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Lemon Balm by Sue Perryman

Melissa officinalis

Other names: Sweet balm, Honey balm, Melissa, Lemon balsam, bee balm. Planetry ruler : Moon & Jupiter Element: Water Gender: Feminine Asociated deities: Artemis, Diana and other moon Goddesses.

Magical properties: Happiness, peace, healing, love, protection, success, sleep, clarity, strength.

I was having a tidy up in my garden yesterday and was happy to see that the lemon balm had some small new green leaves appearing. Lemon balm tea is one of my favourite drinks, it tastes amazing and is good for many health problems as well as being a useful magical herb too.

It is well known for it's help with digestive problems, but did you know it also has anti-depressive properties and has long been used to treat anxiety disorders! It may also help to regulate menstrual cycles and promote fertility. The plant is much loved by bees and the generic name 'Melissa' comes from the Greek meaning 'bee'.

The plant itself grows like wildfire if not contained in pots. It looks a bit like mint, as it's from the same family, but the leaves of lemon balm have a wondeful lemon scent and flavour when bruised. The plant dies down in winter, but the root is perennial, so it will grow back year after year. The leaves can be picked at any time, although for adding to food and drinks it is best picked before the flowers open. It was introduced to Britian by the Romans who used it to heal insect bites and scorpian stings.

It has been used for centuries for complaints of the nervous system, and Paracelsus held it in high esteem, calling it an elixir of life. In the London Dispensary (1696) it say's ' An essence of Balm, given in wine, every morning will renew youth, strengthen the brain relieve languishing nature and prevent baldness' ! Gerard claimed that 'The juice of balm glueth together green wounds'. It was also claimed that it would heal any sword wounds. I am not going to gaurantee any of those claims though.

Regularly drinking lemon balm tea is said to increase the life span. John Hussey who apparently lived until age 116 was said to drink it every morning as did Llewelyn, Prince of Glamorgan who lived until age 108 !

Magically lemon balm works well in any love, healing, moon and protection workings and can be added to pouches, incense and used in candle spells.

Make an infusion and add to a bath before bed if your suffering with insomnia, it can also be added to sleep pillows.

Add lemon balm infusion to baths or drink it as a tea when you are feeling stressed and frazzled after a difficult day.

Keep a sprig of lemon balm on you while taking any tests or exams as it is believed to help in clearing the mind and increasing the memory.

Soak lemon balm leaves in wine or add to salads and other foods to strengthen the bonds betwen you and a loved one, or to ease the pain of heartache after a relationship ends.

The wine or tea can also be drank as a ritual drink during full moon workings. It can be added to incense to invoke or honour moon Goddesses.

Lemon balm is non-toxic , although the essential oil may cause dermal irritation so needs to be diluted with a carrier oil if your using it on skin.

Lemon Balm tea

1 oz fresh lemon balm leaves 1 pint boiling water Infuse in a teapot or cafetierre for 10 minutes before drinking. Add honey if needed.

Sources Herbcraft - Anna Franklin and Susan lavender A Kitchen Witches world of Magical plants and herbs - Rachel Patterson A Modern Herbal - Mrs. M. Grieves Complete essential oils - Julia Lawless

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