Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The folklore of lavender

Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, Russia, and Africa. It has been used cosmetically and medicinally throughout history.

Ancient Egyptians used lavender in their funerary rights, including it in their mummifying process, as well as for perfuming their clothing and themselves. They created Mummification casts that would last indefinitely by soaking linen in oil of lavender containing asphalt, wrapping the bodies with these and drying them in the sun until the casts were hard.

Cleopatra was reputed to have used lavender as one of her secret weapons for seduction (it worked on Julius Ceasar and Mark Antony, evidently).

The Romans loved lavender, and used it extensively in their elaborate bathing rituals, as well as for perfume, cooking and early medicines. It may have been from the Latin lavare, meaning ‘to wash’ that lavender found its more common name. However, its name also may have come from the Latin livendula, meaning bluish.

Greeks and Romans used lavender's stress-reducing properties to cure complaints of migraine headaches and insomnia. Lavender wasn't just used by the wealthy – commoners hung lavender above the door to protect against evil spirits and added it to the bath to drive evil spirits and demons from cranky children and to rejuvenate adults.

History states that the Romans brought lavender here to England. Lavender soon became entwined within English folklore. A lavender cross was often hung on the door to ward off evil spirits. During the Great Plague of the 17th century people would tie lavender bunches to their wrists to guard against infection. In the Victorian era Lavender symbolized love and devotion.
The folklore of lavender

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