Mother Nature has all the remedies we need — and as witches, it’s important to know how to harness them through working with herbs and plants. Throughout this series of articles, we’ve examined some of the key herbs to work with for healing, spells, and divination rituals. After learning about the magickal properties of jasmine and clover, it’s time to look at another favorite: lavender.
Lavender has been a favorite of practitioners, healers, and wise women for millennia, while its beautiful scent and color have inspired artists and perfume makers alike.
Let’s get to know this magickal herb a bit better, shall we?
Lavender throughout the ages
The modern word for “lavender” comes from the ancient Romans who used the herb while washing to give their clothes a fresh scent (from the verb lavare = to wash). But lavender has been used since much earlier. In ancient Greece and Egypt, the plant was known as “Nardus” after the Syrian city of Naarda, where it was brought from.
Although the Egyptians used it first and foremost in their mummification rituals (there’s lavender residue found in urns inside the pyramids), we know today that our pagan ancestors were well aware of the many medicinal properties of lavender. Lavender is thought to help treat convulsions, anxiety, depression, infections and wounds in general, headaches, high blood pressure, and menstrual pain… even labor pain! In antiquity, healers would often give dried lavender to women in labor. The idea was that by squeezing it and releasing its fragrance, it would help with pain management and giving birth easily.
Although there is no scientific research done on all of lavender’s properties, today we know for a fact that it contains linalool. This compound, when inhaled, helps both animals and humans to combat anxiety — so it’s not hard to see why our ancestors used lavender as nature’s Prozac!
From ancient Egypt and Greece, the use of lavender became popular in ancient Rome. Apart from washing, Romans also used it to perfume their houses, bathe, cook and treat various illnesses. During Medieval and Renaissance times, lavender gained an even stronger association with cleanliness and washing, with washerwomen becoming known as “lavenders” (they would use the herb to wash the clothes and then dry the clothes on lavender bushes). However, it was still used medicinally to treat headaches and migraines. Later on, in Victorian times, lavender became associated with purity as it was Queen Victoria’s favorite flower.
The Magickal Properties of Lavender
Perhaps due to its serenity-inducing compounds, lavender is a very popular herb to use in many witchcraft and wellness rituals. Lavender can help you heal, both from physical ailments and from emotional pain and sadness. It can purify and protect you, your altar, and your home from negative energies, misfortune, and the evil eye. If you’re suffering from anxiety, insomnia, negative thoughts or anger, drinking lavender tea, burning its essence, or sewing some lavender buds on a dream pillow will help you calm down and eventually sleep better — even looking at the subtle purple colors of this flower can help you feel calmer!
But lavender also has a different aspect: it protects and nurtures love, especially in existing relationships, making it a great herb for marriage and fertility-related rituals. Traditionally, sachets of lavender were given as marriage gifts to new couples to bring prosperity and serenity to their new home. To this day, in pagan handfastings, lavender can be used in anything from the bride’s crown or bouquet to the wedding cake.
Lavender is great to work with all year long, but it’s extra potent in the summer. Use it as offerings or decoration on your altar during the Wiccan Sabbats of Litha and Lughnasadh.
How to use lavender in spells and rituals
As you can probably see by now, lavender is one of these herbs that can be used in almost all kinds of spells and rituals. (Although it’s not recommended to use lavender in spells or rituals for alertness, physical power, and passion.)
Below are some ways you can include lavender into your practice:
- Make a salve for healing and dreaming. Mix a few drops of lavender essential oil into coconut oil and use it in healing rituals to rub it on your wrists or temples or help with headaches and migraines. If you use this salve on your temples right before bed, it can also help combat insomnia and induce prophetic dreaming.
- Anoint your chakras. Before meditation, a divination ritual, or whenever you want to feel more serene in your core, anoint your chakras, especially the one in your third eye, with lavender essential oil.
- Take a herbal bath. Herbal baths are great for purification, spell work, and communication with the Divine. Just add lavender buds to your selected herb mix.
- Make a dream pillow. To induce prophetic dreaming or to just improve the quality of your sleep, sew lavender buds inside a satin pillow and place it on your eyes.
- Create a lavender sachet. Similar to a dream pillow, a sachet will contain dried lavender along with other herbs. You can carry it with you for protection, hold it when you’re feeling stressed or create one to give as a gift to a couple when they get married or move to a new home.
- Smudge with lavender. A great way to purify your space and yourself is to add lavender to your smudge stick. Particularly when you move to a new house and feel unsettled energies or even ghosts, smudging with lavender will help calm the atmosphere. Always start from the windows towards the doors and make sure to smudge in the corners. You can also drop a few lavender buds in the corners of rooms you feel need some extra help to “settle.”
- Add lavender to your candle magic. Throw a few buds to a candle flame or add them to your cauldron to help with spells for peace, love, serenity, and divination rituals.
A Calming Spell with Lavender
If you’re feeling anxious, out of balance, or otherwise plagued by negative thoughts and emotions, you can use this lavender spell to bring yourself physical and spiritual calmness.
Note: The best time to do this spell is on a Saturday: Ruled by Saturn, it’s the perfect day to consider our own limitations and work on calmness and serenity rituals.
What you’ll need:
- a light purple candle
- lavender essential oil
- a bundle of dried lavender (for smudging)
- enough white sage to create a smudge stick
- string or ribbon to tie your smudge stick (preferably white or light purple)
- any other herbs that promote physical and spiritual calmness and are safe to consume as herbal tea (such as chamomile, valerian root, passionflower, and lemon balm)
- a small jar filled with coconut oil
What you’ll do:
- Take a relaxing bath and wear comfortable clothes.
- Anoint your candle with two drops of lavender oil (rubbing the oil clockwise from its bottom to its top and wick) and light it in the middle of your altar or working area.
- Ground yourself and cast a circle.
- Invite your matron deities, especially ones associated with peace and serenity, like Eirene, to help you in this ritual.
- Spend a few minutes looking at the candle flame and accepting how you feel right now. Usually, in this part of the ritual, you would meditate, but it’s okay if your brain or heart are too tumultuous to focus.
- Take the bundle of lavender and bring it to your nose. Close your eyes and take a deep inhale, letting the soothing scent of the herb sink into you. Put it down for now.
- Mix two drops of lavender essential oil into your jar of coconut oil, using a small wooden stick or your fingers. Make sure to stir clockwise.
- Take some of your lavender coconut salve and rub it on your temples and on your third eye to relax your mind. If you also need to calm your heart, rub some of the salve on your chest, right on your heart chakra. Use clockwise movements.
- Now it’s time to make your smudge stick. Add the lavender bundle to the sage and tie the two herbs together with your string or ribbon. Do this slowly and mindfully. Use a criss-cross motion, starting from the top.
- While you tie the herbs together, repeat the following:
Peace of mind, burning bright
Everything will be alright
All my worries burn away
Peace of mind is here to stay
Peace of heart is here to stay.
- When your smudge stick is ready, light it on the candle flame. With your dominant hand, sage yourself, making a pentacle shape over your head and your heart with the smoke.
- Repeat the last part of the mantra, “peace of heart is here to stay.”
- Let the calming properties of lavender sink into your skin and your nostrils. When you’re ready, give thanks and blow out the candle.
- Repeat this spell as many times as you need.