Lemon balm or Melissa officinalis, is also known as Bee balm, Blue balm, Balm mint, Cure all, Dropsy plant, Garden balm, Melissa, and Sweet Balm. A perennial herb in the Lamiaceae mint family, and native to south central Europe and the Mediterranean region.
A rainy day brought about my kitchen being enchantingly scented with lemon balm, as I made lemon balm jelly, syrup, infused honey, and a tea for the shop, and in doing so it’s folklore came to mind.
Lemon Balm’s folklore dates back to ancient Turkey, where it was planted near bee hives to encourage the bees to return home to the hives rather than swarm away. It’s name “Melissa officinalis” is derived from the Greek word Melissa, meaning honeybee. and the herb was planted and used by the beekeepers of the Temple of Artemis to help keep the sacred honeybees content.
Elemental Association: Water
Planetary Association: Venus
Magickally speaking being an herb of Venus makes lemon balm great to work with in love spells, especially if it’s love that’s gone astray. For this herb is connected to the bee. A creature of Mars and fiery passions, adding a darker note to its magickal abilities with the bee’s venom and honey being used in numerous traditions of folk magick. Bees are in folklore tales from around the world, and have connections with everything from abundance to death….
The Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle has a charm for sale that promises happiness, health, and good fortune. This charm includes three ceramic bumblebees in a blue bag, a modern day version from the old folk charm in which its based on that sadly required three dead bumblebees in the bag instead. Bees have long been associated with witches, and folklore tells of a Lincolnshire witch who was said to possess a bee as her familiar. Another tale tells of a male witch from Nova Scotia who was accused of killing a cow by sending a white bumblebee to land on it.Several deities are associated with bee magick such as Aphrodite, Cybele, Pan and Ra to name a few.
Mundane uses for Lemon Balm include it’s main feature that of it being a tranquilizer. It calms the mind, a nervous stomach, colic, or heart spasms, and the leaves are said to lower blood pressure. It is a very gentle herb, although quite effective. I prize lemon balm for another reason though, that being it’s abilities in helping a broken heart, stress, anxiety, and depression. Lemon Balm’s anti-histamine qualities give aid in treating eczema and headaches, and for centuries have been used in the age old tradition of applying fresh leaves to insect bites or wounds. You can also rub the leaves on your skin to keep bugs at bay. Lemon balm tea heated will bring upon sweating to aid the body in detoxifying, and is great to help speed up recovery from colds and flu. Lemon balm is enchanting infused in mead or a white wine, a way to comfort the heart, and drive away the demons of sadness.
Here’s a couple recipes with lemon balm to try ~
Lemon Balm Cordial
In a clean quart canning jar add some ruffly chopped lemon balm that you have rinsed and patted dry, filling the jar about 3/4 full. To this add about a teaspoon of lavender buds, and some zest from a lime. Fill the rest of the jar with a good vodka, and place a piece of plastic wrap over the jar to prevent the lid from corroding. Shake well, and place in a cool dark place, shaking daily. Try a taste in a couple of days, and if it’s strong enough to your liking strain the vodka infusion and pour back into another clean jar. Add some raw organic honey to taste and shake well to combine the honey into the cordial. Store in a bottle and serve with some tonic water, or just over ice.
Lemon balm tea
Fill your teapot with 12 cups water and bring it to a boil. Add to this 2 tablespoons of crushed dried lemon balm leaves, 1 teaspoon of lavender buds, (lemon balm and lavender pair great together), and 1 tablespoon green tea. Steep this for 6 minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste with raw organic honey. Chill over ice and enjoy!
So try these recipes, or try some of my lemon balm confections at the shop, but don’t miss out on the Magick of Melissa…