Rosemary, sometimes known as compass weed or polar plant, was often cultivated in kitchen gardens and was said to represent the dominance of the lady of the house. One would assume that more than one “master” sabotaged his wife’s garden to assert his own authority! This woody plant was also known to provide delicious flavouring for game and poultry. Later, it was used in wine and cordials, and even as a Christmas decoration.
Roman priests used rosemary as incense in religious ceremonies, and many cultures considered it a herb to use as protection from evil spirits and witches. In England, it was burned in the homes of those who had died from illness and placed on coffins before the grave was filled with dirt.
Interestingly, for a herb plant, rosemary is surprisingly hardy. If you live in a climate with harsh winters, dig up your rosemary each year, and then put it in a pot and bring it inside for the winter. You can re-plant it outside after the spring thaw. Some Christian folklore claims that rosemary can live up to thirty-three years. The plant is associated with Jesus and his mother Mary in some tales, and Jesus was approximately thirty-three at the time of his death by crucifixion.
Rosemary is also associated with the goddess Aphrodite–Greek artwork depicting this goddess of love sometimes includes images of a plant believed to be rosemary.