It’s an oft-repeated piece of magick herb lore that rose can take the place of any flower, and rosemary any herb. Making incense and run out of juniper? Rosemary’ll do it. Making a draught and run out of violets? Use a few rose petals, ‘s alright. Not everyone agrees with this line of thinking, though.
Really, saying that rose and rosemary are more or less universal is a kind of shorthand. Look at an herbal grimoire, and the list of things associated with rosemary gets kind of off the chains. The same is true for roses (especially if you get into color magick). That alone makes them probably the two herbs that I’ve never seen a witch go without. That doesn’t mean that some experienced witches don’t pooh-pooh the idea of using them as stand-ins.
I’m on the fence, myself. Do I use them that way in my own practice? Not often. Rosemary, especially the fragrance, has very particular associations for me. I don’t think I’d ever be able to think about it as a protective herb… But if I was out of another ingredient and needed to make something up in a jiffy? You bet I’d throw it in! On the flip side, I have other herbs that I’ve used as stand-ins even though conventional herb lore doesn’t really indicate to do so. That’s me, though. I’m pretty big on the “personal associations” thing.
Should you keep a stock of rosemary and rose on-hand? I’d say so, for a number of reasons. This is especially true if you’re a beginning witch (or just experimenting). Check it out:
- Neither rosemary nor roses are terribly expensive.
- Both can be found at the nearest grocery store.
- Neither one looks out of place in the average home.
- They’re not very difficult to grow. (Er… For other people, anyway.)
- They’re easy to find fresh, dried, or in toiletries.
- They’re safe to ingest.
- Seriously, though. They’re associated with basically everything.
Do you have any faithful mainstays in your herb cabinet? What are your “go to” plants?