As our days fill with the gift of Summer’s lush ripening, beloved Thalia, the Grace of Mirth and Flowering, continues to teach us. In the hot, summery days ahead, we journey with Her through the magical garden.
In many regions, the ancient herb, lavender, is now at its peak. One of the most important attributes of lavender, and in fact, one of the reasons that it has gained widespread respect as a powerful healer, was discovered in the Middle Ages. It seems that the farmers and field hands that worked in the lavender fields of Grasse in southern France discovered that they had an immunity to the plague. Lavender perfume became popular in Europe, not only to disguise the evil smells of poverty and poor sanitation, but because of its amazing antibacterial and antiviral properties, which of course at the time were quite mysterious.
Its other healing powers are legendary. Although it is a powerful cleanser, lavender is so gentle that even children may have direct skin contact without harm. It offers safe, effective treatment for anxiety, headaches, insomnia, nerve pain including neuralgia and sciatica, and relief from the pain of shingles.
It is useful for nearly all respiratory ailments, particularly as aromatherapy, but also as a soothing infusion after an asthma attack or a hot compress for earache. The list goes on and on — diarrhea, poor circulation, even dandruff can all be effectively treated with lavender. And it is great for burns, particularly combined with calendula.
I can’t think of a more versatile friend than the gentle gray-green plant with the soft purple flowers. It is a beautiful decorative element in wreaths and flower arrangements, a staple in many potpourri recipes, and a sophisticated flavor in cooking.
But it is also a powerful ally in ritual and magic. More about this tomorrow.