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Hyssop

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Hyssop

Hyssop was sacred to the ancients, in part for its purification properties.

Image by Steve Gorton/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Hyssop is of Greek origin, and according to Dioscorides, was used in the temples to cleanse the sacred spaces. Jewish rabbis used it over two thousand years ago to clean the holy temples of Jerusalem. The Israelites too used hyssop for sprinkling, and in fact passages are noted in Jewish religious texts that explain which variety of hyssop Jews should use. Around the time that Christianity began, hyssop was used in the ritual cleansing of lepers. It appears in the Bible, when David said, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean."

In Renaissance-era Europe, hyssop was typically used as an air freshener in the same manner as we potpourri today. It was common to strew crushed hyssop leaves and flowers of around the house, particularly in sickrooms, to hide unpleasant smells - after all, daily bathing was hardly popular. Eventually, when bathing became more common, hyssop was still used in sickrooms because of its healing properties. Conveniently enough, it also killed body lice, which were rampant at the time.

Hung up in the home, hyssop can rid a house of negativity. Add it into a sachet or water to infuse or sprinkle on people in need of purification. It's also good for use in magical self-defense -- carry some in your pocket, or spread it around the perimeter of your property to add a layer of magical protection.

Other Names: Yssop
Gender: Masculine
Element: Fire
Deity Connection: Any deity invoked for protection or purification

There are several different types of hyssop, but most of the have their origins in the Middle East and Europe, and so will grow in many different types of soil. It's actually a pretty easy plant to grow, and perfect for those who have less than a green thumb. Plant hyssop in pots outside your doorways, and keep negative energy from coming into the house.

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