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Plant 'Spirit' Songs?

Sleepy Rosie 07 Dec 08 - 10:42 AM
Jack Campin 07 Dec 08 - 10:54 AM
VirginiaTam 07 Dec 08 - 11:24 AM
VirginiaTam 07 Dec 08 - 11:26 AM
VirginiaTam 07 Dec 08 - 11:38 AM
Sleepy Rosie 07 Dec 08 - 12:21 PM
VirginiaTam 07 Dec 08 - 12:41 PM
VirginiaTam 07 Dec 08 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,julia 07 Dec 08 - 01:01 PM
GUEST 07 Dec 08 - 01:16 PM
VirginiaTam 07 Dec 08 - 01:33 PM
Little Robyn 07 Dec 08 - 02:11 PM
GUEST,Bearheart 07 Dec 08 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,julia 08 Dec 08 - 11:27 AM
Joe Offer 08 Dec 08 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,julia 08 Dec 08 - 09:46 PM
Joybell 09 Dec 08 - 02:06 AM
Sleepy Rosie 09 Dec 08 - 04:27 AM
Sleepy Rosie 09 Dec 08 - 04:43 AM
GUEST,Bearheart 09 Dec 08 - 11:20 PM
ClaireBear 10 Dec 08 - 01:05 AM
Sleepy Rosie 10 Dec 08 - 06:40 AM
Sleepy Rosie 10 Dec 08 - 07:20 AM
VirginiaTam 10 Dec 08 - 07:43 AM
Sleepy Rosie 10 Dec 08 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,Bearheart 12 Dec 08 - 12:12 AM
Bearheart 11 Jan 09 - 10:08 PM
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Subject: Lost Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 10:42 AM

I'd really be interested to hear peoples suggestions for traditional songs which focus on plants, or contain snippets of folk tradition pertaining to plants.

I was watching a Ray Mears programme ages ago, and he was with an aged Aborigonal lady who was collecting Yams (I think), and as she was digging she was singing her tribes traditional song for gathering the Yam.

Later when our cuddly Mr. Mears was chatting with his charming old lodder sidekick, and they were eating some no-doubt hideous native foraged food (a la Richard Mabey), they were discussing how our islands (UK) must have had their own equivalent, traditional ceremonial type songs - for gathering Hawthorn and the Chestnut for example, and so on.

I was looking for YouTubes for the Ray Mears programme in quesion, but couldn't find it. I did however find this, which is on a similar tangent. And indeed quite wonderful in its own right: Shamans plant song from the Amazon

Anyway I was chatting to a friend of mine about this programme and some of the thoughts it raised, and we both began wondering what those long-lost songs might possibly have been like?

And are there any fragments or 'echoes' remaining in some of our traditional folk songs, which might give clues, or evoke that very ancient folk memory?

I wonder if anyone here has any thoughts?

Or would simply like to throw up some traditional songs that focus on plants, and on plant-based folk-lore?

Ta, Rosie


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 10:54 AM

John Barleycorn.
"Bubeles" (Yiddish song about potatoes).


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 11:24 AM

The Songs the Plants Taught Us: Authentic Ayahuasqueros Shamanic Healing Sessions Recorded Live in the Peruvian Amazon by anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna.

Link to site with audio files http://deoxy.org/icaro.htm


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 11:26 AM

Well now I feel dumb. Same song but more info available on the link I provided.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 11:38 AM

on the lighter side

It has medicinal and therapeutic properties as shown below

Three little children, lyin' in bed
Two were sick and the other 'most dead
Sent for the doctor and the doctor said,
"Give those children some short'nin' bread."

Mama's little baby loves short'nin', short'nin',
Mama's little baby loves short'nin' bread,
Mama's little baby loves short'nin', short'nin',
Mama's little baby loves short'nin' bread.

When those children, sick in bed,
Heard that talk about short'nin' bread,
Popped up well to dance and sing,
Skipped around and cut the pigeon wing.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 12:21 PM

What a dumbo I am, forgetting to ask about blinking agricultural songs!!! If there are remnants of such plant based folk history to be found in traditional song, well I guess that's gonna be where it's living! Off to read up on folklore Mudcatteries about John Barleycorn...

With the shortening bread, what's the thing about cutting the pigeon wing all about...? Though in seriousness, I can see why such a food would have had "healing" (chicken soup style) properties and have been used as a foodstuff for invalids. Lots of easily digested carbs and fat. It is rather like a folk-song remedy for poor people.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 12:41 PM

Wow I am hooked on this one. Fascinating stuff found here - Udeghe Songs and Stories travel to Canada

SNIP

"For Canadian and American First Nations people, especially in the west, public performance involves complex issues of song and story ownership by individuals and clans. Outsiders (including native people from other clans or nations) do not have the right to record or perform them and can cause grave offense by doing so."

SNIP

One Yukon elder expressed her contempt for those who sing in public describing private events and feelings outside the song's proper context. She said, "It's just like radio," meaning the singer was foolish to sing without knowing where the song was going, who would hear it, and how they would accept it. Such things should stay within their own circles. .......

Because words and musical sounds are so powerful, we need to be very careful and aware about how we use them. My Udeghe friends agree that it is dangerous to speak in broad circles about certain spiritual matters although this does not affect their public storytelling and singing since they choose their material accordingly. In my experience, the peoples of the Amur are most cautious with personal life stories about shamans, and about the use of plants and other methods of spiritual healing. In Chukotka and other areas where people have personal songs often given to them at birth, singers I've heard have asked permission before singing someone else's song out of respect for the composer.

A song is perceived as having greater truth than the spoken word, probably because of its greater emotional power and connection with spirit.....


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 12:43 PM

cut de pigeon wing is linked armed dance step I think. I can't be bothered to google it. Got to look up more on Udeghe.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: GUEST,julia
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 01:01 PM

What about the tradition of wassailing the apple trees to get them to bear?
Old apple tree, we'll wassail thee
And hoping thou wilt bear.
The Lord does know where we shall be
To be merry another year.
To blow well and to bear well
And so merry let us be.
Let every man drink up his cup
And health to the old apple tree.


Or this?
Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wandering so fairly to be seen

Chorus:
Our jolly wassail, our jolly wassail,
Love and joy come to you,
And to our wassail bough;
Pray God bless you and send you a happy New Year
--------------
There is no Rose
Lo, How Rose
Green Gro'th the Holly
The Holly and the Ivy
Sans day carol (The Holly bears a Berry)
--------

Good Luck to the Barley Mow
The Barley Song
"Oh the wheat is like a rich man that's sleek and well to do
And the oats are like a pack of girls
Laughing and dancing too
While the rye is like and old man that's sulky mean and small
And the ripe and bearded barley is monarch of them all"

-----------
Scarborough Fair and variants
Sweet Thyme, Let no man steal your thyme,Flowers & Weeds, Seeds of Love etc

Another one I really like is the "Gairdener Child"

Songs with Roses & Thorns

Best- Julia


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 01:16 PM

And lots of songs for gathering in the May!
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 01:33 PM

Now The Green Blade Riseth

Wild Mountain Thyme

Country Life


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 02:11 PM

Who pinched my cookie?
Lots of may gathering activities on this thread and all the threads listed at the top of it as well.

MAY DAY CAROL

I have been wandering all this night
And some time of this day
And now returning home again
I've brought you a branch of May

DRAWING NEARER TO THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY
(The Copper Family)

Rise up the members of this house
Together come as we
For the summer springs so fresh and green and gay
We'll sing you all a blossom
And a bud on every spring
Drawing near to the merry month of May

Robyn


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: GUEST,Bearheart
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 04:06 PM

I am an herbalist and teach plant spirit work, and have long been interested in the traditional practices for working with medicinal plants not only in shamanically active cultures but in Europe, where shamnism has gone underground.

Do hope folks will keep this thread up.

There are a lot of folk traditions in the British Isles and elsewhere (my mother's people come from Hungary and I know they did it too) which involve singing songs to plants during harvesting, especially if they were to be used in a special way. Or songs sung while using plants or foods (apples for instance)while doing certain things, like divining the name of the person someone will marry. We think of them as kid's games now.

Unfortunately other obligations are keeping me busy, and I'm without my personal computer for a time, but I know there is lots of source material out there.

I think I remember a long time ago seeing articles in the Folklore Journal...


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Subject: ADD: A Blessed Bird....
From: GUEST,julia
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 11:27 AM

sorry abut the bogus posts- hit the wrong key
Just found this - a Barleycorn/ Jesus combination


Words and Music: English Traditional, Before 1536

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 186.

1. On Christes day, I understand,
An ear of wheat of a maid sprang,
Thirty winters on earth to stand,
    To make us bread, all to His pay.1
       A blessed bird, as I you say,
       That died and rose on Good Friday.

2. This corn was reapen and laid to ground,
Full sore beaten and faste bound
Unto a pillar with cordes round,
    At His finger's ends the blood ran out that day.
       A blessed bird, as I you say,
       That died and rose on Good Friday.

3. This corn was reapen with great envy
Upon the Mount of Calvary;
Token He shoed on Shere-Thursday,
    Maundy He gave to His disciples there.
       A blessed bird, as I you say,
       That died and rose on Good Friday.

4. Jesu upon His body the Cross bare;
Water and blood came from Him there;
This corn was scourged all in fere;
    Till it waxed blood-red.
       A blessed bird, as I you say,
       That died and rose on Good Friday.

5. A crowne of thorns set on His head,
And He was done on the Rood,
And beaten till His body was bloody-red;
    Thus they beat Jesu, our debt to pay.
       A blessed bird, as I you say,
       That died and rose on Good Friday.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 06:35 PM

Julia, I was going to ask you the title of the song you posted, but I found Rickert's Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 complet in two locations:
The first text looks better than the second, which is raw OCR.

Anyhow, Rickert calls the song, "A blessed bird, as I you say, That died and rose on Good Friday"
-which is quite a mouthful.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: GUEST,julia
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 09:46 PM

Thanks! There are a bunch of goodies in there... many of the titles are not at all descriptive of the contents of the song. It's surely a fun jaunt through some ancient weirdness, though! *grin*
cheers- J


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Joybell
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 02:06 AM

"Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May". Has a dance that goes with it that became an American play-party.
There is also another play-party -- "Way Down Yonder in the Paw-Paw Patch".

Among the Child Ballads there's:
"The Devil's Nine Questions" - parsley, sage etc.
"The Gardner"

"All Around my Hat" A 19th century popular song that has older elements.
"The Holly and the Ivy"
"Sprig of Thyme"
"The Seeds of Love"
"The Three Sisters" - Cornish -- has a muddled refrain -- Jennifer, Gentle, and Rosemary -- which may once have been plant names.

Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 04:27 AM

VTam, very ineresting little essay you posted there which touches oddly enough on other interests of mine.

I like this bit: "The nimanku are magic tales whose subjects go back to the time of creation, in which human beings interact with gods and spirits. Music is the language of spirits and so to communicate with them humans must also use music. Valentina included the song interludes which frequently punctuate that form, although using them in ways that may not be traditional, for example using the song to tell the whole story. This usually makes the story shorter and is part of adapting to a staged presentation. (The legends, telungu, can be told entirely in a speaking voice, or entirely sung. In this case, the singing aids the listener's memory.) The song interludes in the nimanku contain special words with no known meaning but which have rhythmic sounds and seem to belong to specific hero/ines and storytellers. These words are part of the unique melodic motifs each storyteller uses."

Music is the language of the spirits, and the story's contain specific melodic motifs which belong to particular supernatural beings. So there are magical keys or codes woven into the tale, which take it out of the ordinary.

I've always wondered about the magical storytelling/singing of Bards/Druids. This song from John Mathews 'Bardic Sourcebook' which apparently contains a magical curse encrypted in the language, had me falling about when I first read it. But would have been a very grim pronouncement upon an Irish King.

Overtly it reads thusly:

A hero of fortune art though Hugh
Though daring, determined foe,
Thy goodness as the great ocean;
Thou canst not be subdued,
Thou canst not be impeeded,
O Hugh, son of Druach the dark.
Good and great his substance,
Without censure, and without reproach
Thou sun after leaving its stars
Which is aweful to me
Thou white chess board
We will return O Hero.

But in the 'Dark Speech', reads rather differently:

Aedh mic Duach duibh
you career no one celebrates
you house of tiny winecups
you giver of a soon eaten lunch
You frightened pale sheep
that ploughmen will dine with
you famine, grey as grease
from a cracked-legged brass candlestick
you hoste of cold feasts
provider of crumbs
you entertainer of the black beetle
you disgrace, you yeaaeh!

Wonderful! I so love the 'house of tiny wine cups'! What a condemnation.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 04:43 AM

Bearheart, that's very interesting to hear your personal story there. May I ask whereabouts you are based and where you work? I appreciate that you may not be able to reply further to this thread, but would love to hear more from you on this matter, if and when you are able. If this thread disappears or you prefer not to post onlist, feel free to PM me at any point when you may be able.

Julia, a lovely Barley Christ Carol there.

Some interesting suggestions so far. I'd love to read an article researching some of the folk traditions around singing to/about plants which are being gathered or used for a purpose.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: GUEST,Bearheart
Date: 09 Dec 08 - 11:20 PM

Hi Rosie,
Thanks for your interest. I am in southern Ohio, on the edge of the Appalachian mountains, I live in the woods about 10 miles from a small college town. I do a lot of my work here, maintaining an herb garden with about 40 medicinal herbs. Very interested in the Celtic tradition, partly because it's more accessible than my own ancestral one. The tiny community I live in (New Marshfield) was settled mostly by Welsh, Scots and Irish folks wmployed as coal miners and farmers. I alsomtravel and teach, mostly in the eastern and midwestern US, occasionally in Britain (we have a good friend there who has studied with us and sponsors us).

A few years ago I learnt Faery Doctoring, and there are a lot of parallels with some of the other native healing traditions. While I don't do so much of my herbal work fron that perspective, it's important to acknowledge that in some traditions, the spirit of the plant is what effects the healing, not the physical properties, and of course the Fey are guardians of the plant realm-- many species are believed to have their own Fey spirits who must be honored-- the Elder for instance-- and in the old days certain trees could only be cut (if at all) when certain rites were performed, lest the Fey be offended. But you probably know this!

The importance of song in healing can't be over-emphasized, and particularly amongst the traditions that honor or work with the bear there are many plant power songs. Bears are known everywhere for their ability to know the healing plants. There are a lot of good references in a book called "Giving Voice to Bear".

Once I get my computer back and can PM again I'd be happy to correspond. THanks for the invitation...


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: ClaireBear
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 01:05 AM

This song dates from about 1600. It was printed in Robin Goodfellow: commonly called Hob-Goblin, with his mad pranks and merry jests, published in 1628. Is it a recipe for some sort of herbal remedy? Is it nonsense?

Hope Mirrlees wove it cleverly into her 1923 novel Lud-in-the-Mist, which is where I learned it; its earlier provenance I discovered more recently.

ROBIN GOODFELLOW

-- Anonymous

And can the physician make sick men well?
And can the magician a fortune divine?
Without lily, germander, and sops-in-wine,
With sweet-briar and bonfire
And strawberry wire and columbine.

With in and out, in and out, round as a ball,
With hither and thither, as straight as a line,
With lily, germander, and sops-in-wine,
With sweet-briar and bonfire
And strawberry wire and columbine.

When Saturn did live, there lived no poor,
The king and the beggar with roots did dine,
With lily, germander, and sops-in-wine,
With sweet-briar and bonfire
And strawberry wire and columbine.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 06:40 AM

ClairBear Robin Goodfellow is quite a fascinating little riddle isn't it! I'd guess you're right about there being somekind of remedy or recipe contained in the verse. The first verse seems to be praising the powers of herbs, for without them, the healer couldn't heal and the fortune teller could not foretell? But the last verse is very intriguing. When Saturn did live? So a shift back to an earlier period in history where all are seemingly equal, for we go on to a line about Kings and Beggars dining on the same simple plant materials. Roots in particular would come under the governance of Saturn. But I can't quite figure what the reference to Saturn means, because in this context he is cited as being a beneficial principle, yet traditionally would have been considered 'The Greater Malific'. I think we could probably do with a Hobbit to 'riddle me this'.

Bearheart, thanks for that, all very interesting. Yes, my Mother grew up in Ireland believing in the Fey and she said she saw one as a child with her grandad once. A little brown man who was there one moment and gone the next. Likewise an aunt of mine who was well travelled and very down to earth, said she saw a full size green skinned winged fairy while she was on a boat going down the Amazon. She said this fairy figure seemed to just slip off a branch and suddenly appeared in the jungle.. To dissapear again just as soon as she'd regained herself. Regards the Fairy Faith in Ireland, I think there are still a few who hold to the traditions of never harming a fairy tree or a fairy mound. But from what I hear, the younger generations are no longer holding to their grandparents folkloric traditions.
With particular regards to ancient traditions of singing to plants, it chimes something for me. I personally believe that all of Nature is itself in a condition of constant 'song' so to speak, the song of creation is in a way constantly surrounding us. But we must stop and listen deeply in order to hear. Anyone who has sat beneath a weeping willow beside a stream, as a breeze gently plays through the branches will have heard it, though maybe not recognised it in the same terms that I tend do :-)


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 07:20 AM

Bearheart again, just thought I'd suggest a book for your own field of work, which focuses upon European folkloric traditions pertaining to herbs and healing, which might be of possible interest to you? It's called 'Witchcraft Medicine - Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices and Forbidden Plants.' By: Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch and Wolf-Dieter Storl. A fascinating scholarly read by a very eclectic group of specialist authors. It might possibly be a bit out of tangent with your own interests, and it's possibly too 'female' biased. But it's a wonderful poetic study of what we may think of as early European shamanic herbalism (diabolised into 'witchcraft'). I'll let the poor Mudcat return to folk music now... Be interesting to continue the conversation offlist if you fancy though, Cheers Rosie


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 07:43 AM

During a Cornish holiday in a very old cottage (fishermans home) in Mevagissey, I sustained 3 highly questionable injuires* on the 1st day.   I put out dish of water and biscuit on the hearth and was not troubled for the rest of my stay. I believe in Piskies.

*all injuries sustained in kitchen in the space of a half and hour.

1. burned inside of my right forearm with hot frying pan. Don't know how I managed it, still have the scar.

2. knife jumped out of my hand while I was chopping apples (like someone grabbed it) and landed point down in my upper thigh. I was standing the trajectory was as a thrown knife not a falling one.

3. fell off (somebody grabbed my ankle) last but one step of stairs leading down into kitchen and bashed my knee against the storage heater. This was the last and worst injury producing a multihued goose egg.

After setting out water and food, the remainder of holiday passed without incident.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 10 Dec 08 - 08:06 AM

My mother chopped down an Elder tree that was in the backyard within a few feet of the house shortly before she became increasingly ill and then died very suddenly and unexpectedly.

I remember feeling a bit uncomfortable with the warning stories around doing such things, and saying to her at the time she cut the Elder down - "That's supposed to be extremely bad luck Mum. Are you sure about it? You need to be careful about angering the 'Elder Mother'. You should probably at least apologise or something."

At the time the act of chopping down a tree so deeply steeped in tradition made me slighly perterbed, though I didn't dwell on it too much. But it's something I won't forget in a hurry, and I know I'll pay due attention to such seemingly superstitious things for myself in future.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: GUEST,Bearheart
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 12:12 AM

Rosie you can email me at bekki@church-of-earth-healing.org

Very interested in the story about the Elder and your mother... not the first time I had heard that cutting an Elder is bad luck. I have a strong connection to that tree, and we have many American Elders growing by our creek, and a European Elder I bought from a nursery catalog. I love them in bloom, we make medicine from the flowers and also eat the blossoms fried with an egg batter.

We always make offerings to the plant spirits before we make medicine, also to the spirits of the land. There is a wild rose arbor in one corner of my herb garden which backs onto the hill where the woods begins, I have always felt that corner particularly belongs to the Fey. Even though I'm not fond of the rose bush I can't bring myself to cut it down, I feel like it is theirs and I would be betraying a trust if I did so. I also feel that they really like to be sung to back there. There's also a special stone there for offerings.
Virginia-- I've hear they like milk or cream, so that's what I usually give them, do you think it matters what we give them?

Rosie I will email this thread to my husband Crow and see if he can find that book, he's in England presently. Also he might have some thoughts about all of this to contribute.

Clairebear interesting song, I'm no scholar of that period, but somewhat familiar with the astrological assignment of rulerships to herbs and plants-- I'd guess that there might be a relationship between the body parts associated with Saturn (bones, particularly knees) for healing,or magical uses of plants that might have a Saturn rulership or affinity-- I just don't know much about the plants mentioned in the song. But Culpepper's Herbal might refer to some of them. And Maude Grieve's Herbal refers to Culpeper too I think.

Looking forward to having some time in January to check out the links and songs in some of the previous posts.


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Subject: RE: Plant 'Spirit' Songs?
From: Bearheart
Date: 11 Jan 09 - 10:08 PM

Rosie, my Dad showed me a site about Hans Christian Anderson, Danish story teller and there is a story of his called the Elder Tree Mother
I think you would find interesting, here's the URL:

http://hca.heindorffhus.dk/frame-Andersen18-ElderTreeMother.htm

Very much about plant spirits and very much like the old Celtic lore I've seen...

Not a song but definitely oral tradition!

Bekki


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