Native to the Mediterranean, Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen shrub with needle-like leaves. Its vertical branches proliferate in sunny climates, growing larger and woodier with age. Rosemary’s piney, medicinal fragrance brightens the flavor of roasted meat, soups, and breads.
Magickal Uses of Rosemary
Rosemary is one of the most important Old World magickal herbs. There is an enormous amount of Rosemary folklore. It has been used for cleansing and purifying incenses since ancient times. It was associated with Aphrodite/Venus (Rosemary's name means “dew of the sea” in Latin). Later, it became linked to the Virgin Mary, who is said to have given the plant its blue blossoms when she rested her blue mantle on a bush. Rosemary was worn by medieval brides and carried by wedding guests as a token of love and virtue.
Although Rosemary is generally now counted as a Masculine/Solar herb, the feminine association was stronger once upon a time. An old saying has it, “Where Rosemary grows, the woman rules.” It was said that Rosemary would only flourish in a garden where the lady of the house wore the pants.
Christians once believed that the Rosemary plant echoed the life of Christ, growing for 33 years to the height of a man, then perishing. Rosemary stands for remembrance, as Shakespeare famously wrote down in Hamlet. (Indeed, recent research has suggested that the scent of Rosemary improves retention and recall of facts.) Rosemary extract was used medicinally to cure all manner of ailments, and cultivated for its spiritual powers of protection and cleansing.
In hedge-witchery, Rosemary is used as a garden-friendly substitute for precious, exotic Frankincense. Witches can procure fresh Rosemary from gourmet markets and herb gardens. Rosemary appreciates regular trimming. The boughs may be gathered and preserved, but will mildew in humid conditions. Thoroughly dried Rosemary is preferable for incenses and sachets.
Rosemary produces copious volatile oils, and Rosemary essential oil is inexpensive. Synthetics are rarer than the real thing. The chemical composition of the oil depends on the variety of Rosemary used, with some formulations containing up to 20% camphor.
Correspondences of Rosemary
Rosemary grows in full sun and has a bright, assertive smell that overpowers everything else in a fragrance blend or recipe. The appropriate planetary correspondence is the Sun. (Citing Rosemary’s early Goddess lore, some writers go with Venus.)
Once the Solar correspondence is established, the attributions of Leo and Fire seem to be applied by extension. Rosemary does have the boldness of Leo, flame-shaped bushes, and the Fire-like attribute of spiny leaves. But it is altogether less noxious than pure Fire herbs. And its traditional uses lean more toward cleansing/healing/clarity than to courage/protection/aggression. I prefer to assign the whole plant to Fire, and the brisk, stimulating fragrance to Air.
Spells and Formulas with Rosemary
Especially in Old World witchcraft, Rosemary is burned to purify a room or ritual space before magickal workings.
Burn Rosemary and Juniper together to drive the staleness from a home after a long and lingering illness.
Rosemary is useful for all spells to accelerate learning in school or work. Sniff a sprig of Rosemary while studying to improve your performance on an exam.
A married woman may keep a sachet of Rosemary near the entrance of her home (or under her bed) to ensure a faithful and obedient partner.
Cleanse and consecrate athames, wands, and crystals with Rosemary oil. (Frankincense oil is traditional for this purpose, but Rosemary may be a better choice for the Green witch.)
Rosemary sprigs are pliable when fresh—weave them into garlands and wreathes for home blessings and handfastings.
A Rosemary ritual bath or “tub tea” is said to remove worries and invigorate the spirit. You can also drink Rosemary tea for this purpose, but the taste is quite bitter.
A Rosemary bush in the garden is supposed to attract elves and repel thieves.
Rosemary is generally safe to use externally, as an incense, and in cooking. Dilute essential oil before applying to the body. When taken internally, large doses of Rosemary can cause harmful side effects and interfere with certain medications.
Scent Profile: Piney, Camphoreous, Fresh, Medicinal
Correspondences: Sun, Fire/Air
Occult properties of herbs are provided for historical interest only, and no outcome is guaranteed. Nothing on this website should be taken as medical or legal advice. Please use herbs responsibly.