Posts tagged “herbs

Genus: Lavandula

Week 23 (L): lavandula, commonly known as lavender

Like amethyst, lavender is my go-to when it comes to herbs. It’s sold almost everywhere, both in witchy stores and in some specialty grocery stores. I’ve found uses for it fresh, dried, as an oil, and infused in teas. If you think you hate lavender, it’s probably because you associate it with chemical “smell-alikes”. Forget those and go take a snuff of the real stuff before you say you don’t like how lavender smells. Trust me.

You’ll often hear about French or English lavender. Typically, when people talk about French lavender, they’re referring to lavandula stoechas or lavandula dentata (my personal favorite). English lavender is usually in reference to lavandula angustifolia, which is my runner-up. For simplicity’s sake, in this post I’m referring to all three of these varieties.

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Fresh lavender is for braiding, though I have been wanting to try my hand at making lavender wands. I’ve seen these little beauties sold locally. When you tap them, they release the scent. In the past, I’ve used the braids to make a lovely blessing charm for relationships. You make three separate braids, then braid those together to form a fat braid of nine strands that can then be hung above the door or bed. It’s been harder to find fresh lavender in Massachusetts than it was in California, so I haven’t been able to make one in a long time.

Dried lavender is useful for a variety of culinary purposes*, as well as for use in pillows or sachets. Dried lavender steeped in water is good for helping with depression (always supplementary to appropriate mental health counseling and/or medication), insomnia, or stress. Lavender is great for relaxation, which is what makes it so useful for treating insomnia. It’s also why you see so many lavender-scented spa products.

Essential oils** are probably the most flexible in terms of use, but remember never to ingest or use undiluted essential oil on the skin. With dilution, lavender oil is used in herbal bug sprays. You can also add it to your laundry detergent or use it as an air freshener. Additionally, since lavender oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s useful as a massage oil (add it to a filler oil like jojoba or almond) for sore muscles. The scent is also good for relieving headaches.

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Magically speaking, lavender is used for love, protection, peace, happiness, healing, sleep, and purification. It can be used as a meditation aid when burned. I add it to a variety of spells, because I believe that almost any magical goal can benefit from love. Scott Cunningham says you can use it for wish divination, by putting lavender under your pillow while concentrating on your wish. Your dreams that night should give some insight into whether your wish will manifest and how it will do so. I have found lavender to be excellent in protection spells and have used it in almost every house blessing I’ve done.

* I occasionally indulge in a truly decadent lavender-honey goat cheese from Whole Foods. One of my friends recently requested a lavender cake for her birthday, so I made her a lavender cake with lavender cream and a lemon buttercream frosting. The cake was a big hit.

** If you’re wondering why lavender oil is so expensive, it’s because it takes anywhere from 150 to 500 pounds of fresh lavender to make 16 oz of the essential oil! Lavandin oil (derived from a crossbreed) is cheaper, but I find it smells far too astringent for my tastes. Your mileage may vary.

Further Reading

Cunningham, Scott. 1999. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.

How to Make your Own Lavender Laundry Detergent

Kowalchik, Claire and William H. Hylton, editors.1998. Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs.

Lavender Parts I and II

Magic and Medicine of Plants. 1986.

Medicinal and Magical Herbs: Lavender

Morrison, Dorothy. 1999. Everyday Magic: Spells & Rituals for Modern Living.

The Smart Witch on Herbalism

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