Tag Archives: A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve

“There’s rosemary that’s for remembrance. Pray, you love, remember.” ~Hamlet

RosemaryRosemary is the traditional herb to leave on graves, and there have been far too many deaths lately in our family and in the world. Daughter Elise and I have visited graves with nosegays of rosemary and left them there. A solemn time of remembering those who have gone before us. Rosemary is a fitting herb for Memorial Day.

I love the scent of rosemary and the wealth of history behind it. Known as the herb of remembrance from the time of ancient Greece, it appears in that immortal verse by Shakespeare. My fascination with herbs plays a significant role in my historical/paranormal romance novel Somewhere My Love, as does Hamlet, for that matter. I always wanted to write a murder mystery with a focus on herbs and parallels to a Shakespearean play, and so I did. Ghostly, murder mystery, time travel romance novel, Somewhere My Love, is interwoven with Hamlet and herbs. But herbs don’t stop there. I weave them into all my stories.

‘Tis the Season for Rosemary

Rosemary is considered a tonic, astringent, diaphoretic (increases perspiration), stimulant. Oil of Rosemary has the carminative (induces the expulsion of gas) properties of other volatile oils and is an excellent stomachic and nervine (has a beneficial effect upon the nervous system), curing many cases of headache.

Rosemary1Beloved by the ancients, rosemary had the reputation for strengthening memory. On this account, it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. And holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was rosemary used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells. It was entwined in the wreaths worn by brides, being first dipped into scented water. Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, and fortunate to escape with her life due to an annulment, is said to have worn such a wreath at her wedding. Maybe it protected her. She outlived his other wives, two of whom were beheaded, and the sixth one, Catherine Parr, might have been had he hung on much longer. Such were the vagaries of his moods. But I digress.

basket of herbs with rosemary

A rosemary branch, richly decorated and tied with ribbons, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty. Rosemary was one of the cordial herbs used to flavor ale and wine. It was also used in Christmas decoration. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year‘s gift. Rosemary came to represent the dominant influence of the lady of the house, “Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.” I add, to prove their dominance, some husbands would damage the flourishing plants. (From A Modern Herbal)

“As for rosmarine, I lette it runne all over my garden walls, not onlie because my bees love it, but because it is  the herb sacred to remembrance,  and, therefore to friendship..” ~Thomas Moore

The Curative Powers of Yarrow

Yarrow commonWoundwort: the generic name for yarrow, achillea, was granted this herb in honor of the Greek warrior-god, Achilles, who used this herb to stop the bleeding wounds of his soldiers after using the leaves successfully on himself. It has been used extensively since Achilles’ time to stop bleeding in battle wounds and has earned the folk names: soldier’s woundwart, knight milfoil, staunchweed, and herbe militaris. Yarrow is also used for the treatment of colds and flues.

Yarrow roots have been used by many Indian tribes as a local anesthetic.  Scrubbed and crushed to a pulp, this medicinal mash is applied to wounds to dull the pain.
Washes made from boiled leaves and stems are also considered effective for bathing injuries.  Yarrow acts as a coagulant to help stop bleeding.  A healing paste can also be made by crushing the entire plant.  The leaves are an aide in treating rashes,  bites, inflammations, infections…you name it.  A tea made from the leaves is boiled and drunk for a variety of ailments.

Yarrow is a powerful herb with many uses.  An ointment for wounds made by blending the leaves with lard provides an old fashioned antiseptic/anesthetic salve.  Yarrow has also been relied on as a contraceptive–don’t go there.  We have better options these days.

Native Americans shared their vast storehouse of knowledge regarding herbal treatments with early colonists who used these remedies in combination with those lauded cures they brought with them from the British Isles and Europe.

*Common wild yarrow is the white variety pictured above.

I listed several of my favorite medicinal herbal/plant books in the tags below. I used woundwart/yarrow in American historical romance Enemy of the King and light paranormal/The Bearwalker’s Daughter.

For more on my work please visit: www.bethtrissel.com