When the summer heat is in full swing and I want something cool and wonderful for dinner I think of such things as Caprese Salads, Pesto Chicken, and a light marinara sauce. Magickally, I am looking to spice things up and bring in some added prosperity and good fortune. What do all of these things have in common? Our Herb of the Month – Basil.
Basil has long been associated with Witchcraft, hence the name “Witches Herb.” This versatile herb can be for any magickal purpose from increasing wealth, calming quarrels, to bringing the user love and harmony.
In Witchcraft, as well as cooking, Basil is used both fresh and dried. Stir it clockwise in soups, stews, and sauces to bring prosperity and good fortune. Place counterclockwise on your Caprese salad to dispel gossip and quarrels.
Latin Name: Ocimum Basilicu
Folk Names: Albahaca, American Dittany, “Our Herb,” St. Joseph’s Wort, Sweet Basil, Witches Herb
Elements: Air, Fire
Astrological Signs: Aries, Scorpio
Deities: Ares, Eleggua, Erzulie, Hemphu, Krishna, Lakshmi, Vishnu, Yemaya
Growing and Harvesting Basil
Basil is easy to grow, but it does like it’s soil toasty -don’t plant before the soil is 50 degrees, 70 is even better-making it perfect for warmer climates. Heat gives your Basil the start it needs, so plant your basil when the nights have warmed up as well. Without the heat, your basil will not flourish.
Basil prefers its “feet” a bit moist so well-draining soil is a must. Basil grows well in a greenhouse or even indoors with the proper light. It doesn’t require much fertilizer while growing, but a good starter fertilizer will give basil the boost it needs to thrive.
Plants can get quite large, reaching up to 24″ if you let them. However careful pruning and harvesting of the plants at around 8″ keeps your plants healthier, allowing them to bush more and send more energy to the leaves instead of the stalks.
One or two plants is usually sufficient for the average household. If you are like me and freeze and/or dry my basil in bulk I would suggest at least 5 plants.
Harvest your basil early in the morning by pinching off a few leaves on each plant. Your basil leaves will taste best before the plant flowers – flowering can make the leaves bitter. If you see flowers forming at the top of your plants, pinch or snip them off as soon as possible.
Magickal Uses of Basil:
Parts Used: Whole herb, leaves
- Astral Projection (flying)
- Dispel gossip
- Safe Travel
Ways to use Basil Magickally
- Take dried basil and tie it in a drawstring bag with some pennies to draw luck to your money and business matters.
- Plant basil near the threshold of your home to repel negative entities and welcome friendly spirits.
- Take a bath with Basil before attempting astral projection to aid you in your journey.
- Simmer cut lemon and fresh basil in water. When cooled and added to a spray bottle, it can be used to clean sacred objects, candles, altars, spaces, the work environment, etc.
- To use for exorcism: Mix basil, rue, hyssop and myrrh and grind to a powder. Burn over a charcoal making sure you fumigated every corner of your home.
- Giving a basil plant to a newly married couple is thought to ensure that their marriage status sweet and prosperous.
- Use the essential oil in aromatherapy to dispel or banish sadness or depression.
- Hang the leaves from your windshield or anoint yourself, an amulet, or your car to keep yourself safe during travel.
Culinary Uses for Basil
Basil is a versatile herb. It can be used fresh, dried, chopped, and crushed. It adds zip to your pasta sauces, brightness to your salads, and its mildly spicy taste can be blended into butter for the perfect summer spread.
Your culinary adventure can start by preserving your basil harvest by drying the leaves in a dehydrator or on drying racks. You can also use a food processor to finely chop the fresh leaves and freeze in ice cube trays for fresh basil any time. Another great preserving idea is to create an infused vinegar or oil for use in cooking. Take fresh basil leaves, slightly crushed, place in a mason jar and cover with either white wine vinegar or olive oil. Allow the basil to sit in the vinegar or oil for a week or two, shaking once daily. Then strain the basil out of the liquid and place the liquid in a clean, decorative container or back into the mason jar. Both infusions will keep up to a year when kept out of direct sunlight and excessive heat.
Of course, we can’t talk about basil without bringing up pesto. Basil, in my opinion, makes the best pesto. Add whole basil leaves to a food processor, filling it to the top, and then pulse lightly. Add in some fresh minced garlic and drizzle in some olive oil. Pulse again and continue to drizzle in olive oil until you get the consistency you desire. You can add pine nuts or walnuts to the finished pesto to give it some added mouth feel.
Medicinal Uses of Basil
Note: The information noted in this blog post is intended solely for the general information for the reader. The contents of this post are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems, nor is it for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications or before using and herbs or herbal supplements.
Used primarily in a tea, Basil has a long history of aiding such ailments as stomach spasms, loss of appetite, intestinal gas, kidney conditions, fluid retention, head colds, warts, and worm infections. It works well to ease constipation and lessen anxiety symptoms.
Basil is full of antioxidants, so including it in your diet will aid with the elimination of free radicals from your body. Basil, according to a 2019 study, may help to reduce high blood sugar levels.
Another type of basil is tulsi, or holy basil (Ocimum santum). This plant plays a therapeutic role in Tamil and Ayurvedic medicines, which are predominantly practiced in Southeast Asia. This is different from sweet basil we use most often in cooking. Tulsi has amazing medicinal and therapeutic qualities – too many to mention in this article.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our adventure with our Herb of the Month – Basil. May this post inspire you to try your hand at growing this amazing plant yourself.
Sources: The Way of Herbs, Tierra, Michael, Pocket Books 1998