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The Magical Vine: Blackberry

Following the wheel of the year through the Celtic tree calendar, September 2nd begins the time of vine and its ogham character Muin. While the tree calendar is a modern construct, it holds meaning because of the concepts it has come to symbolize and the significance it has for twenty-first century magic, ritual, and everyday life.

This period (from September 2 to September 29) is associated with inner growth and energy. Like a vine, our paths do not usually take a straight course, however, we can empower ourselves to adapt and make changes in our lives.

While vine has come to include the grapevine, it actually refers to the blackberry vines that populated the hedgerows in the British Isles and formed thorny thickets. The name of the ogham character Muin comes from a Gaelic word meaning “thicket.” (Niall MacCoitir, Irish Trees: Myths, Legends & Folklore, 167.)Wine has been produced from blackberries for many centuries. Warm weather at the end of September was known as a blackberry summer.

In European folk medicine, the arching canes of blackberry vines were believed to have magical properties and people crept underneath the arches or passed children through gaps in the bush for particular cures. Blackberry bushes were also believed to protect against evil. In parts of England, they were sometimes planted or placed on graves with the belief that they would keep the dead in place.

Grow a blackberry bush on your property to attract fairies or set out a small bowl of berries as a token of friendship with them. Eat a handful of blackberries before magic work or when working with the fairy realm. Burn dried leaves in spells to attract money or sprinkle them around your property to draw luck. Because of the winding nature of brambles, this is an opportune time for binding spells.

Make a wreath with several prickly canes to hang above your altar or on your front door for protective energy. Place a blackberry cane alongside your altar to aid in grounding energy after ritual. Because blackberries are associated with Brigid, gather enough to make jam or wine and use it to honor her at Imbolc.

The American blackberry (Rubus villosus) and European blackberry (R. fruticosus) are also known as bramble, brambleberry, cloudberry, and dewberry. Blackberry bushes are sprawling shrubs with woody, arching stems called canes. Canes tend to take root where their tips rest on the ground. Blackberry leaves are dark green on top and pale underneath. White, five-petaled flowers grow in clusters at the ends of the stems. The berries change from green to red to black as they ripen. They are fully ripe when dull black, not glossy.

 

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  The author of over a dozen books, Sandra describes herself as an explorer of history, myth, and magic. Her writing has been featured in SageWoman, The Magical Times, The Portal, and Circle magazines, Utne Reader and Magical Buffet websites, and various Llewellyn almanacs. Although she is a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, she travels a solitary Goddess-centered path through the Druidic woods. She has lived in New York City, Europe, England, and now coastal New England where she lives in a Victorian-era house with her family, cats, and a couple of ghosts.  

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