There are many legends associated with the Myrtle tree and its origin.
According to ancient classic mythology a nymph called ‘Myrsine’ or ‘Myrene’ and the goddess ‘Athena’ or ‘Pallas’ raced together. It is said that Athena killed Myrene as she was angry. Her body is believed to have grown into a Myrtle tree and that possibly as a result of grief and guilt did ever love the tree.
The second legend tells of how ‘Myrene’, a priestess to ‘Venus’, was transformed into the tree. The reason for this was thought to be because she loved a young man and wished to marry him which was forbidden for a priestess.
The third legend tells of how ‘Myrene’ was killed by ‘Venus’ and transformed into a Myrtle tree. The reason seems to be that Myrene had offended her. Yet Venus ordered that the tree should always be evergreen and have a sweet aroma.
A fourth legend tells of how ‘Venus’ was on the ‘Island of Cytheraea’. Ashamed of the fact that she was naked she would hide behind a Myrtle tree, and ever since has been associated with and sacred to Venus. Indeed she adopted it as her favourite tree. The tree has long been connected with lovers due to its this association as Venus is the Goddess of Love. The Myrtle tree was thought to inspire love and encourage it to linger.
Venus is often seen with leaves of the Myrtle about her. According to legend Venus came out of the sea with a Myrtle wreath upon her head.
Worshippers in ancient Greece would plant Myrtle trees around the temples. Although known to us as Venus the ancients worshipped her as ‘Myrtilla’.
Thought to be a tree which brings good luck. To see one or more healthy Myrtle trees indicates that the owner of the land or family should be content, enjoying a happy home life. A wedding may follow soon after flowering according to traditional English (UK) belief.