Notes from the Apothecary: Jasmine
Jasmine, or Jasminum, is a sweet-smelling flowering plant related to the olive tree. Some jasmine plants grow as shrubs but the most famous are probably the climbing varieties. Some can grow as tall as nine metres!
Jasmine flowers are white or yellow, with some holding delicate tones of pink or even red.
The Kitchen Garden
Generally jasmine like partial shade and a warm setting, but there are some hardy varieties that grow happily in cooler climates – hence jasmine making it into our January issue! Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, tends to have solitary, yellow flowers and may bloom from November to March in the northern hemisphere. This makes it a perfect addition to a garden you want to keep bright and fragrant all year round.
Many varieties of jasmine give off the perfume from their flowers at night, making it an ideal plant if you enjoy your garden in the evening or later.
Jasmine tea is popular all over the world, although it originated in China. Complex and sensual in aroma, it’s usually a simple matter of blending black or green tea with jasmine flowers. A simple way to do this is to layer your loose tea with freshly picked jasmine flower buds. Seal the tea in its tin or jar, and the aroma of the flowers will spread throughout the tea. Confusingly, not all jasmine species are edible, so do be confident that the flowers you are using come from an edible variety, such as Jasminum sambac. Also, keep your jasmine flowers away from pets as they might have an adverse reaction. Never ingest the pure essential oil as this is too concentrated and can irritate.
WebMD tells us that, historically, jasmine-based medicine has been used for:
- Hepatitis or liver disease
- Dysentery, in particular the pain associated with repeated bouts of diarrhoea
- To prevent strokes
- Some cancer treatments
Currently, as with many alternative or complementary therapies, there is not enough evidence to say for certain whether jasmine is proven to be useful for any of these.
One of the primary uses for jasmine is as a fragrance, and that fragrance is thought to lift the mood and may even be an aphrodisiac. No wonder the plant is associated with love in many places!
The Witch’s Kitchen
Jasmine has a variety of associations, depending on where in the world you are. In the Far East, jasmine can represent femininity, a sweet disposition, elegance, happiness, affection, or even purity.
Some name meanings for Jasmine or the Persian variant Yasmin associate the word with generosity.
Common jasmine is also called poet’s jasmine, presumably because the incredible fragrance inspired so many a wise or romantic word. You could use jasmine for your own inspiration, meditating in the midst of the fragrance to find the right words for a tricky situation, or simply for a song or poem you’re working on.
In Hinduism, jasmine is one of the five flowers shot from the bow of Kama Deva, the god of love and erotic desire. Jasmine is the flower associated with heightened sensitivity, and the thrill of seduction.
Jasmine can also be used as an offering when seeking forgiveness, although check with your chosen deity or a mentor that its use is appropriate.
Jasmine is also associated with spring, as many varieties start blooming then. Winter jasmine, for course, is just finishing blooming around March, so the spring equinox on the 20th March 2021 might be the ideal time to adorn your sacred space with jasmine blooms.
Home and Hearth
Grow jasmine on a frame or trellis around the entrance to your home. It will give visitors a feeling of warmth and welcome.
Fragrance your own candles with a couple of drops of jasmine oil to add a sensual quality.
Meditate on the image of a white jasmine flower to help rid yourself of negative habits or let go of burdens in your past.
I Never Knew…
Jasmine is a national symbol of many countries. Damascus, in Syria, is even called the City of Jasmine.
About the Author:
Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.