Rosemary – the Herb of the Holy Mother
Rosemary grows here in the South of France, it loves growing in the wild next to warm rocks that have gathered the summer’s heat. The heat of the rock intensifies the essential oils within the plant. This herb was dedicated to Mother Mary, for its flowers were the same color as the Mother’s Blue Veil. During the 12th through the 15th century over 600 flowers and herbs were dedicated to Mary. Many of these flowers were connected with legends of the Holy Mother.
Rosemary is also a plant that symbolizes remembrance which I find perfect to begin with: remembering this almost lost tradition of the Christ Crib.
It was after the birth of the Christ Child and King Herod began killing all the first born male children of the land, because he feared his throne would be taken by the coming of this Divine Child. Mary and Joseph decided to go to Egypt, (the Land of Great Initiation) to escape the persecution of the King. It was a long journey on donkey back for a Mother and new baby and they had to make many stops to rest along the way. It was on one of those stops on the way to Egypt Mary washed the swaddling clothes of the Baby Jesus. She hung them out to dry on a near- by bush with little white flowers. The spirit of the fragrant plant realized that this was the cloth of the Christ that had been draped over its boughs and it became so happy, it released its heavenly scent into the cloth as the heat of the sunshine dried the swaddling clothes. Mary returned to gather up the cloth and smelled the scent of the brush was now on the clothes. She gently bent down and thanked the bush for its fragrant beauty and the Rosemary plant was so honored to be thanked by the Blessed Mother that its flowers blushed blue the color of the Mother’s Mantle. Rosemary still carries the blessing of blue flowers even to this day.
Note: It was common in Medieval Herb Gardens to dry one’s laundry over scented herb bushes. Even today a French housewife will pour a little lavender oil into her wash for the final rinse of the clothes. I feel this is a holdover from this Medieval custom of drying clothes over rosemary or lavender bushes.
Note on the archetype:
Rosemary is connected to remembrance and it is said it brings back nostalgic memories
when smelling its fragrance. Its tiny blue flowers are symbolic of the sky, or the way of the spirit. It reminds us we are Spirit in Human Form. The Christ Child was born in a lowly stable among the animals. We too are Spiritual Beings born in the world of matter. But we forget who we truly are along our journey of Human Incarnation and we begin to identify with the wounds and hurts of our dramas, replaying them in our minds and our lives over and over again, until a spark of light is ignited in our heart and we become ready to reclaim ourselves of who we truly are. Rosemary is the herb of remembrance of who we truly are.