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Rue is another herb that makes me giggle because of the old joke about a witch’s garden being half full of herbs to heal you and half full of herbs to kill you.
I have run across more than one reference that even though rue has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, it may cause mild poisoning.
I mean, what’s life without a little danger right?
Highly regarded since ancient times, rue was recognized as medicinally helpful for more than 80 complaints by the time of the early Roman Empire. The first-century A.D. scholar Pliny reported that it preserved eyesight and noted that painters and engravers ate a good deal of rue. In the 16th and 17th centuries, herbals advocated it as an antidote for all sorts of poisons, from toadstools to serpent bites. Because of rue’s strong, rather musty odor, it enjoyed particular prominence for warding off pestilences. In the Middle Ages the well-off carried nosegays of rue out of doors to drive away the lice of beggars, and even into the 18th century, bouquets were placed in law courts to counteract prisoners’ vermin and germs. At one time in Catholic churches, brushes made of rue were used to sprinkle holy water before Mass, a practice that may explain another of the plant’s common names, herb-of-grace.
After settlers introduced rue into America, it became popular as a folk remedy, and doctors and apothecaries specified it for many uses — as an antispasmodic, an emmenagogue (an agent that brings on menstruation), and an anthelmintic (an agent to destroy intestinal worms), to name a few.
Excerpted from Magic and Medicine of Plants, page 286
Just like Goldenrod, Rue prefers growing in pastures, roadsides, and abandoned lots. It grows to be about 3 feet tall, has blue-green leaves, and bright yellow flowers throughout the summer.
Not surprisingly, rue flowers draw in a lot of pollinators. What I found interesting is that it also repels a lot of pests, including cats, from your garden. Since I enjoy catnip tea, planting some rue around it might be in order. You do have to be careful with rue though, as even just touching it can cause blisters and scaly patches on any skin that is exposed to the sun.
Healing with Rue
Historically, rue has been used to treat various poisoning- probably through induction of vomiting, and to trigger menstruation- thus it should never be used by pregnant women who hope to stay pregnant as it has a history of use as both an abortifacient and for inducing or speeding up labor. Long-term use of rue can lead to photosensitivity and some people may experience contact dermatitis from handling it.
Pliny was fond of rue and mentioned it often. He recommended it to artists to ease eye strain and improve eyesight.
Cooking with Rue
Rue is a traditional season in ancient Roman, Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. Rue is quite bitter and sufficient amounts cause vomiting, so, only very small amounts are used. Rue pairs well with meat, eggs and cheese and acidic flavors. To get the best flavor, allow rue to simmer in the hot cooking liquid near the end of the cooking time to allow its oils to release into the food and then discard the herb itself before serving. Rue is also used to flavor beer and liquors.
Magickal Properties of Rue
Rue corresponds to the element fire and the planet Saturn or perhaps Mars. Rue is sacred to Mars, Diana and Aradia.
Rue has a long history of use as a cleansing herb. Rue was once tied in bunches and used to asperge people and areas with holy water in churches. It is also purported to be one of the ingredients in Thieves Vinegar, used to ward off the Black Plague and was hung over doorways and windows to keep out evil spirits, and rubbed on the floors to keep out pests. Today, rue is worn in or placed over the doorway to protect from the evil eye and you can even get a little rue-shaped talisman called a cimaruta to serve this purpose more fashionably. Rue can be used in a variety of ways for banishing and warding to protect from disease and other negative influences.
Rue also has a history of being used for cursing, though I do not have a lot of detail on this.
Rue may be placed over the third eye to assist with developing second sight and encourage psychic abilities.
Read the full article at https://witchipedia.com/book-of-shadows/herblore/rue/
Rue essential oil, called Ruta, is something that I have only personally used in blends. RutaVaLa is my favorite blend and I used to use it every night to help me sleep when my babies were young. I don’t know if it has that effect on everyone but it really helped me fall asleep faster between feedings. Or maybe it was just the babies… Either way it has a place in my heart as one of my all time favorite oils.
Ruta (Ruta graveolens)
Commonly known as rue. In traditional medicine it was used as a magic herb and a protection against evil. It was used to treat nervous afflictions, digestive problems, hysterics, and as an abortifacient. Formerly used to treat menstrual disorders and hysteria. Anecdotal reports suggest it has sleep-inducing properties.
Medical Properties: Anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, hypotensive, anxiolytic, sleep promoting
Uses: Hysteria, stress, nervousness, digestion
Fragrant Influence: Calming and relaxing
Caution: Possible sun sensitivity.
Excerpted from The Essential Oils Desk Reference, 7th Edition, page 128
Thank you for digging deeper into Rue with me. I am very passionate about herbs, oils, and the education of their uses.
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