Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Syrian rue

1. I’m going to tell you about Peganum harmala. We call this sacred plant Esfand, and it is widely used in Iran.
Esfand has an unbelievably rich folklore. Mostly people use it to protect themselves against the evil eye. They take a fistful of Esfand seeds and circulate it over a person’s head, reciting an ancient song/prayer, then throw the seeds onto charcoal and take the charcoal burner to different parts of the house so that the smoke of the Esfand can fight off the evil eye and disinfect the surrounding area. This is a common practice here. We like the smell of Esfand seeds burning and making popping noises.
I think this Persian practice dates back to pre-Islamic times [e-mail, November 2013].

Image: Kurt Stuber, Wiki Commons.