Burning a Bay LEaf, Radical Ritual

The Scent of Bay

Sparks and Embers

My husband Doug is a chef, and kitchen smells are just what home and heart mean to me. And I have a childhood affinity to French food, which predisposes me towards the herbal taste of bay. When I discovered the practice of burning the fragrant leaves, which spark and sparkle their way into glowing embers, I set out a dish of them next to the front door.

The woody, spiky scent of the burning leaf anchors me straight into the present moment– I become conscious of my posture, the arches in my feet– and it puts me in touch with my intentions.

Kitchen Witchery

The practice of burning bay leaves dates back to Greek times, to the best of my research, and it’s believed to be one of the herbs burned for the Oracle at Delphi as she entered trances for temple visitors. Doug and I visited Delphi on our honeymoon in 2003, and so this scent is now indelibly overlaid with image of the olive trees that dot Delphi’s landscape.

I burn bay leaves to recognize an intention, to speak the words out loud, knowing that someone– even if it’s just myself– is listening. It’s a simple ritual, but a powerful one, which is why I’m offering it as a part of my crowdfunding campaign. Perhaps the vicissitudes of life have left you down, your luck is eluding you, or you just want someone to reflect your wild, creative intentions in this world.

In exchange for supporting the Enrichment Project, share one of your creative intentions with me, and I will burn a bay leaf to recognize your own big dreams.  I’ll send along a short video snippet of me doing so, for remembrance.

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