One of the oldest and garden plants cultivated for medicinal use introduced in England by the Romans, much used by the Ancients - regarded from the earliest times as successful in warding off contagion and the attacks of fleas and other noxious insects - one of the ingredients of the famous 'Vinegar of the Four Thieves'.
The Greeks regarded it as an antimagical herb. In the Middle ages and later, it was considered a powerful defense against witches, and was used in many spells. Rue is often used in Wiccan rituals of warding off evil influences. It was also thought to bestow second sight. The common name "Herb of Grace" reflects the time when a brush of Rue was used to sprinkle the holy water in the ceremony "Asperges" before High Mass.
Rue was once believed to improve the eyesight and creativity, and no less personages than Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci regularly ate the small, trefoil leaves to increase their own.
The legend of rue lives on in playing cards, where the symbol for the suit of clubs is said to be modeled on a leaf of rue.
It is an herb of the Sun, and under Leo. It provokes urine and women's courses, being taken either in meat or drink. The seed thereof taken in wine, is an antidote against all dangerous medicines or deadly poisons. The leaves taken either by themselves, or with figs and walnuts, is called Mithridate's counter-poison against the plague, and causes all venomous things to become harmless
Nicholas Culpeper, 1653