Every morning when I go out to greet our garden, I am surprised by how much bigger our Melissa plants are! We planted them as four inch starts last fall, and they are now over two feet tall and almost as wide!
They are a lovely fresh green, dense with leaves that are so bright and aromatic, I can’t resist picking one to smell every time I walk past them. Their scent and taste is lemony, which is why they are commonly called Lemon Balm.
To me, though, they are Melissa, meaning “loved by bees”, and soon they will be covered in tiny white flowers that are indeed loved by both honeybees and bumblebees. We will let them flower and feed the bees, but we’ll also be sure to cut them before they seed, or else our garden will soon be nothing but Melissa, as they are very aggressive plants via seeding.
Next year when they are a bit older we will collect the tiny, tender leaves of their early spring growth and extract it in dew for the classic Alchemical medicine Ens of Melissa. This is a process we’ve done once before, and it creates a powerfully vitalizing and rejuvenative medicine synergizing the energy of the dew and the plant. Ens preparations can be made from any plant- we’ve tried ones from Lavender and Echinacea that were wonderful- but the classic Ens of Paracelsian medicine is from Melissa.
Paracelsus, the 16th century healer and Alchemist who created Spagyric processing, believed that Melissa contained the most Ens, or healing energy, of any plant, so much so that he saw it as beyond even the planetary energies, charged with a life force that was archetypal and universal. As he wrote:
What is Melissa but a power which exists in the astral light and finds its material expression in the herb Melissa which grows in our gardens? Everything is an expression in a material form of the principle of life, and the life is the real thing; the external form is merely the house or corpus in which it resides.
In our work, Melissa is one of just two plants we work with at all three levels of Essence, Spiritualized Essence, and Magistery (the other being Rosemary). While most plants have a clear level at which their best qualities are expressed, such as the physical healing of nutritive herbs like Nettles, the tonic support of Ginseng, or the soul healing of Rose, a few special plants seem to have three different aspects of intelligence depending on what level they are extracted at.
Working with Melissa as an Essence, we create a Spagyric that is a relaxing tonic to the mind and digestive system, and to the way those systems are linked for good or bad. It eases physical tension such as indigestion and menstrual cramps, and is also a mild sedative that does not cause grogginess or dependence with long term use.
For the Spirit level of being, we offer Melissa Spiritualized Essence, which is more concentrated and also elevated through our spiritualization process. This Melissa is also good for tension and pain, but its energies tend more upward than the Essence, and it is a good mood lifter and cheering herb.
Melissa’s antiviral properties are expressed well here at the tonic level of extraction, and we have heard many reports of successful treatment of infections with this Spagyric. Melissa is one of the few herbs active against herpes and related viruses, and with its painkilling properties, this Spagyric has a good balance of healing both the cause and effects of viruses that affect the nervous system.
Our highest Spagyric of Melissa is our Magistery, a lovely aromatic medicine with a sweet lemony taste and a bright, Jovial quality. We describe the energy of this Magistery as like a fat and happy baby, bouncing and giggling with delight. Indeed, Melissa is a wonderful herb for children, or for anyone who could use more childlike joy in their lives. Transforming even the darkest, densest grumpiness into a cheery and lifted heart. It’s the essence of Jupiter’s gifts of expansion and generosity, along with balance and temperance.
I hope you enjoyed this tour of this beloved plant of bees and Paracelsus- and maybe you!