Laurel Leaves – Symbolism and Meaning

Laurel leaf engraved band ringI’m going to veer recklessly off course from my typical blog entries today. It’s been a difficult week, so overlook me…

I’ve always been drawn to decorated band rings. I like fanciful engravings on basic bands. (Think Victorian and Edwardian era stuff – laurel leaves, ivy and acorns.)

I like the idea of decorating the plain, of giving the simple more depth. I like functional art. Whatever that makes me, so be it. I like symbolism and the meanings conveyed in natural items and decorative invocation of the symbolic power of those items.

In the same way, I want to live in a simple house and eat from my over-done, fanciful, renaissance-styled sterling flatwear. I know that may sound contradictory, but I think that we should have the beauty we want in the things we need, rather than having art knick-knacks or examples that can only be admired and never touched, held, enjoyed and used. Museums are wonderful places, and I love them, but I wouldn’t want to live in one. I prefer my home and my life to incorporate the beautiful into the everyday.

With that said, I have found a white gold band I want to wear.

It’s a simple band with an abundance of hand engraved detail on three of the four sides (it’s squared off). It’s a thin band, Edwardian era, 20K white gold and embellished with one of my favorite symbols — the laurel leaf. It’s my size and it’s simply lovely… and it’s available on eBay. I’ll take THAT as a sign!

Meaning of the laurel leaf

You may think of bay leaves when you hear “laurel” — or you may think of “resting on one’s laurels” — but there is more to the laurel story. I did a bit of research on the variety of meanings — modern and historical, religious and social and even supernatural and I found the following from my research…

Creativity – Laurel was said to communicate the spirit of prophecy and poetry. Laurel leaves were commonly put under pillows at night to gain inspiration through dreams and its intoxicating properties are associated with prophetic and poetic inspiration.

Cleansing Properties and Magical Attributes - Laurel leaves surrounded the temple of Apollo to cleanse the soul before entering. It’s associated with purification and was seen as a plant with powers of immortality. Laurel supposedly awakens awareness and past life memories, stimulates psychic awareness, health and the powers of divination.

Peace and Protection – Today laurel is seen as a symbol of peace. It also indicates a power over the passions and is thought to protect from the influence of evil spirits and to give protection from lightening.

Achievement - It has long been a symbol of victory. Laurel was given as a symbol to the winner in Pythian games. Masons consider the laurel symbol to signify the hopeful expectation of success in the search for the True Word. In the bible, laurel is an emblem of prosperity and fame. In Christianity it is said to symbolize the resurrection of Christ and the triumph of humanity. It is also the source of the word Baccalaureate and of poet laureate.

Daphne
– (Coincidentally, the name of my best friend of many years.) In Greek mythology, the nymph Daphne changed into Laurel to escape the pursuit of Apollo.

So, yes, I think I’m going to bid on it. I may even combine my love and belief in the power of the spoken word and get the inside engraved with a special quote to create my own perfect poesy ring — and a recipe for peace, creativity and inspiration all rolled into one tiny band of gold. Just looking at it every day will probably remind me of all the things… all the attributes… I hope to achieve. And all of them are wrapped around the symbol of the laurel leaf as tightly as the laurel engraved ring will be wrapped around my finger.

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