If someone were to ask you to picture a symbol of victory, there is a good chance you would immediately envision a wreath made of bay leaves.
Bay leaf is one of the most powerful magical herbs, and has represented triumph for thousands of years.
Along with exploring bay leaves’ powerful spiritual benefits, we will also discuss how this calming herb can benefit your mental health and come in handy around the house.
Bay Leaf Magical Properties
The ritualistic use of bay leaves dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. When you use bay leaves in your rituals, you are calling upon the traditions of those great civilizations.
Along with their link to triumph, bay leaves is also linked with clairvoyance, purifying, and manifestation.
○ Bay Leaves are the Symbol of Apollo
You may be familiar with the myth of Daphne and Apollo, wherein Apollo pursued a dryad who was not interested in him. Daphne’s father helped her escape Apollo’s interest by turning her into a laurel tree.
Apollo then began wearing a wreath of bay leaves from the tree, which became his symbol.
That was why it became a tradition in ancient Greece to crown winners of the Olympics and other events with crowns of bay leaves. The association with victory took hold in Rome as well, which is why Roman emperors also wore these wreaths.
○ Bay Leaves Can Help You Triumph
Using bay leaves in your magic can help you tap into the tradition of victory associated with these herbs. Here are a couple of ways to use bay leaves in your rituals:
- Cook and consume a meal with bay leaves the night before a competition, presentation, or other events at which you hope to be victorious.
- Craft a bay leaf wreath to wear. Close your eyes and say an affirmation like, “I aced the interview and got the job,” or “I won first place in the fencing competition.” Visualize the Olympic champions and Roman emperors of old wearing their bay leaf wreaths, and know you are in mighty company.
○ Heighten Your Clairvoyance with Bay Leaves
It is said that the Oracle of Delphi, the Pythia, breathed in fumes from burning bay leaves in order to achieve her prophetic visions. Alternate versions of the lore say that she chewed the leaves.
You can follow in the footsteps of the Pythia by using bay leaves in your divinations. Here are some ideas for enhancing your clairvoyance:
- Burn bay leaves and inhale the aroma as the Oracle of Delphi did. Close your eyes and meditate on the future.
- Close your eyes and scatter bay leaves on the floor in front of you. Then look to see what patterns emerged.
- Use tarot or other methods of divination while bay leaves burn.
○ Invite Peace into Your Life
The Indian Ministry of Culture says that bay leaves are a herb of peace. So, if you have been looking to increase inner peace or even peace in your relationships, burning bay leaves or eating them may help.
Indeed, we often believe that war is the road to victory with our conflicts. But whether those conflicts are taking place inside us, at work, or with family or friends, achieving peace is often the greatest triumph.
The next time you feel drawn into the conflict, carry a sachet of bay leaves with you. The leaves will help you centre yourself and calm down. As you find peace within yourself, you can also build peace with others.
○ Protect Your Space from Negative Influences
As is the case with many other magical herbs, bay leaves can be useful for purifying your home or ritual space.
All you need to do is burn some leaves and carry them around the room to cleanse the air. Then, pass your ritual tools through the smoke to ensure they are also clean of toxic influences.
○ Make Your Wishes Come True with Bay Leaves
With its close connections to victory and clairvoyance, it makes sense to use bay leaves as part of your manifestations.
In fact, you can write your manifestations down on the bay leaves themselves and burn them to send your wishes out into the Universe. Check out a step-by-step tutorial to find out how to manifest with bay leaves.
Healing Properties and Household Uses for Bay Leaf
Along with their magical properties, bay leaves have powerful healing properties. You will find them useful in your home as well.
○ Soothe Anxiety and Relax Your Mind
There is a chemical in bay leaves called “linalool.” This compound gives bay leaves a soothing property that helps them reduce anxiety.
You might notice when you are using bay leaves in your magical rituals that you feel calmer and more confident than you would without them. That effect could very well be from the linalool.
When you are calm, focused, and have trust in yourself and your process, your rituals can be more effective.
But you can also burn some bay leaves any time in your life you are feeling nervous or stressed. They should help you to relax and ease your worries.
○ Keep Away Cockroaches
If you have a cockroach problem, bay leaves are going to be your new best friends. It turns out that these insects find the leaves repugnant.
Try scattering them around your kitchen. Put some in your cabinets and on your counters. Hopefully, they will help you to deter uninvited guests.
Naturally, you can also scatter bay leaves in any other rooms cockroaches are frequenting.
Just keep in mind that roaches that encounter bay leaves will not die. If you are drowning in roaches, you probably will need an exterminator. But for the occasional roach, bay leaves can work wonders.
○ Bring an Earthy Flavor to Your Cuisine
If you are going to do some slow cooking, that is the perfect opportunity to use bay leaves to enhance your recipes. The pungent notes of bay leaves can give your cuisine an earthier flavour profile.
Try adding bay leaves to soups, braises, stews and sauces that need to cook for a long time. You also can add bay leaves directly to other recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bay Leaf
The soothing properties of bay leaves make it a wonderful addition to your household herb cabinet. But you may still have a few questions. Below, we give you advice on growing, harvesting and caring for bay leaves, plus answers to a few additional questions.
Is bay leaf poisonous to cats and dogs?
Yes. While you can safely eat bay leaves, your pets cannot. Keep your cats and dogs away from bay leaves. In case of exposure, call your vet.
Are bay leaf and laurel leaf the same?
Yes, bay leaves and laurel leaves are two different names for the same thing. Bay leaves grow on laurel trees.
How do you grow laurel?
Laurels are not too picky with respect to soil, so long as it is moist and able to drain sufficiently. They also are flexible with regard to sun and can be planted in full sun, partial shade, or even heavy shade.
How do you harvest bay leaves?
The middle of summer is the ideal time to harvest your bay leaves. The leaves have had a bit of time to age, which means that their oils are most concentrated.
Harvesting the leaves is as simple as using your hands to pick them off the tree.
Should you cook with fresh or dried bay leaves?
Most people prefer dried bay leaves in their cooking. The reason is that bay leaves have a pretty strong flavour, and when the leaves are fresh, it can be a bit “too much.”
How do you dry bay leaves?
You can use a dehydrator, microwave or oven to dry bay leaves quickly, or you can simply air dry them.
How do you store bay leaves?
Keep your bay leaves in an airtight container or bag.