Although Halloween, with it's trick-or-treat parties and pumpkin carving is not a traditionally British festival, All Soul's Day (2nd Nov) and All Saint's Day (1st Nov) are old Christian feast days that have become collectively entwined with All Hallow's Eve and it's associated folklore. Plants traditionally play an integral part in folklore and I have found it quite an eye-opener to find out what the scribes say about my latest subject, the blackberry or bramble.
Interestingly, according to some English folklore, passing under the archway formed by a bramble branch will cure (or prevent) all manner of afflictions including boils (of course). In Greek mythology, the hero Belleraphon was thrown into brambles when he dared to ride Pegasus to Mount Olympus, and was blinded by the thorns and wandered outcast and alone thereafter. Another tale says that Lucifer landed in brambles when he was cast down from heaven and thus cursed them so that they would be an ugly plant, (that's a bit harsh). It is said that he hates them so much, he stamps about on them on Michaelmas Day and after that, it's unlucky to harvest them. Other folklore says this happens on Halloween (ah there's the link).
|The thorns on the blackberry are extremely sharp and can be found on|
every part of the plant.
Tiny 'hook-like' barbs can even be found under the leaves, along the main ribs.
I may add a few more thorns here.
|The thorns develop right to the very tip of the plant.|
Just peeking in from the left is the new addition to the piece.
You can also see the grey wash.
Even so, blackberries were considered protective against earthbound spirits and vampires. If planted near a home, a vampire couldn't enter because he would obsessively count the berries and forget what he was doing. Spooky!
Less spooky is the fab news that my good friend Shevaun has just started her excellent blog. Shevaun has great knowledge and techniques that we can all learn from, and I am so delighted that she is now sharing her exquisitely observed studies with us. Do pay a visit to Botanical Sketches, you can see some beautiful work in progress just now.