It’s a language as old as the hills, if we’d only listen…the Language of Herbs and Flowers. As the festive seasons approach… my mind turns to comfort foods and gifts. There is no more wonderful Gift of the Earth for cooking than Herbs. Fresh or dried herbs can make a lowly Chicken sing instead of squawk… an humble bowl of Vegetable Soup will fill the house with a more exquisite aroma. Who can imagine Cornbread Dressing without the scent of Sage? A Steak is fragrant encrusted with Rosemary. Herbs and Flowers have been speaking to Folks for hundreds of years. Bundled and hung to dry, herbs are gifts that keep giving long after harvest. No one really knows just when Herbs and Flowers uplifted folks with their Fragrant Whispers…and were often thought to ward off evil spirits. Historically, the color of flowers gave way to romantic notions.
- Red Roses meant romantic love- therefore florists deliver their message often.
- Did you know that purple flowers speak of love at first sight?
- Orange tones practically shout of enthusiasm and fascination…
- Yellow Roses tell of joy and friendship
- Green for young love or peace
- White is reserved for reverence, purity and sympathy.
Herbs speak a similar language with potent hidden meanings and messages. As long as anyone can recall- as far back as early 1000 A.D. huge Yule logs began warming folks when the nights grew short and dark…ghost stories were told around the fire that must not be allowed to go out..even a chunk of the Yule Log was saved to start the New Year’s Fires but not before a Green Leaf was brought into the house, most believe it was an evergreen herb of some sort!
If you’ve ever grown Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, Oregano or Thyme… these Mediterranean beauties have an intense aroma which actually softens with age as they hang to dry. I’m not sure when I first heard of the tradition of drying a meaningful bundle of herbs which were tied to a Yule Log or given fresh then dried to throw on the New Year’s Eve fire. The bundle of herbs had meaning, some said warded off illnesses and misfortune; brought all kinds of good gifts to the home when folks threw the fragrant bunch on a hot fire. If you’re blessed with an herb garden of any sort- it’s easy to collect the herbs now, tie them off and hang to dry for the holiday’s good wishes! Or you can have some early fun- throw them on your Autumn fires and listen to what they say…
- Rosemary for Remembrance,
- Lavender for Love and Devotion,
- Oregano for Joy and Happiness,
- Thyme for Affection and Friendship which does take some thyme to foster…excuse me- Time.
- And don’t forget old gray Sage… he’s always good for some Sage Advice or Wisdom! I particularly love the custom in other cultures to bundle Mexican Sage into smudge sticks… when it’s almost dry…the end is lighted to cleanse the house with it’s fragrant incense.
The Greenery I harvested include regional favorites- Magnolia whose glossy leaves remind me of a sweet wedding with her huge lemon-y jasmine scented blooms- for me, Magnolia represents- Home. The gray Spanish Moss hangs in profusion from Live Oaks along the Coastal Region- representing this strange, everlastingly wonderful region where I’ve spent most of my life-called the South.
I’ve added Holly, often used for a Hedge of Evergreen Protection. The wooly Lamb’s Ear with her fuzzy leaves, which for truth- can stop the bleeding; I’ve used that Old Wives’ Wisdom of wrapping a Gardener’s nicked or scraped finger with an herbal bandage, Lamb’s Ear to stop the bleeding! So, adding Lamb’s Ears represent the Healing of Wounds suffered in the course of Living in this old world…
Quite often I add other fragrant natural aromatics, such as cinnamon sticks or pinecones to my offerings- representing the Spice of Life and Life Eternal. Attached to bundles of Kindling or a small Yule Log- Keep the evil spirits away and Send a Message in a way nothing else can- Let the Herbs speak for themselves…
Love y’all, Camellia
*All photographs are obviously mine *No claims of Lamb’s Ear’s healing properties are offered by me, I can attest wrapping a small wound from a thorn or scrape while gardening is temporarily effective. Lamb’s Ear was used to staunch blood flow and dress wounds on battlefields for centuries. Herbalists note the natural bandage has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. Please use caution- as soon as possible, wash and dress any wound properly. For the purposes of a Lamb’s Ear’s addition to a bundle of herbs- the symbolism is a wonderful thought- ‘to heal wounds’. *Herbs added to a small fire log or bundle of kindling along with a written explanation of the meanings is so nice- be sure to add instructions to remove the ribbon. Carefully toss the bundle of herbs on a fire for fragrant sentiments. What a nice way to send good wishes any time of the year!