I mentioned before that I might try developing a relationship with the invasive blackberry in my yard as a baneful plant. Well, this morning, when I woke up after not enough sleep and still pretty heavily drugged, I finally decided to take action on that. I went down, asked the bramble’s permission to take some, offered blood by pricking my thumb on its thorns, frankly didn’t wait longer enough or listen hard enough for an answer, and harvested some parts.
I didn’t wait and listen partially because I was very tired and heavily drugged (last night was bad, and it was full daylight and a lot of medication before I finally got to sleep), but the sections I chose came away easily in my hand, and took more blood than I had already offered, which I’ll take as a yes.
I took a section of vine, a curly section that was trying to root, and a curly section that had rooted and been torn up, presumably by my dog Uther. I also took ten 5-leaf clusters. At this time of year, of course, there are no flowers or berries. When spring and summer roll around, I’ll collect some of those to dry, too. I mean to make a jar with different parts of the plant all through its cycle to serve as a point of contact with its spirit. I’m hoping to develop a relationship with it such that I can use its invasive and prickly nature protectively.
The cultivar in my yard is Himalayan blackberry, which was introduced to Washington for fruit, but has run wild. Our mild winters aren’t enough for them to die back completely, so they continue to grow (albeit more slowly) through the winter). The stems and roots are very tough.
My blackberry comes in over the fence from the empty lot behind us. If I were to get rid of the blackberry in my yard, I could still reach the mother plant through that lot. Given that the dog no longer has access to more than a small corner of the yard, I am hoping to drive it back somewhat, even though I am trying to build a relationship. I may resort to goats.
My blackberry does indeed give fruit, and very tasty fruit it is, but hard to reach. As I said, I’ll have to brave the thorns this summer and fall for it, though, to complete the life cycle.
I really ought to have gotten pictures of the yard while I was up earlier. Oh well.
My copy of Paul Beyerls’ The Master Book of Herbalism, which is my go-to for magical uses of herbs and has been for at least fifteen years, gives the following information:
It is a plant of Venus in Aries… If any ask the reason why Venus is so prickly? Tell them ’tis because she is in the house of Mars.
The leaves of the bramble boiled in water, with honey, allum, and a little white wine added thereto, make a most excellent lotion or washing water to heale the sores in the mouth, the privie parts of man or woman, and the same decoction fastneth the teeth.
The Blackberry, or Bramble, growing in every English hedge-row, is too well-known to need description.
As mentioned in the description, passing through or beneath a tangle of Blackberry is quite difficult. It must be for this reason that old lore says that “creeping ‘neath the Bramble is a sure prevention agains disease.” They also say that Blackberry collected at just the right phase of the moon is a powerful charm against evil things which may be written against you, negative energies, or people working psychically to harm you. They usually neglect to mention the time, which would most likely be when the Moon and Venus are conjunct in Aries. And then one may wonder if it should be waxing or waning.
He also mentions the usefulness of blackberry (I think the leaves) in treating diarrhea, and the berries in treating people who are “run-down and anemic.” It has been used as a gargle for sore throats and laryngitis, and a strong infusion recommended for psoriasis.
Well, the Lore part is certainly the kind of thing I’m looking for, but having never taken an interest in astrology, I have no resources handy to tell me when I can find that conjunction. Anybody got anything? I think that Ephemeris.com is telling me that the moon is in Cancer and Venus in Capricorn at the moment. But what I really need is a tool that will let me put in the conjunction I want and it will tell me when that will next happen. Anybody know anything like that? The part about protection from "evil things which may be written against you" would be pretty handy by now. I've got some Redditors stalking me.
In the mean time, I’ll work on developing my relationship with the blackberry. Starting with making a tea of its leaves tonight and drinking it.
I did, by the way, get back to sleep after doing that, and all the part I harvested are now hanging in the closet of my ritual room with a fan going. When they’re thoroughly dried, I’ll start building that jar.
I’ve ordered seeds for Mandrake, Henbane, and Belladonna from Alchemy Works, with which I also hope to build relationship — although I won’t be drinking tea of those! Once they arrive, I’ll need to keep the seeds in water in the refrigerator for two weeks, changing the water daily, and then I’ll plant them in Jiffy pellets, feed them kelp solution, and go from there.
Eventually, I hope to have forked mandrake roots I can make alrauns from. An alraun in a poppet carved from a twisted and forked root, found or carved in a human-like form, that becomes a familiar spirit. They are not only made from mandrakes, but from plants like bryony, dandelion, thistle, and tree roots. I do mean to dig up some dandelion roots to work with this summer, and possibly even a thistle, since I have such large ones in my yard.
It feels good to be getting back into witchcraft.