One of my first memories of Spiritism comes from having visited an old lady who had a rather healthy reputation for her spiritual and herbal remedies. For me back then, to go visit her meant sitting for hours on end waiting to get spiritual advice, but it was also an opportunity to run my fingers over a literal forest of the medicinal plants that were planted in the little garden in front of her house. One in particular would awake my senses, its scent sweet and intoxicating, its color bright green and with happy little purple flowers. It was years later when I would learn about the true power of this herb as I started in earnest my path in Spiritism and Santería.
Some know it as the Queen of Herbs, in India they call it Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) and in the Caribbean and the Americas most know it as Albahaca Santa or Holy Basil. This brilliant creation from Olofi has so many uses spiritual, medicinal realms, and of course, in the kitchen, no wonder it is known as the Queen of Herbs. In India, Tulsi has been used for centuries to heal body, mind and spirit.
There are many different types of basil, about 60 varieties actually. However, the Ocimum sanctum and the Ocimum basilicum are associated with Oshún, Yemayá, Azowano, and Oyá and are also used in the consecration of Anyá.
Some may not have a lot of faith in the spiritual power of herbs, fine by me. However, I can say that there are many modern scientists that have come up with evidence that links basil to lowering cholesterol levels, stress and even radiation. Besides, there is evidence that suggests that basil also improves digestion, reduces fever and helps to prevent gastric ulcers, besides it has a good deal of nutrients and antioxidants necessary for the body to function efficiently. Some say that Basil also helps their heart, liver and lungs and that it even regulates blood sugar and blood pressure.
Could this be why Oshún favors it? After all, Oshún does rule over the blood stream and both blood sugar and blood pressure are in her real of illnesses which she rules. Could it be why it is an herb associated with Azowano? After all this orisha rules over maladies of the skin and Tulsi has antibacterial properties that when properly utilized in a poultice can help alleviate skin conditions.
Let’s take this even further, Tulsi has a wonderful aroma very used in aromatherapy to increase a sense of wellbeing, so the first impact of this herb is by enticing our nostrils as we inhale its aroma and instantly feel uplifted and relaxed, just like when we feel a gentle spring breeze…one of Oyá’s favorite caresses to her children. Ok, ok, maybe I am getting carried away in poetical comparisons, but if you don’t believe me, try it for yourself.
Here are three of my favorite Tulsi applications:
Simple as it can be. Tulsi, chamomile tea and honey steeped together. This is great for relaxing your body after a long day and a heavy meal.
Holy Basil & Coconut Cream Luxurious Bath
If you want to truly treat yourself, extract your own coconut milk (fine grate meat of dry coconut, pour over it boiling water and squeeze using cheese cloth to extract milk), add the Holy Basil leaves and mix them to pulp with your hands, add freshly grounded nutmeg, cocoa butter flakes (I get a stick of Cocoa butter from the beauty supply shop and grate it or scrape it with a knife), and add a good sprinkle of Cascarilla (efún). Place your hands over the bowl and pray from the heart for peace and purity in your life. This warm bath is fantastic; just wash your face and the back of your head, and then pour the rest it over your body (shoulders down) after your take a shower. Let it air dry on you as long as you can.
3 Herb Bath
All you need is Tulsi, Spearmint and Marjoram, warm water and your hands. Make nice green water by crushing the leaves and then strain the liquid. This bath is invigorating. If you want an extra kick, try a touch of honey, cinnamon and a sliced orange. The orange slices are to be using it to scrub your body with the bath as you pour it over you.
If you have your own application be it as bath or any other tried and true recipe, do share it with The Mystic Cup.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá