“Rosemary, That’s For Remembrance”
Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus, formerly known as Rosmarinus officinalis) has been venerated and worked with since early antiquity—the herb was even found in first dynasty tombs of the Egyptians. Often used to foster good luck and immunity, it was supposedly part of the infamous “4 Thieves” vinegar used to ward off the plague. Its effect on the mind was rightly immortalized by Shakespeare’s Ophelia when she uttered: “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” The herbalist, William Langham aptly conveyed its stimulating and convivial qualities: “Seethe [boil] much Rosemary and bathe therin to make thee lusty, lively, joyfull, likeing and youngly.” Rosemary is indeed a perfect ally for personal care, immunity, overall health and keeping one “lusty and lively.”
Growing and Harvesting Rosemary
Endemic to the Mediterranean, Rosemary is also known as “sea rose” which is derived from the Latin ros (dew) and marinus (sea). Can you envision swaths of it blooming amongst the rocky, coastal locales of Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and France? This evergreen shrub prefers lean, rocky, limey soils and copious amounts of sun. When considering the essential oil, you’ll find it is mostly grown and produced in the aforementioned parts of the world. Rosemary blooms from March through July in the Northern Hemisphere though its peak time for creating essential oil are from April – June depending on geography. Although the flowering tops are collected, a superior oil comes from the leaves and flowers meaning the stem is removed before distillation. Similar to lavender (also in the Lamiaceae family), how the shrub is cut is important as it does not like to be drastically sheared (meaning don’t go too low).
Affinities and Usage Applications for Rosemary Essential Oil
- Support emotions and mental states with this “cephalic” as it helps clear brain fog and promotes clarity and focus
- Consider blending with: peppermint, black pepper, frankincense, lemon (and other citrus), basil or lemongrass
- Support respiratory health for general infection that presents with catarrh/mucus and to support overall deep breathing
- Consider blending with: the conifer oils (e.g., Hemlock spruce, white pine, Black Spruce), Frankincense, Myrtle, Thyme linalool or one of the Eucalyptus or Melaleucas
- Help soothe muscular and arthritic aches and pains
- Consider blending with black pepper, ginger or the conifers to encourage blood flow and warmth
- As a stimulating botanical it promotes circulatory health for those with low blood pressure, including those whose extremities run cold (e.g., in a hand cream or salve)
- Consider blending with the oils listed above…
- As the HERB it is stimulating to the liver and gall-bladder: combine the fresh or dried herb with rich meals to encourage digestion
- Include Rosemary (i.e., as an infusion, tincture, hydrosol or essential oil) in skin and hair care formulations for those living with hair loss, oily hair, dandruff or seborrhea
Impressions of Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary’s molecules penetrate the sinus cavity on impact and rush to the temples with a draining effect on the sinus tissues. In tandem is a stimulating effect on the cardio-vascular system. Energy is drawn into the heart area then expands through the lungs: imagine a heart expanding and contracting. Gil Hedley’s’ “Heart Dance” immediately comes to mind or the feeling of clenching your fist then immediately splaying your fingers to disperse the pent-up energy. Although the molecules feel cooling they are energetically stimulating to actual tissue states in the body. The initial excitation smooths out and pulses through the whole body, conjuring the image of the contracting and expanding heart or hand. Over time there is a caffeine buzz from the active circulation. All of this outward energy crazily brings forth an acceptance of the innate goodness of humanity. Rosemary is not only for remembrance but also for the heart’s soul and compassion.
The initial encounter with Rosemary is an uplifting symphony of sweet-bright-woodsy playing alongside bluely pungent vibrancy. It coolly penetrates the nasal cavity with is sharp and fresh herbaceous notes. A coolness continues to bathe across any tissue it comes in contact with. The dry-down conveys a seductive, woody, smoky and dry aroma—reminiscent of the arid, sun drenched Mediterranean soil. My minds eye sees gravely, sandy soil with images of blue and purple smoke and the signature aroma of frankincense sneaks in. The oil is quite volatile and readily evaporates. What is left are sweetly powdered whispers of herbaceous green wrapped in a cloak of an old home whose wooden floors hold the memories of sun-filled days and the love of great loves.