For it is a magic time of year,
mid-spring, even if you're not a Baseball fan.
Again the earth renews herself in cloak of green and colors bright,
again the flora and fauna of the land emerge from their secret
Winter places and dance the dance of rebirth, the dance of the
Sun, the dance of Life itself.
We have looked to Nature for help in our own Dance of Life since
first we stood erect upon this planet - tens of thousands of
years prior to the first written word we were dancing the Animal
Dances and worshiping trees, and of course what could be more
obviously of divine origin than those flowers and plants that
held the powers of life and death over us?
Let us journey back a few years, and see this magical world as
our ancestors did.
Most of us at one time or another have knocked on wood for good
luck - this custom dates back to the days when guardian spirits
lived in trees. Many primitive peoples believed that trees harbored
the souls of their own ancestors, and the Druids attributed special
magical powers to the Oak and the Rowan.
The Oak gave protection from lightning, and one could cure a
toothache by driving a nail into its trunk. Additionally, one
could preserve one's youth by keeping an acorn on one's person.
The Rowan was a good protection against witchcraft and evil,
and rowan twigs tied around a bucket of milk would prevent the
milk from going sour.
The old saying "An Apple a day keeps the doctor away"
comes from an ancient Viking custom of offering apples to the
gods in hopes of prolonging youth and postponing old age. A
girl who wished to discover who she would marry had only to peel
an apple in one continuous peel, throwing the result over her
shoulder. The letter formed by the fallen peel would be the
initial of her future husband.
Then we have daisies . . .
Mind well the first daisy of the year - it is lucky to step
on it, but not to pull it out of the ground, and very bad luck
for a small child to even touch it! Should anyone uproot this
first daisy, their children would grow up stunted.
Much as apples do, daisies
can also reveal to inquiring maids something of their eventual
marital status - but whereas the aforementioned fruit would determine
the groom's identity, daisies fortell when . . . to
wit, a girl need only to pick up a bunch of the flowers with
her eyes tightly shut. The number of flowers picked represents
the number of years before she will wed.
The common bean has a bit
more morbid an aura about it - for the souls of the dead are
believed to dwell in bean fields. Beans in general have a historic
association with Ghosts and Death. In addition, to sleep overnight
in a bean field is to risk going insane! The single good thing
associated with beans is that, if you spit a bean at the first
witch you see (for those of you who find yourselves continually
running into witches), you will be safe from Black Magic for
the rest of the day.
Those of you familiar with
Simon & Garfunkel will doubtless recall the song "Scarborough
Fair", with its refrain of "parsley sage rosemary &
thyme" . . . well, there seems to be a rather chilling
hidden meaning there, as both parsley and thyme are associated
with disaster and death! It is traditional in some areas to
throw thyme into a grave, and parsley causes doom if transplanted,
given away, or cut by a person in love.
As far as rosemary, all I've
discovered is that it is said to grow "only where the woman
rules the house", whereas Sage was thought to have magic
healing powers, curing leprosy and the common cold.
I am already at work on our
web-only June column, and if all goes well I can promise something
special . . .
If not, I'll dig up another
one from the dusty archives . . .