Thursday, 29 July 2021

Beautiful Poppies

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1-qd2g1xihx9Q67rQk0GW7WED5R3-s02m

Poppies are a common wildflower in many parts of the world, found in fields as well as gardens, and are available in a number of varieties. Their blooms may be single or double, and can be just about any colour. All parts of the plant are toxic, except for the seeds, which may be eaten.

In the U.K. common poppies flower from June to September, so they give me summer and harvest vibes. They will flower in cracks in the pavement, so as well as delicate beauty, they make me think of tenacity and determination, and success against all odds. They’re one of my favourite flowers precisely because of their tenacious nature. I admire their strength and ephemeral beauty.

Poppies are often associated with love, due to the red colour of “traditional” poppies, however the correspondences most associated with them are death and remembrance. The poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McRae references poppies growing between the graves of World War I military personnel, and nods to the sheer brutality of war. The associations with death and remembrance go back a long way - the Egyptians apparently used poopies in their funerary rites some 3000 years ago, and they represented eternal sleep to the Romans. Both cultures also recognised their association with new life: they made garlands of common poppies to celebrate the gods and ensure the fertility of their crops. In Greek mythology, Thanatos, the God of Death, wore a crown of poppies.

Here in the U.K. white poppies are worn - sometimes with the red poppy - which stand for three things: a commitment to peace, remembrance for all victims of war, and as a challenge to those who would celebrate or glamourise war. Purple poppies are worn to remember the animal victims of war. As the wife of a veteran, the poppy is an important symbol in our home.

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Moon
Element: Water
Magical Associations: love, fertility, death, peace, remembrance, ancestor work, imagination, strength, tenacity, determination, regeneration, success against the odds, summer, the harvest, strength

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Witch Book Wednesday

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1pPrjq63PWBYQUYpmnvYeLpzlcaIgJNkr

Witch Book Wednesday! Here’s my magickal reading stack for this week:

πŸ’œ The Book of Candle Magic by @madamepamita
πŸ’œ Spells, Charms, Talismans & Amulets by Pamela Ball
πŸ’œ The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies & Magic by GonzΓ‘lez-Whippler
πŸ’œ Spells for Peace of Mind by @cerridwen.greenleaf 
πŸ’œ Essential Oils by Neil’s Yard Remedies
πŸ’œ Neal’s Yard Remedies by Neal’s Yard Remedies

There’s a good mixture here; I’ll be mostly dipping in and out of for reference. I find that I read more recipe and spell books in the summer, as the days are longer and I have more energy to create stuff!

No doubt it will be a completely different pile next week! πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚

What are you reading this week?

I’d really like to know:

πŸ’œ What you are reading right now
πŸ’œ The witchy book you’ve had the longest
πŸ’œ A book you’d recommend to a beginner witch

If you’d like to share your magickal reading stack be sure to join Witch Book Wednesdays at @witch.with.books on Instagram by using the hashtags #witchbookwednesday and #witchwithbooks for a chance to be featured by the WWB crew.

Follow for Witchy content! @the_cemetery_witch
© Repost with clear, written credits.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Baphomet Explained

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1qvbx1TYAS358xzU6uZVNPIFe19Bdc9gn

Baphomet is often a misunderstood, and even feared, figure.

He is the ‘Sabbatical Goat’ incorporated into mystical traditions. He contains binary elements representing the equilibrium of opposites. In other words, duality.

He stands for good and evil, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, male and female, light and dark, life and death. He has a half-human, half-animal body.

He reminds us that we all have a ‘shadow’, and that these “halves” make a “whole”. 

He has ‘Solve’ and ‘Coagula’ (Solve et Coagula) inscriptions on each arm; this means ‘dissolve and coagulate’ - separate and join - processes involved in Alchemy, Shadow Work, and life.

Alchemy is the art of transformation; the process of breaking something down into its most basic parts before transforming it, magickally, into something else. An example is the destruction of ego before the realisation of the true self.

We must undertake the pain of Shadow Work and break ourselves down (and then build up) to become the most authentic, creative, energetic, awake, and together versions of ourselves.

Baphomet appears as the Devil card in the Rider Waite Tarot. Many have been wary of Baphomet, for fear that he was something entirely ‘dark’, completely missing the point that he just represents the ‘shadow’ part of our human form.

Baphomet is the profound message that all things must be in balance. You cannot truly experience pleasure without having experienced (at least some) pain, there is no light without dark, and there is no life without death. There is no human without Shadow. The ‘darker’ parts of us are what make us truly human. With this reminder we can find space and energy for Shadow Work, and self-love and self-acceptance.

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Wonderful Wolfsbane

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=179epaoPDiDNTueQoSADp7i1sdwkpTBdO

Wolfsbane, also known as aconite, monkshood, mousebane, pops, Cupid’s cap, flapdock, women’s bane, queen of poisons, devil’s helmet and blue rocket, belongs to the plant genus Aconitum; a group of plants which are all poisonous, with wolfsbane being one of the most toxic plants in the UK. 🚫

I haven’t managed to spot Aconitum napellus in the wild yet, but I did spy this Chinese aconite (Aconitum carmichaelii) at our local gardens, which I was really surprised to see! Isn’t she beautiful?

Serious poisoning by plants is rare in the UK, but the toxins of wolfsbane can enter the blood if protective clothing is not worn when handling. In 2014, a gardener in Hampshire, UK, died after brushing against it, which is extremely unusual, but shows the amount of care needed when handling these plants.

Aconite, along with other baneful herbs, is said to be a constituent of flying ointment, which is said to have been used by witches from the Late Middle Ages. This hallucinogenic ointment allowed the witches to astrally project; the witch’s consciousness “flying” off rather than their physical body.

Francis Bacon listed the ingredients of flying ointment as wolfsbane, “the fat of children digged out of their graves”, smallage (celery), cinquefoil (potentilla), and fine wheat (wheat flour).

Poisonous ingredients listed in flying ointments, past and present, include belladonna, henbane, mandrake, and hemlock.

Whilst I have a good general plant knowledge, I’m still learning about the baneful aspects of certain plants, and their history. One thing is for certain: baneful plants are absolutely beautiful.

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Monday, 12 July 2021

Witchy Birthday Cake

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1DoKP3vqpxze-Q0jFgpAFRrnDgJw_bzqH

Yesterday we went for a surprise birthday trip out and there were surprises galore!

My husband had planned an amazing trip to Stanton Moor to see the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, but he had also arranged for us to meet my best friend and her partner there - and they gave me this incredible cake.

Isn’t it amazing? It has sugar amethysts and is decorated with runes, ivy, candles and a pentagram - I was absolutely blown away πŸ˜­πŸ’œ it’s a total masterpiece.

We had a fantastic trip to this incredible place, and I’ll be sharing photos throughout the week.

Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend! πŸ’œ

Cake by Shannon Holdsworth 

Horseshoe Magick

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1hIPK23SZebkvY2V35_KJ26tJWa6mVnY2

Horseshoes have good luck status in England as Blacksmiths and Farriers are considered to be natural magicians. Horseshoes are displayed in a “U” shape, with the points upwards, so that the luck should not run out. It is considered very bad luck to have them pointing downwards.

Traditionally, only Smiths and Farriers may display a horseshoe downwards. Blacksmiths would have an upside-down horseshoe hung over their forge doors; their magical power pouring from the horseshoe on to the forge itself.

There is one other exception to this rule, though.

In my county we only display horseshoes downwards. It is found on houses, and above doorways. It is also upside-down on our county flag.

The people here believe that the Devil can’t make a home in the horseshoe this way up, and upside-down horseshoes bring good luck to us, much in the same way that upward horseshoes bring luck to the rest of the country.

We also have a tradition where any reigning monarch or peer of the realm who visits the county for the first time should present a horseshoe to the Lord of the Manor. This custom is over 500 years old and still continues today. There are now over 200 upside-down horseshoes on display at Oakham Castle, the oldest said to have been given by Edward IV in around 1470.

Valerie Worth, in the Crone’s Book of Words, gives a horseshoe spell to cure a headache. You hold an end in each hand and press the centre of the horseshoe against your forehead and say:

“Good metal loosed,
From horse’s hoof,
Draw from my brain, 
These nails of pain,
Cast them away,
Keep them away.”

Horseshoe traditions have also become popular for weddings. A bride carrying a horseshoe will bring good luck to both the occasion and the marriage. Sometimes this is a small symbol, made of silver, or porcelain hidden in the bouquet or carried alongside it. My grandmother carried several decorative horseshoes alongside her bouquet.

Do you have a horseshoe protecting your home? Which way up is it? Have you seen horseshoes at a wedding, or carried one yourself?

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Birthday Magick

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=12AgDdMKP0cCzF6-6Em0xpOLW2rFYugLb

Birthdays. What do you think of them?

I think of them as being a bit liminal. You have just completed a year’s cycle, and you are just starting a new year’s cycle; but you haven’t completed much of that journey. So whilst they might not be completely liminal, they do feel like an in-between to me. Not quite here, not quite there. But that’s just my own viewpoint.

I find them to be a reflective time, and carry an energy similar to some of the festivities in the Wheel. I find myself looking back at what I have (or have not) achieved, and what I want moving forwards.

I’ll be honest, birthdays are often a deeply difficult time for me. As I grow older I find these occasions more emotional. It is not the process of growing older. That is something I absolutely cherish, and I’m aware it’s a privilege denied to many; but it’s the realisation of the passing of time, and how I might have done things differently that plays on my mind. Even if many of these things have been beyond my control.

I take the day before a birthday to collect myself and get my thoughts in order. In the evening I sometimes do a little magick. On the day I often have a little cry, before getting on and enjoying it. I can’t help it, it’s just how these things flow.

Birthdays are an excellent time to create/perform self-love rituals. There’s no-one who can love you more than you!

Things you can include in a birthday ritual:
πŸŽ‚ Pampering
πŸŽ‚ Letters to the old, or new, you 
πŸŽ‚ Releasing or letting go of old habits, behaviours, and thoughts 
πŸŽ‚ Plans, ideas, intentions and wishes 
πŸŽ‚ Journalling 
πŸŽ‚ A special gift from you to you!

One thing I always concentrate on the day before a birthday is this thought:

We have immense personal power, and once we realise this, it’s much easier to tap into it. We have all the tools we need at our disposal to achieve anything we desire. We have the ability to transmute the airy energy of ideas, and manifest them into something solid, something real. What am I going to create? What do I want to achieve? What am I going to do?

What month is your birthday? Do you think they’re a good time for magick? Do you have any special birthday rituals?

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Lovely Lupins

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1ThPFBRvF0AJvrROpaYE3gwFbRZPIkVNF

The lupin, or lupine, is a genus of flowering plant in the legume family, with a rich and fascinating history. It was originally named from lupus, meaning wolf, but I have seen several explanations for its name.

Firstly, it has been suggested that it was named after the wolf because of its voracious nature. Secondly, that lupin was named after the wolf, because it was thought that both wolves and lupins kill livestock. Thirdly, because it was believed that lupins “wolfed” minerals and nutrients from the soil, when in actual fact they do the opposite.

It is traditionally used in protection rites and spells, and is said to absorb psychic and magickal energy.

Powder the leaves, roots, seeds, but despite it being used as a culinary plant around the world, please do NOT ingest it, as some lupins contain secondary compounds which can be poisonous.

I have not worked with lupin myself yet, but common correspondences associated with lupin are:

🌸 protection
🌸 balancing 
🌸 otherworld communication 
🌸 absorbing psychic “messes” 
🌸 admiration
🌸 creativity
🌸 animal healing, in particular dogs 
🌸 imagination 
🌸 happiness 
🌸 strength recovering from trauma 
🌸 new opportunities found via a positive outlook 
🌸 corresponds with 3rd eye chakra

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Experiencing the Land Wights

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1CctJK0B8R9mHSNkwxYxFt75I6H7N19m6

I’ve spoken before about land wights, the unique spirits that reside in natural things such as mineral, animal, herb, rock, plant, and stone. Collectively they form the genius loci, the spirit of a place.

Land wights are definitely the spirits that communicate with me most, and something which has developed as I have got older. I felt an instant connection to this place when I moved here ~ a later DNA test would reveal to me that many of my ancestors actually came from this area ~ and the longer I have spent time treading the land, the more information the land wights have passed to me.

It begun as information about the landscape, and moved on to the identification of plants. My plant knowledge has always been quite good, but it has sped up since I moved here. I feel like the land ~ the spirits residing within the land ~ are slowly revealing themselves to me, furthering my knowledge. They will say “I am an X” and when I go home and research, I find they are right.

It’s not just the identification of plants, it’s also their personalities. I get a certain feeling when I approach, spend time with, think about, or use a plant. These are distinct feelings or emotions that I simply have no human words for. They are very specific, and differ hugely from plant to plant. I suppose you could say it is their “essence”.

There is clearly more work to be done with this. There are hundreds of plants yet to be identified, and personalities to understand; and that’s before we get into the realm of using them magickally. What’s interesting is that as someone who has terrible cognitive issues ~ especially a terrible memory ~ one thing I CAN remember is the names of all these friends.

Have you ever felt instantly connected to a place? Did it reveal its secrets to you? Have you experienced what I am?

Apple Cake Recipe

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1CBc8Q5YPNAG3y-Ib0VlchWI0h4HRpIew

A blessed July everyone! 🌞

This is a post from the Solstice which I am only sharing on the website today:

“Today marks the longest day of the year. We celebrate the peak energy available at this time, but it is a bittersweet moment. Despite the joy and abundance of this time, the energetic scales are tipped; and once again we will begin the descent into darkness.

Whilst there is a definite sense of making merry at this time ~ celebrating the abundance of summer and enjoying time outside with friends and family ~ it can be a time tinged with sadness for many, including myself. For those of us with chronic illness who are solar powered, and are only really just starting to feel healthy, well and energised, it’s frustrating to know that the days will start to draw in, in a few days’ time.

But let us put those thoughts aside for now, and revel in this peak moment of light and warmth!

Rather than a traditional Honey Cake, I made an Apple Cake this year. This will grace our table many times between now and Samhain. In many ways it’s more like a pudding than a cake. It is delicious served warm with custard. I have tried this recipe successfully with Gluten-free flour, but not vegan substitutes. I’m sure it would work well.

πŸ₯£ 225g Self Raising Flour
πŸ₯£ 110g Caster Sugar 
πŸ₯£ 170g Bramley Apples, chopped 
πŸ₯£ 85g Butter, melted 
πŸ₯£ 150ml Milk
πŸ₯£ 1 egg 
πŸ₯£ 1 tsp Cinnamon

🌞 Line an 8 inch tin, preheat the oven to 200c 
🌞 Sift the flour into a bowl with the spice and sugar 
🌞 Beat the egg and add to the milk and melted butter 
🌞 Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, mix well 
🌞 Add the apple, mix well 
🌞 Spoon into the tin, sprinkle some sugar on top 
🌞 Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean

Happy Solstice everyone 🌞🌞

Sending love, light, and warm wishes on this, the longest of days; and a beautiful Winter Solstice to our brothers and sisters in the Southern Hemisphere.” 

Leicestershire & Rutland Leechcraft

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=17oud_dxoZcKmPRDOZg4gY3KZGnGSECCt

Whilst there are many parts of Leicestershire folklore that are also found in other parts of the country; some recorded folklore is specific to Leicestershire and the immediate district. Some of my favourite Leicestershire folklore is the wonderful, and often bizarre, leechcraft: healing or medical “cures”.

πŸ₯£ Rub a wart three times with the rind of stolen bacon. Nail the rind up on some outside wall, and, as it dries up, the wart will dry up also.

πŸ₯£ Charm against drunkenness: “Take the lungs of an hog; roast it; whosoever eateth thereof fasting shall not be drunk that day, how liberally soever hee takes his drinks.”

πŸ₯£ Swallowing shot will remedy “raisin’ o’ the loights” (heart-burn).

πŸ₯£ Get a black snail, rub it on the wart, then stick it on a thorn until it dies.

πŸ₯£ To cure whooping cough seat the patient on a donkey, with his face towards its tail. Give him a roast mouse to eat. He must not know what he's eating.

πŸ₯£ The Churchyard Mould Cure for rheumatism: bury the patient in the earth for two to three hours, naked, his face only uncovered. Repeat daily until the rheumatism is cured.

πŸ₯£  To cure a wart travel to an ash tree with some fresh pins. Stick a pin through the bark, and then into the wart until it produces pain. Take it out and stick it into the tree. Use a different pin for each wart. The warts will disappear in about six weeks.

πŸ₯£ Charming for whooping-cough and fits: the operator, generally an old woman, draws a circle round the sufferer’s face nine times with her fore-finger, pausing each time at the centre of the forehead and the chin, her lips moving silently during the performance. (It is believed the words of the charm were probably transmitted from mother to daughter as a treasure to be secretly guarded, and may now be irrecoverably lost).

πŸ₯£ When stung with a nettle find a dock leaf and beat the sting with the leaves, repeating the words "in dock, out nettle " — a word with every blow.

Sources: 
πŸ“• Leicestershire Legends, Folklore & Dialect 
πŸ“— County Folklore: Leicestershire & Rutland

The Witches of Belvoir

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1WjpLgXhEfmlPUU06BVUBdvcVJrfsrACE

“Surely... God will choke me on this bread if I am guilty!”


It was 1613, and in Langham, Rutland, lived Joan Flowers. She had two daughters, Philippa and Margaret, who worked for the Earl of Rutland who was seated at Belvoir Castle. 


Philippa helped in the nursery and Margaret was a poultry keeper and laundress until she was caught stealing eggs, and was dismissed from service. The Countess of Rutland refused to give her a character reference which meant she would be unable to find further employment with other local dignitaries.


Joan Flowers was absolutely enraged. Despite being poor she had built up good standing within her community, and she was angry that her daughter would be treated this way. 


She gathered her small coven. Along with Ellen Green of Stathern, Joan Willimott of Goadby, and Anne Baker of Bottesford, and her daughters; the six women climbed to the top of Blackberry Hill, a sinister spot rumoured to be a place of malevolent magick. Here they made a pact with the Devil that revenge would be taken on the Earl and Countess of Rutland, and their three children.


Philippa provided a glove belonging to Lord Ross, Henry Manners, their young son. Joan dipped it in boiling water and rubbed it along the back of her familiar, a black cat called Rutterkin, before pricking it with pins. A week later the child became ill and died. Joan took feathers from the quilt of the Earl and Countess, and boiled the feathers, mixing them with blood, declaring “may they have no more children.” 


The same was done with Francis Manners. He fell sick, but recovered. The witches were angry, and resorted to burying his glove in a dung heap, whereby Francis would fade as the glove decayed. Katherine Manners also started looking ill...


The witches were not secretive about what they were doing, and the news of the curse soon made it back to Belvoir Castle. In 1618, all six women were arrested and imprisoned at Lincoln Gaol. After questioning they were taken to the Lincoln Assizes. Joan Flowers maintained she was innocent, despite the evidence that was brought against her, and despite the boasting she had done.


In 1619, Joan stood before a packed court, having asked for bread to be supplied, and exclaimed in front of an audience sat on tenterhooks: 


“Surely... God will choke me on this bread if I am guilty!” 

She took a bite of the bread... and choked to death.


Joan Flowers’ daughters were found guilty and hanged at Lincoln Castle. It is not sure what happened to the others as it was not recorded, but their deaths did not save Francis Manners who died shortly after in 1620. 


A memorial to the Earl and his family can be found at Bottesford Church:


“He had two sonnes, both which dyed in their infancy by wicked practice and sorcerye”


Footnote: There is evidence to suggest that the Flower family were set up. The family were disliked by the staff at Belvoir Castle, and despite being herbal healers were seen in their local community as obnoxious and arrogant. Many witch trials involved local squabbles. There is evidence to suggest that the boys were actually put to death by the Duke of Buckingham, who wanted to marry the Earl of Rutland’s daughter so that he could inherit the Earl’s fortune. It is said that local people were scared of the Flowers family, but we must consider that these were poor, uneducated women who had to defend themselves in court, with the average trial lasting no more than 20 minutes. Joan Flowers is buried at the crossroads in Ancaster. 

The Leicester Chambermaid

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1d9b-zgGO8nDwK3KWPqy_JUoDLChTpTmj

“So all you brisk and lively blades I pray be ruled by me,
 
And look well into your bargains before you money pay; 

Or soon perhaps your folly will give you cause to cause to range,

For when you sport with pretty maids be sure you get your change!”

Jack was a butcher from London. He considered himself dapper, handsome - and clever. He was dispatched by the family business to Leicester. He had a good day at the cattle market, he gained his wares at a bargain price. He marvelled at himself. He was young, handsome, he had the “gift of the gab”, and he enjoyed the fruits that this skill brought him.

He checked into Queens, his inn for the night. He dined, he supped, and throughout the course of the night he heard whispers that the company of the serving girls could be bought for a small price. Except Bella. She was the niece of the landlord and considered herself above the market and cattle traders. Of course, for a young man like Jack, this was a challenge.

Bella, lush dark curls and pale skin, fell for Jack’s charms instantly. He was dressed in the latest London fashion, he had blonde hair and bright blue eyes, he spoke differently, and he had manners. He was full of tales of travel and adventure. He was so different to the country folk. Bella imagined herself marrying this young man, and moving to London to start a new life... wearing the latest dresses, and living in luxury.

Jack offered her a whole sovereign for what the girls offered for just a few small coins. What could the harm be...?

In the early hours Jack was caught creeping downstairs by the landlord who bellowed “you haven’t paid your bill!” Jack played the innocence card; maintaining that a whole sovereign had been paid to Bella, and that no change had been given to HIM.

Apologising profusely, the landlord called Bella down, who could hardly admit to what she had been doing all night, to corroborate Jack’s story, which she did so quietly in the landlord’s ear. Jack was offered his change, which he declined, and he left pleased with himself, a spring in his step, having gained quite the deal.


A year later, Jack was back at the cattle market, and at the close of day found that Queens was the only inn with a room. Was it a good idea? He wasn’t sure, but he thought to himself “what harm could a mere chambermaid do to the likes of me?”


He checked in, sat down right dinner, and he was halfway through this third pint when Bella appeared with a blonde haired child on her hip, which she promptly plonked on his knee. “What’s this?” He asked, aghast.

“Your change” replied Bella with a smile, “a whole sovereign you gave me, and here I am giving you your change!”


The entire inn erupted with her cleverness. The story spread around the town, where it has been told for many years, as warning to all parties that ALL things come at a price, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! 

Bird’s Foot Trefoil

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=14wKWJ9VzgE8yXsg11YWdkCmbEoUNv4Pf

Bird’s-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

This cheery little plant is one we have in abundance on the cemetery. It flowers in grassy areas between May and September. Native to Eurasia and North Africa, and found throughout mainland Europe, Asia, Africa, the US, and the tropics; it’s not difficult to see that it’s a member of the pea family.

The bird’s foot part of its name refers to the appearance of the seed pods. Five leaves are present, but three are held above the others, hence the “trefoil” part of the name.

It has an abundance of wonderful folk names: deervetch, lady’s slipper, lady’s shoes, granny’s toenails, butter and eggs, eggs and bacon, hen and chickens, cats claws, crow feet, crow toes, devil’s fingers, devil’s claws, king’s fingers, to name but a few.

In folklore the birds-foot trefoil was sometimes associated with evil. Its claw-like seed pods were compared to the Devil’s claws.

The theme of warning and protection comes up a lot with this plant. It has been suggested that bird’s-foot trefoil were woven into wreaths on Midsummer’s night, its three-lobed leaves reminiscent of the Holy Trinity and therefore offering protection; and U.K. schoolchildren used to pick these flowers to use as protective charms against their teachers’ anger.

“Here I dance in a dress like flames,
And laugh to think of my comical names.
Hoppetty hop, with nimble legs!
Some folks call me Bacon and Eggs!
While other people, it’s really true,
Tell me I’m Cuckoo’s Stockings too!
Over the hill I skip and prance;
I’m Lady’s Slipper, and so I dance,
Not like a lady, grand and proud,
But to the grasshoppers chirping loud.
My pods are shaped like dicky’s toes:
That is what Bird’s-Foot Trefoil shows;
This is the name which grown-ups use, but children may call me what they choose.”

~ Mary Cicely Barker, “The Song of the Bird’s-Foot Trefoil Fairy”

The Humble Primrose

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1ZXyFtO6XNKDh8yNes7EPzeE7IWCjByFE

Primrose (Primula vulgaris)

The name primrose comes from the Latin “prima rosa” meaning “first rose”, indicating that spring is generally the time for these beautiful plants to flower, although they sometimes open as early as December in the mildest areas of the U.K.

They’re found across the whole of Britain and Ireland, and are considered a favourite by many, including the many little creatures that depend on them for food, nectar and pollination. They are found in woodlands and by hedgerows and thrive in damp shade. 

There are lots of primrose recipes, but it’s illegal to pick or remove them from the wild as they’re currently protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Folklore surrounding primroses is mainly associated with faeries, and with life cut short.

Hanging primrose flowers outside your house is an invitation to faeries to come in, and touching a rock with a posy of primroses is a key; supposedly opening the doorway to the faerie realms. To receive a blessing from the faeries, primroses should be placed upon the doorstep, and at Beltane primroses and yellow gorse were often lain across the threshold to celebrate the spring and the encroaching summer. That said, as much energy has been spent trying to protect against faeries over the years as attracting them. In the National Folklore Collection in University College, Dublin, there can be found a piece of verse relating to Beltane and faeries:

“Guard the house with a string of primroses
on the first three days of May.
The fairies are said not to be able
to pass over or under this string.”

In Flora Britannica, Richard Mabel notes that in Victorian times it was common to plant primroses on the graves of children. There are definitely primroses dotted about on this cemetery, but I’m not sure if they correspond.

There are other customs related to death and primroses, meaning they provoke a similar feeling to blossom for me: they are representative of the ephemeral nature of life. πŸ’š