Rosemary, or Rosmarinus officinalis, gets its latin name from "Ros" which means "dew" and "marinus" for "the sea". The "dew of the sea" was thus named for its growth in the Mediterranean, where the plants were usually sustained by just the humidity of the sea. According to some, the common name "Rosemary" comes from a biblical tale of the Virgin Mary; once when she stopped to rest, her blue cloak passed over some white flowers. The flowers turned the same shade as her cloak, and thus the flowers were called the "Rose of Mary".
|The color of St. Mary's cloak is the color we know common rosemary flowers to have today.|
|Even today, Wiccans place Rosemary within a "mojo bag" to bring themselves knowledge or love|
Rosemary was also thought of as the herb of remembrance, which is why Greek scholars would wear a sprig on their head or drink teas of rosemary to help them think. It was also a prominent herb in weddings and at funerals. In weddings, the bride would wear rosemary around her neck as a sign of fidelity, that she was always in remembrance of her new husband. At funerals rosemary was planted at the graves or burned with the body, as a sign of remembrance for the dead. Later in history, rosemary was still used in funerals, though in a more technical way: many believed that the strong smell of the herb helped to keep from catching a sickness from the dead. It was hung around the neck to help the body "remember" its youth.
|A Roman wedding: the woman to the far left is holding a garland of rosemary to be placed on the woman after the marriage.|
Rosemary was used throughout history as a treatment for many different affectations of the body, such as gout, skin irritation, digestive problems, and wound cleansing. Nowadays, doctors and scientists are researching the actual benefits of rosemary! What's really interesting is that they found that rosemary really does seem to be an ACTUAL herb of remembrance! They found that rosemary has three key acids: carnosic acid, caffeic acid, and rosmarinic acid. Carnosic acid has been found to help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Caffeic and rosmarinic acid both are anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidants, which means that they help to prevent cancer, skin aging, and reduce the effects of asthma or toxins in the body. So, start cooking more often with rosemary: it'll keep you sane! Literally!