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Laurel wreath – powerful plant

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Ovid with a laurel wreath on his head
Ovid with a laurel wreath on his head

Ancient Greeks and Romans greatly valued the noble laurel (Laurus nobilis), they considered it a noble and powerful plant. The winner of the Olympic or Pythian Games received a laurel wreath of bay leaves (a tree dedicated to Apollo) from the Tempe Valley in Thessaly, with which he then proudly walked around the city. The leaves of this plant were worn by prominent citizens, priests, poets and heroes. Worn on his head, he commanded the person’s genius.

What’s more, the laurel wreath was a symbol of the victory of Roman chiefs, which they sent to the emperor as a sign of their victory. It was also believed that sleeping under a tree you can acquire extraordinary creativity and become a poet. The Romans also believed that laurel leaves perfectly protect against witches and lightning. Apparently, emperor Tiberius was so afraid of thunderstorms that he put on a laurel wreath for the duration.

Bay laurel berries were also thought to provide magical protection against late blight. Nero reportedly sat under a tree during the disease in the city and received petitioners there.

In general, virtually every part of the bay laurel: trees, branches, leaves, flowers, fruits and roots, according to the ancients, was considered a source of strength and protection against all evil. The laurel wreath worn on the head was supposed to provide mental strength; while on the body, he healed the body.

Sources
  • Longin Majdecki, Historia ogrodów, Warszawa 1978
  • Pliny the Elder, Natural history, XV. 135
  • Roberta Wilson, Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty

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