Marsh Rosemary

(Ledum palustre) It used to be employed as an anti-parasitic to treat lice, scabies, etc. It is also a traditional abortifacient (Schauenberg & Paris). It is certainly narcotic enough to cause trance, or at least deep sleep. There seems to have been a custom among Finns, on the eve of a wedding, of plying the groom with beer containing Marsh Rosemary, enough of it to cause him to fall into a deep sleep, during which the bride took the opportunity to crawl between his legs. Apparently, this was done as a means of ensuring easy childbirth when the time came (J B Smith). The groom was naturally unaware of what was happening, and the custom sounds very like a transference ritual, an attempt to foist the pains of childbirth on to the father. Siberian shamans used the plant to induce a trance state. It was done by inhaling the smoke of this shrub, or some other resinous plant. Some dried stalks or leaves would be put on some glowing embers on an iron plate, and the shaman would bend over the smoke produced, which would be dense and strong-smelling (Balazs).

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