The leaf of the bay laurel, a native shrub of the lands surrounding the northern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean, has a mythic history. Ancient mythology recounts that Apollo pursued the uninterested nymph Daphne. Apollo stalked Daphne until the gods granted her protection by turning her into a bay tree. In the Greek language, the herb is still called "dafni." At the Temple of Delphi, which is dedicated to Apollo, the priestesses would eat bay leaves before divining the future. Because bay leaves are mildly narcotic, this may have helped induce the trance state. Even the roof of the temple was thatched bay leaves. This roofing not only served as a sunscreen, but protection from lightning, disease, and evil spirits.
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