Today’s card is the Blackberry, also known as Rubus fruticosus in scientific terms. The oldest reference to this plant and its Ogam, Muin, is of a vine which is not exactly accurate because the blackberry grows as a bush. It may get this alternate description because its propagation happens chiefly by spreading its roots on top of and under the ground to form a new version of itself. Since both the vine and the blackberry grow rampantly when unchecked, both plants are seen to have Green Man magick stored within them thought they are not, in fact, trees. It is also almost impossible to completely ‘root out’ a blackberry for this reason. The alternative meaning given to this glyph is ‘a hill of poetry’, lending it inspiration as a second interpretation. The Goddesses Cerridwen and Brigid are both associated with the blackberry as they are both creatrixes and, as muses, offered divine inspiration to poets and bards.
The blackberry also has some negative connotations as well. Some legends have it that the angel, Lucifer, landed in a blackberry bush when he was thrown out of heaven. These is also a darker meaning in Majorca and throughout Britain where it is associated with the crown of thorns worn by Jesus on the last day of his life. This bush is covered in thorns and the color of the red/black fruit it proffers resembles blood. On the flip side, blackberry was also known to have curative properties and infants that were suffering from whooping cough or other similar ailments were often passed under a blackberry branch that had attached itself to the ground at two separate points.The blackberry is also associated with the faery folk and it said that you may only pick a blackberry once you have asked for permission from the faery realm. Wine made from the fruit of the blackberry is not only delicious but reminds us of the richness with which our souls are blessed and offers inspiration as well as intoxication.
The journey of the prince in Sleeping Beauty tells of his quest being blocked by a dense forest of thorns through which he must battle to finally reach his goal. In the end of the original version, the prince is left blind by thorn injury and is never able to actually see the beauty of the very thing he has fought so hard to reach. In this way, the quest is seen as symbolic of the quest for the soul where the reward that we gain is not often what we imagined it would be. In the Celtic story of Maelduin, the island on which the blackberry grows fruitfully must be visited if one was to be pulled from the edge of death into life once more.
The Green Man wisdom here is “Gather In What is Dearest to You”. This card speaks to us of societal pressures and consumerism, both of which have come to the forefront of motivation for many of us. As we work to stockpile commodities and to ‘gain more’, we often trap ourselves in an endless cycle of work without reward. We neglect those things that are important to us because there will be ‘time for that later’. In fact, each of us has no idea what is next down the path. We set aside our dreams, our families and friends, and those experience that have true value in our lives to chase unreachable or unrealistic goals, for once we achieve what it is we seek in the short term, there will always be more ‘stuff’ calling us away from what really matters. The harvest cycle shows us that we must not hang onto things too tightly; when we gather in the fruits of our labors and use them to make it through the harsh winter, they have value and purpose. If we, however, allow those very same things to sit without being used, they rot on the shelf and become no more valuable than dust. Thoughts, dreams, and ideas that come to us out of our experiences also need to be used or they will ‘die on the vine’ without bearing fruit. Thoughts and inspiration have a shelf life. Letting go of old thoughts, possessions, and habits that no longer serve us makes room for us to gather the pick of the harvest and put it to the most productive and delicious use.
May today be filled with the fruits of inspiring thought and deed as you harvest the cream of your magickal crop!