Bay Laurel

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(Laurus nobilis) (commonly known as Bay Leaf)

Zodiac sign: Leo, Aries
Planet: Sun
Element: Fire
Deities: Apollo (Greek god of healing and poetry), Hermes (Greek god of athletics and luck), Cerridwen (Welsh goddess of prophecy and transformation)

Most commonly known as the leaf you put in soups and sauces to flavor them while cooking (and then remove before eating!), the leaf of the bay laurel tree has a long history of magical importance. Bay laurel is an evergreen shrub, generally 3 to 10 feet tall, with shiny oval leaves that are brighter green on top and lighter on the bottom. Once dried, the leaves begin to fade in color, so you can tell when bay leaves are old by whether they are still somewhat green or have faded to brown. Bay leaves are widely available in the spice section of grocery stores. Some healers make a poultice of the leaves and berries of bay laurel for relieving head and chest colds. The essential oil can be included in massage oils for the relief of arthritis and sore muscles. Bay laurel was associated with nobility, honor, and triumph in ancient times, and was used to crown heroes, poets, and other people of high regard in both Greece and Rome. Wreaths of laurel were worn to protect against any vengeful tendencies on the part of sky gods, and by doctors who considered laurel to have highly curative properties. Bay leaves are used in spellwork for protection, purification, healing, strength, good fortune, money, and success, as well as divination, clairvoyance, and other psychic powers. A common form of bay magic is to write your wish on a dried bay leaf and then burn it to seal the spell. Bay leaves are placed in one corner of each room in a house for protection, as well as under pillows—or in dream pillows—to encourage prophetic dreaming. In keeping with its ancient associations, bay leaf can be carried to promote luck in athletic games and competitions. A sprig of bay laurel can be used to asperge a space, a person, and/or magical tools in preparation for ritual. Some healers wear laurel wreaths while treating their patients in order to increase positive energy and ward off any negative energy resulting from the illness. After recovery from illness, burning bay leaf in the room where the person was treated can purify the space. In fact, bay leaf is a great smudging herb for banishing unwanted negative energy in the form of poltergeists or other disturbing spirits. On a more mundane level, bay leaves can keep bugs out of a sack of flour, and keep clothing and linens fresh and moth-free. Be sure not to confuse bay laurel with other plants with similar names, such as mountain laurel, which is poisonous.

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