Many of the cut and dried herbs we buy in jars at the supermarket are not just for flavoring food. Fresh from the garden, they’re traditionally offered at sacred ceremonies and spiritual quests, serving as tangible representations of what we humans yearn for: honor, fidelity, purification, love. Herbs were also planted in pots kept in the dooryard or courtyard to bless a house with these assets. Here’s a short guide to their meaning.
Sandra Garson is the author of Veggiyana, the Dharma of Cooking and How to Fix a Leek and Other Food From Your Farmers’ Market. As a longtime student of Tibetan Buddhism and well-known cook for Dharma centers from Maine to Mongolia, she became the first food historian to explore the Buddha’s influence on how the world now eats. This led to exploration of more religious beliefs about food.