Sage is a powerful, widely and often used herb. It is used in cooking, medicinally, for smudging and has several magickal uses. Known as the ‘Herb of Wisdom’ Sage is also called Maryamiya (Arabic), Salbei (German), Salvia (Italian, Spanish, Swedish), Sauge (French), and Mary’s Shawl. It had several meanings in the old Language of Flowers: ‘Esteem’, ‘Wisdom’, ‘Domestic virtue’, ‘Good health’, ‘Long life’, and ‘We have a wonderful family (or household)’. In botany it is Salvia officinalis, a perennial kitchen herb that is also called Broadleaf Sage, Common Sage, Dalmatian Sage, Garden Sage, and Red Sage. It is a low, spreading, woody herb that grows to 40 inches. Its silvery-gray leaves are oblong, veined, aromatic, have a pebbled texture, and downy whitish undersides. Garden sage has a woody, branching taproot, square erect stems, and downy whitish branches. It blooms from May to August with spikes of white, blue, or purple flowers.
HISTORY – Sage was held sacred by the Romans as a healing plant. They believed that it could create life, and that eating sage could make one immortal. Native Americans also consider sage a sacred plant.
MYTH and LORE – It was an old belief that sage grew most vigorously in gardens where the household was ruled by a woman. Business was believed to flourish where sage thrived. In the Middle Ages sage was believed to auger prosperity. Sage was once planted on graves in England because it was believed to ease grief. If you dream of sage flowers, this is said to mean that
you will marry.
CORRESPONDENCES – Jupiter/Venus/Air/Earth/Male/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/the first hour after sunrise on Thursday/the first hour after sunset on Sunday/February/Taurus/Leo/Sagittarius/Aquarius/Pisces; Goddess: Mary ; God: Consus, Jupiter, Obatala, Zeus; Evocation: Chiron
USES – One way to understand and appreciate an herb is to know what it can do. Sage can be used magickally for balance, banishing, centering, divination, grounding, meditation, reversing, smudging, stimulation, ritual purification, vision quests (incense), Air spells/magick, Earth spells/magick, and for workings that are related to barriers, clarity, comfort, discernment, fertility, gratitude, harmony, healing, health, immortality (eaten), insight, inspiration, knowledge, longevity, love, magick, memory, mindfulness, money, objectivity, peace, prophecy, prosperity, protection, purification, relaxation, safety, self-love, spirituality, strength, tranquility, truth, understanding, warmth, wealth, wisdom, wishes, yang, animal guides, bad luck (if grown alone, or planted by yourself in your garden), business prosperity, clear mind, inner peace, mental health, psychic power/s, psychic protection, spiritual consciousness, spiritual understanding, spiritual purification, the sacred, and for concentration, memory, or relaxation in psychic work.
Sage can also be used to integrate insights, keep secrets, neutralize negativity, overcome fear/s, raise consciousness, release guilt, reverse spells, understand life, make wise decisions, nourish a baby, raise the spirit, relieve stress, survive mental illness, attract prosperity and well-being, detect the evil eye, ease guilt or nervousness, get what you need, learn/discover the truth, help a business to flourish, deal with the stress of aging, avert misfortune or the evil eye, find truth, wisdom or a spirit guide, and to protect against epidemics, misfortune, or the evil eye. In the body, use sage for workings that are related to anemia, asthma, bronchitis, constipation, cough, diabetes, diseases, disorders, epilepsy, fertility, gallbladder, infection, liver, menstruation, tuberculosis, arthritis/rheumatism, colds/flu, digestive system, female hormones, good health, immune system, liver disease, mental tonic, mental illness, muscle problems, nervous system, physical healing, the skin, gum diseases/infections, and stomach diseases/problems. It can also be used to calm anxiety, improve depression, increase lactation, protect health, relax muscles, stimulate hormones, strengthen senses, maintain good health, protect against fever, reduce/ relieve fatigue, strengthen the stomach, improve/open circulatory system, relieve menstrual cramps/pain, stimulate the immune system, and relieve headache, migraine, or muscle pain.
Sage is widely used as incense in many traditions, especially for smudging. Sage incense can be used for all of the things listed above, plus it is very powerful for banishing, clearing, consecration, healing, and purification. Smudging with sage can also be used to encourage spirituality, clear negative energy, banish/clear spirits, create sacred space, invite positive energy, make a decision, welcome positive entities, and to help an earthbound spirit to reach the light. Rub sage on your forehead before divination to increase the accuracy of your results. This also aids psychic work, especially those operations which seek knowledge of the future. Essential oil of sage can be used for all of these intentions. It is also used for anointing, to charge candles, and in aromatherapy, especially for relaxation and to uplift the mood.
OTHER USES – Sage is a kitchen herb that can be used fresh, or dried and powdered. It is one of the ingredients in finest herbs mixtures. Its flowers are edible. Sage is also used to flavor ale, beer, and wine, and make them more intoxicating. It is especially used for flavoring German wine. In England it was used to brew a very intoxicating ale. Sage attracts dragonflies, and is a bee plant whose flower nectar makes good honey. Essential oil of sage is used commercially in things such as perfume and soap.
WHEEL OF THE YEAR – Sage is appropriate for the sabbats Imbolc, Ostara, Midsummer, Mabon, Samhain, and Yule. Orpane (Sempervivum telephium, also called Midsummer Men) and sage gathered on Midsummer Eve grant prophetic knowledge, and can be used to divine the fate of lovers.
OTHER VARIETIES OF SAGE – There are many varieties of sage. Those that can be used as kitchen herbs include White Sage and Spanish Sage. White Sage (Salvia officinalis alba) is a narrow-leaved variety that blooms with white flowers. It is considered the best sage for culinary use. Spanish Sage (Salvia lavandulifolia) is a small herb with narrow leaves that blooms in early summer with blue flowers. Of particular interest to witches are Clary Sage, Divinerís Sage, and another variety that is also called White Sage.
CLARY SAGE – Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) is also called Clarry, Clarywort, Eyebright, Orvale, Clear Eye, Common Clary, European Sage, Eye Bright, Garden Clary, Muscatel Sage, See Bright, and Clear Eye Sage. Clary sage is a hardy, aromatic herb with erect, branching stems that grows to four feet. It can be biennial or perennial, depending on climate. It’s wrinkled, grayish-green leaves have scalloped edges, a velvety pebbled texture, and grows in pairs. Clary sage blooms from June to September with whorls of flowers that range in color from pure white through pinkish and pale blue to lilac and purplish-pink. The blossoms, which grow on on long spikes, have scent glands. Salvia argentina, Silver Clary, is a variety that is native to Mexico.
Correspondences – Mercury/Moon/Air/the first hour after sunrise on Monday/the first hour after sunset on Thursday
Uses – Clary sage can be used for centering, clairvoyance, clearing, consecration, divination, grounding, visualization, lunar magick, mirror magick, and for workings that are related to calm, clarity, comfort, concentration, confidence, dreams, euphoria, fertility, harmony, imagination, intuition, perception, positivity, protection, purification, realization, regeneration, relaxation, sensuality, soothing, telepathy, tranquility, visions, warmth, well-being, wisdom, clear vision, creative dreams, inner clarity, mental balance, physical spirituality, psychic ability, psychic dreams, psychic opening, sacred sex, spiritual consciousness, visual perception, and clear inner visions. It can also be used to arouse lust, cause nightmares, lessen fear/s, open yourself, balance mind/emotions, deal with stress, open a pathway, recover from trauma, reduce/ relieve fatigue, see/recognize/perceive truth, and calm anxiety, panic or paranoia.
In the body clary sage can be used for workings that are related to appetite, gallbladder, hormones, menopause, PMS, digestive system, sacral chakra, and menstrual pain/cramps. It can also be used to conceive, balance hormones, relieve stress, strengthen kidneys, treat hysteria, clear the eyes, improve visual perception, overcome physical fatigue, regulate menstrual cycle, and strengthen the stomach.
Essential oil of clary sage is obtained by steam distillation of its flowers and leaves. It is especially potent, can have a narcotic effect, and should not be used or handled during pregnancy. Safeguard it from children as well. The essential oil can be used for all of the intents given above, and in other ways. Anoint dream pillows with it for deep sleep, lucid dreaming, psychic dreams, and vivid dreams. Also anoint dream pillows with it to access inner creativity, and to facilitate receipt of dream messages. Put a few drops of it into commercial glass cleaning fluid and use that to clean mirrors when you want yourself or someone else to see/recognize/perceive truth about something.
According to Culpepper, powdered seeds of wild clary drunk in wine, “is an admirable help to provoke lust.” Clary sage leaves, fresh and dried, have been used to flavor wine. Drinking wine infused with clary flowers or leaves can cause headaches though, so this is probably not a good idea. The flowers can be dried and used in making things such as potpourri, sachets, dream pillows, and herbal tea mixtures. Essential oil of clary sage can be used in aromatherapy and to make things such as perfume, powder, soap, and massage oil.
DIVINER’S SAGE – [Note: This is provided for information purposes only. There are shamanic traditions that use drugs, but this is unsafe and very strongly advised against. Wicca has safer ways to alter consciousness such as deep meditation, and dancing or drumming to achieve trance states.] Diviner’s Sage is also called Salvia, Ska, Magic Mint, Sally D, Ska Maria Pastora, Sage of the Seers, and Yerba de la Pastora (Spanish). In botany it is Salvia divinorum, a rare herb native to Oaxaca, Mexico that has psychoactive properties. It is not found in the wild and seldom produces viable seeds, so Diviner’s Sage is usually propagated by cuttings or layering. This herb has long been used by Mazatec shamans, especially for spirit journeys. They do so by eating fresh leaves, or crushing the leaves in a mortar to extract their juice, which is drunk mixed with water. Dried leaves can also be smoked in water pipes, and drops of a tincture of the leaves can be placed under the tongue.
Diviner’s Sage is one of the plants thought to possibly be the pipilzintzintli, “Noble Prince”, mentioned in the Aztec codices. Users of diviner’s sage report contact with a wise, shy female being who gives advice on personal growth. She may also lecture a user who has not used the plant with reverence, as a sacred act. She is generally considered a deva, a plant spirit. Names for her include Sally, Shepherdess, Green Goddess, Sage Goddess, Salvia Goddess, Maria the Shepherdess, and Ska Maria la Pastora. Modern Mexicans associate her with the Virgin Mary.
Diviner’s Sage can be used for meditation, pathworking, astral projection, inner work, spirit journeys, vision quests, and workings that are related to consciousness, perception, reality, spirituality, visions, and alternate realities. It can also be used to alter consciousness, gain new perspective, and obtain fresh insights.
WHITE SAGE – Salvia apiana is called Bee Sage, Sacred Sage and White Sage. It is a perennial variety with silvery leaves that is native to the southwestern U. S. Many consider it the best sage for making smudge sticks. Many Native American tribes use it that way, especially in purification ceremonies. They also place the leaves in sweat lodges as a treatment for colds, and drink sage tea for upper respiratory infections. They once used a paste of crushed sage leaves and water as shampoo.
Native American hunters used to rub their armpits with fresh sage leaves to prevent the animals they hunted from catching their scent. In tribes where it was considered bad luck for a menstruating woman to touch hunting equipment, sage was used to neutralize the bad luck.
Growing Sage – Seeds should be sown thinly indoors or in outdoor cold frames. Transplant when plants are large enough to move, setting them at least 18 inches apart, and providing a clean growing area. As the plants often exceed 3 feet in diameter, they should be planted at least that far apart. Sage grows best in a soil comprised of a rich clay loam with an adequate supply of available nitrogen. It will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, however, especially if they are well-draining and rich in nitrogen. Sage is a perennial herb – the most popular of all herbs for seasoning because of its mildly pungent flavor and pleasant aroma. May be used fresh or dried in stuffing and in pork or cheese dishes. The attractive plant can be used for gray accents in the flower garden. Sage is easily propagated through stem cuttings, which are easily rooted in sand and other rooting media and then planted in rows three feet apart.
Sage leaves should be harvested prior to blooming. Dry in a well-ventilated room on screens away from direct sunlight and then store in tight jars.
Growing Cultures – Outdoors, containers, hydroponics.
Plant Height – Sage plants grow to a height of 24 to 36 inches (60 – 90cm).
Plant Spacing – Sage plants should be spaced 24 to 36 inches (60 – 90cm) apart.
Preferred pH Range – Sage will grow in a pH range between 5.6 (acidic) and 7.8 (mildly alkaline) with a preferred range between 6.0 and 6.5.
Propagation – Sow indoors in sunny location or under plant grow lights six to eight weeks before last frost. Sage propagates well via stem cuttings.
Seed Germination Period – 10 to 21 days.
Seeds Per Gram (Approximate) – 125.
Soil Requirements – Well-draining, rich, light or heavy.
Alternative Growing Media – Soilless potting mixes, perlite, vermiculite, rockwool, coco peat, Oasis foam.
Time from Seed to Saleable Plant – Sow in plugs or seed flats 12 to 14 weeks before sale or use. Seeds to finished plugs, 8 weeks; plugs to saleable/usable plants, 4 to 6 weeks.
Sun & Lighting Requirements – Sage grown outdoors prefers full sun. Sage will grow indoors satisfactorily under standard fluorescent lamps, and exceptionally well under high output fluorescent, compact fluorescent, or high intensity discharge (metal halide or high pressure sodium) plant growing lights. Keep standard fluorescent lamps between 2 and 4 inches from the tops of the plants, high output and compact fluorescents approximately one foot above the plants, and HID lights between 2 and 4 feet above the plants, depending on wattage. Have an oscillating fan gently stir seedlings for at least 2 hours per day to stimulate shorter, sturdier, and more natural plant habit.
USDA Hardiness – Zones 4 to 11.
Water Requirements – Average water needs. Water on a regular schedule, do not over water.
Potential Pests & Diseases – Whitefly, spider mites, mealy bug, damping off and powdery mildew.
Special Notes – Sage is known to attract bees, butterflies and birds, is suitable for containers, aromatic, and an evergreen plant.
Medicinal Benefits of Sage:
Sage is used to relieve excess mucous buildup. It is beneficial to the mind by easing mental exhaustion and by strengthening the concentrating abilities. In a lotion or salve, it is useful for treating sores and skin eruptions, and for stopping bleeding in all cuts. Chewing the fresh leaves soothes mouth sores and sore throats, as will sage tea. It is good for all stomach troubles, diarrhea, gas, flu and colds. As a hair rinse, it removes dandruff. Sage combined with peppermint, rosemary, and wood betony provides an excellent headache remedy. It is used to regulate the menstrual cycle, to decrease milk flow in lactating women, aids in treating hot flashes, and is used as a deodorant.