Modern Letter: M
Ruler of the 10th Lunar Month
September 2nd – September 29th
In divination Muin advises a moment of pause to assess what is about to come. If you are about to speak on a matter be sure that you speak truthfully, now is not a time to seek to be populist at the expense of the truth. Utilise all your senses and intuition to ensure that you are open to all possible information, signs and omens to inform your way forward. Not everything will make sense straight away but bear it in mind as you plan ahead. By doing so you are laying the foundation of a fruitful outcome to lessen your burdens. If you have had a period of depression, or simply need time and space to recover the Bramble offers an abundance of natures defence, the thorn, though be mindful not to restrict yourself in the grasping canes and stunt your future growth.
In Ogham the vine and bramble are used interchangeably – this is in part due to the evolutionary nature of Ogham. Grape bearing vines are not native to the British Isles and Ireland and whilst the concept of wine was introduced as early as the Iron Age as a traded commodity there is no evidence that the vines themselves came across at that time. Street names like Vine Street appearing centrally in large city like London suggests that vines were present by the Norman Conquest, perhaps earlier given that it is Vine that is associated with Muin in later writings on the Ogham. For more in this please visit English Wine History
Give that it is native and abundant I am going to focus on Bramble as it is something we are more likely to encounter in our woodland walks.
Common name: Blackbery
Scientific name: Rubus fruticosus
The Bramble, commonly known by the blackbery fruit that it bears, grows abundantly in all parts of the British Isles. It is an especially hardy plant, often found strongly rooted amongst hedges and shrubs which it uses to support its strong canes. It thrives in areas which are running neglected, and are often perceived as weeds as they are resistant to pruning and its sharp thorns can be problematic to children and animals.
The leaves of the bramble are usually oval in shape and divided into three or five serrated portions, appearing dark green on top whilst being paler underneath. Clusters of small white/pink flowers appear in spring to early summer which then turn into a small green fruit which ripens through red and purple to black. The berry is divided into many drupelets (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drupe) in which the seeds reside. The gathering of blackberries is an autumnal delight and it is a firm favourite of foragers, being perfect for jams, jellies, syrups and other sweet treats.
Planet: Venus / Moon
Themes: Healing, Protection, Abundance, Wealth
Birds: White swan
Deity: Brighid, the Tuatha de’Danaan
Muin Muin MuinSuggested Galdur
Muuuu Innn Muuuu Innn
Mu Mu Muuuu Innn
Muin Muin Muin
Burn a small handful of dried blackberry leaves as incense in rituals for attracting wealth and good fortune.
Carry a small piece of blackberry cane, stripped of its thorns and bark, as a touch-charm against poverty. This charm is best harvested during the autumn equinox or during the August full moon. Alternatively, keep a blackberry cane by your altar to aid in grounding.
Use flexible green brambles in binding spells or weave several prickly canes to hang in your home as a form of protection charm. Include Rowan and Ivy to protect against bad spirits and I’ll wishes. Alternatively encourage brambles to grow along your boundaries to benefit from their protective qualities.
Blackberries make a simple feast to be shared as part of rituals involving the fae.
Mythology and Literature
Most traditions associated with brambles revolve around when the blackberry fruits should and shouldn’t be eaten. For example, in many areas of Britain it was traditional to ensure that the first fruits, or at least some fruit, were left to the fairies. It was believed that to gather that which was due to the fairies would result in the rest of the fruit spoiling quickly. Even if this isn’t true, blackberries are an important pre winter fruit for many birds so it is advisable to be careful in how much is gathered.
On the other hand there is also a legend advising on when to stop gathering blackberries, this time blending old wives wisdom with Christianity. This links the rebellion and fall of Lucifer, and subsequent elevation of the Archangel Michael, with the end of blackberry season with Lucifer falling into a bramble patch when thrown from heaven.
“Lucifer battled to free himself from the brambles and was so angry with the plant that he spat into it – some even say he urinated in it to show his contempt. Now, Lucifer’s name of Shining One has changed to Satan – which means ‘enemy or adversary’ and the blackberries are no longer worth eating after the day when Michael became the chief Archangel in heaven – Michaelmas Day”
Whether you date Michaelmas as the 29th September or by the older date of 10th October it is true that by this time of year blackberries are well past their prime. They turn quite bitter, thanks to the increasing levels of tannin in the fruit, and have been food for various animals and insects so are no longer pleasant to eat.
My berries cluster black and thickThe Song of the Blackberry Fairy – Cicely Mary Barker
For rich and poor alike to pick.
I’ll tear your dress, and cling, and tease,
And scratch your hands and arms and knees.
I’ll stain your fingers and your face,
And then I’ll laugh at your disgrace.
But when the bramble-jelly’s made,
You’ll find your trouble well repaid.