Close-Up Of Rosemary On White Background
Akepong Srichaichana / EyeEm / Getty Images

Rosemary was well known to ancient practitioners. It was an herb known for strengthening the memory and helping the brain. Eventually, it also became associated with the fidelity of lovers, and was presented to wedding guests as a gift. In 1607, Roger Hacket said, "Speaking of the powers of rosemary, it overtoppeth all the flowers in the garden, boasting man's rule. It helpeth the brain, strengtheneth the memorie, and is very medicinable for the head. Another property of the rosemary is, it affects the heart."

Did You Know?

  • Rosemary was once grown in kitchen gardens and was said to represent the dominance of the lady of the house. 
  • This is a plant associated with remembrance; Greek scholars often wore a garland of the herb on their heads to help their memory during examinations.
  • In spellwork, rosemary can be used as a substitute for other herbs such as frankincense.

Magical, Mystical Rosemary

Rosemary Herb Plant
Rosemary was well known to ancient practitioners. KathyKafka / Getty Images

Rosemary, sometimes known as compass weed or polar plant, was often cultivated in kitchen gardens, and was said to represent the dominance of the lady of the house. One would assume that more than one "master" sabotaged his wife's garden to assert his own authority! This woody plant was also known to provide delicious flavoring for game and poultry. Later, it was used in wine and cordials, and even as a Christmas decoration.

Roman priests used rosemary as incense in religious ceremonies, and many cultures considered it a herb to use as protection from evil spirits and witches. In England, it was burned in the homes of those who had died from illness, and placed on coffins before the grave was filled with dirt.

Interestingly, for an herb plant, rosemary is surprisingly hardy. If you live in a climate with harsh winters, dig up your rosemary each year, and then put it in a pot and bring it inside for the winter. You can re-plant it outside after the spring thaw. Some Christian folklore claims that rosemary can live up to thirty-three years. The plant is associated with Jesus and his mother Mary in some tales, and Jesus was approximately thirty-three at the time of his death by crucifixion.

Rosemary is also associated with the goddess Aphrodite–Greek artwork depicting this goddess of love sometimes includes images of a plant believed to be rosemary.

According to the Herb Society of America,

"Rosemary has been used since the time of the early Greeks and Romans. Greek scholars often wore a garland of the herb on their heads to help their memory during examinations. In the ninth century, Charlemagne insisted that the herb be grown in his royal gardens. The Eau de Cologne that Napoleon Bonaparte used was made with rosemary. The herb was also the subject of many poems and was mentioned in five of Shakespeare’s plays."

Rosemary in Spellwork and Ritual

Rosemary blooms against the white fence
Use rosemary for purification and other magical needs. Christina Gessler / Getty Images

For magical use, burn rosemary to rid a home of negative energy, or as an incense while you meditate. Hang bundles on your front door to keep harmful people, like burglars, from entering. Stuff a healing poppet with dried rosemary to take advantage of its medicinal properties, or mix with juniper berries and burn in a sickroom to promote healthy recovery.

In spellwork, rosemary can be used as a substitute for other herbs such as frankincense. For other magical uses, try one of these ideas:

  • Make a Magical Herb Wreath: If you use herbs in your magical practice at all—and many of us do—a great way to incorporate them into your daily life is to use them in decorative ways around your home. One of the most popular ways to do this is by crafting a simple wreath from your favorite magical herbs.
  • The essential oil of the rosemary plant is great for cleansing your magical tools, such as athames and wands. If you don't have any rosemary oil lying around, don't worry. Get some fresh stalks, and crush the leaves in a mortar and pestle to release the oils and fragrance; rub the crushed leaves on your tools.
  • Use in aromatherapy to assist with the memory. Add it to an incense blend with some cinnamon and orange peel, and burn it in your home to make you less forgetful. If you've got a big exam or test coming up, wear an amulet bag stuffed with rosemary while you study. This will help you remember the information when it comes time to take your test.
  • Herb Bundle: Make an herb bundle to keep harmful people and negative energy from making its way into your home.
  • Smudging and Purification: Use dried bundles of rosemary to smudge your home and help create sacred space.
  • Because rosemary is associated with both loyalty and fertility, it's useful in handfasting ceremonies. Incorporate stalks of rosemary into a bridal bouquet or wreath to wear on your handfasting day, particularly if you hope to conceive a child in the near future.
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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "Rosemary." Learn Religions, Aug. 28, 2020, Wigington, Patti. (2020, August 28). Rosemary. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "Rosemary." Learn Religions. (accessed March 31, 2023).