Love Thyself - Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me
Remember this rhyme? I love old sayings because in addition to being easy to remember; they are also concise, remain relevant and contain deeper meaning. When I was a kid, I was scared to say this to teasing bullies because I thought it might encourage them to start throwing sticks and stones ... instead of words!! However, this means that I understood the true essence of this age-old chant; which is really a reminder to the self to only fear what is physically harmful. While I might have been subjectively injured by their words ... it was the possible objective injury from sticks and stones that I really feared. I think that while politeness and good manners can be insisted upon, there is still a message here that is desperately needed in today's world.
If you ruminate on the "sticks and stones" rhyme, it becomes apparent that while you might not be able to control physical injury from someone hurtling hard objects at you (ie may break my bones), you certainly can control the power of someone to wound your psyche with their words (ie will never hurt me). The choice lies within us. Now I know this is easier said than done because we all know that words do hurt. Sure they do!! However, today's attempt to control another's speech by censoring writer's works of fiction, the insistence on replacing, redefining or adopting certain words, and even shutting down whole conversations (beyond requesting commonplace politeness and manners), is a misplaced attempt to instill kindness. It is not the way forward because what constitutes hurtful words, and even kindness as well, is very subjective. Instead we need to remember that the power lies within us to exercise our freedom of association and associate with whom and what thoughts we choose. This is especially important for children and teens which is probably why this was a nursery rhyme!
This Valentine's Day; may I humbly suggest that if you know a loved one who is allowing themselves to be constantly damaged by another's words, or who has bought into society's new reactive trend of "cancelling" people who politely and thoughtfully disagree with them; that it would be a sincerely loving gift to remind them that it is they who possess the power to ensure that "words will never hurt me" - not the other person. By allowing themselves to be hurt by words - they are handing that power over to others. What a silly thing to do! It is a fruitless and exhausting exercise to try and control another person's view of you. All that matters is what one thinks of one's self. Therein lies one of the secrets to self-esteem. Happy Valentine's Day!
Remember Hagrid in Harry Potter? When Draco called Hermione a "mudblood" (offensive word in the wizarding world), he said, "He did not!". Hagrid acknowledged Hermione's pain but then he advised, "Don't you think on it Hermione. Don't you think on it for one minute." This was incredibly insightful because he was instructing her not to allow others perceptions to determine how she perceived herself.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan, 2022
Don't Jinx Yourself - Touch Wood!
Ever hear the expression "Touch wood!" or "Knock on wood!" This was a common English phrase growing up in my home. The gist of the superstition, or attraction magic, goes something like this: when you have avoided misfortune and say something that could be perceived as bragging about your good luck; you are tempting fate and thus must immediately protect yourself from any repercussion or reversal of your good fortune, by touching or knocking on wood.
Before you utter these sorts of statements; make sure you say 'touch wood' and are actually touching something made of wood. Another version is to knock briskly on the wood. I'm extra careful to make sure that I am actually touching real wood as I don't believe laminates or MDFs hold the same magical properties! Since this practice may have arisen out of tree worship and a belief in dryads or tree spirits dwelling within each tree; it makes sense that only real wood will save you.
But what if you have said something that requires averting the ill will of the fates and no wood can be found within your sight? In that case, and that case only, you are allowed to knock on your head. This is based on the rather unflattering belief that if you are stupid, your head is made of wood. But when the stakes are this high ... being a little humble is in your best interest ... so knock away!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan, 2021
Bibliography: The Language of Flowers, Penhaligon's Scented Treasury of Verse and Prose, Sheila Pickles, 1989
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2019
St. Patrick's Day brings popular images of leprechauns - cute, comical and dancing about ... jealously protecting their pots o' gold. They are seen as "fiercely" sweet but being oh so terribly tiny, can only trick human beings, rather than fighting a fair fight. But don't forget that leprechauns are of the same ilk as banshees (who foretell death), changelings (ancient creatures who secretly take the place of human babies) and also of béfinds. Remember fairy godmother #13 who cursed Sleeping Beauty to die? Yeah, you want to keep on the good side of a béfind. Also, what we mortals call fairies were perhaps gods and goddesses; once upon a long time ago. Most are part of the Tuatha Dé Danann, an ancient race that arrived in Ireland many eons ago, or they are at least descended from them. So in order to please a leprechaun, we need to replace the current cute image and choose one that garners a bit more respect. He is a very small, old and wizened fairy who makes his home under hills or in fairy mounds. He smokes his pipe for pleasure and works diligently at repairing shoes ... or at least one shoe - why is it only one? I think it's a "smoke screen". The leprechaun is working ... but it is appearance only. He is actually waiting, observing, contemplating and if we can wait long enough, this wise old fellow might remove the pipe from his mouth and let us in on a few secrets about the world.
If you would like to gain favour with a leprechaun, I suggest the following:
May you secure the good luck blessings of your local leprechaun this St. Paddy's Day!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2019 / edited 2021
Apparently, there is a folklore tradition, in Britain and North America, wherein it is very good luck to say "white rabbits" or "rabbits" or "rabbits, rabbits, rabbits!", or any combination of these words three times, on the 1st day of any month. Three's the charm as they say and is always an important component to the success of any spell. They must be your first spoken words upon waking on the 1st day of the month. I've never heard of it before but am going to give it a go this Sunday!
How auspicious is it that the first day of our next month this year (April), is not only April's Fool's Day but also Easter Sunday. Can't get much luckier than that!
There are so many diverse symbolic meanings attached to the rabbit - and often contradictory ones. But if you think of both the prolific nature of bunnies and also the common "trickster" aspect of the rabbit - the above charm makes a lot of sense. It both invites bounty and good fortune for the month ... while at the same time stymieing the possibility of silly tricks those cunning characters might play!
Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
Good Luck Charms
Isn't it charming that many people throughout time have had or carried good luck charms? Four leaf clovers, pebbles and coins - anything really that symbolizes good fortune to the holder.
The four leaf clover is considered lucky because they grow few and far between in any bed of clover. The odds of finding one are stacked against the seeker, so it follows that the finder is inherently "lucky" to spot one.
Any stone can be considered lucky - they are too numerous to mention. But the one I remember most from childhood was the "wishing stone". Usually found by the ocean, the wishing stone is a smooth black rock, with a single white line running in a complete, unbroken circle around it - hold it in your hand and make a wish. A hag or "holey" stone (pictured above) is said to offer the wearer protection -- and sometimes offers a view to unseen worlds. Both are relatively easy to find so I think the magic is less in the finding but rather in the vast symbolism of the circle.....
And of course, lucky coins need no explanation - they are a very tangible symbol of wealth!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018 / edited 2023
Burying Bad Habits
Want a fun way to rid yourself of a bad habit this New Year? Why not try a little bit of sympathetic magic. Cut an apple in half, and "pour" in that bad habit, worry or negative feeling right into the apple's core. Put the two halves back together tightly. Tie with string, tape, or anything that works for you. Bury the apple in your back yard.
The reason this works, is because you are consciously identifying the problem, making a choice to remove it from yourself, and then discarding it into another space. Works best for little things.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
Some Mother Goose verses are real noodle-scratchers that puzzle us and beg to be deciphered ... this one, however, speaks plain and simple. Johnny would like to play outside and it would be a lot more pleasant to do so if it weren't raining.
Yet if you look closer, a spell emerges from this simple children's rhyme. I love to find the magic in the everyday around us!
A spell to charm away the rain:
"Rain, rain, go away;"
Here the wish, want or desire is clearly stated.
"Come again another day;"
Here a caveat is placed to ensure that there will be no unwanted consequences (eg drought).
"Little Johnny wants to play."
This provides the emotional charge or feeling required to make the spell work. Johnny is waiting in the garden on a bench with a "heart" motif; just as he himself puts his heart into his wish by visualizing himself at play. Bucket and spade at the ready illustrates his belief that his wish will come true.
All the elements of a successful spell are present. The whole thing rhymes which makes it easy to remember and recite. And as they say "3 times the charm". This is reflected in the amount of lines in the rhyme ... and reinforced by the number of ducklings.
Let's hope little Johnny gets his wish!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017 / edited 2019
This bit of magic comes from Derbyshire, England.
On St. Valentine's Day eve, walk in a clockwise circle around your local church, scattering a handful of hempseed behind you. Whilst scattering, make sure you chant:
"I sow a hempseed,
Hempseed I sow.
He who loves me best,
Come after and mow."
Run home quickly now and look over your shoulder. If a man begins to follow the path you made ... you will be married within the year.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017 / edited 2022
Last week, I wrote about Brownies, but have you ever heard of a Boggart? Unlike the helpful Brownie, the Boggart is a rather grumpy house fairy who generally causes a bit of mischief around the home. If you have one that is not too ornery, the most he will usually do is hide your things. This can still be very frustrating! The best thing to do is to stop wasting time and energy looking for the item and remember that 9 times out of 10, the Boggart will tire of his game and return the object. If you want to hurry the process along though, you can leave out another trinket in exchange that you think he might enjoy more; or better still, a little offering of bread and honey - especially if you suspect that he is really just a Brownie who, long ago, lost his way. Just remember: never, never say "thank you" when he returns the item. Boggarts really don't like that ....
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan, 2016, edited 2020 & 2021
Dartmoor Litany - A Protection Charm
Just make sure to say it three times in a row;
for "three times the charm" as you know.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2016 / edited 2019 & 2020
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