Through the ages, Rosemary has played a rather large part in the rituals of our culture. In daily life, Rosemary has helped keep both critters and germs at bay. It’s been infused into vinegar, burned and distilled into essential oil that’s been added to a variety of housekeeping brews and formulas. In the European Middle Ages, Rosemary was used as a strewing herb and hung in doorways to protect hearth and home from all manner of evils, illness, critters, ghosts, ghouls, monsters, and dark witches included. As an incense, Rosemary served in place of frankincense resin at all levels of society but most especially among the not-so-rich folk.
Rosemary’s ability to clear, move, and protect is well-documented in modern medicinal practice and it’s well-known to wholistic and sustainable gardeners, too. If you want to keep fleas, ticks, rodents, and other harmful insects at bay, plant Rosemary at the edges of your property, or so garden lore teaches…and Science backs that claim, too.
Rosemary for Transition
It’s true. Rosemary is an herb for transitional spaces. It helps us digest and integrate our experiences, turning what may have seemed unwieldy, dark, or overwhelming into balanced, warmer, brighter energy we can understand and use. Rosemary’s connection with Remembrance is only partly about memory. It’s also about integration.
Standing at the Sea’s edge, Rosemary helps us make sense of the waves of emotion we’re seeing in our lives. It connects the heart with the tidal energies of our experience, helping us to find the deeper perspective we need from that place beyond words so we can gain strength and grounding in our own experience. As a protector, Rosemary strengthens our weak places and helps us clear the blockages that prevent us from feeding all the parts of ourselves and thus causing us to create those weaknesses. Rosemary helps us balance ourselves.
Rosemary’s Astrological Sign: Mars
As an herb of Mars, Rosemary calls up our inner fire, coaching us on how to get our energies moving in the right direction, helping us to create our own protections while still remaining soft and caring to ourselves and to those around us. Rosemary asks us to awaken and be present, to allow our hearts to breathe the breath of life, and to witness the ephemeral and passing nature of life. Let the dew slip away and yet still remember with deepest love and understanding, Rosemary asks us. Digest and Integrate. This is why Rosemary is connected with some of life’s biggest events: Weddings and Funerals.
Weddings, Funerals, and Rosemary
Modern Herbalists and Witches alike offer us a variety of beautiful and deeply healing ceremonies that incorporate the Magic of Rosemary. I particularly liked the Memorial Ritual Leslie Korn shares in her book, Natural Woman, for its deeply loving and active handling of grief as a shared experience guided by Rosemary’s energy. Rosemary becomes a boon to those of us left behind when a loved one departs. Rosemary’s ability to help us digest and integrate is powerful when we need to move through grief together or on our own.
Rosemary’s mastery at the edges of life, when we’re crossing from one state of being into the next, is particularly potent for the folks who are witnessing our crossing. There’s good sense in tucking a sprig into your wedding bouquet and boutonnieres, but even better in adding a bit of Rosemary to the wedding feast or including fresh Rosemary to the Rose petals strewn before the bride.
We focus mainly on the joy of the new life the couple are embarking upon, but we often forget that with a wedding comes a little death, too. The bride and groom, once united in the wedding ceremony, are no longer the individual people they once were. Rosemary helps us remember the individuals we loved and at the same time embrace the wedding couple they are becoming with our hearts open. Rosemary helps us witness the tide of their old life retreating, turning, and then the new tide of life rushing in, all the while remaining strongly rooted in the love we hold for them.
Ancestral Wisdom and Rosemary
Remembrance Rosemary-style isn’t just about remembering those we’ve loved and lost in this lifetime. It’s also about tapping into the stories of our Ancestors. Rosemary can help us Journey into the mystical places where our Spirit Guides, Ancestors, and Power Animals live. As a plant ruled by Mars and Fire, Rosemary is a partner for visioning. In The Illustrated Herbiary, Maia Toll writes of Rosemary as connecting us with the “twisting threads of our chromosomes,” giving us the bridge we need to awaken the Wisdom and Lessons of our Ancestors within our here and now. We are here because a long, long line of humans who came before us Lived, Loved, Laughed, and Learned a multitude of lessons. We can use Rosemary’s power to stir memory to awaken the Collective Wisdom of our Ancestors, including those we did not know in this lifetime.
Rosemary magic is the magic of Witnessing the Story and Protecting the Edges. With his sharp blade-like leaves, Rosemary cuts through the fog, helping us to see clearly what is there. Where might there be? Rosemary suggests we stand still and allow the world to clarify before us, scattering the distractions like he scatters harmful insects. They are just distractions, after all.
Distraction is one of the primary barriers to memory, one Rosemary has no intention of nurturing. On the rocky shores of our lives, Rosemary shows us how to climb, to find secure footing and root in until this storm passes. Rosemary’s roots are strong, gripping rock and earth with tenacity and endurance. Rosemary is here for the long-haul, intending to live at least a decade and maybe even two. That’s why Rosemary’s branches become woody, to give him the strength and endurance he needs to weather all the storms of life so he can enjoy the sunny days, too.
Sunshine is one Rosemary’s favorite friends, reminding us we, too, need a daily does of Divine Fire to keep our own fire lit. Rosemary stores that fiery energy in his leaves and stems, where it’s ready at the slightest brush to fight off intruders or call up the lessons of memory to serve this moment’s needs. This moment is the one that most concerns Rosemary.
The volatile oils we distill into Rosemary essential oil dissipate quickly rather than lingering overly long. This, too, is one of the lessons Rosemary has to teach. Let what is done be done. Let the experience fade, leaving behind the memory of the lesson but not the lesson’s rough edge. Let memory soften the painful bits like the tide washing across the shore’s sharp stones, making them soft enough to walk upon barefooted. When you let memory do its work, the lessons that were once painfully sharp soften enough to become a part of the tapestry of your life, woven in with the kind of precision and exactitude that comes with a clear mind, a Rosemary mind.
Rosemary magic is the Magic of Integrating experiences into the Story of your Life. Rosemary helps us remember who we once were with Love and also celebrate who we now are with equal Love, recognizing that nothing in Life stands still for long.
Rosemary is Ruled by Mars and is connected with both the Fire and Earth elements. Rosemary’s energy is moving and active, connecting Rosemary with Yang and Male energies.
Resources for Working Magick with Rosemary
- The Illustrated Herbiary Collectible Box Set: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Bewitching Botanicals;
- The Illustrated Herbiary collection: Includes Hardcover Book, Deluxe Oracle Card Set, and Carrying Pouch (Wild Wisdom)
- Flower Essence Repertory: A Comprehensive Guide to North American and English Flower Essences for Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being
- Natural Woman: Herbal Remedies for Radiant Health at Every Age and Stage of Life
- Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art