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Published by jack elliot


The word lavender comes from the Latin, lavare,

meaning “to wash,” and it was a popular herb added to the bath in ancient Egypt and Phoenicia,

Greece and Rome.

A lavender-infused salve applied to the body was a welcome perfume in times when fragrance was needed to combat odors in less-than-sanitary living conditions.

In fact, lavender is the oldest perfume known, and its remnants were found in the ancient tombs of Egyptian royalty. At times throughout history, lavender was so highly prized that it was reserved for the use of royalty only.


Over hundreds of years, women have followed the example of Mary of Galilee, laying freshly laundered linens and garments over lavender bushes to absorb that lovely aroma. In some parts of the world, lavender branches are still tucked into drawers and linen cupboards to discourage moths. Having tried it, I can attest to its effectiveness.

The 16th century English herbalist William Turner suggested this intriguing use for lavender: “... the flowers of Lavender quilted in a cappe and dayly worne are good for all diseases of the head that come of a cold cause and they comforteth the braine very well.”

Aromatherapists even today suggest rubbing lavender oil on the temples to help relieve a headache.

Lavender is also known for its calming and soothing abilities, on people and even pets. The Animal Planet’s “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Milan, an expert in dog behavior, suggests adding dried lavender flowers or lavender oil to the pillows of nervous, excitable pets for its soothing effect.

For many centuries, lavender was used as a “strewing herb,” one of several fragrant herbs scattered on the floors of banquet halls and churches as a disinfecting and deliciously scented air freshener.

When crushed underfoot, it releases its aromatic oils to freshen the air. Hospitals and sick rooms relied on lavender’s antiseptic powers to cleanse the air, and bouquets of lavender were carried by ladies through the streets, for “smelling unto” in a time when sanitary conditions in the streets were lacking. During the Great Plague, people believed that holding a bouquet of lavender to the nose would prevent infection.

Lavender and religion have a closely connected past.


Lavender has been used in religion for centuries.

There are references in the Bible using the name Spikenard.


It was believed that Adam and Eve took lavender with them when they left the Garden of Eden.


Judith anointed herself with perfumes including lavender and approached Holofernes.


Once he was under her scented influence, (or was it drinks?) she murdered him and saved Jerusalem.


The Virgin Mary was said to dry the baby Jesus' cloths on a bush of lavender to dry.


In the gospel of St Luke it says that Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard and anointed the feet of Jesus.


Traditionally, a cross of lavender was hung on the door

to safeguard against evil.


Lavender was burned in the Greek temples.


In the middle ages, the monks and nuns

used lavender to make medicines.


In 1301 lavender is listed as on of the herbs

grown at the Merton Abbey.


Lavender has been used for anointing


 In the past it was used in the temples and churches


It was dabbed behind the ears, temples and on the wrists.


Because of it's calming effects on emotional

and psychological baggage it was useful.


It also cleared the head.


Lavender was tossed on the floors of churches and was burned in bonfires to avert the evil spirits on St. John's day.


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