Thinking In The Dark : Thistles

Thistles, like foxgloves, can steal me away for hours. If I’m passing by a thistle or a whole host of them, I always, always, always have to stop and drink in their presence. The prickles that we see all over the plant are for defense and protect the thistle from being eaten by most animals. It’s an extremely tough plant, surviving where others can’t, including on wastelands, roadsides, and rough, grassy places.

The other day, the hedgerows were ‘neatened up,’ and hundreds of thistles were massacred along with nettles and elderflowers. It was so fucking tragic. I actually found the head of a blackbird. Just the head. I wonder if it was decapitated when the ‘neatening up’ was going on.

I’m part Scottish, and in the past, I have thought about having a thistle tattoo done, to pay homage to the symbol of that fair and mighty land. Legend says that the thistle became Scotland’s emblem following a failed invasion by the Norsemen.

What happened is that, so they could move more stealthily and increase their chances of a successful ambush on the Scottish Clansmen, the Norse warriors took off their shoes. However, one of the men stood on a thistle and yelled out in pain, which alerted the Scots to the attack and saved them from invasion.

If you happen to dream of thistles, it usually means trouble will be on it’s way to you. However if thistledown appears on your window, good news is supposed to be arriving soon. And apparently, if you throw thistles into a fire, it will keep lightning away from your home.

When used in witchcraft, thistles work as protectors, wards, repellents, and banishers. If you’re looking to perform a hex, they’re perfect, though they can work just as well if you need to as break a hex. If you grow thistle in your garden, you’re encouraging protection, strength, and healing. So please think twice before eradicating any!

The word ‘thistle’ is believed to have originated from the Proto-Indo-European word ‘steyg’ which means ‘to prick.’ And other names it has include ‘The Devil’s Plant’ and ‘Devil’s Vegetable.’

I picked a few thistles the other day (not many because I know our bees need them!) and have pressed them in a flower press I made back when I was 14. I’m going to set the dried flowers in resin and make jewellery from them so I’ll always have some close to my heart.

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