Monday, January 10, 2011

Losing Heather*

If I knew t'would soon be raining
I would have carried an umbrella.
Had I been told about the pain
I'd never have been convinced to tell a
a whispered spell
a wishful veil
a fantasy fell
from filling eyes
beyond the well-
ing up of tears
amidst the sell-
ing of the years
her flowered first
and then the bell
the toll of truth
the tick of time
of virgin youth
of virgin mine
of sweet vermouth
of sour wine
of bitter truth
of sowing seeds
amidst the pines
of taking leave
of the divine
and naivete
about the weather
is no excuse
for losing heather*.

*Heather’s scientific name, “Calluna vulgaris,” comes from the Greek “Kallune,” meaning “to clean or brush,” and the Latin “vulgaris,” meaning “common,” as heather twigs were once used for making brooms. Native to Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, Russia and North America, heather branches are also said to have been used to make baskets, rope, bedding, as thatch for roofs and even to flavor beer or tea. Symbolizing admiration and good luck, heather is also believed to have protective powers. The ancient Celts recognized it served as a great cleansing agent, breaking up blockages found in the body. Interestingly, brooms were most popularly made by the Celts with heather, another symbol of clearing, cleansing and manifesting purity. Perhaps these associations with purity made it a symbol of promise and good luck in the Highlands. Indeed, no Highland bride would walk in her joining (wedding) ceremony with out a bit of white heather in her bouquet or hair adornment. The custom still lingers today. What's more, not only were the Celts clever herbalists, they were also genius at mead making. Heather was a prize for meads (during a time before hops was recognized for beer making). When properly rendered, it made a heady, aromatic blend suitable for splendid nights of merry making. Here enters the symbolism of the heather dealing with romance, intoxication and attraction. Heather mead was some powerful stuff.

LESSON OF THE HEATHER - from The Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford

Heather is a symbol of passionate love, of sacrifice, and self-control. In the first place, heather represents enthusiasm and sensual pleasure, and the benefits that can be enjoyed from spontaneous self-expression. But within this lust for life and exhilaration lies a deeper lesson of the consequences that may arise out of unbridled passion. The Celts believed that you are always totally responsible and accountable for the outcome of your actions, so you were wise to be sure of your own true nature before totally abandoning yourself to the potent delights of heather ale and the pleasures that it could bring. Unchecked, heather is short-lived and unproductive but if burned yearly to the ground, it re-grows with fresh vigor. The lesson of the heather is that a necessary balance must exist between self-expression and self-control for both to be enjoyable and effective.

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