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Herbs

Basil: Varieties, Healing & Magical Attributes (Explained)

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Written by: Tina Caro

Basil an annual herbaceous plant, generally cultivated as an aromatic plant but it has some incredible magical properties to discover. Let’s find out which are basil magical properties!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Alchemists historically recognized basil for its magical properties, believing it could protect against negative energies and enhance psychic abilities.

Basil’s versatility extends to culinary use, with various varieties such as Sweet Basil, Thai Basil, and Lemon Basil, each offering a unique flavor profile for dishes.

In addition to its culinary applications, basil has household uses, acting as a natural insect repellent and air purifier.

With a rich history and folklore, basil has been propagated for generations, offering not only a fragrant addition to gardens but also a source of well-being and mystique.

Typical Uses and Origin

Basil is typically used in Italian and Asian cuisine, thanks to the marked fragrance of its leaves which, depending on the variety, can be more or less sweet or pungent.

The origin of the word is uncertain, it could derive from the medieval Latin “basilicum”, which originates from the Greek “basilicon” (“regal, majestic plant), and “ basileus ”(king): it was so called because it used to produce perfumes for the king or in reference to the sacred use of the ancient Hindu populations, or only for the “royal” importance given to the plant.

Basil VarietyDescription
Sweet BasilOcimum basilicum: The most common variety with a sweet and aromatic flavor, used in culinary dishes and pesto sauce.
Thai BasilOcimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora: A popular variety in Southeast Asian cuisine, known for its spicy and licorice-like flavor.
Lemon BasilOcimum basilicum ‘Citriodorum’: Features a strong lemony aroma and taste, often used in teas, desserts, and salads.
Holy BasilOcimum tenuiflorum: Also known as Tulsi, it holds spiritual significance in Hinduism and is used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Table 1: Varieties of Basil

The name “basilicum” was often confused with that of the basilisk, a legendary creature described in Greek mythology as a snake that could kill with its eyes and endowed with a lethal poison, whose antidote was precisely the basil.

The Basilisk
The Basilisk

Originally from tropical Asia, particularly from India and Africa, it was introduced into Europe by Greeks and Romans through the Middle East from the time of Alexander the Great, around 350 BC, while the culinary use in the Mediterranean basin dates back only to XV century.

According to tradition, it is said that the tomb of Christ was adorned with basil plants and, even today, basil is used to decorate the altars of Orthodox churches.

Basil in Ancient Cultures

In history, before being known and appreciated in the kitchen, basil stood out for having accompanied many superstitions among the peoples of Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Its power is ambivalent and often conflicting: in many cultures and ages, he was attributed positive and beneficial properties, in other negative and almost diabolical powers.

In India, basil is considered a sacred herb, and in Egypt, it was offered to the gods: so great was the power that ordinary mortals could not use it.

The Greeks and Romans also highly appreciated it and often resorted to its magical virtues.

For the ancient Egyptians and the Greeks, basil was connected to a symbolism linked to death and was used for embalming.

Even among the ancient Romans, basil was considered a diabolical symbol of misfortune and hatred. According to Pliny the Elder, the plant could generate states of torpor and madness, and even Chrysippus claimed that it could be harmful to the stomach and the liver.

my basil plant
My basil plant.

The Chinese and the Arabs knew the medicinal properties; the Crusaders filled the hold of their ships with basil on the return of the Holy Land because according to them, the plant kept insects, diseases and odors away. In the Middle Ages, people assumed these leaves had magical properties, so they were used to prepare filters and potions.

People also believed that it could be a weapon used to fight dragons.

Alchemists on Basil Magical Properties

The magic power of the basil was fully understood by the alchemists who, due to the hidden properties attributed to it, considered it one of the sacred plants of Paradise.

It’s said that the basil could help the man with the recovery of power and happiness lost after the expulsion from Eden. It’s also said there is no greater magical power, nor a more powerful talisman. In this sense, basil is a precious aid, because its occult power positively influences the mind and emotions.

In general, it is considered one of the best tonics of the nervous system, it is able to attenuate mental fatigue and free the mind, favoring vigor and clarity, and removing indecision and negative ideas. John Gerard, an English botanical and herbalist Jesuit ((1545 – 1611) claims that his perfume “helps the heart and fights the sadness that comes from melancholy, restoring humor to man.”

An African legend also claims that basil protects against scorpions.

The basil is endowed with magical properties for the Mexican villagers, who believe the leaves can attract fortune in business and love.

The basil bath has the power to free and strengthen the energy field of the body: it is one of the best remedies to discharge and protect yourself from negativity. As a preventive measure, it can be used whenever you come into contact with a negative or very aggressive person, or when you feel the threat or the evil energy of a hidden enemy.

basil bath
Basil Bath

In the field of magical arts, the Basil plant has often been used to make love filters, create spells to smooth out differences between partners, or attract attention and sympathy for potential partners.

Although today we use basil purely for culinary purposes, in other times it was a plant known for its power to provide protection and well-being, so much so that it is sought after for various purposes, including those for the well-being of intimate parts and to ease menstrual pain.

Some women, and some men, rubbed it on the skin to take advantage of its powerful romantic aroma and ensure the partner’s attention, while others used it to create real amulets of love.

How to use Basil and its Magical Powers

Basil Magical Properties, in short, are love, exorcism, wealth, and protection.

Magickal AttributeDescription
ProtectionBasil has long been associated with protection against negative energies, evil spirits, and malevolent forces.
Love and HarmonyIt is believed to attract love, foster harmonious relationships, and enhance emotional well-being.
Wealth and ProsperityBasil is sometimes used in rituals and spells to attract abundance, prosperity, and financial success.
Cleansing and PurificationIt is considered a purifying herb, used in rituals to cleanse spaces, remove negativity, and purify the energy.
Table 2: Magickal Attributes of Basil

And here are a few examples of how to use basil in practice.

  1. Add it dried to incense and love bags.
  2. For the divination for love: put two basil leaves on a lump of hot coal. If they stay where you put them and they burn quickly becoming ash, marriage (or relationship) will be harmonious. If they crackle a lot, the couple’s life will be destroyed by quarrels. If the leaves fly away with a strong crackle, the relationship is undesirable.
  3. Do you want to know if someone is chaste or promiscuous? Place a sprig of fresh basil on his hand. If they immediately wither that person is “light of love.”
  4. Basil brings wealth to those who carry it in their pockets and is used to attract customers by putting some in the cash register.
  5. It is also used to guarantee your partner’s loyalty: sprinkle the body with powdered basil while he (or she) is asleep. Put your heart above all, and faithfulness will bless your relationship.
  6. Scattered on the floor, it drives away evil.
  7. It is used in incenses for exorcism and in purification baths.
  8. Small amounts are sometimes placed in every room in the house for protection.
  9. Gifted brings luck to a new home.

Some Additional Tips

  • If we carry a handful of leaves in the bag, or put the whole plant in our work environment, this will ensure our wealth and good fortune;
  • If instead we create small bags and distribute them in the various rooms of our house, we will be assured of his precious protection and we will also have restored the harmony between the rooms;
  • Finally, if you wish good luck to your loved ones, just give them a plant to keep at home.

Final Thoughts

In magic, basil is often used to smooth out disagreements between lovers; its scent causes an immediate attraction and sympathy between two people.

If worn on, it attracts wealth and health: giving a basil plant is like giving a powerful lucky charm and a faithful ally for health!

Dawn’s Thoughts on a Basil

Basil (Ocimum basilicum & spp) is a member of the mint family with a characteristic square, hairy stem, labiate flowers, and opposite leaves. It has a rich, spicy aroma reminiscent of the other mints with a hint of clove.

Flowers appear as a whorl in summer and are usually white, pale pink, or purple.

Other Names

Albahaca, St. Joseph’s Wort, Sweet Basil

Basil Varieties

Sweet Basil

Ocimum basilicum

White flowers, deep green leaves. Salads, vinegar, pesto

Spicy Globe Basil

Compact, good for small gardens. Use like sweet basil.

Lettuce Leaf Basil

White flowers, large crinkly leaves. Sweeter flavor. Good in salads. Grows like crazy

Green Ruffles

White flowers, lime green, ruffly, serrated leaves. Much longer than sweet basil. Very ornamental.

Lemon Basil

O.b. ‘Citriodum’

Finer leaves with a distinct lemony odor. Good for potpourri, tea and salad.

Opal Basil

O.b. ‘Purpurescens’

Very pretty, ornamental with shiny purplish foliage and lavender flowers. Gives color to herbal vinegar and looks lovely in flower arrangements. There are larger and more compact varieties.

Cinnamon Basil

Ocimum sp.

Large, with dark green shiny leaves and pink flowers. Strong spicy flavor and fragrance in both foliage and flowers. Use in dried arrangements, potpourri, tea, vinegar, jellies, and cooking.

Thai Basil

O.b. ‘Siam Queen’

Huge. Upright and branchy. Very nice, but very different flavor and fragrance. Purple stems and flowers. Very pretty. Use in Asian dishes and with fresh fruit. A cultivar of Sweet basil and Holy Basil. Try the leaves battered and deep-fried.

Mammoth Basil

Huge leaves. Ideal for wrapping meats for roasting.

Purple Ruffles Basil

O. basilicum ‘Purple Ruffles’

Lavender flowers, ruffled, dark maroon, shiny leaves. Very pretty ornamental. Makes a beautiful reddish-purple vinegar.

Thyrsiflora Basil

O. basilicum ‘Thyrsiflora’

Flowers are white and deep lavender with smooth, bright green leaves. Very sweet fragrance. Used in Thai foods.

Camphor Basil

O. kilimandscharicum

White flowers with red anthers and green leaves. It has a distinctive camphor or menthol flavor. Not used in cooking, but great in teas and baths for colds and flu.

Holy Basil

O. sanctum

Lavender flowers with coarse gray-green foliage. Sweet fragrance and very ornamental. Not used in cooking.

History and Folklore

”Ocimum” is from the Greek, meaning “to be fragrant”. The word Basil comes from the Greek, meaning “King”.

Basilisicum is from the Latin for Basilisk, a creature that could cause madness and death. It was carried or ingested as a charm against attacks. It may have been used to cure madness, or it may have been attributed with causing madness.

Basil may have been brought to Greece by Alexander the Great around 350BCE

African folklore claims that basil protects against scorpions, while Greek lore said that scorpions would breed in the presence of basil.

European lore claims that it belongs to Satan and you must curse the ground as you plant it in order for it to grow properly. This is where the French idiom, ”semer le basilic’‘ “to sow the basil” came from, it refers to ranting.

Basil was used in English folk magic, like so many other things, to ward off harmful spells as well as to keep away pests.

Apparently, witches drank basil juice before flying on their brooms. Perhaps it aids in astral projection.

During Tudor times, small pots of basil were given to guests as a parting gift. Perhaps it would be useful in traveling spells.

Also, several sources say that if a gift of basil is given to a member of the opposite sex, he or she will fall deeply in love with the giver and be forever faithful. In Romania, this act is representative of an official engagement.

In India it is highly revered, Holy Basil is sacred to the Hindu religion as a manifestation of the Goddess Tulasi.

According to lore, the God Vishnu seduced her in her husband’s guise and, horrified when she realized she’s been unfaithful, however unknowingly, she killed herself.

Another version claimed that the mortal Tulasi, whose name was Vrinda, threw herself onto her husband’s funeral pyre because she was so upset that he died.

Either way, Vishnu deified her and declared that she should be worshiped by wives and would prevent them from becoming widows. Her burnt hair was turned into the Holy Basil, which is called Tulsi in reference to her, is a Hindu symbol of love, fidelity, eternal life, purification, and protection.

So important was this plant that in some Indian courts, people swore oaths by a basil bush. According to sources, some Hindu households keep their own basil plant, pray to it, and keep a lamp burning by it at night.

In Haiti, Basil is sacred to the goddess of love, Erzulie.

It is a symbol of love in Italy. A pot of basil placed on a balcony meant that the woman who lived there was ready to receive suitors.

Propagation

Basil requires full sun and well-drained soil. Sow seeds directly in the ground after frost danger has passed. ¼ inch down. Keep moist. Germinates in 5-7 days. Thin to 6-12 inches apart. Or sow indoors. Mulch around stems to retain moisture and reduce weeds. Must be well watered at least once a week.

Fertilizer is not usually needed. Use sparingly as it will reduce its fragrant oils. Pruning will encourage bushy growth, clip off the flower stalks as they form to keep a steady supply of leaves coming.

Treat as an annual or bring indoors in cool weather and keep under artificial lights 6-8 hours per day. Very sensitive to cold. A single frost will kill it. But it is drought tolerant and, if dry and drooping, will usually spring back after a good watering.

If sowing indoors, allow six to eight weeks of growth before transplanting or at the very least, wait till they have two pairs of true leaves.

To maintain full flavor, pinch off flower spikes as they form. Prune or harvest at least once every two weeks from the top, not the sides, especially cutting back the center stalk. Cut just above where some leaves meet the stem. This is a growth node and will encourage side growth, more leaves.

Vulnerable to slugs, whiteflies, and spider mites.

Plant basil with tomatoes and asparagus to repel aphids, mites, tomato hornworms, and asparagus beetles. It is also supposed to improve the general growth and flavor of tomatoes.

Harvesting & Storage

The best time to harvest is on a warm, sunny day, just after the dew has dried and just before the flowers form. But you can harvest basil as you need it.

Harvest by pinching off leaves as needed once the plant is strong enough to handle it. If taking a large harvest, leave at least two shoots intact. It will grow back in a few weeks.

Hang upside in bunches or lay flat on a drying rack to dry. Ensure proper ventilation to reduce the chance of mold. Store in an airtight container away from heat or light for up to one year. The flavor of dried basil is not as good as fresh basil.

To maintain better flavor, chop fresh basil and freeze in ice cubes to drop into sauces. Use within one year. You can also freeze whole leaves in a plastic bag. Rub the leaves with olive oil before freezing.

Or try mixing chopped basil with butter and then freezing. This is good for fish.

Basil can also be preserved by using it to make pesto, herbal butter, and vinegar or make and can sauces while your basil is still fresh.

Basil leaves can also be packed in jars of olive oil. Simply stuff as many leaves as you can into a wide-mouthed jar and top with oil and leave in a sunny spot for a week or so, shaking periodically. Then store in a cool spot.

Magical Attributes

Basil is sacred to Vishnu, Tulasi, and Erzulie, masculine in nature, and associated with the element of fire and the planet Mars.

Basil helps steady the mind, brings happiness, love, peace, and money and protects against insanity.

Use basil in spells to attract love, prepare for astral projection, or bring luck in physical journeys.

Apparently carrying a leaf in your pocket or wallet will attract money. Placing one in your cash register will attract money there too.

Soak basil in water for three days and then sprinkle the water over the threshold of your place of business to bring in customers and keep away thieves. (Haiti)

Dust the upper half of your body, especially over your heart, with powdered basil to keep your lovers eyes only on you. (S. America)

Keep a bit of basil in each room to protect the home and family. Rub some basil on your forehead to protect you when leaving the house. (Hindu)

Also used in peacemaking spells and to make up after a fight.

Household Use

Basil makes wonderful potpourris, herbal sachets, and dried bouquets. Try opal, lemon, anise and cinnamon basil for this. It is reputed to keep flies away and has larvacidal properties against mosquitoes and houseflies.

The antifungal and antibacterial properties of basil may make it useful in making household cleaners.

After arguing with a loved one, take some time to calm down while sipping some basil tea. Then you’ll be prepared to return to the conversation and settle the dispute peacefully.

Serve meals heavily laced with basil during times of family strife and argument to help with reconciliation and peacekeeping.

Basil is also useful when a suitor comes a-calling to encourage his or her interest, consider adding a drop or two to your fragrance oil and include it in your recipes when preparing a romantic dinner for two.

Healing Attributes

Basil tea after a meal is said to aid digestion and prevent flatulence. It is used for many stomach complaints, where a calming effect is desired, such as stomach and abdominal cramping due to gas or other reasons, and for digestive ailments.

Healing PropertyDescription
Digestive SupportBasil is known for its ability to aid digestion, relieve bloating, and soothe stomach discomfort.
Anti-Inflammatory AgentIt possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation and support overall wellness.
Respiratory HealthBasil leaves are used to alleviate respiratory issues like coughs, colds, and congestion.
Stress ReliefBasil is considered an adaptogenic herb, promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and supporting mental well-being.
Table 3: Healing Properties of Basil

It has a mild sedative action and is also useful for nervous headaches and anxiety.

Holy Basil is used in Ayurvedic Medicine to increase the body’s resistance to stress, to enhance adrenal function and for physical and mental endurance and to balances the chakras.

The oils of basil have antibiotic and antifungal properties.

Culinary Use

Used in many Italian, Mediterranean and Thai dishes. The main ingredient in pesto and one of the herbs in chartreuse.

It’s excellent with most meats, beans, tomato dishes, pasta, rice, eggs, cheese, soups, and stews. It adds interest to mildly flavored vegetables. It blends well with thyme, garlic, and lemon. Heat reduces basil’s flavor and aroma, so always add it near the end of cooking.

The seeds of several types of basil, soaked in water until they become gelatinous, are used in Asian desserts.

Try basil mayonnaise or herbal butter.

The best sandwich in the world consists of soft goat cheese spread on toast and several slices of fresh, homegrown tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. Serve the bread on the side and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and you have the best salad in the world.

About
Tina Caro

Tina Caro is a witch with more than 10 years of experience, a yogi, an astrologer, and a passionate supporter of all things holistic! She’s also an owner of the website Magickal Spot where she discusses a variety of her favorite topics.

Magickal Spot has helped thousands of readers worldwide, and she’s personally worked with hundreds of clients and helped them manifest desires to have a happier and more abundant life.

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