Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yarrow Plant & Flower in Popular Culture

Stories about yarrow feature in traditional Chinese culture. For example, it is said that it grows around the grave of Confucius. Also the most authentic way to cast the Yi Jing is to use dried yarrow stalks. The stems are said to be good for divining the future. Chinese proverbs claim that yarrow brightens the eyes and promotes intelligence. Yarrow and tortoiseshell are considered to be lucky in Chinese tradition. Oriental tradition also assured mountain wanderers that where the yarrow grew neither tigers nor wolves nor poisonous plants would be found.

In Classical tradition, Homer tells us that the centaur Chiron, who conveyed herbal secrets to his human pupils, taught Achilles to use yarrow on the battle grounds of Troy. Achilles is said to have used it to stop the bleeding wounds of his soldiers. For centuries it has been carried in battle because of its magical as well as medicinal properties. Western European tradition also connects yarrow with a goddess and a demon. Yarrow was a witching herb, used to summon the devil or drive him away. But it was also a loving herb in the domain of Aphrodite.

Yarrow also featured in British folk customs and beliefs. Yarrow was one of the herbs put in Saxon amulets. These amulets were for protection from everything from blindness to barking dogs. In the Middle Ages, witches were said to use yarrow to make incantations. This may be the source for the common names devil's nettle, devil's plaything, and bad man's plaything. Some people believed that you could determine the devotion of a lover by poking a yarrow leaf up your nostril and twitching the leaf while saying, "Yarroway, yarroway, bear a white blow: if my love loves me, my nose will bleed now." (Yarrow is a nasal irritant, and generally causes the nose to bleed if inserted). Nursery rhymes say if you put a yarrow sachet under your pillow, you will dream of your own true love. If you dream of cabbages (the leaves do have a similar scent), then death or other serious misfortune will strike. A folk belief states that if you hang a bunch of dried yarrow or yarrow that had been used in wedding decorations over the bed, you can thus ensure a lasting love for at least seven years.

In literature, in the book The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse, Elder Brother uses yarrow stalks to divine the will of the Oracle.

In the science-fiction/fantasy novel Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey, Yarrow (or Yarra) is mentioned as the name of a planet where 'the best beer in the galaxy' is brewed.

In the manga and anime series Bleach, the insignia for the Eleventh Division is the Yarrow; the meaning behind it is Fight.


See also: Flowers Philippines, Flower Sydney, Flowers Brisbane

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