Monday, January 18, 2010

Rosemary is for Remembrance and A Good Gardener Should Always Remember to Do No Harm

The scent of rosemary was all about me yesterday when I came in from the garden. I have a nice size bush of rosemary in my front bed; and its trunk is a gnarly, tough woody fiber.

I thought I might trim it a little because there was a good bit of dead wood massed underneath its greenery. But since I didn't have the right tool for the task, I ended up wrestling with it, hacking at it with my Felcos. Now, I'm feeling kind of bad about the whole thing, because I left a rather inelegant slash at its base.

With some of the cut sprigs, I fashioned an amulet and hung it on a shepherd's hook, where it is presently lording over the back garden with a rather mystical touch of elegance. Rosemary is a symbol of devotion and fidelity and good luck in the new year.

Then, just in case I did more damage to my rosemary bush than I intended, I was over at Behnkes and I saw a pot of the herb and tossed it into my basket of purchases. It will reside with my winter indoor plants and get transplanted later this spring. Right now, though, I put it on Patsy's desk because she's studying for her finals and rosemary is supposed to help improve memory. "Here's rosemary for remembrance," I told her. Patsy was delighted by the gift and tells me that it's working.

I have a new companion in my garden library. It's a book by Ellen Dugan, who is not only a master gardener, but also a witch. (A good witch, not a bad witch.) Dugan's Garden Witch's Herbal has me convinced that I too might be harboring an inner witchyness. Of course everything I ever knew about witches could fit into a 30-minute episode of one of Daren and Samatha Stephens' bewitching escapades. But Dugan's green magick (which she mysteriously spells with a K and doesn't say why) is alluring. There is a certain affinity between paganism and that earthy spirituality that we gardeners encounter every time we enter into the green, glorious realms that we create. A witch, Dugan says, carries information between the natural world and the human world, making a bridge between the two to bring "hope, peace, healing and positive energy to each world." And so, too, does the gardener.

In my garden, I'm learning the earth-centered lessons taught to me by the plants and the herbs and the trees. And mother rosemary now bearing her wicked gash (which will now be open to all the harsh elements of the late winter) has reminded me that a good practitioner, first does no harm. Having committed the crime, however I will now borrow from Dugan's teachings and conjure up a spell to heal my dear old plant, which Dugan tells me is associated in the witches' world with love and health. So an old English verse now becomes my incantation:

Rosemary is for remembrance
Between us daie and nighte,
Wishing that I may alwaies have
You present in my sight.

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