Basil- Ocimum basilicum
Lovely basil, used in tasty food in so many places.
Pesto is one of the greatest things I have been introduced to. Not the least because pesto can be made from so many different herbs. In this case though, I am here for basil. Many times when my children were still small I made noodles with butter, garlic, and basil as a cheap dinner which was still very nutritious. Basil is loaded with vitamin A at 12,380 iu in one ounce and 277 iu in two tablespoons which is 6% of the daily recommended amount. That same 2 tablespoons also contains 21.8 msg or 27% of your DV of vitamin K.
All that, great taste, and it is good medicinally?
Basil has been found to have a hypoglycemic action in those with type 2 diabetes. A study done in 1997 found fasting blood glucose levels decrease by 17% using basil. This is not to say that one should replace their meds with basil, far from it. In fact, you should be watching your blood sugar levels more carefully if using basil at medicinal doses until you know exactly how it effects you. Body chemistry is different for each person, and your chemical makeup will change the effects and herb or medication will have on you. This is why person A can take x item and have no ill effects while person B takes one dose and has terrible side effects/reactions. Basil is on the FDA GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list, for what that is worth.
Basil works with the nervous system; releasing tension, lifting the spirits, and strengthening even as it aids the memory; working towards better concentration and clear thinking. Phlegm of the nose and chest are chased out by basil and it helps with cleansing of internal infections. When used as a wash for eternal wounds it performs wonderfully. Crushing leaves and applying the resulting juice to bug bites is said to provide relief from the itching.
A little history
The names of basil are said to be derived from Greek. Basilikon for king, likely due to the herb being held in a kind of regal status due to its special properties. The generic name probably originated in the word okimon; defined as fragrant lipped. Basil has been used in various cultures throughout history. It is said the ancient Egyptians used a mix of basil and myrrh as an incense burnt to appease gods and as part of the embalming process. In many parts of Europe basil sprigs were exchanged by lovers as a symbol of fidelity.
Basil was spoken of in a Keats poem, “Isabella, or the Pot of Basil”.
“Then in a silken scarf, – sweet with the dews
Of precious flowers pluck’d in Araby,
And divine liquids come with odorous ooze
Through the cold serpent pipe refreshfully, –
She wrapp’d it up; and for its tomb did choose
A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by,
And cover’d it with mould, and o’er it set
Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.
And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
And moisten’d it with tears unto the core.
And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
Of Basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew
Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,
From the fast mouldering head there shut from view:
So that the jewel, safely casketed,
Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.”
Dearest Isabella had a lover and her misogynistic, controlling brothers killed him. So when she figures it out, she goes out and digs up her lovers’ body, cuts off his head and carries it home. Then she hides the head in a pot and plants basil over it. Considering how basil was thought to represent fidelity in those times, the use of basil is a suggestion that she will continue to be faithful to the adored lover whose head lies beneath the basil.
Magically basil has represented love, prosperity, healing relationships, courage, fertility, and ridding a space of negativity. Dried basil can be burnt as an incense or smudge for cleansing a space. Basil is great in food, whether for magical purposes, health, or flavor.
Any food you create can be infused with your intentions. Foods featuring plants that have an affinity for the intention you are focused on just make the work easier. Basil is a staple ingredient for pesto, which is super easy to create.
2 cups Basil leaves
2/3 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup Pine nuts*
1/4 tsp Salt and Pepper*
1/2 cup Parmesan*
Chop your basil very finely, and then mix it all together very well in a clean jar. Pop it into the refrigerator to set for a few hours. The taste really gets fantastic with a few hours of time to really blend together.
A Charmed Life, Patricia E. Telesco; New Page Books- page 85
A Practical Guide to Witchcraft and Spells; Cassandra Eason, The Esoteric Library- pages 106 and 134
Celtic Magic; DJ Conway, Llewellyn Worldwide- page 149
Herbs of the Year; Maureen Rogers, The Herb Growing and Marketing Network- page 3
Mother’s Little Herbal Helper; Natalie Vickery – page 59
Numen Resource Guide 2013; Dana Woodruff, Sandra Lory, Larken Bunce – page 31
Off the Shelf; Kris Bordessa – pages 18 and 19
Plant Healer Magazine, Issue 9; page 111
The Perfect Balance Diet; Lissa Coffey, Bamboo Entertainment – page 43
The Meaning of Herbs Myth, Language, and Lore; Gretchen Scoble and Ann Field, Chronicle Books LLC – page 58
Mosby’s Handbook of Herbs and Natural Supplements 2nd Edition; Linda Skidmore-Roth, Mosby Inc 2004 – pages 75-78