a TANGLE OF BLACKBERRY THOUGHTS

My thoughts at the best of times aren’t linear,they tumble and twist snagging and even knotting in on themselves.Not so unlike a blackberry thicket.A bane to any one trying to remove them. They have such tenacity and rootedness. To most people , they are a first introduction to wild foraging. Think of all those happy blackberry smeared children.

I have learned a lot just from my own interactions with them. One of my earliest memories about sharing with not just people but the natural world came from picking blackberries with my mother. Before we began, she told my sisters and I that anything above our heads we should leave for the birds and any berries below our knees was for small animals. It always brings up such fond memories of her when I harvest berries. But they have also taught me patience.Rushing in just gets you tangled pretty quick, in need of rescuing and people asking if a cat scratched you They entice by sight, the deep purple facets glistening in the sun. As you draw closer the scent begins its seduction tempting you to taste. Ripe berries fall easily and as you begin to observe and understand the weaving of the branches, you begin to move and weave yourself into their world. No matter how careful you are , there is always a small blood sacrifice that seems required. Nothing comes completely free.

This probably explains a little their association with the Goddess . The colours of the flowers , the unripe berries and ripe berries are the colours of maiden , mother and crone. They were also considered food for the Fey.There is a tradition were you do not pick berries after the 31st of October because the Pooka has spit on them. They have also been linked to the devil and you should not pick after 29th of September for then the devil has pissed on them.

I marvel at a plant that gives so generously of all its self. The leaves have been used for intestinal bleeding as well as for sore throats, bleeding gums and menstrual cramps. the roots have a stronger action. An essence made from the flowers is said to aid the alignment of mind and will to manifest goals. A honey made from the flowers is dark like buckwheat with a rich ambrosia floral taste, truly nectar of the Gods. The medicine of shared laughter while sipping blackberry wine out of antique teacups with a dear friend is potent indeed.Both are well worth seeking out. The stems were once used to bind rushes and straw to make skeps the forerunners to beehives that were shaped like woven baskets.

I will leave you here with a last thought and a confession. It is really its association with Sleeping Beauty that I most love. In some versions of the story the plant that grows as protective impenetrable barrier around the castle were brambles or blackberries. So who knows what enchantment lies in the heart of every blackberry thicket, a story waiting to be discovered.