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The Cottage Special Fairie Issue


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Fairy Plants

Folklore and legends of Fairies and their plants:

Bluebell~~Constancy and Kindness
Bluebells are also known as wood hyacinths and as Cuckoo's Boots. Crowtoes and Endymion (after the woodland lover of Diana, the goddess of hunting). The Scottish name for the plant is Deadmen's Bells, for to hear the ring of a bluebell is to hear one's death knell. Fairies
are summoned to their midnight revels by the ringing of these tiny flowers, which are reputed to be the most potent of all fairy flora. Legend has it that children who venture into bluebell glades will be held captive, while adults will be pixie-led, until met by another mortal and guided out.

Because fairies do not like to be seen by humans, they disappear in the blink of an eye, but some people believe that a four-leafed clover may prevent this and allow a mortal to see fairies in their invisible state. A four-leafed clover is famous for bringing luck and it gives a person the power to break fairy spells and see through
their magic.

Cowslip~~Grace and Pensiveness
Cowslips are an invaluable fairy flower, for their blossoms provide shelter from the rain. Above tufts of wrinkled oval leaves, their tall stems sway with parasol-like clusters of fragrant, buttery yellow flowers, each one painted with five tiny red dots ("rubies, faerie favours," according to Shakespeare). In England they are known as the Culver's Keys, for their heads resemble a bunch of keys and these are said to hold the power to unlock the way to fairy treasure.

Forget-Me-Not~~Love & Devotion
Fairy flowers may be divided into those that belong to them and those that give protection from them. Forget-me-nots are one of the latter group and like the cowslip have the power to unlock secret treasures, often supposed to be guarded by fairies or sprites. The delicate forget-me-not has long been the emblem of love and remembrance.

Foxgloves are universally reputed to be fairy plants and it is unlucky to pick them or bring them into your home, but you will please the fairy folk if you grow the tall foxglove in your garden. The flower derives its name from Little Folks-glove, since it is believed that the florets are worn by fairies, sometimes as bonnets, sometimes as gloves. The flower has many strange folk names, such as
Fairy Weed, Dead Men's Bellows, Bloody Man's Fingers and Witch's Thimble. The poison in the plant causes drunkenness and frenzy. But in Irish belief, the juice of ten foxglove leaves will cure a fairy-struck child. The juice is also an ingredient used by witches in the potion that helps them to fly. The little flecks on the flowers are said to be the fairies' fingerprints.

Like all thorn trees, the hawthorn is a sacred meeting place for fairies. It also has a reputation for being both sacred and unlucky. Among its many folk names are Whitehorn and May Blossom and its red fruit has been called Pixie Pears, Cuckoo's Beads and Fairy Thorn. Some country people in Europe still associate hawthorn flowers with the smell of the Black Death. It may be for this reason, or because
of other more ancient memories, that May Blossom is still considered unlucky to bring into the home. However, the hawthorn's powerful constituents have been used by herbalists for centuries as a cardiac tonic. The Druids also used these properties to strengthen the body in old age and their smiths used the wood to make the hottest fire-
wood known. Many Native Americans used the fruit of the hawthorn to make a winter cake. They also used its long, sharp spines as probes, awls and fish hooks.

Hazel~~Reconciliation & Peace
From the earliest times trees have been believed to be the homes of spirits, but some trees are more sacred than others. One of the most magical is the hazel, held by the Druids to be the tree of wisdom and knowledge, poetry and fire, beauty and fecundity. A forked hazel twig is used for water divining, and some believe that it can also find
gold. The hazel can offer protection from danger--a cap of hazel leaves and twigs ensures good luck and safety at sea, while a sprig of hazel will protect against lightning. According to ancient lore, the nuts from the hazel were dropped into the water to feed the sacred salmon of the Celts and these fish were then considered to be full of mystical knowledge. In England, the hazelnut has long been
associated with fertility--a bag of nuts bestowed upon a bride will ensure a fruitful marriage!

Heather~~Good Fortune & Solitude
Heather thrives on wide open windy moors, and so it has also become the symbol of solitude. Fairies who enjoy living undisturbed are said to feast on its stalks. Legend has it that a gift of white heather brings luck to both the giver and the receiver, whereas red heather is said to have been colored by heathens killed in battle by Christians. In ancient times the Danes brewed a powerful beer made from heather. And for centuries the heather flowers have also been a special beverage to the bee, which in return creates delightful heather honey!

Jasmine~~Affection & Elegance
The jasmine is a symbol of beauty in China and a sacred plant of India and Persia--Hindus call it the Moonlight of the Grove. The white jasmine is also sometimes known as the Star of Divine Hope and is associated with the purity of the Virgin Mary in Christianity. While the white jasmine is believed to symbolize deep affection, the yellow represents grace and elegance. According to folklore, to dream of jasmine means that a romance is blossoming.

Pansy~~Joy and Remembrance
Legend has it that Cupid brought color to the pansy with one of his arrows, and this flower is widely associated with love and the healing of an aching heart. The best-loved wild flowers accrue the most folk names and the pansy is certainly one of these! In addition to their most popular pseudonym of Heartsease, pansies have also been
called Love-in-Idleness. Three Faces in a Hood, Tickle my Fancy, and Jack Behind the Garden Gate, as well as being the notorious, mischievous Leap up and Kiss Me. Bold-faced and multicolored, they flower blithely from spring to snowfall and are used by the fairies as a love potion.

Peach Blossom~~Immortality
The peach tree, also called the Tree of the Fairy Fruit, is presumed to have originated in China. Peaches are the symbol of immortality in China because the peach tree of the gods, which grew in the mythical gardens of Hsi Wang Mu, the Royal Lady of the West, was said to bloom only once in 3000 years, yielding the ripened fruits of eternal life.

Primrose~~Youthfullness & Promise
Primroses make the invisible visible and to eat them is said to be a sure way to see the fairies. According to folklore you should count the number you first see each springtime, and if there are thirteen or more, you will be lucky all year. If a nosegay holds less than thirteen, it must be protected by violets, or it is risky to take
into church, or even into a house. If you lay a little posy upon your doorstep, fairies will cross your threshold as you sleep, to bless your home. In Ireland, primroses are scattered before the house door to ward off the fairies, who are not supposed to be able to pass them, while in Germany, the primrose is said to open hidden treasure
boxes. Some believe that the way to fairyland can be opened by touching a fairy rock with proper number of primroses in a posy--but the wrong number opens the door to doom!

If a rowan tree should take root in your garden, then your home and all who live there will be blessed, for the garden is under the special protection of the fairies, guarded against witchcraft and bad luck. For this reason the tree was traditionally planted around houses and in lonely places to deter evil spirits. The Celts believed
that no witches or evil spirits could cross a door over which a branch of rowan had been nailed. In some legends, the rowan has also been called the whispering tree because it has secrets to tell to those who will listen. The fruit and the bark of the rowan have medicinal powers--there are many old remedies made from this tree. In Scotland, fires made from rowan wood were used to protect the cattle
against evil fairy spirits, and it was believed that a "bewitched" horse could always be controlled by a rowan whip.

Silver Birch~~Patience
The silver birch is an emblem of everlasting summer that prevails in the spirit world. It is also the symbol of the festival of the first fruits known as Lammas-tide, when the goodness of Mother Earth is celebrated. May Day,White sun tide and Midsummer are also important days, for wearing a sprig of birch in your buttonhole will work as a love charm. And in winter, their stark beauty of the birch symbolizes the serenity of nature dormant and sleeping. Folklore says that garlands of silver birch by the front door keep demons away, but the spirit of the tree can inflict madness and death. The Native Americans used the bark of the silver birch to make the legendary birch-bark canoes, hence the name Canoe Birch. They also used strips
of white birch to make their wigwams, as well as baskets, mattresses and even writing paper.

Toadstool~~Magic & Temptation
Countless folk tales and songs link fairies with toadstools whose sudden appearance and rapid growth have always intrigued people--seemingly caused by some inexplicable, supernatural force. Their unearthly shapes and colors (sometimes quite luminous) and their often hallucinogenic properties are thought to be a sure sign that they are the creation of fairies! The Fairy Ring Mushroom is the one
which grows in a circular formation, marking the boundary of the fairies favorite dancing places. The enchanting timbre of the fairies' music and revelry can lure mortal passers-by inexorably into the ring for what may seem like minutes but is actually years, sometimes even forever!

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