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Rue: Growing, Spiritual & Magickal Properties & Uses

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Written by: Tina Caro

Some plants have a considerable part in the history of witchcraft. And rue is one of them. Let’s see what rue magical properties and uses are!

In ancient times it was counted among the enchanted herbs, a panacea, and universal remedy against snake bites, and an antidote against poisons.

Its botanical name, ruta graveolens, underlines its intense, pungent, unpleasant smell, and links it to a very particular myth, that of the women of Lemnos, which tells of the collective condemnation of an entire female population wanted by the goddess Aphrodite.

The sentence … to an unbearable stench!


Rue, a herb with a rich history, has been associated with various myths and folklore throughout the ages, contributing to its mystique.

Beyond its mythical significance, rue boasts practical uses, such as its effectiveness as an insect repellent and its potential in medicinal applications.

Rue also holds a prominent place in the world of magic, with practitioners using it for protection, purification, and divination, making it a versatile tool in their rituals.

Placing rue in specific locations, like doorways or windows, can enhance its protective qualities and ward off negative energies.

The origin of the myth about rue

The island of Lemnos is sadly remembered because of a cruel event that occurred when, in one night, all the men on the island were brutally murdered by women.

They said that Aphrodite cursed women, they stopped worshipping her, and as revenge, Aphrodite cursed them.

Herbert James Draper, The Pearls of Aphrodite, 1907

In fact, she cursed these women by making them smell terrible, so men started sharing their beds with slave-girls imported from Thrace.

Because of that, these women decided to take revenge, and killed every man (also children), except one!

The queen of this island felt bad for her father, so she set him out to sea to spread the news about this massacre.

This is the official version of the myth.

Some other, less-known version, claimed instead that it was the sorceress Medea that made this stench.


It is told that she was taken by uncontrollable jealousy, when she discovered that her lover Jason had once loved Issipile, one of the princesses of that island.

Because of this, Medea polluted the sea with a mixture of stinking rue. Once this smelly reached the coast, the unbearable stench overwhelmed women swimming in the sea.


Why is this myth even important?

The myth of the Lemniadi leads the symbolic dimension of the rue to the sphere of eroticism, justifying the alchemical role of the goddess Aphrodite in uniting or separating opposites through the powerful tool of attraction/rejection.

Connection to sorceress Medea shows that it can also be a dark and fatal herb, despite its proven reputation as a beneficial drug.

Practical uses of rue

It reduces swelling, has an anti-inflammatory action, and is a well-known remedy for treating injuries caused by sports accidents.

It also calms the nervous system, soothes cramps, and eases pain.

The homeopathic remedy is indicated in the case of rheumatic pain, sprain, and eyestrain.

Except for the root, we can use all parts of the plant.

It is rich in heterosides, that is, glycosides, which increase the resistance of the blood capillaries as well as performing antispasmodic and diuretic action; flavonoids, recognized antioxidants; fucumarine with photosensitizing and vasodilating action and essential oils.

A particular flavonoid is extracted from the rue; that is rutin, which is used by the pharmaceutical industry to prevent and treat capillary fragility.

Ways of using it

  • Ruta is used as a flavoring and is traditionally used to flavor liqueurs.
  • Fresh leaves can be used in moderation to flavor salads, meats, fish, oils, and aromatic vinegar.
  • At home, it can keep mice away, by putting sprigs of fresh rue in places where you saw them running. The smell will disturb small rodents and also mosquitoes, which is why it is grown in gardens. The presence of rue in the garden also keeps snakes away.

Magical properties and uses of rue

Rue is mainly used for healing; its leaves are found in the warm and compressed water on the temples and forehead effectively repel headaches.

Magickal PropertyDescription
ProtectionUsed for warding off negativity and evil energies
PurificationClears spaces and removes negative influences
HealingEnhances healing spells and rituals
DivinationUsed in divination practices and rituals
ProsperityAttracts abundance and financial opportunities
LoveAssociated with love, fidelity, and attraction
BanishingAssists in banishing unwanted energies or people
Table 1: Magickal Properties and Uses of Rue

Rue plays a vital role in exorcist rituals.

Its planet is Mars, and the divinity associated with it is Artemis.

Among the magical properties of the rue, we can find the following:

  • Bless, purify, protect when you do energy cleansing to scare away evil spirits.
  • It has the magical power to attract money.
  • It can protect from spells or curses.
  • When you want to keep a person, or an ex who keeps stalking you away use the rue, and you’ll see how easy it is to get rid of her/him.
  • Its effective power protects us against all kinds of witchcraft, spells, and even against the evil eye.

Where should you place rue?

To keep your home clean of bad energies, I recommend planting a rue close to the entrance of your house or apartment.

By doing this, it will absorb all the negative energies and help you clean every corner of your house.

You can also hang it on the door of the house. A branch of rue will protect you from any spell against you, take care of envy or curses that could affect you or your family.

A money ritual with rue

As we have seen, the rue has mighty abilities, so the rituals and spells performed with it can be very effective and powerful.

Things you need

  • Seven rue leaves
  • One gold or red cloth bag
  • One gold ribbon
  • Seven coins of any denomination

How it’s done
Perform this ritual on a Friday and any time after 9 pm. This ritual will be more powerful if it’s a crescent moon phase.

Store the rue leaves next to the coins inside the bag, and close with the ribbon.

Hold the bag with both hands against your chest while invoking the following ritual.

This ritual must be repeated fourteen times and in each repetition make a stop with five deep abdominal breathing:

“May money always be with me, may prosperity and fortune come to me.”

This bag is going to be your amulet. You must carry it with you for a full month. You can put it in your purse or wallet.

Cleansing energy ritual with rue

When you feel things are not going well, maybe you lose your job, you feel powerless, depressed, you see how your partner is fading away from you… You should perform this ritual.

If it’s possible, do it on a waning moon phase.

Things you need

  • Rue branches with flower
  • Plain alcohol
  • One small glass jar with lid

How it’s done

In a glass jar, you must place some rue branches (they still have to have flowers).

In this jar, pour in some alcohol.

Let it stay like that overnight.

The next day, you can start using it. You can use it every morning as if it were a perfume.

You can put a little of this preparation behind your ears and on your wrists.

You can also take it with you, so you can use it immediately when you have a bad feeling or things are not right.

Dawn’s Thoughts on Rue

Rue (Ruta graveolens), also known as herb-of-grace and, less commonly, witchbane, is a low-growing shrubby evergreen perennial herb native to Southern Europe.

Rue’s interesting bluish leaves and tolerance for dry, sandy soils makes it popular in ornamental gardens in the past, though it has experienced a decline in recent decades.

Rue is hardy in zones 4 through 8. It has a mounding habit and can reach a height of up to 3 feet with a similar spread.

Leaves, which appear opposite off woody stems, are blue-green or grey-green and deeply divided into ovulate leaflets.

The dull yellow flowers appear in flattened corymb clusters on stalks above the foliage in June and July. This plant is highly fragrant (though perhaps not particularly pleasant), especially when crushed- but take care, as it can cause photodermatitis.

Growing Rue in the Garden

Rue can easily be started indoors or directly in the garden once temperatures are reliably above 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

The seeds need light to germinate, so should be sprinkled atop the soil and not covered. They will germinate and grow quickly.

Rue does well in part shade or full sun and thrives in poor soils, so it makes a good plant to try in those areas of the yard where nothing else will grow, provided those areas at least have good drainage.

If you are growing rue for culinary use, it is best to cut off the flower heads as they appear as the plant will become even more bitter once the flowers bloom.

Be sure to wear gloves when handling rue as the sap can cause photodermatitis, that is, an uncomfortable rash triggered by sunlight.

Rue can be planted around garden beds to deter pests, but it is said that mint and sage do not do as well in the presence of rue.

Cats are said to dislike the smell of rue, so growing some around your garden may discourage cats from messing with it.

Healing with Rue

Historically, rue has been used to treat various poisoning- probably through induction of vomiting, and to trigger menstruation- thus it should never be used by pregnant women who hope to stay pregnant as it has a history of use as both an abortifacient and for inducing or speeding up labor.

Healing PropertyDescription
AntispasmodicHelps relieve muscle spasms and cramps
Digestive AidAssists in promoting healthy digestion
Anti-inflammatoryReduces inflammation in the body
AntifungalEffective against certain fungal infections
DiureticPromotes urine production and detoxification
Anti-rheumaticHelps alleviate symptoms of rheumatism
AntisepticSupports wound healing and prevents infections
Table 2: Healing Properties of Rue

Long-term use of rue can lead to photosensitivity and some people may experience contact dermatitis from handling it.

Pliny was fond of rue and mentioned it often. He recommended it to artists to ease eye strain and improve eyesight.

Cooking with Rue

Rue is a traditional season in ancient Roman, Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. Rue is quite bitter and sufficient amounts cause vomiting, so, only very small amounts are used. Rue pairs well with meat, eggs and cheese and acidic flavors.

To get the best flavor, allow rue to simmer in the hot cooking liquid near the end of the cooking time to allow its oils to release into the food and then discard the herb itself before serving.

Rue is also used to flavor beer and liquors.

Magickal Properties of Rue

Rue corresponds to the element fire and the planet Saturn or perhaps Mars. Rue is sacred to Mars, Diana and Aradia.

Rue has a long history of use as a cleansing herb. Rue was once tied in bunches and used to asperge people and areas with holy water in churches.

It is also purported to be one of the ingredients in Thieves Vinegar, used to ward off the Black Plague and was hung over doorways and windows to keep out evil spirits, and rubbed on the floors to keep out pests.

Today, rue is worn in or placed over the doorway to protect from the evil eye and you can even get a little rue-shaped talisman called a cimaruta to serve this purpose more fashionably.

Rue can be used in a variety of ways for banishing and warding to protect from disease and other negative influences.

Rue also has a history of being used for cursing, though I do not have a lot of detail on this.

Rue may be placed over the third eye to assist with developing second sight and encourage psychic abilities.

Online References

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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