Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Epiphany Greetings

Happy Epiphany! This is a time for new things, new sights, and dreaming of my herb garden! Last year I tried many new plants in new places, and discovered that many of them were very unhappy; this year I am trying a new layout and returning a few old friends to places where they were happier.

It seems to me to be a time for dreaming about my herbs with the coming of the light back to the world. Today, the feast of the Epiphany, is the day when the Light of the World was revealed to the Gentiles for the first time. The Wise Men (Three Kings) arrived in Bethlehem to worship the baby Jesus, and the world saw the Light of His Star. The gifts they brought him were precious oils, resins, and gold. Frankincense and Myrrh are still used today for their grounding and healing properties, as well as for incense. Myrrh gum is often added to natural mouthwashes and toothpastes as a disinfectant. Frankincense is used for the stabilizing nature of it's essence.

I can't grow either Myrrh or Frankincense in my little corner of the world, but I can, and do, grow other herbs associated with the holy family - the most obvious being Rosemary. The legend says that during the flight to Egypt, Mary spread her cloak on this bush, and afterward it bloomed blue and held a beautiful fragrance in her honor. Rosemary is very useful not only for flavoring in cooking, but as a tea for people who are tense or depressed, especially if that is due to stress. It is a wonderful herb in the bath, as well. It encourages circulation, and the essential oil is wonderful for enhancing the memory - in older times students often studied with a sprig nearby and wore a sprig to exams.

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