Medicine Granny’s Stories,
by J. W. Cassandra
The Swallow Wort
Mother Earth is Purified
But it was at that time that Mother Earth was fed up with the devastating activities of men, and she decided to get rid of them, to be purified. Therefore he threw one at herself, and the sources of heat hidden in her depths, the fire that heats her interior, and the force which makes her fertile, a mother, first migrated from its former place to another, and remained there, for thus the unruly, evil child, man could no longer remain on her cruel lap, and man migrated or disappeared from her surface. And our Mother Earth did her cleansing work, and she was renewed to become again the affluence-giving nanny of her new children who were loyal to her, who knew and loved her. This is what happens on Earth from time to time: if man forgets about Mother Earth, belittles her, destroys her, Mother Earth suddenly has enough of it and destroys her degenerate child, man, and, if necessary, the animal and the plant, the rock and the river, the sea – and then she has a rest, and creates new ones, putting her fire and nourishing power back into their service.
The testimony of such renewal is that when a deluge emanates from the clouds, the Sun King scorches, burns the ground into a wilderness, the Silver Fairy dances too close or too far from our Mother Earth, and the previously known plants die, others appear, the animals migrate, the birds fly elsewhere, their nests are abandoned, in short, what has lived in the land until then will no longer find its place there, and Santa Claus arrives with no delicacies, a jingling sleigh pulled by reindeers, to give gifts to good children, but he is wrapped in wild snowstorms, covering the landscape with crass snow blanket. Rime, frost, icicles, chilly cold winds indicate its coming, and if he shakes his beard, the snow will fall in bulky flakes… underneath, even no blades of grass grow.
„Deep Silence, Orphan Silence”
Well, this is the age of a man who was desperately ill and who was taken offence at by the spirit of the ’blood-shedding’ swallow wort. When the long-awaited signs of spring appeared, the snow melted, blades of grass burgeoned, willow pussy bloomed, the furious winds were tamed into breezes, the Sun King caressed from the sky, the swallows did not arrive yet even then, they did not gently skim over with their wings, with a graceful arch the glittering, babbling surface of the river, they did not chirp around their former nests, the eaves, the house; they did not tilt their wings with enthusiastic chirping, as they usually do: ’We came back! We came back! Welcome! Spring is here, we came back!’ Deep silence, orphan silence settled in the region. Some of the storks later started to clatter, settled on some chimneys, but the swallows vanished into thin air.
Our sick kept sighing, and remembered the swallow-inviting say he heard as a small child:
’Swallows, swallows, chirping,
Spring is here, come out!
Fly to your nest, we wait,
Swallow wort we found –
You make healthy our house!’
He chanted it in the morning, he chanted at noon, he chanted in the evening, he also composed a melody for it, he was humming, begging it, dragging his sick feet ha scattered some swallow wort under the empty nest, he lit candles, ran around, but the swallows did not appear, as they moved to other lands, where they were attracted by mother Earth’s life power, and now they have laid their nests there from straws, mud, blades of grass, and other people were happy to their coming, they watched their nestlings, their hesitant flight… By the way, swallows resemble the spirit of their grass: if one loves them, they requite this love, but those houses who knock down their nests will be forever avoided because they see them as evil, as they are right from this point of view. And then there will move no more joy, health and happiness under those eaves, in that house, in that countryside.
„I’m here! I came back!”
Well, the sick person chanted the swallow-inviting say and he believed by implicit faith that if only one swallow arrived, the spirit of the swallow wort would be softened, and she would be willing to help him again.
He could only lie down and whisper, when once the sun suddenly sparkled up, and his ears were struck by a chirping. „I’m here! I’m here! I came back!” sounded, and a single bird waggled his wings for greetings, then described hesitant circles. „Where am I? Am I lost?” he chirped. „I seem to have headed in the wrong direction…”
„No, no, oh, my wonderful little swallow bird”, he said, hoarsely but happily in her bed. He also supported himself to sit upon his extravagant joy, and so he prayed the bird: „My swallow, my little birdie, help me, I invited you here!”
„What can I do for you, oh man?”
„Somehow connect with the spirit of your grass, the swallow wort, with the help of your magical relationship, and ask her to help me. I’ll never turn away from her again, I’ll trust him and spread… Otherwise I will die… – he sighed, and he fell to his pillows weak.
„The Swallow Wort Spirit will die with me…”
The swallow flew around him and then flew to the spirit of the swallow wort. He twittered what he heard to her, and then he asked, „You know, Swallow Wort Spirit, that since we have a magical bond, if I ask, you have to help him. So much the more as, because if it won’t be so, the magical power of man will bind me here, and I cannot get to my homeland along the welfare of Mother Earth, and then I myself will die, and whoever is the Swallow Wort Spirit will die with me if she herself causes my devastation…”
The spirit thought for a while and then the desire to help was overcome in her, but the traces of insult could still be felt at her words:
„Tell the man I’ll have mercy on him, but he owes it only to you. From now on, I’ll help him with your troubles again, but I wish he could grow my wort in his garden, planted in a crate even in the winter…
„Nourish good hope!”
The swallow flew the Swallow wort Spirit three times from east to west, then three times from north to south, for this way he ensured the proper direction of the flow of healing power, then he returned to the sick man. And the ’blood-shedding’ swallow wort was revived upon hearing the whistling of the swallow’s wings.
„Nourish good hope, oh man: the Swallow wort Spirit has mercy on you” and twittering so, he dropped a swallow wort on his lap along with leaves and flowers. Man swallowed a little of the spilled blood droplet, namely the juice of the flower, and he was already breathing more easily.
The swallow waited for only the man to say thanks, and he flew around it, tilted his wings as a farewell, and flew away where his companions had waited for him. And man was healed, planted the swallow wort in his garden and crate, and cared for it. And Swallow wort Spirit kept her word: she wasn’t on bad terms, and she always helped even afterwards.
And do not be surprised that man and swallow, and even man and spirit, could understand each other’s words: all this happened far back in yore of people’s lives that no records were even made, and it is a miracle that memory still preserves it in the form of a story – the story of the swallow wort was finished by Granny, and it was packed in the „herb kitchen”, where she processed the herbs.
How has the magical bond become?
But the little girl, Starcluster, hasn’t finished the job yet: „You also know, Grandma, how has there been a magical bond created between the swallow and the swallow wort?”, she asked.
„Eh, well, it is quite simple: as its name suggests, the ’blood-shedding’ swallow wort got the blood drops of a swallow who had received a magical wound during the Magical Fights, and they sat on its scalloped leaves, and then became tiny bumps that surrounded the swooned swallow nestling, and the Swallow wort Spirit, who was then simply the Spirit of Wort, emitted back the vitality of the dying bird from the small bumps grown on these leaves. It made him come to life, and he took wing. Yes, but the magic strike cut his tail feathers in half, and it became a fork! And where the Spirit of Wort emitted the life force back into the swallow, a small spot emerged on his throat. Since then, there have been swallows nestlings whose spot glows red, in others it glows white. Since then, every swallow has worn such a spot at his throat, which shows the location of the magical bond, and while these lovely birds live, their tails remain forked because of the magical strike. Because, you know, the remnants of magic scars can’t always be erased.”
„But there’s no bump on the leaves of the swallow wort!”
„Of course, because after the Spirit of Wort, who from then on became the Swallow wort Spirit, helped the birdie, the bumps disappeared from the leaves and instead of it the sunny mood of the swallow is reflected in the flower of the swallow wort, which is also shown by its bright yellow colour. As a result of the magical exchange, the swallow regained his vitality, and the swallow wort turned into a wort of healing force: it was obtained from the innocent blood sprayed on it. Because, you know, the birdie was innocent – it’s also possible that the magic strike hit him by accident, just like lightning hit people when they were careless. Well, maybe he was flying in the flash, and that’s how it happened. It was never told by those who told the story of the swallow wort around. And since the little birdie was innocent, the Swallow wort Spirit could have helped him. Otherwise, no spirit could have revived him with anything, even if he poured all the life force into it. And so it is that, although the Swallow wort Spirit is touchy, she knows that she owes her helping and healing power to this magical bond that happened of yore. Without it, she would be only an ordinary grass, and the swallows would not greet her before they set off south, nor when they arrived again. Well, that’s why they have the magic connection, my little granddaughter!
Sun King’s Visit to Silver Fairy
The little girl, meanwhile, happily caressed the yellow flower petals that brought to her mind the robe of the Sun King, the robe richly embroidered with gold, studded with jewels and diamonds, in which he went to visit the Silver Fairy, but he was too bright, and the mirror of the Silver Fairy was cracked in sorrow by his sight. Then the Vesper intervened, sending her star as an envoy, and has been conveying the desires of the Silver Fairy and the wishes of the Sun King among them ever since. Her star is called the Vesper or Evening Star, she is the first of the stars to rise in the sky, and she rests at the latest. It’s also called Reaper star , but you can hear it from the harvesters, who still have the star on till the evening. Of course, it’s her, too.”
„Plants and trees: spirit and her tales, just see!”
Starcluster the little girl had even no idea how extremely lucky she was to grow up under Grandmother’s care, and that Mother Earth, nature, surrounded her all her life like the cradle of the baby.
She hardly could wait to hear what Grandma will tell about Goencoel , the other tales of the Vesper, and more, as she inexhaustibly shed her stories as she organized her plants. From everything came a story, a tale whatever she saw, whatever she touched. Somehow, as we say „Plants and trees: your health needs these” at Granny it sounded like „Plants and trees: spirit and her tales, just see!”.
The story of swallow wort was followed, even preceded by several, swollen into a kind of endless stream, which is life itself. If you’d like, I’ll tell you one or two more of them later.
28/02. 2013., by J. W. Cassandra
 In the legends the Reaper star is created of the stars of the Orion. Here I changed it for Vesper or Evening Star, for my story.
 ’Göncöl’ or ’Goencoel’ is the name of the star ’Big Dipper’. In Hungarian folklore and legends he was even a shaman who sat on the box of the chariot of stars named by him, and tooled it in the sky.