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Parsley: Folklore, Spiritual & Magical Uses

Updated on:


Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)


Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Parsley (botanical Name etroselinium crispum) is a member of the carrot family with its characteristic feathery foliage. It is native to the Mediterranean, a biennial, and overwinters quite well if given protection, but is usually grown as an annual in cold climates.


Parsley has a rich history steeped in folklore, with ancient Greeks believing it sprang from the blood of the hero Archemorus, while Romans used it as a symbol of victory and protection against evil.

When growing parsley, it thrives best in well-drained soil and requires full sun or partial shade, making it a versatile addition to any garden.

Harvesting parsley is best done by cutting the outer leaves and stems to encourage regrowth, and it’s a nutritious herb packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.

Parsley’s magical uses date back centuries, with beliefs in its ability to ward off evil spirits and attract prosperity, making it a potent tool in various rituals and spells.

History and Folklore

Persephone is often depicted carrying a bunch of parsley. Ancient Greeks associated parsley with Death, and used it to decorate tombs, and in funeral ceremonies. They did not eat it and never grew it indoors, lest they bring death into the house, but they did use it as fodder for horses.

The Romans placed parsley on their plates to protect the food from contamination and ate it to sweeten their breath after meals. This is where its tradition as a garnish originated. They also tucked it into their togas for protection and wore it on their heads to protect them from inebriation.

Table: This table could provide information about the folklore and symbolism associated with Parsley in different cultures. Include the folklore/symbolism, its cultural origin, and the significance of Parsley in the belief system. For example:

Folklore/SymbolismCultural OriginSignificance
Protection and PurificationVarious culturesBelieved to ward off evil spirits and negative influences
Vitality and RenewalAncient GreeceAssociated with new beginnings, rejuvenation, and overall well-being
Death and FuneralsEuropean folkloreUsed in funeral rites and believed to ward off evil spirits from the deceased
Love and RomanceMiddle Eastern folkloreUsed in love spells and rituals to attract and enhance romantic relationships
Table 1: Parsley Folklore and Symbolism

European folklore says that only pregnant women and witches can grow parsley properly and that it should be planted on Good Friday for the best crop.

Uprooting parsley will bring bad luck to your household. It will also kill the plant. Parsley doesn’t like to be transplanted.

Medieval Europeans believed that you could kill someone by plucking a sprig of parsley while speaking his name.

Magical Use

Parsley is associated with Mercury and air and masculine in action. It is sacred to PersephoneVenus, and Aphrodite.

Parsley can be used in a ritual bath and in ritual incense associated with communication with spirits of the dead.

Table: This table could provide information about the magical uses and correspondences of Parsley in spiritual and magical practices. Include the magical use, its significance, and how Parsley is incorporated into rituals or spells. For example:

Magical UseSignificanceMagical Application
ProtectionGuards against negative energies and entitiesPlaced in sachets, amulets, or used in protective spells and rituals
Psychic AwarenessEnhances intuitive abilities and divinationBurned as incense or included in rituals for psychic development
Love and FertilityAttracts love, passion, and fertilityUsed in love spells, charm bags, or carried to enhance romantic energy
Cleansing and PurifyingClears energy and spaces of negativitySprinkled or used in baths for spiritual purification
Table 2: Parsley Magical Uses and Correspondences

Wearing or eating parsley is supposed to protect against drunkenness and increase strength, vitality, and passion.

Parsley is also supposed to protect food from contamination.

Growing Parsley

Parsley is a relatively hardy biennial though it needs some protection from cold. It prefers a sunny location where it receives a bit of shade for part of the day. If the parsley is getting too much sun, it will go pale. If you let it go to seed the second year, it’ll reseed itself. But it doesn’t taste as good the second year, so you should do a second planting. Then you’ll have an eternal rotation of parsley. Plant in well-drained soil rich in organic matter, though parsley tolerates poorer soils well.

Soak seeds in water for 24 hours prior to planting. Germinate in 3-4 weeks. Plant indoors 6-8 weeks before expected frost safety date in peat pots, so you don’t have to transplant and disturb the delicate roots, or sow directly in the ground. Surface sow and water well. Plant or thin to 8-10 inches apart. Water at least weekly; do not allow to dry out. Water extra in the heat. Mulch to retain moisture and reduce weeds.

Parsley can be grown indoors in a sunny location in a well-drained pot.

Slugs like parsley and so do many kinds of caterpillars. Swallowtail larvae can wipe out a parsley plant overnight, but they make lovely butterflies, so plant extra if you have them in your area.

Harvesting and Preparation

Snip stalks close to the ground, beginning with outside stalks and working your way around. This will encourage new growth. For best flavor, pick early in the day while it is still cool. At the end of the season, you can chop the whole thing off at the ground.

Lay or hang to dry and store in an airtight container away from light and heat. It’s best fresh though.

For the best flavor, parsley should be frozen instead of dried. Chop it up small and mix with some olive oil before freezing.

Culinary Use

Rich in iron and calcium and vitamin C, A, and B. Add to soups, stews, sauces near the end of cooking to maintain flavor. Excellent in mashed potatoes, add just before mashing. Great in tabbouleh salad and on sandwiches. Often used as a garnish.

Parsley can be added to pesto and other sauces to stretch other herbs with good results. It is also a great base, chopped small, for tabbouleh and bean salads.


Pregnant women should not eat large quantities of parsley.

Large amounts of parsley can have toxic effects on the liver, lungs, and kidneys.

Parsley oil should never be taken internally.

Use care if collecting parsley wild. Fool’s parsley looks a great deal like the real thing but the leaves are more acute, darker green and don’t smell as nice. It is quite poisonous, though it has its own uses.

Hemlock and Hog’s Weed also looks a bit like parsley, but are so toxic they should not be touched. If you didn’t plant it, assume it’s not parsley.

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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