Laurel, Bay – Laurus nobilis

Sacred to: Apollo (the god and victors of his Phthian Games were crowned with wreaths of laurel ; he was titled Daphnaios) ; Artemis (she had sacred laurel groves and was titled Daphnaia); Aesculapius (god of medicine), Ceres, Eros, Faunus

Myth 1: In Chinese folklore there is a great laurel tree on the moon

Myth 2: The ancient priestesses of Apollo chewed bay leaves to induce a prophetic state, and also inhaled their fumes. Bay leaves are used as decorations at Yule.


Myth 3: the Roman poet, Ovid, retold the story of the Greek nymph, Daphne, who was transformed into a laurel tree by her father, Peneus, so that she could avoid the amorous pursuit of the god, Apollo. (Cupid had shot an arrow into the fair maiden’s heart so that she would not love Apollo.) Thereafter, Apollo wore a wreath of laurel to show his love for Daphne.

Myth 4: Apollo was teasing Cupid about his tiny arrows, and Cupid shot one of love into his heart. Daphne, a nymph was standing close watching the two gods and Cupid shot an arrow to repel into her heart. Apollo saw her and fell madly in love and thought he must have her for his own, she became frightened and started to run from him. He was too fast and started to capture her, she cried to her father the river god Peneus to please save her from Apollo, so her father, who loved her very much turned her into a Laurus nobilis tree. Apollo grabbed the tree and flung his arms around it crying, “My love, my love, I shall love you forever and evermore you shall be green. I will wear your leaves as a crown to remember you.”

Other Notes: The Emperor Tiberius (42 BC to AD 37) had a phobia which induced him to wear a bay wreath during thunder storms because lightening was believed never to strike bay trees.

According to English mythology, if two lovers take a laurel stick, break it in half, and keep the pieces, they will always remain faithful to each other.


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