What is Sage?

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Sage: A Little Bushy Plant with Many Uses

Sage is a little, bushy plant that reaches a height of about one foot. In the long run, the plant can develop into a woody shrub-like plant. Salvia Officinalis is the name given to the plant by botanists. According to Mikimoto, the numerous varieties of the plant typically have little leaves that are one and a half to two inches long (1). The plant's leaves and stems also have a potent aroma as a result of the natural essential oils that it contains (Mikimoto 1). The sage herb is grown in some parts of the world for its essential oils, which is used for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to aromatherapy, eye care, and hormonal control (King and Brucker 241). Owing to its medicinal, nutritional, and therapeutic value, different communities have developed stories myths and superstition about the sage plant. Therefore, this article discusses some of the stories, myths, and superstition that surround the sage plant. In addition, it elaborates on the cultural origin of these stories myths and superstitions.

Figure 1: A bush of Sage Flowers

Stories, Myths, and Superstition about Sage

The stories myths and superstitions that surround the sage plant originate from the ancient times. Most of the stories about sage are about its uses, and its value to the community. However, some mythical stories, which explain the supernatural aspect of the sage, plant, as well as superstitious beliefs that people attached to the plant exist. Most of these stories are driven by religion and culture. To commence with, most ancient societies, especially the Greeks and the Romans, used the sage plant for various reasons, but mainly for medicinal purposes because they believed it blesssed. The plant was considered sacred among most people and it was deemed a symbol of good health, longevity, and fertility.

Sage's Scientific Name: Salvia

Sage’s scientific name Salvia originates from the Latin term “Salvus” that means safe, saved, or healthy. This name is used to portray the sacred nature of the plant, as well as the gratitude that ancient people had towards the plant. The Medical School in Salerno has highlighted the power of the sage and its relevance in the ancient society. According to Salerno, Sage is a healer and a mediator of nature (Avogel). In the early days, the ancient and the Romans used the sage plant to preserve meat. They also believed that the sage plant could be used to enhance the memory.

Prescribed by Roman Elders

Roman elders often prescribed the sage plant for a variety of conditions, such as stomach worms, chest disorders, menstruation, and epilepsy. The leaves of the sage plants were also wrapped around wounds to disinfect and ensure rapid healing. Other cultures such as the Arabs believed that sage could ensure immortality. This belief was transmitted to Europe during the Crusades, as the question of why a man who had sage in his gardens cropped in the European community. Charles the Great (Charlemagne), who ruled Western Europe between 768 and 814, ordered his gardeners to grows the sage plant in his imperial gardens as a medicinal herb. The French also used the herb and adored it.

French Beliefs and Uses

The French named the herb toute bonne, which translates to ‘all is well’ (Rogers 1). Additionally, the French planted sage in the graveyard, as they believed that it could reduce grief (Gieve). In the US, traditional healers used the sage plant to treat diseases such as measles, insomnia, and seasickness. Other philosophers, in America, used sage for treating fever and sometimes prescribed its poultices for treating and mitigating arthritic conditions. Sage was also used as a sexual depressant. In the late 1920s, sage was still widely used in America, with some clinicians prescribing sage tea for a sore throat and its poultices for treating swellings.

Figure 2: Image of Sage in Grave Yard

Superstitions and Sage

The sage plant is also accompanied by several superstitions. According to Rodger, English herbalists believed that the growth of sage was dependent on an individual’s prosperity (1). Therefore, the herbalist intimated that a person’s sage plant would prosper as he prospered and it would wane, as he failed. There was also a superstition that the sage plant grew vigorously in households where the wife was the head of the home. Therefore, it was common for men to prune or destroy sage plants in their gardens in a bid to eliminate evidence of subservience. This was especially true in the English culture, where the herbalists encouraged the proliferation of this belief. Over the years, Sage has gained a reputation for being one of the most adored herbs, especially due to its healing power to the extent that some communities viewed it as a magical herb. Currently, some individuals still consider it a queen of healing plants (Rogers 2).

Magical Powers of Sage

In the 16th and 17th century, during the witch-hunts in Europe, the witches believed that the sage plant had some magical powers. The witches believed that sage was bound to the planet Jupiter and air. Many other European ancestors also believed in the magical power of sage and burned the plant in many ceremonies. The Native Americans had a different superstition pertaining to the plant. They used the white sage in the purification of the body and smudging. Today, smudge sticks carved from the white sage plant are sold in many shops as magical kits. The magical attraction of sage also extended to people writing wishes on leafs of the sage plant and placing under the pillow for three days before burying it. This practice was believed to make wishes come true. The French also burned sage at funerals and in Germany, sage flowers were used to indicate passionate love (De Cleene and Lejeune 668; Rogers 1).

Overcoming Perils: The Legend of the Sage Plant

Over the years, stories about sage people have formulated stories about the sage with the aim of portraying its uniqueness. These stories have encapsulated the mythical, superstitious, as well as the legendary attributes of sage. One story about Salvia Officinalis is the Legend of the Sage Plant. The story takes place immediately after the birth of Jesus. According to the story, King Herod was angry when he heard that the birth of a messiah and king of the Jews (Jesus). Since Herod did not know where to find Jesus, he ordered his soldiers to murder any child below the age of two so that he could protect his legacy and remain the king. However, Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, had already received a warning via a dream. He together with Mary and the child escaped Bethlehem and decided to head to Egypt. The journey to Egypt was long and treacherous. Additionally, people did not trust strangers and no one was willing to help Jesus and his parents (worldofchristmas.net).

A Desperate Plea for Refuge

Despite all the perils of the journey, Mary and Joseph attempted their best to get Jesus to Judea safely. All this was done while they hid and evaded Herod’s mercenaries. One day the three were exhausted and they had no water. Their donkey was thirsty and baby Jesus needed some tending. Joseph was forced to go to the nearest the village to acquire some water, which would address their immediate needs. However, after Joseph’s departure, Mary heard a clatter of hooves as well as shouts and cries. She knew that Herod’s mercenaries had finally caught up with her and if she were caught, they would be killed mercilessly. There was nowhere to hide: there were no trees, rocks, or caves. Yet, Mary and baby Jesus were desperate for refuge (worldofchristmas.net).

A Generous Plant Offers Sanctuary

She looked around and saw a rose bush blooming. She requested a place to hide from the soldiers. However, the rose was a proud plant and it refused to offer help to Mary and Jesus because it felt that the soldiers would trample on it and crush it. For its refusal, the rose plant was cursed and ever since it has thorns on its stem. The next plant Mary saw was a clove plant and she requested for a shield against the soldiers. The Clove plant had plenty of flowers and it refused Mary’s request because it was busy blooming. For its refusal, the clove was cursed and ever since it has foul smelling flowers. The last plant Mary saw was the Sage plant. The age plant was charitable and very kind to Mary and baby Jesus. Not only did it accept Mary’s request for refuge but it also blossomed quickly and provided a canopy that hid both Mary and Jesus from the soldiers. The soldiers passed without seeing Mary and the Child. For its generosity and kindness, the sage plant was blessed, considered sacred, and provided with curative capabilities (worldofchristmas.net).

The Legend of the Sage Plant: A Symbol of Jesus' Escape

The Legend of the Sage Plant is a pop culture religious story that is told during Christmas. The story has been used to educate Christian societies about the story of Jesus Christ as well as highlight the value of the sage in the modern society. In the end, the author of the story not only tells about Jesus' escape from Bethlehem but also explains why the sage plant has curative capabilities and why it is considered sacred among some Christians and in the religious sphere.

Works Cited

Avogel. Salvia Officinalis L. 2013. 7 July 2017. .

De Cleene, Marcel and Marie, Claire Lejeune. Compendium of Symbolic and Ritual Plants in Europe: Trees and shrubs. Bloomington: Indiana University, 2002.

Gieve, M. Sages. 2017. 7 July 2017. .

King, Tekoa, L and Mary, C Brucker. Pharmacology for women's health. Sundbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2011.

Mikimoto, Luvly. "Sage." 1 September 2007. academics.hamilton.edu. .

Rogers, Maureen. "Sage." 2014. herbalpedia. 7 July 2017. .

worldofchristmas.net. Legend of the Sage. n.d. 7 7 2017. .

April 13, 2023

Science Economics



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