t was the ivy leaves which formed the poet’s crown so of course it was important to the ancients. Ivy was dedicated to the Greek God Dionysus, the god of intoxication. He is often seen with a wreath of Ivy on his head and holding a thyrsus or wand which is entwined with ivy and vine leaves.
Ivy leaves were thought to prevent intoxication and the binding of the brow with ivy was seen as a counterbalance to the vine. It was thought that the effects of wine could be removed by a handful of ivy leaves which have been gently bruised and boiled in wine and drank.
Ivy is also associated with the Egyptian god Osiris, god of the sun, agriculture and health. In legend Osiris had an evil brother, Seth who was the god of the desert. Seth was jealous of his brother because he ruled the fertile lands while he had to rule the barren desert land. He convinced Osiris to get into a large chest or sarcophagus which he then closed and threw into the Nile River. The coffin floated down the river and into the Mediterranean Sea. Yet the coffin was carried to the port of Byblos where his wife Isis recovered his body. Isis was overjoyed for it was a general belief that there could be no life after death without a physical body.
Once again Seth retaliated and re-seized the coffin and cut the corpse of Osiris up into 14 pieces and scattered them throughout Egypt. Once again, Isis searched for her husband, finding each piece except for his genitals which were said to have been devoured by fishes. As a reborn god, Osiris didn’t return to earth but instead stayed in the Underworld. In this story we see the association with ivy as a plant of life, death, and re-newal and also equated with fertility.