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common basil, soups stews, sweet basil, lettuce leaf

Basil - The Herb of Kings

Author: Solstice Moon

Copyright © October, 2001, All Rights Reserved.
M. L. Benton, Publisher, Echoed Voices.

Basil, from soil to seed

To strong stems and beautiful leaves.

I ask for blessings to have bestowed

As I nurture and watch you grow.

From mornings dew and sun of afternoon

To rays of the stars and midnights moon

Mother Earth watch over thee

As I my will, So Mote it Be

Basil: Ocimum bacilicum L. Lamiaceae, Mint Family

Species: wild, sweet, bush/greek, lettuce leaf, lemon, licorice, cinnamon, holy, camphor, opal, anise, green ruffles and purple ruffles

Also called: sweet basil, common basil, garden basil, Luole {chinese}, St. JosehsWort, Tulsi {sanskit} Arjaka {ancient sanskits} and devil plant

Planetary: Mars

Astrological: Scorpio

Gods: Vishnu, and Krishna

Goddess: Erzulie

Medicinal Properties: Antispasmodic, antidepressant, antiseptic, stimulant, tonic, febrifuge, diaphoretic, nervine, antibacterial, expectorant, appetizer, carminative, galactagogue and stomachic

Magickal Properties: Love, Exorcism, Wealth, Flying, Protection, Visionary, Fertility, Funeral, Consecration, Immortality and Purification

Culinary Uses: Teas, Soups, Stews, Sauces, Salads, Pastas, Vinegar?s, Dressings, Meats and Fish


Bush Basil: Is a low, bushy plant, seldom above 6 inches in height, much smaller than Sweet Basil. The leaves are
ovate, quite entire, the white flowers in whorls towards the top of the branches. There are two varieties, one with black-
purple leaves and the other with variable leaves. Both Bush and Garden Basil are natives of India, from whence it was
introduced in 1573. Bush Basil may occasionally live through the winter in this country, though Sweet Basil never does.

Sweet Basil: Common or Sweet Basil which is used in medicine and also for culinary purposes, especially in France, is a
hairy, labiate plant, growing about 3 feet high. The stem is obtusely quadrangular, the labiate flowers are white, in
whorls in the axils of the leaves, the calyx with the upper lobe rounded and spreading. The leaves, grayish-green beneath
and dotted with dark oil cells, are opposite, 1 inch long and 1/3 inch broad, stalked and peculiarly smooth, soft and cool
to the touch, and if slightly bruised exhale a delightful scent of cloves.

Wild Basil: is a straggling plant with somewhat weak-looking, though erect stems, rising to a height of a foot or 18
inches, and thickly covered with soft hairs. The shortly - stalked, egg shaped leaves, 1 to 2 inches long, are placed
opposite to one another on the four-angled stem, the pairs being some distance apart. They are only slightly toothed at
their edges and like the stem are downy with soft hairs.

The flowers, with tubular, lipid corollas of a pinkish color, are arranged on the stem in several crowded, bristly
rings or whorls, at the points from which the leaf-stalks spring, and are in bloom from July to September.

The whole herb is aromatic and fragrant, with a faint Thyme-like odor, and like calamint has been used to make an
infusion for similar complaints.


Basil is an annual. So it will need to be planted every year. Basil grows very easily from seeds. It needs warmth and
full sun. If you live in warmer climates basil can be seeded directly in the ground. If you are in colder climates it is
best to sow your seeds indoors and then planted after danger of frost is gone.

Plant seeds an 1/8-inch deep and 12 inches apart. Germination is usually 3 to 7 days. Although basil is fairly easy to
grow, It needs plenty of moisture with well drained soil. It doesn't do well in seasons of drought. Basil can be planted
in full sun or partial shade. it is best to use a liquid fertilizer bi-weekly. This will make your plants smile at you.
Basil does very well in herb and vegetable gardens, pots and used in borders. To plant in a vegetable garden plant them
next to bell peppers. To plant them in pots, or to use as border plants, be sure to plant both green and purple basil for
wonderful colors. They do wonderful with marigolds.


Leaves should be harvested very young. It is best to harvest them early in the morning right after the dew has
evaporated. Be sure to deadhead or pinch off the buds, Although we love blooms on all plants, its best not to let basil
bloom. Pinch or deadhead the buds. This will encourage the plant to grow. To allow them to flower they will remain small
and not produce many leaves. In the middle of July, cut about 1/3 of the stalks. Tie in small bunches to dry. Around the
end of August repeat this again with cutting the stems again about 1/3. Right before your first frost cut the plant back
and prepare for drying and storing over your winter months.


Do not use for aromatherapy or medicinal purposes if you are pregnant. Basil's properties will bring on
menstrual cycles. Do not give infusions of basil to children under ten. The volatile oils can exceed a childs metabolism.
Mouthwashes made with basil can burn a child?s mouth.


Basil has a warm, fiery scent. Blends especially well with Lavender. Lemon basil is wonderful in citrus
potpourri. Also sweet basil oil can be added to tea herbal baths to help soothe the soul and lift the spirits. Blends well
with bergamot, lavender, orange, lemon, neroli and verbena.


Used for mild nervous disorders and for the alleviation of wandering rheumatic pains- the dried leaves, in the
form of snuff, are said to be a cure for nervous headaches. . Good for tired, overworked muscles, as a mouthwash for mouth
sores and infected gums. An infusion made with basil is good for chest infections and digestive problems. Oil of Basil is
a wonderful treatment for acne. A drop of basil on your pillow can help with insomnia and depression. Making a poultice of
basil seeds aids in healing wounds because of their antibacterial properties. They are also said to cure warts. An
infusion of the green herb in boiling water is good for all obstructions of the internal organs, arrests vomiting and
allays nausea.


There are just as many magickal properties in basil as there are medicinal and culinary. Put basil leaves in all
corners of the rooms in your house to aid in protection. Make a basil charm and carry on your person or hang in your car
to aid in safe trips. Place basil leaves in your wallet to help in the aid of monetary needs. Sage ties are used for luck.
Carry basil in your pocket for luck in gambling. Sprinkle crushed basil in your storefronts for flourishing business. to
foretell relationships place two basil leaves on burning charcoal. If the leaves fly apart so will the relationship. If
the leaves burn quietly the lovers will be in bliss. Basil is used in many potions, for love money health and protection.
Use basil incense for purification before rituals. Burn basil for visions questing. Witches flying ointment is made with
the juice of basil. To promote fidelity sprinkle basil over your partners heart. Use basil oil in room diffusers to
promote tranquillity. Basil leaves put on computers is said to keep them working. Bush basil is an outstanding herb for
rituals of death and dying. This pungent herb may be added to the incense or infused to provide the holy water for
aspurging. This variety of basil is used in correspondence with the Death card.

History and Lore:

The derivation of the name Basil is uncertain. Some authorities say it comes from the Greek basileus, a
king, because, as Parkinson says, 'the smell thereof is so excellent that it is fit for a king's house,' or it may have
been termed royal, because it was used in some regal unguent or medicine. One rather unlikely theory is that it is
shortened from basilisk, a fabulous creature that could kill with a look. This theory may be based on a strange old
superstition that connected the plant with scorpions. Parkinson tells us that 'being gently handled it gave a pleasant
smell but being hardly wrung and bruised would breed scorpions. It is also observed that scorpion?s do much rest and abide
under these pots and vessels wherein Basil is planted.' It was generally believed that if a sprig of Basil were left under
a pot it would in time turn to a scorpion. Superstition went so far as to affirm that even smelling the plant might bring
a scorpion into the brain.

Culpepper says:

'Being applied to the place bitten by venomous beasts, or stung by a wasp or hornet, it speedily draws the
poison to it. - Every like draws its like. Mizaldus affirms that being laid to rot in horse-dung, it will breed venomous
beasts. Hilarious, a French physician, affirms upon his own knowledge, that an acquaintance of his, by common smelling to
it, had a scorpion breed in his brain.' >From its native India, basil was introduced into Europe in ancient times. Views
and traditions associated with the herb have been mixed. Some cultures associated basil with hatred and misfortune; others
regarded it as a love token. Dioscorides said that it should never be taken internally, while Pliny recommended smelling
it in vinegar for fainting fits. In Ayurvedic medicine, basil is known as tulsi and the juice is widely used. In India,
basil is perhaps the most sacred plant, next to the lotus.

The scent of basil, they say, is conducive to meditation, and the plant is often used in magic. Also a popular culinary

In China this herb is known as Luole.

Haitian merchants often sprinkle their stores with a composition made of this fragrant herb soaked in water. According to
creed this chases bad luck and attracts buyers. The herb is much used as a love charm in voo-doo practice. In India the
Basil plant is sacred to both Krishna and Vishnu, and is cherished in every Hindu house. Probably on account of its
virtues, in disinfecting, and vivifying malarious air, it first became inseparable from Hindu houses in India as the
protecting spirit of the family. The strong aromatic scent of the leaves is very much like cloves.

The romantic history of bush basil readily lends itself to modern magick. The oil would be a fine ingredient in blended
mixtures to enhance one's romance. The gift of a live basil would add magick to the endurance of one's relationship or a
fine pesto sauce might be the featured item on the menu for a romantic evening. There is no finer herb to use when
incorporating ritual with your betrothal or engagement. Not only will it help a young man be strong of heart so that he
can pursue his dreams, but bush basil can be used to bring blessings to the engagement ring as well.

Every good Hindu goes to his rest with a Basil leaf on his breast. This is his passport to Paradise.

In Persia and Malaysia Basil are planted on graves and in Egypt women scatter the flowers on the resting-places of those
belonging to them.

These observances are entirely at variance with the idea prevailing among the ancient Greeks that it represented hate and
misfortune. They painted poverty as a ragged woman with Basil at her side, and thought the plant would not grow unless
railing and abuse were poured forth at the time of sowing. The Romans, in like manner, believed that the more it was
abused, the better it would prosper.

The physicians of old were quite unable to agree as to its medicinal value, some declaring that it was a poison, and
others a precious simple. Culpepper tells us: 'Galen and Dioscorides hold it is not fitting to be taken inwardly and
Chrysippusrails at it. Pliny and the Arabians defend it. Something is the matter, this herb and rue will not grow
together, no, nor near one another, and we know rue is as great an enemy to poison as any that grows.' But it was said to
cause sympathy between human beings and a tradition in Moldavia still exists that a youth will love any maiden from whose
hand he accepts a sprig of this plant. In Crete it symbolizes 'love washed with tears,' and in some parts of Italy it is a

Boccaccio's story of Isabella and the Pot of Basil, immortalized by Keats, keeps the plant in our memory, though it is now
rarely cultivated in this country. It was formerly grown in English herb gardens. Tusser includes it among the Strewing
herbs and Drayton places it first in his poem Polyolbion. 'With Basil then I will begin Whose scent is wondrous pleasing.'
In Tudor days, little pots of Basil were often given as graceful compliments by farmers' wives to visitors. Parkinson
says: 'The ordinary Basil is in a manner wholly spent to make sweete or washing waters among other sweet herbs, yet
sometimes it is put into nosegays. The Physical properties are to procure a cheerful and merry heart whereunto the seeds
is chiefly used in powder.' In The Master Book of Herbalism we find the following:

Basil should be added to the water used in scrubbing floors, walls and in any cleaning of the home previous to the
unpacking and getting settled. An often-used part of a home blessing is a planting ceremony. Basil is an herbe to plant,
for it will bring protection and good fortune to those who live within.

Basil is widely associated with rituals of initiation. The Sabbat frequently associated with basil is Candlemas, observed
as a time of renewal. One of the best herbs for a candidate preparing for initiation, basil is useful for any ceremonial
purification. It can be used as a bathing herb, as one bathes the body in preparation before receiving a sacrament. It may
be burned as an offering or worn as an adornment; sweet basil may be eaten with food or prepared taken as a drink.

We may use this type of basil to invoke salamanders, the elemental creatures of fire. The practitioner may dry and grind
basil, spooning it upon burning charcoal as incense. One may also use basil in the ritual cup, drinking a magickally
prepared tea in order to meditate upon dragons or salamanders and to establish communion with these beings as astral

Any person in need of courage should use basil. It brings strength and helps one move forward in a positive manner no
matter how perilous the dangers. We can use basil to provide fortitude either when facing mundane dangers or when pursuing
transformation in the visionary and psychic realms. Basil is known for its quality of protecting the seeker from fears one
encounters when moving along a spiritual path and may be used to bring protection for our families as well.

Bush Basil:

Bush basil is associated with death in cultures as diverse as Iran and the Philippines and is often planted at gravesites.
In Egypt the flowers are gathered and strewn upon the gravesite.

Grieve writes about a very different perspective among the ancient Greeks who believed that it represented hate and
misfortune. They painted poverty as a ragged woman with basil at her side, and thought the plant would not grow unless
railing and abuse were poured forth at the time of sowing. The Romans, in like manner, believed that the more it was
abused, the better it would prosper.

Beliefs about basil can be passionate. At the other end of the emotional spectrum, we can consider the Moldavian custom
Mrs. Grieve has recorded in her herbal. In this culture, a fresh cutting of basil is associated with betrothal. It is,
similarly, associated with love and romance in some parts of rural Italy, where it is considered an emblem of love and
romance. The inhabitants of Crete combined the beliefs both of romance and misfortune. Grieve writes that they call it
"love washed with tears."

A custom that once existed would be a modern blessing to many if it resurrected: that of giving one's guests a small pot
of basil.

Sweet Basil:

Its old association with the basilisk explains sweet basil's contemporary correspondences with such creatures
as salamanders and dragons. The basilisk was a mythological reptile which had two fatal weapons: its breath (could this be
the source of the modern phrase "dragon's breath?") or a look from its evil eyes. As a consequence of this association,
the plant became associated with scorpions. Grieve writes that the "superstition went so far as to affirm that even
smelling the plant might bring a scorpion into the brain."

It is believed that Solomon chose sweet basil among many when making his ritual aspurger to use in his temple.

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