Hawthorn – (hope) and (May)

The hawthorn is a pagan symbol for life, in Devon it is considered unlucky as the fairies might cast a spell on you if you sit under a hawthorn. The hawthorn is believed to be haunted by fairies and is sometimes called ‘Fairy Thorn.’ Farmers believed hawthorn was lucky and would hang it outside the cowsheds so the cows would give plenty of milk. The hawthorn flowers in May.

Mandrake (the Magician)

The mandrake or mandragora, is one of the most important hallucinogens in Western Europe and the Near East, in over two millennia. It is a flowering plant that can give life or cause death, depending on its use. The mandrake has many uses and has been a favourite of apothecaries, witches considered it indispensable and used it for spells and healing. Apothecaries and witches used mandrake when they wished to make a particularly strong potion. In order for Odysseus to withstand the magic of Circe, Hermes gave the mandrake to him. Herbalist shops in the early twentieth century situated in the less affluent areas of London sold mandrake. Many women who owned mandrakes fed and clothed them, these women were accused of being  witches and burnt at the stake by the Inquisition. The mandrake was dressed in expensive cloth, bathed several times a year, given food to eat, water to drink, and considered human.

The mandrake is considered part plant, part human and imbued with magical powers. The mandrake exudes a strong, unusual but pleasant scent. It is a perennial with a strange appearance, it has broad leaves with white, yellow or purple flower, the fruit is similar to a plum. The root is black, forked and a foot long, with the semblence of human male form with a penis, a subsidiary root which sticks out.

When a mandrake is being pulled out it shrieks like a person, and a black dog is used to pull it out, as the mandrake shrieks the dog dies. The mandrake has pharmacological effects as a pain killer, erotica, a sleep inducer, during the transition between consciousness and sleep it causes hallucinations.

A technique used in Turkey was to extract the mandrake root and cut it to manipulate its shape, then to apply pressure bandages and replant it in the ground. When next extracted after more growth, no one could tell it was crafted by hands other than nature. Six mandrakes of this nature were created and exhibited by Von Luschan, in 1891. He declared that a clever artist could create figures that looked genuine, and no one would know they were not nature’s gift. These treasures were so rare it was a life threatening undertaking to obtain one, they were valuable talismans and were extremely expensive.

Hibiscus – (delicate beauty)

Hibiscus is a large genus containing over 200 species, butterflies and bees are attracted to it. Hibiscus tea is a soothing tea enjoyed by many, it is also considered a healing tonic.

Holly Symbolism

Holly flower symbolism the flower symbolism associated with the holly is defense, domestic happiness and forecast. The Romans decorated their hallways with holly garlands for their mid-winter celebration, Saturnalia. Medieval monks called the holly the Holy Tree and believed holly would keep away evil spirits and protects their homes from lightening. The pointed leaves represented the crown of thorns worn by Jesus, and the red berries symbolized drops of his blood.

Honeysuckle – (love – loving bonds)

The wood of the honeysuckle contains nepetalactone, which is the active ingredient found in catnip. Some species of honeysuckle have bell-shaped flowers, honeysuckle is a twining flower grown in China, North America and Europe.

Huckleberry – (faith – simple pleasures)

Due to the size of the tiny huckleberries, they were used to refer to something small, often as a term of endearment. The phrase “a huckleberry over my persimmon,” meaning “a bit beyond my abilities”. “I’ll be your huckleberry,” meaning (“I am the person for the job”).

Hyacinth – (games – rashness – playfulness – joy – sports – rebirth) derived from the Latin form of Greek (hyakinthos.)

The hyacinth flower is used in the Haftseen table setting, in honour of the Persian New Year celebrations.  Hyacinths are named after Hyacinth, a figure in Greek mythology, a youth who was loved, and accidentally killed by Apollo. The hyacinth flower sprouted from his blood, and hyacinths are often associated with rebirth.

Impatiens – (motherly love)

Impatiens planted in the medieval Mary gardens, gardens devoted to the Virgin Mary, were called “Our Lady’s earings.” Impatiens flowers come in many forms, some orchid shaped, others with flat flowers. They are thought of as a sacred flower.

Iris – (wisdom – faith – friendship – to cherish – valor – hope – love’s promise)

Iris is the name of a mythological rainbow goddess, the Greek meaning is  (“rainbow”). The Iris is the emblem of France and Florence. Iris is used by the English as a feminine name, it is used by a male or female, by those of Jewish heritage. Irises were used in Mary Gardens, and the blade-shaped foliage symbolises the sorrows which ‘pierced her heart.’

Ivy – (weddings – Christmas – fidelity – friendship – affection)

Ivy is a strong climbing vine, used by many for garden walls and for garden decoration, ivy climbing the walls of a home, conjures visions or romance and country cottages. Ivy adds a particular charm, a smoothly cemented wall is impenetrable to the climbing roots of ivy and ivy can  protect the walls from the weather.

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