Bugle Magickal Properties

Bugle Magickal Properties


This hath larger leaves than those of the Selfheal, but else of the same fashion.

Bugle Magickal Properties

The leaves are rather a little longer, in some green on the upper side, and in others more brownish, dented about the edges, somewhat hairy, as the square stalk is also, which riseth up to be half a yard high sometimes, with the leaves set by couples; from the middle almost hereof upwards stand the flowers together, with many smaller and browner leaves than the rest on this stalk below, set at distances, and the stalk bare between them, among which flowers are also small ones of a bluish, and sometimes of an ash colour, fashioned like the flowers of the Ground Ivy, after which come small, round, blackish Seed.

The root is composed of many strings, and spreadeth upon the ground in divers parts round about.

The White flowered Bugle different not in form or greatness from the former, saving that the leaves and stalks are always red and never brown like the other, and that the flowers thereof are very white.


They grow in woods, wet copses, and fields generally throughout England; but the white flowered Bugle is not as plentiful as the other.


They flower from May until July, and in the meantime perfect their seed. The roots and leaves next thereunto upon the ground abiding all winter.

Virtues and Use

The decoction of the leaves and flowers made in wine and taken dissolved the congealed blood in those that are bruised inwardly by a fall or otherwise, and is very effectual for any inward wounds, Thrusts or stabs in the body or bowels, and is an especial help in all wound drinks, and for those that are liver grown (as they call it.)

It is wonderful incurring all manner of ulcers and Sores whether new and fresh, or old and inveterate, yea gangrenes and fistulas also, if the leaves bruised be applied, or their Juice used to wash and bath the places. And the same made into a lotion with some honey and Alum, cureth all sores  of the mouth or gums be they never so foul, or of long continuance; and worketh no less powerfully and effectually for such ulcers and sores as happen in the secret parts of men or women: Being also taken inwardly, and outwardly applied, it helpeth those that have broken any Bone, or have any Member out of joint. An ointment made with the leaves of Bugle,


Bruises, Falls, Wounds, Scabs, Ulcers, Liver grown, Gangrenes, Fistulas, Sore Mouths, Gums. Sores in the Secrets, broken bones. Scabious and sanicle bruised and boiled in Hogs Grease, until the herbs be dry, and then strained forth into a Pot, for such occasions as shall require it is so singular good for all sorts of hurts in the Body, that non that know its usefulness will be without it.

This herb is belonging to Dame Venus, and if the virtues of it make you in love with it, (as they will if you be wise) keep a syrup of it to take inwardly, and an ointment and plasters of it to use outwardly always by you.

The truth is I have known this herb cure some diseases of Saturn, of which I thought good to quote one.

Many times such as give themselves much to drinking are troubled with strange fancies, strange sights in the night time, and some with voices, as also with the disease epilates or the MarI take the reason of this to be (according to Ferneries) a melancholy vapour made thin by excessive drinking strong liquor, and so fly’s up and disturbs the fancy, and breeds imaginations like itself, fearful and troublesome:

These I have known cured by taking only two spoonful’s of the syrup of this herb, after supper two hours when you go to bed. But whether this do it by sympathy or antipathy is some question; all that know anything in Astrology, know that there is a great antipathy between Saturn and Venus in matter of procreation, yea such an one, that the bareness of Saturn can be removed by none but Venus, nor the lust of Venus be repelled by none but Saturn: but I am not yet of opinion this is done this way; and my reason is because these vapours though in quality melancholy, yet by their flying upward seem to be something aerial, therefore I rather think it is done by sympathy, Saturn being exalted in Libra the house of Venus.

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Elements that be

Elements that be

In wicca we respect the elements that be

We are drawn by nature the elements that be that is and all it has to offer, in return we give thanks to the elements, fire, water, air and earth these are the elements most prominent in our belief many include the element of the spirit (Aether).

The moon plays a big part in our everyday life as does the sun for we have many rituals and festivals that relate to them.
The element Fire has a different energy than the element of Water and the same can be said for the element Air differs from the element of Earth, any or all of these elements can help the wiccan in the use of meditation, spell workings, and everyday life in general.

The element symbols are most important also, you will also find that elements are a basic part of our herb law.

It is worth mentioning that Akasha: The fifth element, the omnipresent spiritual power that permeates the universe is the energy out of which the Elements are said to be formed the basic substance of the universe, usually envisaged as violet in colour embracing the four other elements of Water, Fire, Air, and Earth. The four cardinal points of the circle we cast use the compass positions North, South, East and West and associated with the elements

Earth (North)
Fire (South)
Air (East)
Water (West)

Below are the four elements and a few associated meanings to help you:


You can associate the following aspects with water, it is feminine as it flows, water brings life, emotion, fertility, a human being is made up of three parts liquid, the snow is water, the rain and oceans of the world, some say we originally evolved from the waters of the ocean. We need water to live even our tears are of a salty water.

Water Element: West
The magical tool associated with water is the cup or chalice.
The moon and Neptune are associated with water.


Air the element of the East as it is known in the northern hemisphere where the sun rises and is associated with thought, learning, spring time, smell, music as in wind instruments, the bird on the wing, a fresh start new beginning. The highest point of the energy of Air is first thing in the morning.
Uranus and Mercury are the planets associated with Air.


Fire Element: South.
Planet associated with fire is the Sun.
Fire is associated with movement as the sun moves across our skies, we build the great bale-fires at the Sabbats, energy is raised by dancing around them, sex and passion are definitely associated with Fire as is the temper that rises in us from time to time.
Fire can cleanse but also destroy a very powerful element indeed.
The magical tool associated with the South and Fire is the Wand.


The magical tool associated with Earth is the pentagram.
Earth Element: North.
The element of Earth represents our Mother, the planet Earth itself.
Earth is the element traditionally placed at the North Pole of the circle.
Earth is said to be the element that rules the healing process of our bodies.
Plants to share this element.
It is the element of crystals which have many uses.
Earth is the place to be born to live to die and then enter the spirit world.
Earth represents life and death.


Many class the spirit as an element but what is the spirit? A different thing to each of us is my answer.

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Astrological Planting

Astrological Planting

This Astrological Planting post will hopefully be of great use to you on your spiritual path.

Waxing Moon: at this time plant leafy annuals that produce their yield above ground, such as: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cress, endive, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsley, spinach, etc.

Full Moon: during this time plant vine annuals that produce their yield above ground, such as: beans, eggplant, melons, peas, peppers, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, etc.

Waning Moon: now is the time to plant biennials, perennials, bulb, and root plants. Also, plant trees, shrubs, berries, beets, carrots, onions, parsnips, peanuts, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, rutabagas, strawberries, turnips, winter wheat, grapes, etc.

New Moon: this is the best time to cultivate, turn sod, pull weeds, and destroy pests of all kinds, especially when the moon is in the barren signs of Aries, Leo, Virgo, Gemini, Aquarius, and Sagittarius.

Moon in Aries: Barren and dry, fiery and masculine. Used for destroying noxious growths, weeds, pests, etc., and for cultivating. Don’t plant seeds.

Moon in Taurus: Productive and moist, earthy and feminine. Used for planting many crops, particularly potatoes and root crops, and when hardiness is important.
Also used for lettuce, cabbage, and similar leafy vegetables.

Moon in Gemini: Barren and dry, airy and masculine. Used for destroying noxious growths, weeds and pests, and for cultivation.

Moon in Cancer: Very fruitful and moist, watery and feminine. This is the most productive sign, used extensively for planting and irrigation. Good for planting any seeds.

Moon in Leo: Barren and dry, fiery and masculine. This is the most barren sign, used only for killing weeds and for cultivation.

Moon in Virgo: Barren and moist, earthy and feminine. Good for cultivation and destroying weeds and pests. Good for all garden chores other than planting.

Moon in Libra: Semi-fruitful and moist, airy and masculine. Used for planting many crops and producing good pulp growth and roots. This is also a very good sign for flowers and vines. Also used for seeding hay, corn fodder, etc.

Moon in Scorpio: Very fruitful and moist, watery and feminine. Used for the same purposes as Cancer, especially good for vine growth and sturdiness.

Moon in Sagittarius: Barren and dry, fiery and masculine. Used for planting onions, seeding hay, and for cultivation.

Moon in Capricorn: Productive and dry, earthy and feminine. Used for the planting potatoes, tubers, etc.

Moon in Aquarius: Barren and dry, airy and masculine. Used for cultivation and destroying noxious growths, weeds, and pests. Limit garden chores to weeding and clean-up.
Moon in Pisces: Very fruitful and moist, watery and feminine. Good for planting all seeds. Used along with Cancer and Scorpio, especially good for root growth.

Basic Growing Instructions:

Storing seeds: Wrap the seeds in several layers of coffee filters to absorb the moisture, and put them in a jar in the refrigerator.
Germinating: Pour your seeds into a jar, making sure to use different jars for each different kind of seeds, cover in water and set in the refrigerator.
Every day for 2 weeks, strain out the water and add new. At the end of two weeks, any seeds that are floating are no good and should be thrown out.
Potting: Use trays and make sure you mark the different trays if you are growing more than one kind of plant, and then cover the seeds (three together) lightly with a layer of seed-starting potting soil. Keep the trays at a place where no animal will disturb them and water them daily. When sprigs start to show through, check to see if the plants you are growing enjoy full or partial sun and move the trays accordingly.
Transplanting: When the sprigs have grown to a hardy size, transplant them to the area you wish by using some kind of transplanting soil.
Continue to water daily, unless otherwise indicated by the species of plant you are growing.

Additional Instructions:

The gathering of the herb is traditionally done on the night of the full moon with a white-handled, curved blade called a boline. Ideally, the plant is taken when it is blooming.

After you cut the herb, you can either hang it upside down in some corner of the room to let it dry, or you can spread them thinly on a screen and let them dry in the full sun. Also, you can spread them thinly on a cookie sheet and cook them on a very low temperature till the herbs be come are dry.

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Plant Superstitions

Plant Superstitions

The superstitious notions which, under one form or another, have clustered round the vegetable kingdom hold a prominent place in the field of folk-lore.

To give a full and detailed account of these survivals of bygone beliefs, would occupy a volume of no mean size, so thickly scattered are they among the traditions and legendary lore of almost every country. Only too frequently, also, we find the same superstition assuming a very different appearance as it travels from one country to another, until at last it is almost completely divested of its original dress. Repeated changes of this kind, whilst not escaping the notice of the student of comparative folk-lore, are apt to mislead the casual observer who, it may be, assigns to them a particular home in his own country, whereas probably they have travelled, before arriving at their modern destination, thousands of miles in the course of years.

There is said to be a certain mysterious connection between certain plants and animals. Thus, swine when affected with the spleen are supposed to resort to the spleen-wort, and according to Coles, in his “Art of Simpling,” the ass does likewise, for he tells us that, “if the ass be oppressed with melancholy, he eats of the herb asp lemon or mill-waste, and eases himself of the swelling of the spleen.” One of the popular names of the common sow-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) is hare’s-palace, from the shelter it is supposed to afford the hare. According to the “Grete Herbale,” “if the hare come under it, he is sure that no beast can touch him.” Topsell also, in his “Natural History,” alludes to this superstition:—”When hares are overcome with heat, they eat of an herb called Latuca leporina, that is, hare’s-lettuce, hare’s-house, hare’s-palace; and there is no disease in this beast the cure whereof she does not seek for in this herb.”

The hound’s-tongue (cynoglossum) has been reputed to have the magical property of preventing dogs barking at a person, if laid beneath the feet; and Gerarde says that wild goats or deer, “when they be wounded with arrows, do shake them out by eating of this plant, and heal their wounds.”

Bacon in his “Natural History” alludes to another curious idea connected with goats, and says, “There are some tears of trees, which are combed from the beards of goats; for when the goats bite and crop them, especially in the morning, the dew being on, the tear cometh forth, and hangeth upon their beards; of this sort is some kind of laudanum.” The columbine was once known as Herba leonis, from a belief that it was the lion’s favourite plant, and it is said that when bears were half-starved by hybernating—having remained for days without food—they were suddenly restored by eating the arum. There is a curious tradition in Piedmont, that if a hare be sprinkled with the juice of henbane, all the shares in the neighbourhood will run away as if scared by some invisible power.

Gerarde also alludes to an old belief that cats, “Are much delighted with catmint, for the smell of it is so pleasant unto them, that they rub themselves upon it, and swallow or tumble in it, and also feed on the branches very greedily.” And according to an old proverb they have a liking for the plant maram:
“If you set it, the cats will eat it;
If you sow it, the cats won’t know it.”
Equally fond, too, are cats of valerian, being said to dig up the roots and gnaw them to pieces, an allusion to which occurs in Topsell’s “Four-footed Beasts”
(1658-81):—”The root of the herb valerian (commonly called Phu) is very like to the eye of a cat, and wheresoever it groweth, if cats come thereunto they instantly dig it up for the love thereof, as I myself have seen in mine own garden, for it smelleth moreover like a cat.”
Then there is the moonwort, famous for drawing the nails out of horses’ shoes, and hence known by the rustic name of “unshoe the horse;” while the mouse-ear was credited with preventing the horses being hurt when shod.

We have already alluded to the superstitions relating to birds and plants, but may mention another relating to the celandine.

One of the well-known names of this plant is swallow-wort, so termed, says Gerarde, not, “because it first springeth at the coming in of the swallows, or dieth when they go away, for it may be found all the year, but because some hold opinion that with this herb the darns restore eyesight to their young ones, when their eye be put out.” Coles strengthens the evidence in favour of this odd notion by adding: “It is known to such as have skill of nature, what wonderful care she hath of the smallest creatures, giving to them knowledge of medicine to help themselves, if haply diseases annoy them. The swallow cureth her dim eyes with celandine; the wesell knoweth well the virtue of herb-grace; the dove the verven; the dogge dischargeth his mawe with a kind of grass.”

In Italy cumin is given to pigeons for the purpose of taming them, and a curious superstition is that of the “divining-rod,” with “its versatile sensibility to water, ore, treasure and thieves,” and one whose history is apparently as remote as it is widespread. Francis Lenormant, in his “Chaldean Magic,” mentions the divining-rods used by the Magi, wherewith they foretold the future by throwing little sticks of tamarisk-wood, and adds that divination by wands was known and practised in Babylon, “and that this was even the most ancient mode of divination used in the time of the Accadians.” Among the Hindus, even in the Vedic period, magic wands were in use, and the practice still survives in China, where the peach-tree is in demand. Tracing its antecedent history in this country, it appears that the Druids were in the habit of cutting their divining-rods from the apple-tree; and various notices of this once popular fallacy occur from time to time, in the literature of bygone years.

The hazel was formerly famous for its powers of discernment, and it is still held in repute by the Italians. Occasionally, too, as already noticed, the divining-rod was employed for the purpose of detecting the locality of water, as is still the case in Wiltshire. An interesting case was quoted some years ago in the Quarterly Review (xxii. 273). A certain Lady N——is here stated to have convinced Dr. Hutton of her possession of this remarkable gift, and by means of it to have indicated to him the existence of a spring of water in one of his fields adjoining the Woolwich College, which, in consequence of the discovery, he was enabled to sell to the college at a higher price. This power Lady N——repeatedly exhibited before credible witnesses, and the Quarterly Review of that day considered the fact indisputable. The divining-rod has long been in repute among Cornish miners, and Pryce, in his “Mineralogia Cornubiensis,” says that many mines have been discovered by this means; but, after giving a minute account of cutting, tying, and using it, he rejects it, because, “Cornwall is so plentifully stored with tin and copper lodes, that some accident every week discovers to us a fresh vein.”

Billingsley, in his “Agricultural Survey of the County of Cornwall,” published in the year 1797, speaks of the belief of the Mendip miners in the efficacy of the mystic rod:—”The general method of discovering the situation and direction of those seams of ore (which lie at various depths, from five to twenty fathoms, in a chasm between two inches of solid rock) is by the help of the divining-rod, vulgarly called josing; and a variety of strong testimonies are adduced in supporting this doctrine. So confident are the common miners of the efficacy, that they scarcely ever sink a shaft but by its direction; and those who are dexterous in the use of it, will mark on the surface the course and breadth of the vein; and after that, with the assistance of the rod, will follow the same course twenty times following blindfolded.” Anecdotes of the kind are very numerous, for there are few subjects in folk-lore concerning which more has been written than on the divining-rod, one of the most exhaustive being that of Mr. Baring-Gould in his “Curious Myths of the Middle Ages.”

The literature, too, of the past is rich in allusions to this piece of superstition, and Swift in his “Virtues of Sid Hamet the Magician’s Rod” (1710) thus refers to it:
“They tell us something strange and odd
About a certain magic rod
That, bending down its top, divines
Whene’er the soil has golden mines;
Where there are none, it stands erect,
Scorning to show the least respect.
As ready was the wand of Sid
To bend where golden mines were hid.
In Scottish hills found precious ore,
Where none e’er looked for it before;
And by a gentle bow divined,
How well a Cully’s purse was lined;
To a forlorn and broken rake,
Stood without motion like a stake.”
De Quincey has several amusing allusions to this fallacy, affirming that he had actually seen on more than one occasion the process applied with success, and declared that, in spite of all science or scepticism might say, most of the tea-kettles in the Vale of Wrington, North Somersetshire, are filled by rhabdomancy.
But it must be admitted that the phenomena of the divining-rod and table-turning are of precisely the same character, both being referable to an involuntary muscular action resulting from a fixedness of idea. Moreover, it should be remembered that experiments with the divining-rod are generally made in a district known to be metalliferous, and therefore the chances are greatly in favour of its bending over or near a mineral lode. On the other hand, it is surprising how many people of culture have, at different times, in this and other countries, displayed a lamentable weakness in partially accepting this piece of superstition.
Of the many anecdotes related respecting it, we may quote an amusing one in connection with the celebrated botanist, Linnaeus:—”When he was on one of his voyages, hearing his secretary highly extol the virtues of his divining-wand, he was willing to convince him of its insufficiency, and for that purpose concealed a purse of one hundred ducats under a ranunculus, which grew up by itself in a meadow, and bid the secretary find it if he could. The wand discovered nothing, and Linnaeus’ mark was soon trampled down by the company who were present, so that when he went to finish the experiment by fetching the gold himself, he was utterly at a loss where to find it. The man with the wand assisted him, and informed him that it could not lie in the way they were going, but quite the contrary, so pursued the direction of the wand, and actually dug out the gold. Linnaeus thereupon added that such another experiment would be sufficient to make a proselyte of him.”

In 1659, the Jesuit, Gaspard Schott, tells us that this magic rod was at this period used in every town in Germany, and that he had frequently had opportunities of seeing it used in the discovery of hidden treasure. He further adds:—”I searched with the greatest care into the question whether the hazel rod had any sympathy with gold and silver, and whether any natural property set it in motion. In like manner, I tried whether a ring of metal, held suspended by a thread in the midst of a tumbler, and which strikes the hours, is moved by any similar force.” But many of the mysterious effects of these so-called divining-rods were no doubt due to clever imposture. In the year 1790, Plunet, a native of Dauphiné, claimed a power over the divining-rod which attracted considerable attention in Italy. But when carefully tested by scientific men in Padua, his attempts to discover buried metals completely failed; and at Florence he was detected trying to find out by night what he had secreted to test his powers on the morrow. The astrologer Lilly made sundry experiments with the divining-rod, but was not always successful; and the Jesuit, Kircher, tried the powers of certain rods which were said to have sympathetic influences for particular metals, but they never turned on the approach of these. Once more, in the “Shepherd’s Calendar,” we find a receipt to make the “Mosaic wand to find hidden treasure” without the intervention of a human operator:—”Cut a hazel wand forked at the upper end like a Y. Peel off the rind, and dry it in a moderate heat, then steep it in the juice of wake-robin or nightshade, and cut the single lower end sharp; and where you suppose any rich mine or hidden treasure is near, place a piece of the same metal you conceive is hid, or in the earth, to the top of one of the forks by a hair, and do the like to the other end; pitch the sharp single end lightly to the ground at the going down of the sun, the moon being in the increase, and in the morning at sunrise, by a natural sympathy, you will find the metal inclining, as it were pointing, to the places where the other is hid.”

According to a Tuscany belief, the almond will discover treasures; and the golden rod has long had the reputation in England of pointing to hidden springs of water, as well as to treasures of gold and silver.

Similarly, the spring-wort and primrose—the key-flower—revealed the hidden recesses in mountains where treasures were concealed, and the mystic fern-seed, termed “wish-seed,” was supposed in the Tyrol to make known hidden gold; and, according to a Lithuanian form of this superstition, one who secures treasures by this means will be pursued by adders, the guardians of the gold. Plants of this kind remind us of the magic “sesame” which, at the command of Ali Baba, in the story of the “Forty Thieves,” gave him immediate admission to the secret treasure-cave. Once more, among further plants possessing the same mystic property may be mentioned the sow-thistle, which, when invoked, discloses hidden treasures. In Sicily a branch of the pomegranate tree is considered to be a most effectual means of ascertaining the whereabouts of concealed wealth. Hence it has been invested with an almost reverential awe, and has been generally employed when search has been made for some valuable lost property. In Silesia, Thuringia, and Bohemia the mandrake is, in addition to its many mystic properties, connected with the idea of hidden treasures.

Numerous plants are said to be either lucky or the reverse, and hence have given rise to all kinds of odd beliefs, some of which still survive in our midst, having come down from a remote period.

There is in many places a curious antipathy to uprooting the house-leek, some persons even disliking to let it blossom, and a similar prejudice seems to have existed against the cuckoo-flower, for, if found accidentally inverted in a May garland, it was at once destroyed. In Prussia it is regarded as ominous for a bride to plant myrtle, although in this country it has the reputation of being a lucky plant. According to a Somersetshire saying, “The flowering myrtle is the luckiest plant to have in your window, water it every morning, and be proud of it.” We may note here that there are many odd beliefs connected with the myrtle.
“Speaking to a lady,” says a correspondent of the Athenaeum (Feb. 5, 1848), “of the difficulty which I had always found in getting a slip of myrtle to grow, she directly accounted for my failure by observing that perhaps I had not spread the tail or skirt of my dress, and looked proud during the time I was planting it. It is a popular belief in Somersetshire that unless a slip of myrtle is so planted, it will never take root.” The deadly nightshade is a plant of ill omen, and Gerarde describing it says, “if you will follow my counsel, deal not with the same in any case, and banish it from your gardens, and the use of it also, being a plant so furious and deadly; for it bringeth such as have eaten thereof into a dead sleep, wherein many have died.” There is a strong prejudice to sowing parsley, and equally a great dislike to transplanting it, the latter notion being found in South America. Likewise, according to a Devonshire belief, it is highly unlucky to plant a bed of lilies of the valley, as the person doing so will probably die in the course of the next twelve months.

The withering of plants has long been regarded ominous, and, according to a Welsh superstition, if there are faded leaves in a room where a baby is christened it will soon die. Of the many omens afforded by the oak, we are told that the change of its leaves from their usual colour gave more than once “fatal premonition” of coming misfortunes during the great civil wars; and Bacon mentions a tradition that “if the oak-apple, broken, be full of worms, it is a sign of a pestilent year.” In olden times the decay of the bay-tree was considered an omen of disaster, and it is stated that, previous to the death of Nero, though the winter was very mild, all these trees withered to the roots, and that a great pestilence in Padua was preceded by the same phenomenon.
Shakespeare speaks of this superstition:—
“‘Tis thought the king is dead; we will not stay,
The bay-trees in our county are all withered.”
Lupton, in his “Notable Things,” tells us that,
“If a fir-tree be touched, withered, or burned with lightning, it signifies that the master or mistress thereof shall shortly die.”

It is difficult, as we have already noted in a previous chapter, to discover why some of our sweetest and fairest spring-flowers should be associated with ill-luck.
In the western counties, for instance, one should never take less than a handful of primroses or violets into a farmer’s house, as neglect of this rule is said to affect the success of the ducklings and chickens. A correspondent of Notes and Queries (I. Ser. vii. 201) writes:—”My gravity was sorely tried by being called on to settle a quarrel between two old women, arising from one of them having given one primrose to her neighbour’s child, for the purpose of making her hens hatch but one egg out of each set of eggs, and it was seriously maintained that the charm had been successful.” In the same way it is held unlucky to introduce the first snowdrop of the year into a house, for, as a Sussex woman once remarked, “It looks for all the world like a corpse in its shroud.” We may repeat, too, again the familiar adage:
“If you sweep the house with blossomed broom in May,
You are sure to sweep the head of the house away.”
And there is the common superstition that where roses and violets bloom in autumn, it is indicative of some epidemic in the following year; whereas, if a white rose put forth unexpectedly, it is believed in Germany to be a sign of death in the nearest house; and in some parts of Essex there is a current belief that sickness or death will inevitably ensue if blossoms of the whitethorn be brought into a house; the idea in Norfolk being that no one will be married from the house during the year. Another ominous sign is that of plants shedding their leaves, or of their blossoms falling to pieces. Thus the peasantry in some places affirm that the dropping of the leaves of a peach-tree betokens a murrain; and in Italy it is held unlucky for a rose to do so. A well-known illustration of this superstition occurred many years ago in the case of the unfortunate Miss Bay, who was murdered at the piazza entrance of Covent Garden by Hackman (April 1779), the following account of which we quote from the “Life and Correspondence of M. G. Lewis”:— “When the carriage was announced, and she was adjusting her dress, Mr. Lewis happened to make some remark on a beautiful rose which Miss Kay wore in her bosom. Just as the words were uttered the flower fell to the ground. She immediately stooped to regain it, but as she picked it up, the red leaves scattered themselves on the carpet, and the stalk alone remained in her hand. The poor girl, who had been depressed in spirits before, was evidently affected by this incident, and said, in a slightly faltering voice, ‘I trust I am not to consider this as an evil omen!’ But soon rallying, she expressed to Mr. Lewis, in a cheerful tone, her hope that they would meet again after the theatre—a hope, alas! which it was decreed should not be realised.” According to a German belief, one who throws a rose into a grave will waste away.

There is a notion prevalent in Dorsetshire that a house wherein the plant “bergamot” is kept will never be free from sickness; and in Norfolk it is said to be unlucky to take into a house a bunch of the grass called “maiden-hair,” or, as it is also termed, “dudder-grass.” Among further plants of ill omen may be mentioned the bluebell (Campanula rotundifolia), which in certain parts of Scotland was called “The aul’ man’s bell,” and was regarded with a sort of dread, and commonly left unpulled. In Cumberland, about Cockermouth, the red campion (Lychnis diurna) is called “mother-die,” and young people believe that if plucked some misfortune will happen to their parents. A similar belief attaches to the herb-robert (Geranium robertianum) in West Cumberland, where it is nicknamed “Death come quickly;” and in certain parts of Yorkshire there is a notion that if a child gather the germander speedwell (Veronica chamoedrys), its mother will die during the year. Herrick has a pretty allusion to the daffodil:
“When a daffodil I see
Hanging down her head t’wards me,
Guess I may what I must be:
First, I shall decline my head;
Secondly, I shall be dead;
Lastly, safely buried.”

In Germany, the marigold is with the greatest care excluded from the flowers with which young women test their love-affairs; and in Austria it is held unlucky to pluck the crocus, as it draws away the strength.
An ash leaf is still frequently employed for invoking good luck, and in
Cornwall we find the old popular formula still in use:

“Even ash, I do thee pluck,
Hoping thus to meet good luck;
If no good luck I get from thee,
I shall wish thee on the tree.”

And there is the following well-known couplet:

“With a four-leaved clover, a double-leaved ash, and a green-topped
You may go before the queen’s daughter without asking leave.”
But, on the other hand, the finder of the five-leaved clover, it is said, will have bad luck.
In Scotland it was formerly customary to carry on the person a piece of torch-fir for good luck—a superstition which, Mr. Conway remarks, is found in the gold-mines of California, where the men tip a cone with the first gold they discover, and keep it as a charm to ensure good luck in future.
Nuts, again, have generally been credited with propitious qualities, and have accordingly been extensively used for divination. In some mysterious way, too, they are supposed to influence the population, for when plentiful, there is said to be a corresponding increase of babies. In Russia the peasantry frequently carry a nut in their purses, from a belief that it will act as a charm in their efforts to make money. Sternberg, in his “Northamptonshire Glossary” (163), says that the discovery of a double nut, “presages well for the finder, and unless he mars his good fortune by swallowing both kernels, is considered an infallible sign of approaching ‘luck.’ The orthodox way in such cases consists in eating one, and throwing the other over the shoulder.”

The Icelanders have a curious idea respecting the mountain-ash, affirming that it is an enemy of the juniper, and that if one is planted on one side of a tree, and the other on the other, they will split it. It is also asserted that if both are kept in the same house it will be burnt down; but, on the other hand, there is a belief among some sailors that if rowan-tree be used in a ship, it will sink the vessel unless juniper be found on board. In the Tyrol, the Osmunda regalis, called “the blooming fern,” is placed over the door for good teeth; and Mr. Conway, too, in his valuable papers, to which we have been often indebted in the previous chapters, says that there are circumstances under which all flowers are injurious. “They must not be laid on the bed of a sick person, according to a Silesian superstition; and in Westphalia and Thuringia, no child under a year old must be permitted to wreathe itself with flowers, or it will soon die. Flowers, says a common German saying, must in no case be laid on the mouth of a corpse, since the dead man may chew them, which would make him a ‘Nachzehrer,’ or one who draws his relatives to the grave after him.”
In Hungary, the burnet saxifrage (Pimpinella saxifraga) is a mystic plant, where it is popularly nicknamed Chaba’s salve, there being an old tradition that it was discovered by King Chaba, who cured the wounds of fifteen thousand of his men after a bloody battle fought against his brother. In Hesse, it is said that with knots tied in willow one may slay a distant enemy; and the Bohemians have a belief that seven-year-old children will become beautiful by dancing in the flax.
But many superstitions have clustered round the latter plant, it having in years gone by been a popular notion that it will only flower at the time of day on which it was originally sown. To spin on Saturday is said in Germany to bring ill fortune, and as a warning the following legend is among the household tales of the peasantry:—”Two old women, good friends, were the most industrious spinners in their village, Saturday finding them as engrossed in their work as on the other days of the week. At length one of them died, but on the Saturday evening following she appeared to the other, who, as usual, was busy at her wheel, and showing her burning hand, said:
‘See what I in hell have won,
Because on Saturday eve I spun.'”

Flax, nevertheless, is a lucky plant, for in Thuringia, when a young woman gets married, she places flax in her shoes as a charm against poverty. It is supposed, also, to have health-giving virtues; for in Germany, when an infant seems weakly and thrives slowly, it is placed naked upon the turf on Midsummer day, and flax-seed is sprinkled over it; the idea being that as the flax-seed grows so the infant will gradually grow stronger. Of the many beliefs attached to the ash-tree, we are told in the North of England that if the first parings of a child’s nails be buried beneath its roots, it will eventually turn out, to use the local phrase, a “top-singer,” and there is a popular superstition that wherever the purple honesty (Lunaria biennis) flourishes, the cultivators of the garden are noted for their honesty. The snapdragon, which in years gone by was much cultivated for its showy blossoms, was said to have a supernatural influence, and amongst other qualities to possess the power of destroying charms. Many further illustrations of this class of superstition might easily be added, so thickly interwoven are they with the history of most of our familiar wild-flowers. One further superstition may be noticed, an allusion to which occurs in “Henry V.” (Act i. sc. i):
“The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
Neighboured by fruit of baser quality;”

It having been the common notion that plants were affected by the neighbourhood of other plants to such an extent that they imbibed each other’s virtues and faults. Accordingly sweet flowers were planted near fruit-trees, with the idea of improving the flavour of the fruit; and, on the other hand, evil-smelling trees, like the elder, were carefully cleaned away from fruit-trees, lest they should become tainted. Further superstitions have been incidentally alluded to throughout the present volume, necessarily associated as they are with most sections of plant folk-lore. It should also be noticed that in the various folk-tales which have been collected together in recent years, many curious plant superstitions are introduced, although, to suit the surroundings of the story, they have only too frequently been modified, or the reverse. At the same time, embellishments of the kind are interesting, as showing how familiar these traditionary beliefs were in olden times to the story-teller, and how ready he was to avail himself of them.

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Fairy Plant Lore

Fairy Plant Lore

Many plants have gained notoriety from their connection with fairyland.

Although the belief in this romantic source of superstition has almost died out, yet it has left its traces in the numerous legends which have survived amongst us.

Thus the delicate white flowers of the wood-sorrel are known in Wales as “fairy bells,” from a belief once current that these tiny beings were summoned to their moonlight revels and gambols by these bells.

In Ireland they were supposed to ride to their scenes of merrymaking on the ragwort, hence known as the “fairies’ horse.” Cabbage-stalks, too, served them for steeds, and a story is told of a certain farmer who resided at Dundaniel, near Cork, and was considered to be under fairy control. For a long time he suffered from “the falling sickness,” owing to the long journeys which he was forced to make, night by night, with the fairy folk on one of his own cabbage stumps. Sometimes the good people made use of a straw, a blade of grass, or a fern, a further illustration of which is furnished by “The Witch of Fife:”

“The first leet night, quhan the new moon set,
Quhan all was douffe and mirk,
We saddled our naigis wi’ the moon-fern leif,
And rode fra Kilmerrin kirk.
Some horses were of the brume-cow framit,
and some of the greine bay tree;
but mine was made of ane humloke schaw,
and a stour stallion was he.”

In some folk-tales fairies are represented as employing nuts for their mode of conveyance, in allusion to which Shakespeare, in “Romeo and Juliet,” makes Mercutio speak of Queen Mab’s arrival in a nut-shell. Similarly the fairies selected certain plants for their attire. Although green seems to have been their popular colour, yet the fairies of the moon were often clad in heath-brown or lichen-dyed garments, whence the epithet of “Elfin-grey.” Their petticoats, for instance, were composed of the fox-glove, a flower in demand among Irish fairies for their gloves, and in some parts of that country for their caps, where it is nicknamed “Lusmore,” while the Cuscuta epithymum is known in Jersey as “fairies’ hair.” Their raiment was made of the fairy flax, and the wood-anemone, with its fragile blossoms, was supposed to afford them shelter in wet weather.

Shakespeare has represented Ariel reclining in “a cowslip’s bell,” and further speaks of the small crimson drops in its blossom as “gold coats spots”—”these be rubies, fairy favours.” And at the present day the cowslip is still known in Lincolnshire as the “fairy cup.” Its popular German name is “key-flower;” and no flower has had in that country so extensive an association with preternatural wealth.

A well-known legend relates how “Bertha” entices some favoured child by exquisite primroses to a doorway overgrown with flowers. This is the door to an enchanted castle. When the key-flower touches it, the door gently opens, and the favoured mortal passes to a room with vessels covered over with primroses, in which are treasures of gold and jewels. When the treasure is secured the primroses must be replaced, otherwise the finder will be for ever followed by a “black dog.”
Sometimes their mantles are made of the gossamer, the cobwebs which may be seen in large quantities on the furze bushes; and so of King Oberon we are told:

“A rich mantle did he wear,
Made of tinsel gossamer,
Bestarred over with a few
Diamond drops of morning dew.”

Tulips are the cradles in which the fairy tribe have lulled their offspring to rest, while the Pyrus japonica serves them for a fire. Their hat is supplied by the Peziza coccinea; and in Lincolnshire, writes Mr. Friend, “A kind of fungus like a cup or old-fashioned purse, with small objects inside, is called a fairy-purse.” When mending their clothes, the foxglove gives them thimbles; and many other flowers might be added which are equally in request for their various needs. It should be mentioned, however, that fairies, like witches, have a strange antipathy to yellow flowers, and rarely frequent localities where they grow.

In olden times, we read how in Scandinavia and Germany the rose was under the special protection of dwarfs and elves, who were ruled by the mighty King Laurin, the lord of the rose-garden:

“Four portals to the garden lead, and when the gates are
No living might dare touch a rose, ‘gainst his strict command
Whoe’er would break the golden gates, or cut the silken
Or who would dare to crush the flowers down beneath his
Soon for his pride would have to pledge a foot and hand;
Thus Laurin, king of Dwarfs, rules within his land.”

We may mention here that the beautiful white or yellow flowers that grow on the banks of lakes and rivers in Sweden are called “neck-roses,” memorials of the Neck, a water-elf, and the poisonous root of the water-hemlock was known as neck-root.

In Brittany and in some parts of Ireland the hawthorn, or, as it is popularly designated, the fairy-thorn, is a tree most especially in favour. On this account it is held highly dangerous to gather even a leaf “from certain old and solitary thorns which grow in sheltered hollows of the moorlands,” for these are the trysting-places of the fairy race. A trace of the same superstition existed in Scotland, as may be gathered from the subjoined extract from the “Scottish Statistical Report” of the year 1796, in connection with new parish:

“There is a quick thorn of a very antique appearance, for which the people have a superstitious veneration. They have a mortal dread to lop off or cut any part of it, and affirm with a religious horror that some persons, who had the temerity to hurt it, were afterwards severely punished for their sacrilege.”

One flower which, for some reason or other, is still held in special honour by them is the common stitchwort of our country hedges, and which the Devonshire peasant hesitates to pluck lest he should be pixy-led. A similar idea formerly prevailed in the Isle of Man in connection with the St. John’s wort. If any unwary traveller happened, after sunset, to tread on this plant, it was said that a fairy-horse would suddenly appear, and carry him about all night.

Wild thyme is another of their favourite plants, and Mr. Folkard notes that in Sicily rosemary is equally beloved; and that “the young fairies, under the guise of snakes, lie concealed under its branches.” According to a Netherlandish belief, the elf-leaf, or sorceresses’ plant, is particularly grateful to them, and therefore ought not to be plucked.
The four-leaved clover is a magic talisman which enables its wearer to detect the whereabouts of fairies, and was said only to grow in their haunts; in reference to which belief Lover thus writes:

“I’ll seek a four-leaved clover
In all the fairy dells,
And if I find the charmed leaf,
Oh, how I’ll weave my spells!”

And according to a Danish belief, any one wandering under an elder-bush at twelve o’clock on Midsummer Eve will see the king of fairyland pass by with all his retinue. Fairies’ haunts are mostly in picturesque spots (such as among the tufts of wild thyme); and the oak tree, both here and in Germany, has generally been their favourite abode, and hence the superstitious reverence with which certain trees are held, care being taken not to offend their mysterious inhabitants.

An immense deal of legendary lore has clustered round the so-called fairy rings—little circles of a brighter green in old pastures—within which the fairies were supposed to dance by night. This curious phenomenon, however, is owing to the outspread propagation of a particular mushroom, the fairy-ringed fungus, by which the ground is manured for a richer following vegetation. Amongst the many other conjectures as to the cause of these verdant circles, some have ascribed them to lightning, and others have maintained that they are produced by ants. In the “Tempest” (v. I) Prospero invokes the fairies as the “demi-puppets” that:

“By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites; and you, whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms.”

And in the “Merry Wives of Windsor” (v. 5) Mistress Quickly says:

“And nightly, meadow-fairies, look, you sing,
Like to the Garter’s compass, in a ring;
The expressure that it bears, green let it be,
More fertile-fresh than all the field to see.”

Drayton, in his “Nymphidia” (1. 69-72), tells how the fairies:

“In their courses make that round,
In meadows and in marshes found,
Of them so called the fayrie ground,
Of which they have the keeping.”

These fairy-rings have long been held in superstitious awe; and when in olden times May-dew was gathered by young ladies to improve their complexion, they carefully avoided even touching the grass within them, for fear of displeasing these little beings, and so losing their personal charms.

At the present day, too, the peasant asserts that no sheep nor cattle will browse on the mystic patches, a natural instinct warning them of their peculiar nature. A few miles from Alnwick was a fairy-ring, round which if people ran more than nine times, some evil was supposed to befall them.
It is generally agreed that fairies were extremely fond of dancing around oaks, and thus in addressing the monarch of the forest a poet has exclaimed:

“The fairies, from their nightly haunt,
In copse or dell, or round the trunk revered
Of Herne’s moon-silvered oak, shall chase away
Each fog, each blight, and dedicate to peace
Thy classic shade.”

In Sweden the miliary fever is said by the peasantry to be caused by the elf-mote or meeting with elves, as a remedy for which the lichen aphosus or lichen caninus is sought.

The toadstools often found near these so-called fairy-rings were also thought to be their workmanship, and in some localities are styled pixy-stools, and in the North of Wales “fairy-tables,” while the “cheeses,” or fruit of the mallow, are known in the North of England as “fairy-cheeses.”

A species of wood fungus found about the roots of old trees is designated “fairy-butter,” because after rain, and when in a certain degree of putrefaction, it is reduced to a consistency which, together with its colour, makes it not unlike butter. The fairy-butter of the Welsh is a substance found at a great depth in cavities of limestone rocks. Ritson, in his “Fairy Tales,” speaking of the fairies who frequented many parts of Durham, relates how “a woman who had been in their society challenged one of the guests whom she espied in the market selling fairy-butter,” an accusation, however, which was deeply resented.
Browne, in his “Britannia’s Pastorals,” makes the table on which they feast consist of:

“A little mushroom, that was now grown thinner
By being one time shaven for the dinner.”

Fairies have always been jealous of their rights, and are said to resent any infringement of their privileges, one of these being the property of fruit out of season. Any apples, too, remaining after the crop has been gathered in, they claim as their own; and hence, in the West of England, to ensure their goodwill and friendship, a few stray ones are purposely left on the trees. This may partially perhaps explain the ill-luck of plucking flowers out of season.

A Netherlandish piece of folk-lore informs us that certain wicked elves prepare poison in some plants. Hence experienced shepherds are careful not to let their flocks feed after sunset. One of these plants, they say, is night wort, “which belongs to the elves, and whoever touches it must die.” The disease known in Poland as “elf-lock” is said to be the work of evil fairies or demons, and is cured by burying thistle-seed in the ground. Similarly, in Iceland, says Mr. Conway, “the farmer guards the grass around his field lest the elves abiding in them invade his crops.” Likewise the globe-flower has been designated the troll-flower, from the malignant trolls or elves, on account of its poisonous qualities. On the other hand, the Bavarian peasant has a notion that the elves are very fond of strawberries; and in order that they may be good-humoured and bless his cows with abundance of milk, he is careful to tie a basket of this fruit between the cow’s horns.

Of the many legendary origins of the fairy tribe, there is a popular one abroad that mortals have frequently been transformed into these little beings through “eating of ambrosia or some peculiar kind of herb.”
According to a Cornish tradition, the fern is in some mysterious manner connected with the fairies; and a tale is told of a young woman who, when one day listlessly breaking off the fronds of fern as she sat resting by the wayside, was suddenly confronted by a “fairy widower,” who was in search of someone to attend to his little son. She accepted his offer, which was ratified by kissing a fern leaf and repeating this formula:

“For a year and a day
I promise to stay.”

Soon she was an inhabitant of fairyland, and was lost to mortal gaze until she had fulfilled her stipulated engagement.

In Germany we find a race of elves, somewhat like the dwarfs, popularly known as the Wood or Moss people. They are about the same size as children, “grey and old-looking, hairy, and clad in moss.” Their lives, like those of the Hamadryads, are attached to the trees; and “if any one causes by friction the inner bark to loosen a Wood-woman dies.” Their great enemy is the Wild Huntsman, who, driving invisibly through the air, pursues and kills them.

On one occasion a peasant, hearing the weird baying in a wood, joined in the cry; but on the following morning he found hanging at his stable door a quarter of a green Moss-woman as his share of the game. As a spell against the Wild Huntsman, the Moss-women sit in the middle of those trees upon which the woodcutter has placed a cross, indicating that they are to be hewn, thereby making sure of their safety.

Then, again, there is the old legend which tells how Brandan met a man on the sea, who was, “a thumb long, and floated on a leaf, holding a little bowl in his right hand and a pointer in his left; the pointer he kept dipping into the sea and letting water drop from it into the bowl; when the bowl was full, he emptied it out and began filling it again, his doom consisting in measuring the sea until the judgment-day.” This floating on the leaf is suggestive of ancient Indian myths, and reminds us of Brahma sitting on a lotus and floating across the sea. Vishnu, when, after Brahma’s death, the waters have covered all the worlds, sits in the shape of a tiny infant on a leaf of the fig tree, and floats on the sea of milk sucking the toe of his right foot.

Another tribe of water-fairies are the nixes, who frequently assume the appearance of beautiful maidens. On fine sunny days they sit on the banks of rivers or lakes, or on the branches of trees, combing and arranging their golden locks:

“Know you the Nixes, gay and fair?
Their eyes are black, and green their hair,
They lurk in sedgy shores.”

A fairy or water-sprite that resides in the neighbourhood of the Orkneys is popularly known as Tangie, so-called from tang,, the seaweed with which he is covered. Occasionally he makes his appearance as a little horse, and at other times as a man.

Then there are the wood and forest folk of Germany, spirits inhabiting the forests, who stood in friendly relation to man, but are now so disgusted with the faithless world, that they have retired from it. Hence their precept

“Peel no tree,
Relate no dream,
Pipe no bread, or
Bake no cumin in bread,
So will God help thee in thy need.”

On one occasion a “forest-wife,” who had just tasted a new baked-loaf, given as an offering, was heard screaming aloud:

“They’ve baken for me cumin bread,
That on this house brings great distress.”

The prosperity of the poor peasant was soon on the wane, and before long he was reduced to abject poverty. These legends, in addition to illustrating the fairy mythology of bygone years, are additionally interesting from their connection with the plants and flowers, most of which are familiar to us from our childhood.

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