Gathering Spirits: Periwinkle

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An offering rite of Periwinkle flowers

Gathering plants resembles, at times, a rite of seduction, at times, a rite of slaying, at times, a rite of sacrifice, and at times, a rite of grief. In those ceremonies, the wanderer must have a clear aim and adequate attitude towards the Spirits and the goal behind it, and so the rite must be pleasant and fitting towards them.

Today we share with you the story about the harvesting of Periwinkle flowers (Vinca Major), a plant called Viola de Bruixa, ‘Sorcerer’s Violet’, in our mother tongue, also known as ‘Maiden Flower’ or ‘Daphne’s Laurel’ in Spanish, Laurel de Dafne. This plant was widely used in the confection of decorative garlands for celebrations, and their alkaloids have nowadays been discovered to be potentially helpful in the cure of cancer-related maladies.

Periwinkle was also customarily related to rites of protection, love, and lust for a long time. It is known that cunning people used them as a common ingredient in philters and ointments, hence the name of ‘Sorcerers’ Violet’. As stated in The Boke of Secretes of Albartus Magnus of the Vertues of Herbs, Stones and certaine Beastes: ‘Perwynke when it is beate unto pouder with worms of ye earth wrapped about it and with an herbe called houslyke, it induceth love between man and wyfe if it bee used in their meales …’. This affirmation probably inspired Culpeper’s herbal, in which Periwinkle is associated with Venus. In Italy, the plant was known as Centocchio, ‘hundred eyes’, for its protective usage, and also as fiore di morto, ‘flower of the dead’ as it was placed in children’s graves to protect their corpses and as a sign of love.

As you see, here we have included a series of remarks about this plant found in the fields of history and folklore, and yet, how important should we consider them prior to their harvest or gathering? Each time practitioners research about an specimen, it feels inevitable to be influenced by the traditional conception of the Plant. This has an easy solution: contact (physically and spiritually) a plant before researching on it. Each practitioner of the Arte can -and shall- have a totally different experience with each Plant Spirit, for, as we have seen, each Specimen has its own personality and vibration, and since we are all determined by location and momentum, nothing is to be taken for granted in terms of function and purpose.

It is always a special moment, when one grows conscious of a plant for the first time. You see, we come across hundreds of plants everyday that go unnoticed, but one day, that little weed on the side of the road catches your eye, Lord knows why. This is exactly what happened in the case of Periwinkle. We first saw it casually some time ago, and afterwards we started noticing it everywhere; its allure seemed to grow exponentially in the mind. At this point the practitioner may want to gather it so as to calibrate the contact with the plant, even though it should be taken into account that gathering a plant without information may be an awful idea. Mind you, it doesn’t have to go wrong if your mindset is correct, but sometimes it needs a bit more preparation.

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A queen left untouched

In the case of Periwinkle, we went forth and harvested it in an approximative way, i.e. cautiously (that is – with protection) taking only a couple of specimens and attentively observing the reactions and signs around. Then it was time to start researched its basic concepts: terminology, etymology, chemistry, etc. in order to know if a direct contact or interaction could put a potential danger on the body, mind, or spirit. As it initially seemed safe enough, we fully interacted with it: by speech, by touch, by taste, etc. at that point, some secrets of the plant were progressively unfolded to me. Later we researched its history, folklore, and magical applications. Once it was considered we had reunited a decent amount of knowledge on the plant, we gathered correctly, with the tools and rituals that we considered would please the Spirit inhabiting the plant: consequently, some other secrets unfolded in a different yet complementary way.

When approaching a previously unfamiliar plant, we must understand that there is no ‘approved’ method, there is no fixed ritual, but the gatherer has to keep a vigilant attitude and be open to the signs the plot and specimen show: some exemplars are not to be plucked out, some specimens are to be revered, and some are to be feared. Similarly, there is no prescribed or recommended offering, but this shall be revealed to the wanderer in due time. Periwinkle demanded a series of affectionate approximations, a careful attitude, and the same love it was demanded from her essence. For we are to display the same effect we want the plant to cause in our concoctions.

All in all, Periwinkle, at least in the way we have interacted, rules over matters of lust and love; its blue-violet delicate flowers are as attractive as they are intriguing, and its ivy-like behavior is indicative of their power in binding and connecting energies. Of course this function and principle was discovered parallel to the situation and moment we were living at that time, and this is why we should be deeply attentive of the signs that also govern our everyday life.

In no time you’ll be receiving news about the pact we have done with its Spirits in diverse aphrodisiac forms.

Sources:

Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics Embracing the Myths, Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-Lore of the Plant Kingdom by Richard Folkard

Les Herbes Remeieres vol. I and II by Ramon Gausachs

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Gathering Spirits: Periwinkle de Semproniana Tort – Júlia Carreras està subjecta a una llicència de Reconeixement-NoComercial-SenseObraDerivada 4.0 Internacional de Creative Commons
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