Oct 9 / Dylan Warren Davis

Reflections on Bramble

As the hedgerows change into their autumn fruitfulness, it is the blackberry that is the star of the show, known by many for its exquisite flavour and profusion of free fruits. In Medieval times the blackberry was referred to as the mulberry, for the oriental tree had not been introduced into Britain then, and was celebrated in the traditional folk-dance tune, “Here we go round the mulberry bush.”

Culpeper describes the rulership of the herb as “ruled by Venus in Aries.” Venus is in detriment in Aries which symbolically captures the hazards of harvesting the berries, for Venus is traditionally associated with luscious sweet fruits, while Aries, through its Martian rulership, is linked to the reddish thorny stems.
Every time you reach to grab the luscious fruits, your fingers are confronted by a formidable array of thorns standing guard only too willing to grab hold of you or your clothes while you pick them.Mother Nature’s companion planting often means stinging nettles are also incredibly happy to grow through the profusion of bramble stems creating additional hazards to picking them!In the absence of good sunshine blackberries can be tart, a phenomenon that is easily rectified by additional sweetness of a Venusian apple. Blackberry and apple pie are surely a traditional combination that is centuries old.

Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac, which symbolically captures the outrush of the spirit into the world. This is reflected in the bramble, for it is a pioneer species, that rapidly colonises vacant ground. Part of its success is in its phenomenal ability to throw out stolons in all directions from its mother plant. Overnight each stolon can extend two metres or more before falling to the ground, rooting, and forming a new plant. These new stolons bristle with huge numbers of sharp spines.

For centuries however, the bramble has been used medicinally, not just for food. The uses of the buds, leaves and branches that Culpeper described are typically very Venusian: for healing “ulcers and putrid sores of the mouth and throat, ……quinsy.”

 With Aries ruling head and Venus ruling Taurus, which is linked to the throat, it is easy to see why the herb was chosen for these purposes. Additionally, it was used for fresh wounds and running ulcers. Its cold and dry astringent action makes it good for healing the bloody flux and the spitting of blood. The bloody flux was the Medieval name for dysentery, the principal symptom of which is blood in diarrhoea.Similarly, with Venus ruling the womb, Culpeper also used it for heavy periods in women and the bleeding of piles.

The roots are also used for gravel and stone in the kidneys since Venus rules the kidneys.It is highly likely that this is an effective remedy for healing wounds and infections, as a 15-year-old Irish science student Simon Meehan recently discovered in 2018, it does possess powerful antibiotic properties. Using the knowledge that his herbalist grandfather gave him about using the roots and stems for treating infections, he discovered they contain a number of compounds possessing antibiotic properties. In particular, he found they were effective against MRSA, the golden staphylococcus super-bug that is the scourge of hospitals.

Though largely forgotten by herbalists today this recent discovery should attract new interest in using the bramble again.There is another symbolic connection of the bramble to the rulership of Venus in Aries, as sheep farmers know only too well, their woollen fleeces are magnets for bramble thorns, which detracts from the quality, and therefore saleable value of the wool. Such much so in Australia, the bramble has been declared a noxious weed, lest its proliferation on the continent ruin the sale of its much-prized Merino wool.

Learn more with Dylan

You can explore herbal medicine through the lense of astrology and alchemy with Dylan for his course The Alchemy of Herbs. 
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