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(Ocimum basilicum) (specifically Sweet Basil)
Zodiac sign: Scorpio, Aries
Deities: Vishnu (Hindu protector god), Ezrulie (Haitian goddess of love and beauty)
A common kitchen herb found in many Mediterranean and Thai dishes, basil is easily recognized by its broad and fragrant deep green leaves. The leaves are used in both fresh and dried form in cooking, but magical uses tend to involve the dried leaves only, as fresh ones can wilt soon after being harvested. An annual plant, basil is easy to grow and makes an excellent, multi-purpose staple in a magical herb garden. Basil leaves are also widely available in grocery stores, in both fresh and dried form. Medicinally, basil’s sedative quality is used in teas for aiding digestion and easing upset stomachs. In addition, the essential oil of basil has antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. In English folk magic, basil was used to keep away pests and guard against harmful spells cast by others. An old legend has it that Witches would drink “basil juice” before flying on their broomsticks. This may suggest that it was used for astral projection, or interacting with the spirit world in an out-of-body experience. In Italy, basil was a symbol of love, and women who were ready to receive suitors would place a pot of basil on their balconies. Today, basil is used for a variety of magical purposes, including love, luck, wealth, happiness, harmony, courage, fertility, protection, and exorcism. In its protective function, it is strewn on floors to ward off negative energy, and carried to promote courage in dangerous circumstances. For luck and prosperity, it can be sprinkled outside one’s business, or worn in a charm satchel for general money attraction. Some people carry a whole dried leaf in their wallets for this purpose. It is also used to clear the mind from anxiety, confusion, and feelings of fear or inadequacy. In love spells, it is often used to encourage reconciliation between established couples. Basil is also known as American dittany, St. Joseph’s wort, common basil, and witches’ herb.