Often associated with the Autumn and Winter, it is actually late Spring and early Summer when Sage is truly at its most beautiful. It has become a common herb for cooks and one of the most popular garden herbs, however Sage also has a rich history of herb and folklore. Sage has traditionally been used across North America and Europe as a herb for cleansing, purification and healing. It is used by modern pagans to sweep away negative energies, and is often the herb that makes up a ‘smudge’ stick.
Sage is said to carry the virtues of strength, mental health and wisdom, and this may in part be due to the pale, ash-colored leaves that can become dry and withered and indeed give the characteristics of an wizened old ‘sage’. It is said that when growing Sage it should be planted with Rue to keep its energies pure. William Coles the 17th Century Botanist and Herbalist said ‘At all times be sure to wash your Sage, for fear that the Toads, who I conceive come to it to relieve themselves, should leave some of their venom upon the leaves, therefore it is good to plant Rue amongst your Sage – they will not come near it’ This is definitely one of my favorite old herbalist warnings! and one I am going to take heed of.
Sage has also long been used as a fortifying and magical tonic. One method is to drink a cup of Sage tea just after sunrise for nine consecutive mornings. Another is the drinking of the tea combined with this charm; “Sage make green the winter rain, Charm the demon from my brain” This is an old recipe for sage tea that recommends drinking this during thundery weather or when feeling oppressed by a sultry heat;
- 15g fresh Sage leaves
- 1/2 Tablespoon of Honey
- Juice of 1/2 Lemon
- 500ml of Boiling Water
Wash the leaves and put them in a jug with the honey and the lemon juice. Bruise the leaves with a wooden spoon, then pour over the boiling water, cover with a clean cloth and allow to infuse for 30 minutes, strain and bottle when cold.
It is said that when someone grows Sage in their garden the health of the live plant is seen as a reflection of the growers personal affairs and business. Sage is the herb for important business decisions, as it invokes the deity Consus, who is the ruling God of councils. Sage is associated with longevity and William Coles again writes enthusiastically ‘ Such is the virtue of sage, that if it were possible, it would make a man immortal’ – presumably as long as he keeps clear of any Toad desecrated leaves.