Guest Author - Robin Henderson
The search for the perfect love potion or elixir to bond two people together dates far back in time and is still ongoing in some instances. There are even certain foods which have been considered "foods of love." Customs and beliefs have also led many people to use divinations and charms to attract and foretell their loves.
The night of June the 23rd was considered Midsummer's Eve and was especially important for divinations regarding love. It was on this night that maidens also picked herbs and flowers to be used in love potions. Some of these herbs and flowers have been regarded as highly effective for attracting future loves. Flowers like marigolds, for instance, were very popular in 16th Century England as the symbol for "long lasting love" and were often used in bridal bouquets. Even the herb mandrake has been referred to as the "drug of fertility" in scriptures of the Bible. As there are many types of herbs and flowers that have been used in elixirs for love attraction, those that were created by women of Ancient Rome were even considered so potent that they were too dangerous and became illegal!
Some love potions used to attract a love may have also involved a love divination or a charm. In Europe during the Middle Ages, there was a particular procedure for picking cyclamen and fern seeds to be used in cakes. The maiden was to place a Bible underneath the plant and then by using a fork made of hazelwood, she would shake the seeds into a dish of pewter. Some love charms were used to keep a love faithful when they had gone astray. One such charm required one to plant marigold seeds around the lover's footprints. There are also many love charms that are said to foretell your future love like this one very popular game played by young girls. The girl was to pick a daisy and then begin to pull the petals off while saying "He loves me. He loves me not." Another one required a girl to walk backwards near a well while holding up a mirror over her right shoulder.
Some foods are said to attract lovers when eaten, and are sometimes referred to as aphrodisiacs. If you recall, the Greek goddess Aphrodite is the "goddess of love" and this is how the term "aphrodisiac" was named. In Ancient Greece, garlic was a food of love that was generally eaten daily. Not only was it considered an aphrodisiac, but also held therapeutic qualities. It may be difficult to believe, but there is a mysterious superstition regarding that of the tomato. The "pomo d'ore" was a term deriving from Italy used to name the tomato, which meant "golden apple." While the people of France loved the tomato and referred to them as "pomme d'amour" or "apple of love," the English feared the superstition that the tomato would cause excessive passion and thought them to be poisonous. It wasn't until approximately 200 years later in 1830 that they became very popular again and were brought to America.
As the wheels turn, so does the non-ending cycle of love and the search for the perfect love life. People have been using potions and divinations for thousands of years, but it is possible that real love was there the whole time. As an individual from this time and age, do you believe love potions work or would you have tried them?
The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. Strange Stories, Amazing Facts. Pleasantville, New York (1985.)