Plant/herb – Basil
Part of the mint family, Basil is a highly aromatic herb used in culinary, ornamental, medicinal and magickal applications. Basil is an herb that is widely cultivated and can be grown in various regions around the world. It is a warm-weather herb that thrives in tropical and subtropical climates.
The origin of the word Basil is unknown; however, some sources suggest that it was derived from the word basileus (‘King’ in ancient Greek) as it is thought that Basil was once used as an ingredient in perfumes intended for royalty. Another origin story (and much cooler in my opinion) is that the word Basil originated from the word Basilisk- a mythical creature (like in Harry Potter) that could kill with a look. This theory is based upon an old superstition that connected the Basil plant with the scorpion- indicating that scorpions would live beneath basil pots and that if you placed a basil sprig beneath a pot, it would turn into a scorpion!
Whatever the origin of Basil, it is a much-loved herb for Mundane and Magickal uses! In this blog post we will cover Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) and Holy Basil or Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum L)
Basil prefers well-drained soil rich in organic matter and a position in full sun, however it can also tolerate part shade. Basil prefers to grow in moist soil, but make sure it is not waterlogged.
Basil grows best in warm conditions, and is sensitive to cold.
It can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.
To encourage bushy growth of your basil, pinch off leaves regularly.
Harvesting and Drying:
Basil can be air dried in bundles, or in a dehydrator.
Mundane Uses of Basil:
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) or Sweet Basil is a highly versatile herb used in various cuisines around the world. Its distinctive aroma and flavour make it a popular choice for many dishes. Some of the common culinary uses of basil include:
- Pesto: Basil is a key ingredient in traditional Italian pesto sauce, which also includes pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Pesto is commonly used as a pasta sauce or a spread for bread and sandwiches.
- Caprese Salad: Basil leaves are often used in Caprese salad, a classic Italian dish made with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
- Pizza: Basil is a popular pizza topping, especially in Margherita pizza, where fresh basil leaves are placed on top of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
- Tomato-Based Dishes: Basil enhances the flavour of tomato-based sauces, soups, and stews. It's a key ingredient in dishes like marinara sauce and tomato soup.
- Salads: Basil leaves, especially smaller ones, can be torn and added to green salads, fruit salads, or grain-based salads for a burst of flavour.
- Sandwiches and Wraps: Basil leaves can be added to sandwiches, wraps, and paninis to add a fresh, aromatic element.
- Infused Oils and Vinegars: Basil can be infused in olive oil or vinegar to create flavoured oils and vinegars, which can be used in dressings, marinades, or for dipping bread.
- Soups: Basil adds a fragrant note to various soups, including tomato soup, pea soup, and vegetable soups.
- Desserts: While less common, basil can be used in desserts. Basil-infused syrups or sauces can complement dishes like ice creams, sorbets, and fruit salads.
- Drinks: Basil leaves can be muddled and used in cocktails, mocktails, or infused in water for a refreshing drink.
- Herb Butter: Basil can be mixed with butter to create a flavourful herb butter, which can be used to enhance the taste of grilled meats, vegetables, or bread.
Thai Basil, (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum L also known as Tulsi) or Holy Basil
- Thai Basil is commonly used in Thai cuisine to flavour stir-fries and curries.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is widely appreciated for its aromatic qualities in aromatherapy and day to day life. It has a scent similar to that of cloves. The parts used include the fresh leaves, dried leaves, and essential oil. Here are some aromatic uses for basil:
- Potpourri: Dried basil leaves can be added to potpourri mixes, releasing a fresh, herbal aroma.
- Sachets: Dried basil leaves can be placed in sachets and tucked into drawers or closets to keep clothes smelling fresh and to deter insects.
- Aromatherapy: Basil essential oil, derived from the leaves and flowers, is used in aromatherapy for its calming and uplifting properties. It can be diffused in the air or used in massage oils and lotions. ** Avoid using Basil essential oil during pregnancy
- Candles: Basil-scented candles are popular for creating a soothing ambiance. Basil essential oil can be added to homemade candles or purchased as a candle scent.
- Room Sprays: Basil essential oil can be mixed with water to create a natural room spray. A few drops in a spray bottle filled with water can be used to freshen the air in any room.
- Herbal Wreaths: Basil can be dried and incorporated into herbal wreaths, releasing its aroma as it dries.
- Bath Products: Basil essential oil is used in bath products such as bath salts and soaps, offering a relaxing and aromatic bathing experience.
- Massage Oils: Basil essential oil, when diluted with a carrier oil, can be used for massages, providing both a pleasant scent and potential relaxation benefits.
- Herbal Pillows: Basil leaves, often mixed with other fragrant herbs, can be sewn into small pillows for aromatherapy purposes.
- Perfumes: Basil's aromatic properties make it an occasional ingredient in natural perfumes, contributing a fresh and herbal note.
- Culinary Aroma: Fresh basil leaves can be used to add a pleasant aroma to dishes while they are being prepared. The scent of fresh basil can be quite invigorating in the kitchen.
*Always be cautious when using essential oils, as they are highly concentrated and should be diluted properly before use.
*Basil essential oil, in particular, should be used with care and following the recommended guidelines.
Basil, particularly (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum L also known as Tulsi) has been traditionally used in various medicinal systems especially in Ayurveda for its medicinal properties. Some of these traditional and potential medicinal uses of basil include:
Daily consumption of Tulsi- usually in the form of tea, is said to prevent
disease and promote general health, wellbeing, longevity and assist in stress reduction.
Tulsi has been used as a treatment for a range of conditions including anxiety and depression; arthritis; asthma; back pain; cardiac disorders; coughs; diarrhea; dysentery; fever; eye diseases; gastric disorders; genitourinary disorders; hiccups; indigestion, insect, snake, and scorpion bites; malaria; ringworm, and skin diseases.
Some of the benefits of Basil include:
- Anti-inflammatory: Basil contains compounds, such as eugenol, that have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help in reducing inflammation in the body.
- Digestive Aid: Basil can aid in digestion by promoting the movement of food through the digestive tract. It is often used to relieve symptoms of indigestion and bloating.
- Respiratory Health: Basil is used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory disorders like asthma and bronchitis due to its potential to relax the muscles in the respiratory tract, easing breathing.
- Stress Reduction: The aroma of basil is believed to have a calming effect and may help in reducing stress and anxiety. Basil essential oil has antidepressant properties. Consumption of Tulsi tea has a calming effect on the body and mind and is an antidepressant and has antianxiety properties.
- Pain Relief: Basil oil, when diluted and applied topically, may help in relieving minor pains and aches.
- Skin Health: Basil has been used in traditional remedies for skin conditions. It is believed to have properties that promote skin health, reduce acne, and may be used in natural skin care products.
- Liver Support: Basil is thought to support liver health by promoting detoxification processes in the body.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Some studies suggest that basil extracts may help in regulating blood sugar levels, making it potentially beneficial for individuals with diabetes.
- Headaches: Basil oil, when used in aromatherapy, may help in alleviating headaches and migraines due to its calming effects.
- Oral Health: Basil has natural antibacterial properties, which might be beneficial for oral health. Chewing fresh basil leaves or using basil-infused mouthwash can help in combating bad breath and oral bacteria. The action of Tulsi against streptococcus mutans (the organism responsible for bad breath and gum disease) suggests that Tulsi can be used as an herbal mouthwash. It has been shown to have anti-ulcer and ulcer healing properties.
- Increases Memory: Tulsi has a positive effect on memory and cognitive function. It is said to protect individuals against age induced memory deficits.
- Repels Insects: The high eugenol content of Tulsi helps to repel mosquitos, flies and other harmful insects.
*Basil essential oil should not be used during pregnancy.
*Basil essential oil should not be used in concentrations greater than 1% as it can be highly irritant to the skin.
The Magickal Properties Of Basil:
Folk Names: Sweet Basil, Albahaca, American Dittany, “Our Herb” St Joseph’s Wort, Witches Herb, Njilika, Balanoi, Feslien, Genovese Basil, Basilico
Deities: Vishnu, Erzulie
Powers: Self Love, Love, Exorcism, Wealth, Flying, Protection
- Tulsi wood/seeds are sometimes used to make Tulsi Mala beads or prayer beads to help focus the mind during meditation.
- Tulsi is used ceremonially in Hinduism
- Some Greek Orthodox churches use Tulsi in the creation of their ‘Holy water’.
- Basil is a lucky herb and given as a gift brings good luck to a new home.
- Basil is a fantastic ingredient for blends to encourage happiness and peace, and to stimulate the conscious mind.
- Referred to as the “witches Herb”, Basil was once used to detect witches- the ancient Greeks supposedly would burn the herb whilst speaking the name of the suspected witch. If the Basil crackled in the flames, the person was confirmed to be a witch.
- Basil’s magic is said to replace sorrow with happiness (basil is said to be an antidepressant).
- Use basil in spells for happiness, and peace in the family.
- Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum L) is a sacred plant and worshipped as a goddess in Hinduism. It is said to be sacred to the Indian Gods Vishnu, Krishna, Rhada and Eurzuli and when given as an offering it is said that the individual will receive divine and prophetic visions- note this is not the sweet basil (Ocimum Basilicum). Tulsi is so revered that it is said that Hindu households are not complete without a Tulsi plant.
- Basil is used as a sacred offering to the dead in Europe and bundles of basil are sometimes placed in the hands of deceased loved ones to ensure their safe passage to the spirit realm.
- Basil is added to love incenses and sachets and the fresh leaves are rubbed against the skin to act as a natural love perfume.
- Basil essential oil encourages sympathy between 2 people and is worn to avoid arguments.
- Basil is the perfect gift to give a newlywed couple as it encourages happiness and a life free from arguments and brings the energy of compassion and cooperation.
- Basil added to a bath can help calm one’s spirit and clear away negativity, making it a great herb for self -love.
- It is said that if you have a vision of Basil, new love or heightened love is on its way to you.
- Basil is used in spells to promote fidelity.
- Sprinkling Basil powder over your partner whilst they are sleeping (especially over the heart) is said to bless your relationship and promote fidelity.
- In Eastern Europe, it was once suggested that a young man’s love would be given to any woman from whom he accepted a sprig of Basil.
- For love divinations, two fresh basil leaves are placed on a live coal. If they stay put and burn quickly, the intended relationship is said to be harmonious. If the leaves sputter, the relationship is said to have disharmony and if the leaves fly apart with a fierce crackling, the relationship is said to be undesirable.
- To find out if someone is a philanderer, place a sprig of Basil in their hand- if it withers straight away, chances are they won’t be faithful.\
- Basil promotes wealth and prosperity.
- Used in money attraction oils, it has been said that Basil was worn by prostitutes in Spain to attract customers.
- The energy of Basil aids in attracting customers and business opportunities to a business. Placing Basil near the cash register or door is said to increase business.
- For some simple candle magic, dress a green candle with oil infused with basil for a money spell to attract wealth and prosperity.
- Basil can be carried on your person- in bag or wallet etc to attract wealth and abundance.
- It is said that if you smell basil, abundance is on its way.
- In Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, it is reported witches were said to drink ½ cup of basil juice before flying off into the air.
- Basil is used in exorcism incenses and purification baths.
- The blessings of basil make it impossible for evil to reside wherever Basil does.
- Keeping basil plants (or scattering dried Basil) in the corners of your house is said to keep away evil spirits. Likewise, scattering basil over the floors or using Basil in a floor wash is said to keep away evil.
- Basil plants are cherished in Hindu households as a protector of the family.
- Basil can also be used in personal protection spells.
The Magickal benefits of this herb are not set in stone. These magickal benefits are from a Eurocentric viewpoint, as is my personal background and what I am familiar with.
Do your own research before working with each ingredient always and consult sources from your own ancestral background. What is right for me in my situation, may be completely wrong for you.
Let us know what you think about this fantastic plant. Do you grow it? If so, what has been your experience with it? Do you use it for mundane purposes, magickal purposes, or both? We'd love to hear your experiences.
Please note: The author of this blog is not a medical professional & the information presented in this blog is solely for entertainment and informational purposes. No information contained within this bog is intended to serve as professional advice of any description. Please consult a healthcare professional if you are seeking treatment for any medical condition. If you choose to perform any type of self-treatment or follow advice off the internet you do so at your own risk.