In the Garden
*Also known as common basil, French basil, and sweet basil
Basil is a bushy plant that reaches one to two feet tall. Its oval leaves have prominent veins and distinctive downward curling edges. They are yellow-green to dark green and very fragrant. White, pink, or purple flowers grow at the tops of the stems and bloom from midsummer to autumn. With a strong, spicy aroma, it is probably no surprise that basil is one of the most popular herbs in modern gardens.
Basil’s genus and species names come from Greek meaning “aromatic” or “smell,” and “kingly” or “royal,” respectively.80 In later centuries the French called it herbe royale. Basil is thought to have come from the plant known as holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), which originated in India, and according to legend, was transported to Greece by Alexander the Great.
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used this herb for medicinal and culinary purposes. During the Middle Ages basil was used as a strewing herb, scattered on floors to freshen and clear the air as well as to protect homes against witches. In Italy, a potted basil plant was traditionally given as a love token. It was also a signal when placed on a woman’s windowsill or balcony that she was ready to receive the affection of her suitor.
Inhaling the scent of fresh basil leaves bolsters divination skills and is instrumental in developing psychic abilities, especially clairvoyance. Stimulating and refreshing, basil also brings mental clarity for decision-making. Use fresh or dried leaves to attract love as well as to release hexes and banish negativity. Bring a potted basil plant into the home to promote healthy relationships and smooth out problems between lovers especially where fidelity is concerned. Make a tea with the leaves and then sprinkle a little of it in each room to restore harmony to the household. Give a potted basil plant as a housewarming gift to bring luck and prosperity to the receiver.
Basil is associated with the element fire. Its astrological influence comes from Mars, Pluto, and Venus.