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Garlic Lore

Stories, Myths and Legends

In the modern western world the most well known garlic lore is probably its use against vampires. There's a separate page on why vampires are scared of garlic.

European folklore also gives garlic the ability to ward off the "evil eye".

Dreaming that there is "garlic in the house" is supposedly lucky; to dream about eating garlic means you will discover hidden secrets.

The herbalist Culpepper linked garlic with the planet Mars, a fiery planet also connected with blood.

Roman soldiers ate garlic to inspire them and give them courage; Egyptian slaves were fed garlic to keep their strength up.

Homer reported that Ulysses owed his escape from Circe to "yellow garlic".

There is a Mohammedan story that when Satan left the Garden of Eden, garlic appeared where his left foot rested and onion under his right. The Christian Bible also mentions garlic - [Numbers 11: 4-6] and the Talmud recommends it to be eaten on a Friday night.

Indian legends tell of battles between the devas and the asuras with garlic being a source of argument. The Laws of Manu forbade eating garlic - along with leeks, onions and mushrooms - as unclean. Garlic was forbidden from certain sacred places.

Tibetan monks were forbidden from entering the monastries if they had eaten garlic.

These prohibitions against garlic are possibly connected with its long- standing reputation as an aphrodisiac. This is presumably a result of its tendancy to "inflame" rather than its smell!

Garlic thus occupies an ambiguous place in world lore. It is generally recognised as healthy - but often apparently considered too healthy for polite society.