Weeping Cherry

Week 47 of the PBP.

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Rose

Week 37 of the PBP.

Welp, I’m caught up through August! I feel like I actually may be able to make it all the way to Z. I’ve definitely entered the space of “good enough” with regards to this project. I’m trying to cut myself a little slack due to various upheavals since July, and I think it’s going to be ok.

So, back to the plants! The entry is for the rose, probably my favorite flower to grow. The colors and odors range across the visual and olfactory spectra, with new varieties being bred all the time. Roses can be old fashioned or timeless, prissy or wild. There’s a rose for every mood. My nana loved yellow roses; my mother loves pink; my favorite is flaming orange.

The epitome of beauty, I associate roses with Venus and Fire. While love spells first come to mind as a magical use for this plant, I’ve found her to be helpful with protective wards and purification waters. There are probably as many different kinds of magic for roses are there are varieties. Gentleness and strength are also the qualities of the rose, and being gentle with oneself is one of the first ways to becoming strong and supple rather than hard and brittle.

Qwert (apple)

Week 34 of the PBP.

Here’s another blatant use of ogham to fill in the lack of “Q” plants in this region!

My favorite tree growing up was an apple. It was a great climbing tree. I would sit up in its forked trunk for hours, looking at the azure sky through the shimmering leaves. It attracted all manner of critter to our backyard, from wasps to honeybees, squirrels to deer. My father didn’t believe in pruning, so it was a monster of a tree; he didn’t believe in spraying either (and didn’t know about lures and such for organic growing), so we rarely were able to eat any of the apples. But it was a constant companion throughout my childhood, until my parents finally had it taken down due to disease a few years ago.

I have some boughs that my father saved for me. I’m planning on turning them into wands eventually, once my skills are better. I associate the apple with Venus and Fire. Just like humans, each apple holds seeds that will create completely new varieties of trees. One friend of mine was horrified to find out that all the varieties of apples we eat are actually clones of a single tree. All MacIntosh have been grafted onto other root stock from the original MacIntosh tree, and cuttings from those trees have propagated yet more MacIntosh. But each Mac apple that we eat has seeds for a completely new offspring.

Apple is the ultimate example of unrealized potential in that sense. We think of there only being a few varieties, when in fact the possibilities are endless, but never planted.

Poke weed

Week 33 of the PBP.

Poke weed holds the dubious honor of being the first plant that I took it upon myself to identify because no one I talked to knew what it was. In a sense, it was the guardian to the world of knowledge through guidebooks. I checked out several from the school library, sitting with the plant for what seemed like hours, trying to get it to give up its name to me. I was more than a little thrilled to find out it was poisonous! Dangerous plants are always more glamorous, even at a young age.

Tall stands of poke weed grew around the elementary school. It was also the first plant I ever tried to turn into a spear. It was lightweight—a good quality for an aspiring fourth grade hunter—but its joints twisted and turned, which made it very hard to get it to fly true. Eventually the berries became currency, and were traded for other valuable commodities like acorns and bunches of garlic grass. I later encountered poke weed in the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, where she described it being used to paint the smile on a child’s doll.  We painted rocks and sticks with the mashed up berries quite a bit around the school yard, but never really graduated to dyeing anything other than our fingers.

Kobold gayfeather (liatris/loosestrife)

Week 23 of the PBP.

All right. This my first blatant use of a commercial name in order to make a plant fit into a letter. I really really wanted to talk about loosestrife, and this was the only way I could make it fit—there are surprisingly few plants in New England with either common or scientific names beginning with “k”!

In any case, this is an incredibly invasive plant, originally brought over as a medicinal herb. In August it turns many swampy areas in the Northeast a brilliant purple. There is a certain amount of irony that a plant named “loose strife” has inspired such a crusade against it!

Loosestrife is actually one of the plants I use magically on a regular basis, mainly as a charm to ease anxiety and tension. It’s a wonderful tool for this, and during Lughnasah I like to keep vases of it all over the house to mitigate the rising tempers of August heat. Because of its swampy habitat, I associate it with Water and with Venus, both because of its beauty and voluptuousness.