We run herbal workshops at the museum I work for, and my favourite herb of all times has to be lavender: it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, all looking and smelling good. The ultimate soothing and relaxing herb...
In ancient times lavender was used for mummification and perfume by the Egyptians, Phoenicians, and other peoples of the Ancient Near Middle East. There is proof that it has been in use for more than 2500 years.
In the Bible lavender is called 'spikenard', and that is what Mary used to annoint the feet of Jesus. There is also a beautiful legend that the clothing of baby Jesus bestowed the scent when Mother Mary laid them upon a lavender bush to dry. In many Christian houses, a cross of lavender was hung over the door for protection against evil.
In Medieval and Renaissance Europe, the washer-women were known as "lavenders". Lavender was used to scent drawers and laundry was dried on lavender bushes. Also during this time, monks started cultivating lavender and other herbs in so-called "infirmarian's gardens", and used the herbs to heal people.
During the Great Plague in London in the 17th century, it was claimed that lavender would protect people against the killer-disease. Interestingly, grave-robbers used to wash themselves in so-called 'Four Thieves Vinegar', which contained lavender, and apparently they rarely contracted any diseases.
Apparently Cleopatra used lavender scent to seduce both Julius Ceasar and Mark Anthony! In an apocryphal book of the Bible, the story is told that Judith anointed herself with perfumes (including lavender) before seducing Holofernes, the enemy commander. She then murdered him and thus saved the City of Jerusalem. As we know, the Queen of Sheba also offered spikenard with frankincense and myrrh to King Solomon.
select one here...