Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mugworts in May

Mugworts in May: A Folklore of Herbs by Linda Ours Rago 1995

This woman is from West Virginia - eastern panhandle. It is cute little book of European herb lore. She contends that herbalism is part of Wise Woman traditions:

“New Englanders called the Wise Woman goodwife. In Virginia she was called granny. In the lowland South she was usually an African-American woman, enriching the European traditions with African wisdom and recipes.”

There is some great lore here such as stealing a plant will make it thrive better so take a cutting while I turn my head - it is bad luck to plant parsley seeds so put them on the fence post and let the wind sow them - basil seeds will germinate better if you apply verbal abuse while sowing .

She speaks of an oral (Anglo-Saxon) tradition of herbal charms among under-educated women. Here are a few ya may wanna use:

“Yarrow, yarrow tremble and sway
Tiny flowers bright and gay
Protect my garden night and day.”

“One for the rook, one for the crow’
One to die and one to grow
- traditional seed sowing charm

“Sowe peason and bean, in the wane of the moon,
Who soweth them sooner, he soweth too soon.”

“Fairies dance near thyme
Under the moon in June”

“Fairy folks
Are in old oaks”

“The Maypole is up
Now give me the cup.
I’ll drink to the garlands around it.
Be first to those
Whose hands did compose
The glory of the flowers that crown’d it.”
- traditional song recorded in 1657

“When the moon is at the full,
Mushrooms you may freely pull;
But when the moon is on the wane,
Wait were you to think to pluck again”

There are many more - charms to remember which woods burn best, charms to protect plants, divination charms, and love charms.

Finally there is a short ‘compendium of Magical Herbs’
A fun little book!

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