The laurel is one of the vegetables with the most “magical” tradition, and has always been deeply rooted in the Greek and Roman cultures, in fact you will surely remember the famous images of Julius Caesar wearing a laurel wreath on his head.
Laurel is a majestic and very aromatic tree whose leaves are collected for use as a condiment for many meals, and also to extract its essential oil. In ancient Greece it was known as the “Tree of God Apollo”.
The laurel has been recognized for more than 2000 years as one of the most mystical plants. Both Roman emperors, sages or philosophers, as well as the winners of any competition adorned their heads with a laurel wreath, a tradition that continues to this day, since in that context, it symbolized power, wisdom and victory, and in the The case of the emperors was intended to indicate that said emperor descended directly from the Gods.
On the other hand, the laurel was also used in magical rituals, since it was given prophetic and psychic powers; that is, by inhaling its smoke or chewing the bay leaves, one could glimpse the future and have visions, that is why in many rites, the priests used it to achieve trance and visions of the future. Another of its magical qualities was to protect both from evil forces as well as lightning and electric shocks, which were considered produced by the Gods. A laurel branch should be placed in the windows of the houses, or close to the head if it was exposed to the elements. In religious ceremonies the water was “purified” with bay leaves and spread “blessing” attendees. Laurel was also burned in the homes of the sick, and they were bathed in laurel water to protect them from disease and evil spirits.
Today it is used mainly as a food seasoning and as an essential ingredient for many cosmetics dedicated to treating skin with acne problems or infections. One of its most recognized cosmetic uses today is Aleppo Soap, handcrafted in Syria.
* Excerpted from “elHerbolario.com”