“Bramble, also known as Blackberry, is found all over the world, as is native to most of Europe. In Britain it is common in hedgerows and on any uncultivated ground, where its long prickly stems soon create tangled masses of impenetrable undergrowth. As if to compensate for this unsociability, the plant produces quantities of white or pale pink flowers, which bloom from May onwards, giving way to deep purple, almost black, fruit.”
“This card, an dris bennaichte or rubus fruiticosus, illustrates one of the distinctive features of the Bramble – its exceptionally long picking season, demonstrated by its display of unripe and ripe fruit. On the stone we can see the Ogham sign for Bramble – M, which stands for Muin. Some writers assign this Ogham to the vine, others to blackberry. The fruit of both plants produce wine, which provides the associations to this Ogham of the loosening of inhibitions and the accessing of intuition or prophecy as a result.”
MESSAGE FOR YOU
“If you have ever tried digging up Bramble roots, you will know how tenacious they are – they travel long and deep, and some root systems can cover a wide area and be of great age. For this reason the Bramble is the perfect symbol of tenacity and rootedness. It’s not going to be pushed around and it’s not going anywhere! If you have chosen this card, it’s possible that you feeling like digging your heels in and just staying put – holding your ground and protecting all that you hold dear.”
“It also can represent another person or situation that is prickly and stubborn. It may be necessary to remember how difficult it is to remove a Bramble from its position, and how – at the right season – it can yield delicious fruit that is full of goodness. Knowing our own boundaries is vital to our emotional and spiritual health, and when it comes to relationships, being sensitive to other people’s boundaries is vital, too. Often, provided we respect their boundaries and when necessary leave them alone; they will in their own time be generous to us.”
THE BLESSED BRAMBLE
“When we go blackberry picking, we’re doing something that our hunter-gatherer ancestors did thousands of years ago; blackberry seeds were found in the stomach of a Neolithic man dug up in Essex. Later, blackberries, along with other native species such as bilberries and elderberries, were used not only for food but to make wine and add flavor to beer. Bramble stems were used to bind straw or rushes together to form skeps – forerunners of beehives constructed like woven baskets. In Scotland, the plant is so valued it is sometimes called an dris bennaichte, the blessed Bramble, but it has also been called Blackbutters, Blackbides, Bumblekites, or Scaldberries. And in Glencairn a traditional riddle about the plant runs:
As white as snaw, but snaw it’s not.
As red as blood, but blood it’s not.
As black as ink, but ink it’s not.
In the old days, Bramble leaves were used as a remedy for burns and scalds – applied with the aid of a spoken charm. The berries, if gathered at the right phase of the moon, were believed to give protection against evil runes, and creeping under a Bramble bush was considered effective against rheumatism. In Cornwall, sufferers from boils, and even poorly cattle, crawled or were dragged through arches of Bramble, and in Gloucestershire children with ruptures or hernias were passed backwards and forwards through such archways, too.”
“By Alban Elfed, the Druid festival of the Autumn Equinox, all your blackberries should be harvested, and it’s time to make blackberry wine. You could rink last year’s wine at your celebration of the equinox, but hurry if you want to pick any more – the traditional saying is that ‘the devil relieves himself on the berries on Michaelmas night’ – which falls on September 29th, just a week after the Equinox. By that time the berries have usually turned sour, having picked up mildew or bacteria.”