While today herbs and spices are primarily used in cooking or for their scents, for centuries many were considered to be sacred and were used in rituals and worship ceremonies throughout the world. Herbs may be used on the altar as bouquets, in plant form, or dried and sprinkled over burning coals for incense.

Do not eat herbs unless you are absolutely certain of the effect they will cause on the body.

Basil: In India, basil is still grown near homes and temples as protection. It is sacred to the god Vishnu and the goddess Lakshmi. The Greek Orthodox Church uses basil to make holy water and sets basil pots around the altar.
Bay Laurel: An herb long associated with deities such as Apollo, bay laurel will stop unwanted interference in your life, and protect you against evil.
Catnip: This herb is associated with the goddesses Bast, Sekhmet, and Freyja. It brings courage, love, and happiness.
Chamomile: Roman chamomile smells like fresh apples. It is associated with gaining a marriage proposal and bringing gambling luck.
Clove: Besides being used to banish evil, cloves are used to build friendships and gain desires.
Dragon's blood: This is actually the powdered resin of a shrub and was once considered to be extremely rare and valuable. It is good for removing hexes and attracting love and money.
Ferns: The Druids classed ferns as sacred and gathered the uncurled fronds of male fern at Summer Solstice to use for good luck. All ferns attract fairies and give protection.
Frankincense: This was considered to be one of the most sacred scents by ancient Greeks, Romans, Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Egyptians. It was also one of the Jewish offerings on the Sabbath. Use it for exorcism, protection, and purification.
Garlic: Although garlic is frequently used only in cooking, because of its strong odor many ancient cultures believed it had valuable properties of protection against evil. The Egyptians used it for swearing oaths. It was left as an offering at crossroads to the Greek goddess Hecate, while the Romans ate it for strength and endurance, and assigned it to Mars.
Ginger: Most people connect the smell of this herb with cookies, pies, and pastries. However, its oldest uses are for love, money, success, and power.
Hyssop: This herb's name in Greek means "holy herb". Hyssop has a long history of being used to cleanse and purify sacred places.
Juniper berries: Traditionally, this shrub was grown near dwellings for protection, particularly against thieves. However, it is also used to attract love and to develop psychic abilities.
Lemon verbena: This plant is helpful in getting rid of unwanted lovers.
Marjoram: A common cooking herb, marjoram helps with protection when soaked together with mint and rosemary, and the water sprinkled about the house.
Mint: The Druids burned mint leaves to cleanse a space.
Mugwort: A sacred herb to the Celtic Druids, this plant is strongest when picked on a full moon or during the Summer Solstice. Rub the leaves on ritual tools to increase their power.
Myrrh: Another sacred herb from ancient times, myrrh aids in purification, protection, and strengthening spirituality.
Nutmeg: The whole nutmeg is traditionally carried for luck in gambling and lotteries, while the powdered form is useful for love, prosperity, and fertility.
Orris root: This root, in powdered form, is sprinkled about to attract the opposite sex.
Patchouli: An herb highly valued by Hindus, patchouli can break up any spell, bring back a lost love, attract money, and defeat enemies. It is also useful in healing grief.
Parsley: Given to soldiers as a sign of victory, this herb was also thought to be sacred to the dead in both Greece and Rome.
Pine: Pine needles have a clean, refreshing scent and are used for purifying an atmosphere. It was sacred to such deities as Mars.
Rosemary: The modern name of this herb connects it with the Virgin Mary, although it was known and used in the Mediterranean cultures long before Christianity arose. Its name means "dew of the sea". The Greeks associated it with remembrance, and students work a sprig of rosemary to help improve their memory. The Romans made crowns of rosemary for their household deities and burned it to purify an atmosphere and ward off evil. A symbol of remembrance and fidelity, it is also useful for exorcisms and to keep a lover faithful.
Rue: In Europe during the Middle Ages, rue was strewn on floors for its scent, a custom began by the Greeks and Romans, who believed it gave protection from evil spirits. The word rue comes from the Greek word reuo, which means "set free". Thus, this herb became a Christian symbol for repentance. Among the Druids, rue was used for defense against magickal spells. When burned, it starts things moving.
Saffron: This expensive herb, which is the pollen from crocus flowers, was highly prized from the Mediterranean area to Tibet and India. The Greeks and Romans used it for its scent, which was said to be cleansing. When a worshiper brought a gift to a temple in India, they received a dot of saffron paste on the forehead. Because of saffron's association with humility and purity, Buddhist monks dyed their robes the color of saffron.
Sage: A symbol of wisdom and long life to the Romans, this herb was gathered ceremoniously, with a gift of bread and wine left as an offering to the plant. Native Americans use sage for smudging and cleansing.
Saint John's wort: An herb sacred to the Druids, it was worn in Ireland for invincibility and in Scotland as a charm against fairy glamor. Its other magickal associations are attracting happiness and healing, courage, love, and protection. It is also said to aid with divination.
Sandalwood: An herb widely used in India, yellow sandalwood is associated with protection, exorcism, and spiritual growth.
Thyme: The name of this herb is derived from the Greek, meaning "to burn a sacrifice". It was considered a holy incense throughout the Mediterranean cultures. However, the Romans believed thyme was an aphrodisiac and offered it to Venus. The Druids used this plant to repel negativity and depression. In Medieval Europe, thyme was associated with increasing energy and bravery. Used in pillows, it is said to cure nightmares.

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