Halloween – a time for trick or treating, witches and warlocks and all things scary – except of course flowers, for after all, what could possibly be scary about flowers? Well, when you start delving there is more than one flower out there with dark, hidden secrets ….
Take for instance delphiniums; gorgeous tall, blue, stately flowers that typify an English country garden – or so you would think. In years past though, delphiniums were used as a deterrent to ward witches away from stables in Transylvania – and we all know who lived in Transylvania…
The deep blue of the flowers was thought to be a deterrent, and possibly the fact that they are poisonous. Not that this knowledge stopped people making potions from the seeds of the delphinium in the belief that it would drive away scorpions.
Common names of flowers can often reveal their darker sides – the foxglove is sometimes known as fairy gloves, which is lovely, but not scary. But how about another of its common names, Dead Man’s bells? reflecting the fact that this, like the delphinium, is a poisonous flower.
There’s also a spooky reason behind why it is called foxglove. The legend is that bad fairies gave the flowers to foxes to put on their feet so that they could move soundlessly through chicken roosts. In fact, so rooted in folk lore is the foxglove that many people believe that you shouldn’t pick them, for in doing so, you will offend the fairies.
But don’t be frightened to set foot inside a florist shop this Halloween, as there are some good guys out there as well. Marigolds (the flower, not the sort you wear for the washing up) are supposed to ward off witches, should you come across any. Also herbs fennel and St. John’s Wort will do a similar job. And, just to be sure, hang a sprig of mistletoe above your door; this will protect you from evil.
Then there is dill, a herb more usually associated with salmon, but if you feel that the evil eye has got its eye on you, so to speak, then a bag of dried dill carried over your heart will make the evil eye look the other way.
Of course, all of these superstitions should be taken with a large pinch of salt. (Thrown over your left shoulder should you spill any, just in case). Although there are a lot of creepy beliefs out there, there are some more heart warming (and daft) ones too, such as when apple bobbing the first person who bites an apple will be the first to marry. And my favourite, which is nothing to do with flowers, but I just had to share it with you, is this: put on your clothes inside out and walk backwards on Halloween, and you might just meet a witch. Not if you hit a lamp-post first.
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