Medicine Granny’s Stories,
by J. W. Cassandra
The Swallow Wort
At dawn of dawn
The story I tell takes the reader back to such old times, that was flowing and trickling in a thin brook at the aurora of cultures, or even the dawn of dawn, and it is a miracle in itself that memory still preserves it among the treasures gems of its artistic casket.
This tiny gem, embedded in a gold frame used to adorn around the spot of the heart, in ancient times and warmed it inside and outside; it adjusted the heartbeat, if it was necessary, to the hoof tramp of a magic steed; if it was necessary, it becalmed its unruly rush: it stroked, warmed like silk or velvet.
Well, in the past of yore, there was once a little girl who was raised by her grandmother because the child’s parents passed away early. Grandmother was no longer in her strength but her wise gaze immediately saw everything, and paddling around, she was going to and fro and was thinking till she figured out something and set right things somehow that had gone wrong. She grew vegetables in her small garden, left weeds on the edge of the garden in a strictly small space, and the noise in the poultry yard revealed that hens, turkeys, geese, ducks were taxing their eggs, feathers, and their notable fluff for cushion and the family was not in need.
Grandma, in addition to arranging things around the house and her granddaughter, was known far and wide for collecting herbs, cutting, drying them, making ointments, balms and, if necessary, helping those who turn to her. And not just humans, but animals, even plants, if fate willed it so.
Indeed, every time she picked up a flower, a pea, a tomato stem, every time she planted a tree, pruned a branch, she always touched the plant carefully. She watered the kitchen garden with nettle liquid, planted garlic next to the beetroots, and her reward was the blooming gratitude of her garden, well, and the fruit.
She relieved the pains of the animals, treated wounds, put sprains in place, broken bones into rails, and was accompanied by grateful dogs, cats, domestic and even wild animals, wherever she went. So it happened to people: since the Creator created them to be imperfect, from time to time illnesses and accidents embittered their lives. It was Grandma who came to their mind first, and who went to help every time she was called. Of course, she couldn’t help everyone either, because she was the ultimate refuge for the hopeless hopefuls, and as we know, there is no cure for death, but she still helped a lot the poor, the sick. She was also named Medicine Granny.
„Plants and trees: spirit in them dwells!”
If she had nothing else to do, she usually visited the nearby forest, the forest clearings, the field, collecting her herbs. Some were picked in the morning dew, others in the midday sunlight, again other kinds at full moon, in the middle of the night, some in the winter, from beneath the snow. But whenever she went, she took her granddaughter with her on her day trips, so that she would learn early on which herb to grow, what their root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit are like, and which part could be used for what.
She also kept the little girl with her when she sorted the herbs at home, chopped them, crushed them, or tied them together to dry them, when she made tinctures, balms, when made the herbs for tea, tea blends for various troubles, and always told her tales about the plants.
„Remember well, my granddaughter, that grass and tree all have a soul, every of them is a sentient being, a spirit dwells in grass and tree, even in the trickling water of the stream, in the dew, in the silver ray of the full moon, in the sunlight, what is more, even in the clouds, in the storms. If there is a full moon, the Silver Fairy looks at herself in her silver mirror; when the sun shines, the Golden King passes higher and higher on his way, his chariot drawn by fiery horses. Dew is the tear of the angels of heaven who have compassion for all the suffering, and therefore their tears fall here. The river is the most wonderful messenger, whatever you ask him, the trickle, the wild murmur, tells you what you can know. He also cleanses everything, but his spirit should not be put in a passion, because then he will flood his anger at us, or flood the gardens, scatter the plants.
„The trees initially walked freely…”
You can ask the clouds, but with respect, because a deluge can be poured down by their anger. Storms bring angry creatures, driven by a dragon sitting at the cloud leading the thunder, called head of storm, where punishment is required on Earth. One of their punishments is windstorms and the other is rainfall, but the scariest is lightning. Never stop anywhere, if it’s lightning, just lie in the mud, you’ll avoid its strike then!” she warned her granddaughter, and the little girl remembered all of these things well, as well as the plants.
„The trees are perhaps the strangest,” Granny weaved her story on, „the trees initially walked freely wherever they wished, and on their branches they did not rock nests or fruits, but they could use them almost as well as we do with our arms, but once a wild storm prevailed, and the dragon of the head of the storm struck them, with its magic it tied them to the ground, where they took root, their arms became tissues of branches, and since then they have been unable to go anywhere else from where they grew out of the earth…”
The Swallow Wort
In the meantime, Grandma’s hand worked fast, and now she took a flower with bright yellow petals, bright green foliage-bushes with lacy-wavy edges.
„Look”, she turned to the little girl, „wherever you injure this plant, it releases a yellowish, reddish-yellowish dense juice. It’s good for warts, eyes and skin. All you have to do is apply it and it paints the ill part and cures it. When fed in wine, it is good for heart disease, but one should only drink three drops a day. In addition, it strengthens blood vessels, drains water. Its tea is good for this, it also melts a whoop, it stops a lot of cramps, it calms the rushing blood, it is the friend of the the stomach, liver, bile, its fresh juice against hemorrhoids is excellent: one just have to lubricate it there and it cures them. But there is also a healing power in its juice that is sleep-inducing, like the poppy, and some people get used to it, and if they don’t drink this tea, it makes them sick. If they drink it, it’ll heal them. It shows that they’re used to it, and that’s not good, because their body suddenly dies because of it. Therefore, it should be used very carefully, and not constantly!” She looked at her granddaughter with her eyebrows raised, which indicated that this was very important.
„It’s also true that the spirit of the plant is connected to the swallow bird. It’s a magical bond, its name suggests, as well: ’blood-shedding’ swallow wort. When the swallows arrive in the spring, this flower begins to bloom at that time, it is beautiful yellow, shining like the sun, and four bright petals gather the healing power of the four cardinal directions: the one that stands to the north gathers the northern healing power; which turns south that gathers the southern healing power; which turns to the east, that gathers the power of aurora, and the petal turning west gathers the healing power of dusk. Each of these is different, and together they give out all the salve of the world, one just has to recognize them.
„Wort good for a thousand troubles”
It is also called ’wort good for a thousand troubles’, although this name is known to fewer and fewer people, since it has already been glued to other wort, later I will show you that, as well. Indeed, this has always been the real centaury or ’wort good for a thousand troubles’ in this region from the beginning, and there are a thousand features of his spirit, as well. Among other things, it is very ardent, as its name the ’blood-shedding’ suggests.
If one trusts it, expects good from it, then it does good: it melts their cramps, their pains, it eases their back, their breathing, it improves their vision, it makes their gaze shiny, their eyes mischievous; it melts their warts. In addition, it refreshes blood, heals blood vessels, drains water, it is a cough mixture, it facilitates the heart, stops tingle in the ears, makes ugly blood vessels beautiful, makes the skin velvety, cleanses the gut, melts hemorrhoids, even resurrects the dead according to the elders. Well, that must have been a long time ago, my little granddaughter, because your parents would still be alive”, sniffed a bit Grandma and wiped her eyes, but the little girl was used to it. In addition, the figures of her mother and father faded in his memory, so she waited for Grandma to continue. And so it was: „But it is certain that it can still resurrect the dying, even if not the dead. Those who trust it will also be rewarded: it makes them beautiful – it rejuvenates them, removes bran from their hair, their skin becomes fresh, wrinkleless…”
„Then that’s why you’re so beautiful, Grandma! I already know!”, the little girl grew excited happily.
„Come on, I’m not beautiful”, she waved.
„But you’re beautiful, yes, because you’re good to everyone all the time, and I can see it! Your eyes are mischievous… – either bright – or… – and here the little girl broke off, and Grandma, waving, was wiping away tears of laughter.
The Swallow Wort Spirit
„Well, my little girl, the spirit of the ’blood-shedding’ swallow wort is therefore very ardent, and this is shown by the fact that if one does not believe in her, she will be offended and will no longer help. If you believe in her halfway, she helps you half. The person who’s offended her, will have a very bad time because it’s unspeakably hard to propitiate her after that. I know of someone who did not believe in her, for what the spirit dwelling in the swallow wort was offended by, and no longer healed that man’s troubles.
The Sick and the Offended Swallow Wort Spirit
The trouble was that man was very, very sick, his legs were swollen, water made him difficult, almost suffocated him, and although several herbs are useful against the water – nettles, blood-wort, celery, not to mention the rest – nothing took effect for him. He couldn’t sleep because of his monstrous pain, his back and hands were in a grievous pang, his heart was bouncing unruly, in short, he was in a lot of trouble. His veins were almost split, and in vain he smeared the swallow wort on the aching parts, even though he mixed its drops into wine, even he had its tea, he smeared its ointment in vain: the spirit of the swallow wort thumbed her nose at him, he turned her back him resentfully, she covered her ears from man’s entreaties and beseeching promises, and pressing her mouth into a thin line, she listened. And the swallow wort was drying out more and more. The sick man took care of it in vain. And the man was writhing in pain, he begged, pleaded, cried, promised wonders. He suffered until, in the end, the raspy sounds of fading whispers erupted from his tormented throat. Then he stopped to beseech and as he was writhe in pain, he suddenly remembered that the swallow had a magical connection to this flower. He dragged himself before his house, and he watched the drain to see if the swallow was finally coming.
Will be continued.
By J. W. Cassandra, 28/02. 2013.