Basil, also know as American dittany, is commonly called the witch's herb. Dark opal basil is a spectacular variety of basil with dramatic deep purple, sometimes mottled leaves. A ancient member of the mint family, there are over 150 species of basil. I have a small stock of this gorgeous deep purple variety of the witch's herb!
In the late 1600's, in Salem Massechusetts, basil was planted as a protection against witchcraft. In ancient Greece it was believed that basil could prosper in chaos, especially when it was aligned with misfortune, poverty and hate. Magically, basil has also been planted on graves, used in love potions and flying ointments, and to banish harm, soothe tempers and attract abundant prosperity. It is a classic multifunctional protection, prosperity and love herb.
"Where Basil grows, no evil goes!" and "Where Basil is, no evil lives," the old adages go.
Dark opal basil makes a beautiful pink-purpley vinegar. To make it:
In a glass jar with one quart of white vinegar, add one tightly packed cup of leaves and stems for an infusion - more herb will strengthen the taste, but not the color. If the jar has a screw top, put waxed paper between the jar and the lid. To hasten the infusion, place the jar in a sunny window. Watching the vinegar turn color is fun. The acid in vinegar breaks down the plant material and it will begin to look unsightly. After about a month, strain out and dispose of the basil. A dwarf form of purple basil makes a lovely low border.