it that if the bride put a sprig of lavender in her garter - which she had to cut from an unmarried woman's garden - she would have a good marriage.

In Egypt, it was quite common to place lavender vessels in the tombs. A three-thousand-year-old vessel was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, still holding its strong aroma. Lavender was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians in the sacred gardens of Thebes and was used in the ritual of mummification, while they also prepared a cologne to perfume the dead.

In ancient Greece, the sacrificed virgins were adorned with lavender flowers and the prostitutes used lavender to have a cool and fragrant breath.

In ancient Rome, women hid lavender flowers in the carvings of the beds to repel insects but also to arouse their beloved.

Folk tradition wants Virgin Mary to wash the wounds of Jesus with scented lavender water.

Lavender was one of the most popular plants for flower beds and gardens in Britain, both in the Tudor period and in Elizabethan times. The fashion of the time even dictated lavender lawns instead of the classic lawn.

In the 17th century, Moira Castle in Ireland gained great fame, thanks to its lavender gardens reaching up to 4 acres.

It is believed that St. Hildegard of the Roman Catholic Church, a Benedictine nun, cultivated lavender in her garden in the 12th century and she is credited with the making of lavender cologne.

For centuries, people spread lavender on the floors, to repel insects; hung cotton bags in the rooms with clothing scraps dipped in its essential oil to repel flies; and often, hung bouquets on the outer walls of houses so the scent of lavender would mask the unpleasant smell of the streets.

In English, there is an obsolete phrase "lay ( something) up in lavender", which means I preserve something carefully and place it into storage for future use. The phrase is derived from the old days when in the pawnshop they used to put lavender on the clothes they kept as a pawn.

In aromatherapy, it is considered the best essential oil and number one choice in the emergency kit we have at home as lavender's many beneficial properties cover a very wide range of emergencies that we are called to treat ourselves at home. In addition to the body, lavender is an excellent healer of the soul, as it assists in situations such as phobias, hysteria, negative thoughts, nerves, paranoia, panic attacks, anxiety, and much more. There is the so-called phrase of the healers: "if you do not know what herb to use, use lavender". Of course, we strongly recommend using the herb with medical guidance and, of course, not to be replaced by medical treatment.

Lavender has been used in folk medicine for a long time as a treatment for: depression, fatigue, and joint pains. It was often used as a headache medicine and, rumour has it that Queen Elizabeth I herself, who suffered from migraines, used to drink up to 10 cups of lavender a day to calm her sensitive nerves. They often gargled with lavender cologne for toothache and even treated the sore throat, while with the lavender tea, they calmed the tremor and heart diseases.

The 19th-century ladies always carried lavender in their handbag to deal with possible fainting. In general, there was so much faith in the properties of the herb that it had gained a reputation for offering immunity during the epidemic periods. It is reported that, in the city of Grasse in France, the gloves were perfumed with lavender essential oil; therefore those who made their gloves in that city, never contracted the plague.

However, it is a fact that the essential oil of the plant has excellent antiseptic properties, which were used in the treatment of chronic skin diseases and during the First World War to disinfect wounds.

In aromatherapy and folk medicine, lavender's uses are numerous: it is antispasmodic, nerve tonic, stimulant, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antidepressant, antioxidant, sedative, digestive, and treats infections that cause diarrhoea and vomiting. It is often used in baths to speed up the healing process after childbirth.

Great also for tissue reconstruction. Reduces the formation of scars on the skin after cutting, and its oil helps with burns, wounds, abrasions, and bites. It is excellent for many skin problems such as eczema, acne. It is distinguished for its bactericidal action, and its decoction tightens the gums and lowers the pressure. It is an antidote to snake bites, and it is said that the hunters in the Alps, when their dog is bitten by a snake, rub lavender on the wound to neutralize the venom. It also regulates the heart rate and helps the hoarse throat.

To calm your body and mind when you lie down, have lavender on your pillow and lavender pouches next to your bed. In the room, if there is a lot of intensity, burn lavender essential oil for an hour before going to bed. Also, the decoction of lavender flowers helps in sleep and calm.

In Anthony Askham's Herbal, 1525, it is stated: "For those who do not sleep, put lavender in water and let them take a foot bath at bedtime and put the herb in their temples and they will sleep well by the grace of God".

It is considered a masculine herb. Mercury is the ruler. It belongs to the element of air with its mercurian action is fast and effective. It is an excellent choice for magic pillows or pouches.

In magic, it is often used in love spells. They say that paper rubbed with lavender is great for writing a love message, while clothes that have the scent of lavender or a bag of lavender on the skin, attract a lover. Rumour has it that the scent of lavender generally attracts men and prostitutes who often used its essential oil or water to attract customers but also for protection against them; since it acts as a shield against abuse. Lavender is very much associated with love, while it is believed that if you want to know how much your lover loves you, you can put lavender twigs in the pages of a book. After a while, they will reveal with their perfume how much your beloved loves you. Another "recipe" says that, for love to flourish in the room, you can sprinkle rosemary, lavender essential oil, and patchouli on a mixture of lavender flowers, rose petals, and German iris root. If you place these plants next to your bedroom door by opening and closing the door, its scent will be mixed and spread in the room to help love bloom.

It is said that the plant is so strong that if someone is depressed, even if they look at it, all their sadness and sorrows will go away, and joy will return to their life. The smell of lavender gives longevity and it is said that we should smell it as often as possible! In magic, it is also used in healing mixtures, it protects against the evil eye while it is added to purifying baths.

Apart from its connection with love magic, in the Renaissance, it was believed that lavender along with rosemary could help a woman maintain her chastity. According to popular tradition, the girl who wanted to remain pure had to crush dried lavender over her head.

For more check Imaginarium Magazine Issue 2

94 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page