Archive for July 4th, 2011

Basil – Ocimum basilicum

Sacred to: Vishnu, Tulasi


Myth 1: Basil supposedly derives its name from the terrifying basilisk — a half-lizard, half-dragon creature with a fatal piercing stare according to Greek mythology. The medicinal application of a basil leaf was considered to be a magical cure against the look, breath or even the bite of the basilisk.


Myth 2: In medieval times, it was thought that scorpions came from basil. Legend says to acquire a scorpion, one should place a few basil leaves under a flowerpot and after awhile, the pot would be lifted to expose a scorpion. This legend no doubt ties into the Greek lore of the basilisk.

Myth 3: In India, basil was consecrated to the Hindu god, Vishnu, whose wife Tulasi (also known as Tulsi) was said to have taken the form of basil when she came to earth. Hindus avoid harming basil plants, unless there is a good reason, and even then offer up prayers of forgiveness for touching a part of Tulasi. Interestingly enough, tradition requires the head of a Hindu be bathed in Tulasi water before being buried and a tulasi leaf is placed on the chest over the heart.

Other Notes: The basil has been known since ancient times and is a holy plant in India, very much appreciated by Egyptians, too; bouquets of basil were found in the Egyptian pyramids.


To grow a bountiful crop of basil, ancient gardeners believed shouting and swearing while sowing the seeds would ensure a healthy harvest.