Thursday, 8 December 2011

Spindle tree - a bright talisman for inspiration ...

The clashing colours of the open spindle berries covering a tree on the edge of my wood
   As the year is drawing to its close, the nights are long, and the woods bare of flowers, so the Spindle Tree comes into its own.  There’s many-a  tall shrubby tree around the edges of my wood, especially by the quarry, and they’re alight and  brilliant with darkest rose- pink and clashing orange four-lobed fruits. 

  A shrub of ancient Ogham, its name is Oir and it represents the letters ‘oi’ ,  it’s not often mentioned in tracts about magick, or as a faery plant . (You can learn lots about 'Ogham' and the 'Ogham Trees' here on my website).

   But -  I can assure you, faeries get such pleasure from its strange fruits – not to eat – we know they are poison for us  as well as to mortals! Carry a snippet of the wood as a charm for inspiration.

   We pick them for decoration – if we’re careful,  what could be brighter for the Full Moon this week (10th Dec with a partial eclipse) or the  Solstice to come?
(see more on my Moons Pages at my website)

  The illustration on the right is 'The Spindle Fairy Girl' and is from 'Dumpy Books for Children - A Flower Book', written in 1901 with pictures by Nellie Benson.
 The spindle’s folklore name is  Prickwood and it was used to make spindles for spinning wool and bobbins for lace-making – which are usually considered female crafts  and were of vital importance to everyday lives in ancient times. The hard wood can be whittled into a very sharp point and was also useful for sharp pegs and skewers.

Winter spindle fruits on trees in Sissinghurst Gardens, Kent
     This is NOT a plant to be used in faery spells – here is what it says in John Gerarde’s  great herbal of 1597 – “The shrub is hurtful to all things, as Theophrastus  writeth and namely to Goates. The fruit hereof, as he saith, killeth: so do the leaves and fruit destroy Goates especially, unless they scour upwards as well as downwards. If three or four of the fruits be given to a man, they purge both by vomit and stool.”
Don't say Muddypond didn't warn you!!

The Song of the Spindle Fairy
See the rose-berried Spindle
All to sunset colours turning,
Till the thicket seems to knindle,
Just as though the trees were burning.
While my berries split and show
Orange-coloured seeds aglow.
One by one my leaves must fall;
Soon the wind will take them all.
Soon must fairies shut their eyes
For the Winter's hushabies;
But, before the autumn goes,
Spindle turns to flame and rose!

Picture and verse from
'Flower Fairies of the Autumn'
Cecily Mary Barker

Traditional wooden spindles from 'Fairy Spindles'

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