Mnemosyne and Rosemary

Mnemosyne and Rosemary


Mnemosyne (1881), a Pre-Raphaelite interpretation of the titaness by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I have been here before,                  But when or how I cannot tell:          I know the grass beyond the door,   The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore…
Sudden Light,
Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1854

You smell, and suddenly you remember. Research has shown that memory recall at least doubles when a past event is associated with a smell.

Rosemary is known for being helpful for increasing memory, concentration, and even creativity. Rosemarys distinctive aroma is contained in the essential oil extracted of the herb. Some say that if you inhale the essential oil of rosemary when you are studying, all you have to do to recall all you have read, is to smell the same scent. The scent will stimulate and help delivering a higher amount of oxygen-rich blood into your brain. Furthermore modern research has shown that rosemarys carnosic acid actively protects the brain from free radical damage.
Rosemary oil is extracted from the fresh flowering tops by steam distillation. The oil has a clear, powerful refreshing herbal smell, is clear in color and watery in viscosity.


Rosemary has long been associated with remembrance and memory.  In puritan New England during the 1600s this was rosemary’s primary function, to help people remember.

In Europe, it has been a tradition since ancient times for mourners to throw rosemary into the grave of their loved ones.


Mnemosyne was the personification of memory in Greek mythology. She was a titaness and the daughter of Gaia and Uranus.  She and Zeus were the parents of the nine Muses:

The Nine Muses and Apollo

Apollo Dancing with the Muses by Francesco Bartolozzi (1725-1815)


Calliope – the Muse of Epic Poetry
Clio – the Muse of History
Erato – the Muse of Love Poetry
Euterpe – the Muse of Music
Melpomene – the Muse of Tragedy
Polyhymnia – the Muse of Hymns
Terpsichore – the Muse of Dance
Thalia – the Muse of Comedy
Urania – the Muse of Astronomy


Hesiod writes in his Theogony that kings and poets receive their powers of authoritative speech from their possession of Mnemosyne, and their special relationship with the Muses.
Mnemosyne also represents the counterpart to Lethe, which was the river of forgetfulness. A pool in Hades, the underworld, was Mnemosynes domain. Dead, but initiated souls had to drink from the pool of Mnemosyne so they could remember their past lives for their next incarnation. Non-initiates drank water from Lethe and forgot everything.

Minerva and the Nine Muses by Hendrik van Balen (1575–1632)

Minerva and the Nine Muses by Hendrik van Balen (1575–1632)


About ImaKalya

I write about : Food, Health, Thoughts, Herbs and Spices for Body, Soul & Mind
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One Response to Mnemosyne and Rosemary

  1. Leukippos says:

    Nice as always.
    Your fan!

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