Parsley – Petroselinum crispum
Powers: Death, Fertility, Love, Lust, Protection, Purification, Spirit Communication
Magical Uses and History: Parsley is one of the most commonly used culinary herbs in modern times with most people recognizing it as the garnish on their meal. However, parsley has a long and rich history outside of culinary uses.
Due to its long germination time and extensive tap root, it was said that the seeds of parsley had to travel to the Underworld and back before the plant could grow. This myth was so prevalent that in Ancient Greece, Persephone was often depicted as holding a sprig of parsley, carrying it to the Underworld and back. Even after Europe was Christianized the folklore behind parsley’s hellish decent remained. In 1658 in Wit Restored it was recorded that “The Weed before it’s borne nine times the devill sees,” meaning the seeds of parsley had to travel to Hell and back nine times before germination. Originally, it was believed the seeds traveled just seven times, but it is believed the number increased because of the sacred connotations associated with the number seven. The Romans were believed to place parsley on their plates as a way to honor the dead, protect the food from contamination, and freshen their breath. The Ancient Greeks, however, avoided eating parsley and refused to grow it in their homes. They believed eating the plant of the Underworld would result in death and thus instead used in funeral rites and to decorate tombs. As such, parsley can be used to commune with the dead, whether it’s placed on an altar, used to adorn the food during a Dumb Supper, or used to decorate a tomb.
The association of parsley with death and the Devil resulted in curious folklore across Europe, especially in Britain where it was believed parsley should only be planted on Good Friday. This was because the Devil could not exert his influence over the plant on Good Friday, thus making the plant safe for the grower. However, while it was safe to grow where originally planted, it was bad luck to transplant it somewhere else, believing to bring death and bad luck to those involved. This is likely because parsley does not transplant easily and often dies quickly after being uprooted, thus becoming an omen of death. Furthermore, it was believed that if you muttered the name of a person while picking parsley, they would be dead within the week.
Despite its association with death, parsley is also believed to be a potent protector. As mentioned, the Ancient Romans placed springs of parsley on their food to protect it from contamination and even prevent poisoning. It was believed parsley acted as an antidote and was later noted by Culpepper that it was an antidote for “the venom of any poisonous creature.” Furthermore, Ancient Romans often carried sprigs of parsley on their person to protect from harm while crowns of parsley were often worn to protect against drunkness. Later parsley was used to create purification baths to remove and prevent misfortune.
Apart from death and protection, parsley is also associated with love and lust. This folklore, which likely began during the Elizabethan era, was immortalized in the song Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkle which tells the tale of love. Hidden within the rhyme are “Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme…” each herbs associated with love. In fact, the message of these herbs is believed to be a love spell. Thyme: I’m yours. Sage: I’m dependable. Rosemary: Remember me. Parsley: Let’s start a family. Parsley, in particular, was also immortalized in the saying “sow parsley, sow babes” in which it was believed pregnant women (and witches) could grow the most bountiful parsley crops. Use parsley to promote love, lust, and fertility.
Parsley can be used in a number of spells including:
– Protection Spells
– Purification Baths
– Love Spells
– Fertility Magic
– Death Magic
– Spirit Work
– Ancestral Veneration
Medicinal Uses: Parsley has several medicinal uses with all parts of the plant being used. It is an effective diuretic, being used to remove excess water and aid kidney function. It’s also an emmenagogue, thus stimulating uterine contractions and aiding in the menstruation process. As such, medicinal doses of parsley should not be used by women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant. Finally, it’s a carminative and is often used to ease stomach pains caused by gas and bloating. Some herbalists note that parsley is an expectorant and can be used to treat coughs, colds, and chest infections, but research shows it is only mildly effective.
Preparation and Dosage: Parsley is taken internally as an infusion or tincture. To create an infusion, pour one cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of leaves or roots. Allow the mixture to infuse for 5-10 minutes in a closed container. Drink up to three times a day. As a tincture, take 2-4 milliliters up to three times a day. Again, medicinal dosages should not be taken by women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant as it stimulates uterine contractions.