Herbs – Bay Laurel

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Used widely as a flavor boost for soups and sauces, the leaf of the bay laurel tree is also a useful ally in magic. In fact, this herb is often referred to simply as “bay leaf,” since this is the main part of the plant utilized in both cooking and spellwork, though the bark is sometimes used in medicinal healing. Historical records show us that bay was sacred to Apollo, the Greek god of healing. Ancient myths tell of how Apollo fell desperately in love with the nymph Daphne, daughter of Earth goddess Gaia and river god Peneus. When Daphne did not return Apollo’s feelings, because she had vowed to remain unmarried, Apollo appeared to be ready to pursue her forever. She asked her father for help, and he turned her into a bay tree to keep her safe. Apollo declared that if he could not marry Daphne, he would honor her tree forever, and he gently harvested some of the bay tree’s leaves to decorate his magical harp and to wear as a crown. Thereafter, the bay leaf was a symbol of devotion and of victory, as seen in many paintings depicting ancient Greek society, where highly respected people often wore crowns of laurel. Bay laurel was also worn for protection against vengeance from angry gods, and for the healing properties attributed to it by some ancient physicians. This dual reputation for protective and curative powers lasted well into the Middle Ages, when bay leaves were used in spells to protect people from the plague, as well as from negative magic of all kinds. Bay laurel is associated with the Element of Fire and the Sun. Its magical purposes include money, good fortune and success, as well as healing and purification. The wide, flat shape of the leaf makes it excellent for writing wishes on in spellwork. Bay is also used in many protection spells, as well as for divination and clairvoyance.