Garlic Lore

Stories, Myths and Legends

In the modern western world the most well known garlic lore is probably its use against vampires, however there’s a lot more lore associated with it.

  • European folklore 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.