Herbal Lore and Romance


The love potion in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been analyzed by a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in England. Doctor Sell thinks it was made up of heart’s ease (violas) blended with the sweetness of musk roses. In the play, Oberon drops the flowery decoction onto the eyelids of the sleeping Titania, but the good doctor cautions against trying this at home. Rather, opt for the nape of the neck or the décolleté. Men just love the décolleté, breasts pushed up by a tightly drawn corset for those of you who didn’t realize.

In ages past it was thought that a young maiden could toss a sprig of St. John’s Wort over her shoulder and soon learn the name of the man she was to marry. Leafy branches of this herb were also hung in windows to ward off evil spirits and burnt to protect against devils, goblins and witches. Bear this in mind, if you’re troubled by them. Legend has it that angelica was revealed in a dream by an angel to cure the bubonic plague. All parts of the plant were deemed of great value against enchantment. And don’t forget boughs of the sacred rowan tree to ward off evil spells.

Feeling timid? Anoint your feet with catnip tea to embolden yourself. Fennel seed is said to boost desire. Lavender is “of ‘especiall good use for all griefes and paines of the head.” For those of you who would be true, rosemary is the symbol of fidelity between lovers. Traditionally, a wreath of the aromatic herb was worn by brides. Rosemary is also the herb of remembrance left at the grave of loved ones.~

***I’m teaching a class on Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs in May for Celtic Hearts Romance Writers—open to the public.  Click the link for more information and scroll down until you come to the listing for my class.  You can be an active participant or a lurker–entirely up to you.

Images from our garden by daughter Elise~

8 responses to “Herbal Lore and Romance

  1. Hi Beth,
    How clever! I never would have thought anyone had analyed Shakespeare’s “potion”. Now I only have to find some violas and musk roses, strap up my decollete and find a man and I’ll be set :-).

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  2. Is the May class a repeat of one you’ve done before or will this have new info? I took the class last year and it was wonderful.

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    • Thanks. This will mostly be a repeat, a little new info. I’m supposed to come up with a ‘new’ class for the fall of 2013. Not sure what to include in that one yet. but will give it a ponder.

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  3. I signed up for the class and am looking forward to knowing more about the herbal love potions. The information will come in handy for my current WIP.

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  4. I do love my herbs, Beth.
    I’ll have to take your class this year.

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