Herb Closet: Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)

Several years ago, Dragonfly and I were looking for a nice bush to put in the front yard.  We found this cute little bush with lavender flowers and planted it by the steps leading to the front door.  It has bloomed every year since.  The blooms smell like liquorish and the bees just love it.  When it is in full bloom, bees of several different species cover the bush (a little intimidating for house guests).  A little girl told me that if I wanted to pet the bees to do it while they are busy getting nectar.  I tried it and it worked.  It is so cool to do.  This bush turned out to be, a Hyssop, a very protective herb planted in just the right place.  I could not have planted it in a better place if I had known at the time that Hyssop has a reputation of being a plant of protection.

Hyssop has a very spiritual history.  The origin of the word Hyssop is Greek from the word “azob” and means “Holy One”.  It was used back in those days to clean sacred places.  Hyssop has been used as a cleansing herb for thousands of years and is mentioned in both the old and new testament of the Bible.  Psalms 51:7 says: Purify me with Hyssop and I will be clean.  John 19:29 says: A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the Hyssop plant, and lifted it up to Jesus’ lips. (New American Standard Bible)  Although some authorities say that Hyssop as we know it today was not native to that region of the world and could have been marjoram, the caper plant, sorghum, the maidenhair spleenwort or the wallrue.

Medicinally, hyssop contains essential hormone oils to build resistance to infectious disease. It is known to regulate blood pressure.  It does this by increasing circulation and lowering blood pressure.  It is also a very effective expectorant and stimulant.  As a tea, it is reported to be effective for asthma patients.  Caution should be used, however, when using hyssop as a tea as it can cause seizures in some people.  Pregnant women should also not ingest Hyssop.

Hyssop is used to quickly heal cuts or wounds.  When I was in Thailand, I was riding my motorcycle on a dirt road along the edge of the jungle one day when suddenly a water buffalo came into the road in front of me and I crashed.  I injured my knee and it was bleeding profusely.  An older woman appeared seemingly from nowhere and helped me by taking some leaves, chewing them up and putting it on my wound.  It stopped bleeding.  Could it have been some form of hyssop, I don’t know, but my knee still has a green place.

Magickally Hyssop is masculine, ruled by Jupiter and associated with the element of Fire. It is the herb used most in performing magick. Placed in a sachet it is a great herb to add to your ritual bath and can be hung in your home to protect against evil and unwelcome guests.  A hyssop mixture can be used as a solution to cleanse ritual tools and can be sprinkled around the circle before it is cast.

Hyssop Cleaning Solution

As it smells good and is expensive, it makes a great cleaning solution and can be used on just about anything (including adding it to your washing machine.  Add it during the rinse cycle to act as a mild bleaching agent.  I add a little pennyroyal to the mixture to help control the flea population in our home (I have three dogs and a cat and I’m sure this helps).