Sage: Salvia Officinalis

“If the sage tree thrives and grows,

The master’s not master, and that he knows.”

  • J.A. Langford, Warwickshire Folk-Lore and Supersitions, 1875.

Sage is most powerful when gifted by a friend. Purple stemmed with fractal veins running from centre to tip, increasingly dense, requiring the removal of reading glasses and squinting to count to infinity within a single leaf. Purple, the colour of kings. The King and Queen in the royal bath, Solutio est. Conjuntio in the Magnum Opus. The green lion devours the sun, the ruling principle dies in Mortificatio.

Watching a short film of Lucien Freud as distraction. He is walking the towpaths of Little Venice with a hawk perched upon his wrist. A kestrel for a knave. 2010, a few hundred yards from here. Elderly, rheumy eyes glistening in winter sunlight. Bare boughs empty of leaves. Low winter sun across the water. Oils dripping from the wall above the radiator. Pointed daggers of paint, just as a hawk’s beak to rend flesh from bone. In Egypt and the levant, Sage was brewed as a black tea. The desert dwellers would launch their hawks to hunt and spy. Falconry, the sport of Kings.