Witch's Butter (Tremella mesenterica), Broughton - January 2010
Witch's Butter (Tremella mesenterica) is a strange fungi that feeds on other species of fungi. It is usually found on rotting wood which other species of fungi have long colonated. Witch's Butter is a decidedly odd looking fungi and is known by a vareity of names, including Faery Butter, Yellow Brains, Star Jelly and Sun Clumps.
Harebells, Mumbles Hill
During one of my regular walks on the Gower Peninsula, I was delighted to stumble across a patch of dainty Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia) in full bloom. These delicate flowers, which are amongst the most gorgeous wildflowers you can hope to discover along the whole of Gower Peninsula, are as rich in folklore are they are in beauty:
The flowering of a Bluebell wood is one of Britain's greatest natural displays. There really is something bewitching about the way a Bluebell wood comes to life after its winter slumber each year. This magical quality was not lost on our ancestors who believed numerous superstitions and folklore concerning Bluebell woods.
Such was the beauty of an ancient woodland decorated with a sweeping carpet of Bluebells, that it was considered by many to be of unearthly origin. Bluebell woods were considered very dangerous places by folklore. Faeries were said to live in these places and to walk into a Bluebell wood was to risk being whisked away into their Nether World!
St. John's Wort, Mumbles Hill
St. John's Wort is most commonly known today for being a herbal remedy for depression. But the plant's medicinal, and believed magickal properties, have been used throughout history as a prescription to improve a wide variety of physical, mental and spiritual conditions.
Blackthorn flowers have an ethereal glow to them. They almost light up a woodland, blossoming as they do at a time when few other trees, itself included, have even come into leaf. The effect is made all the more dramatic as it's white petals erupt from the darkest of leafless wood.
Blackthorn wood is the favoured wood for making walking sticks and Irish shillelaghs. In the making of shillelaghs, the Blackthorn's dark colour was often enhanced by smothering the wood in butter then placing it inside a chimney to cure. This contrast between the darkness of the Blackthorn and the vivid white of its blossom is not the only yin/yang aspect of this remarkable small tree. Whilst the flowers draw passers-by close to admire their beauty, its cruelly sharp thorns repel. These fierce looking thorns are associated both with the crown of thorns which Jesus bore at his crucifixion and the razor sharp thicket the fairy tale prince needed to cut through to save Sleeping Beauty from the evil spell cast upon her.
Poppies (Papaver rhoeas) are one of Britian's most vibrant and beautiful wild flowers. Given their delicate splendour, is is no surprise to find the flowers are rich in folklore and symbolism.
Intoxicated by its heady scent and dizzied by its vibrant colours, Faery passions are said to be roused wherever large carpets of Heather are found in a landscape. According to ancient lore, such spots mark the location of magical portels, bridging the eveyday world of people with the Faery realm.
A Rare Patch of White Heather, Rhossili Down, Gower
More popularly known by the darkly evocative name Deadly Nightshade, Atropa belladonna has also been called Devil's Herb, Sorcerer's Berry and Witch's Berry. These various name detail the plant's long association with pagan magic.
Warm Samhain Greetings to all. Tomorrow night is for me and many others one of the most important Sabbats of the Pagan wheel. Its the time we ask the Ancient Ones and the ancestors over to join us and we remember them (including pets in my case). But this night I would like to ask you all to ask the Olde Ones to send protection for the father of all trees ,the Oak.
Here in Cardiff in our Roath Park (this may well be in other parts of the country too) our Oaks have been struck with Sudden Oak Death. I was born here but I have never heard of any of our trees contacting that desease. Not so long ago it was the Larch and also I have heard that the Ash as also been struck with a desease.
So I would like to ask you all to mention the ash and the larch (if you are not already intending to) to include the oak tree in your rituals on Samhain eve.
Many warm and sacred Samhain blessings to all of you on here. BB X