The next two weeks will be looking at culinary herbs that also have many uses in spellwork, namely oregano and basil. And they’re both tasty flavors for summer, too!
Oregano was the first herb that I ever used in my backyard “potions” as a kid. I loved the smell of the leaves steeping in sun-warmed water. I’d also watch in fascination as bumble bees busily gathered nectar from the flowers, observing the sacs of pollen swell on their little back legs. My mother’s oregano was a huge sprawling monster of a plant, regularly threatening to take over most of the herb beds. Sadly, after wintering over for 20 years, it lost most of its flavor. We hacked it back quite severely to make room for a more flavorful plant, but it still has a place of honor in the garden for services rendered.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare), a member of the mint family, is most famously known as a culinary herb. It complements summer dishes particularly well, and retains it flavor long after it had been dried. A cold salad of tomatoes and cucumber with oil, balsamic vinegar and oregano can be quite refreshing when the thermometer goes over 80F. Many Mediterranean cultures including Italian, Turkish, Palestinian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Syrian, Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish use oregano to flavor their dishes; oregano’s popularity grew in the US after World War II when “soldiers returning … brought back with them a taste for the ‘pizza herb.'”
When I worked more with the Hellenic pantheon back in college, I would use dried oregano as an incense since I could filch is easily from the dining hall! Now I use it mainly to instill a sense of peace and safety in my home. Interestingly enough, none of my go-to herb books included oregano, so I’ll just give my own associations of Masculine, Fire, and Jupiter for magical work–burning the negative away to leave room for calm and growth. A little internet browsing for magical uses of oregano list it for everything from protection to courage to letting go of a loved one. Intuition will let you know what your particular oregano plant would like to be used for, so always let that be your guiding principle.