Here in Oregon's Willamette Valley you can hardly step out your door without encountering blackberries, and you often notice them because some part of your clothing–or, more painfully, your flesh–is snagged on a sharp, curving thorn. Blackberry is very direct.
The State of Oregon considers the Himalayan Blackberry an invasive plant; and I have to admit, if we stopped mowing and chopping down blackberry canes, the entire state would probably be buried in blackberries within a few months. Blackberry–especially the Himalayan variety–grows so fast in the summer you can almost see it move, and it’s nearly impossible to eradicate.
There are, of course, tame varieties you can plant without fear of being eaten alive by your garden. The properties of those varieties will have similar energy to the invasive varieties, and of course they will have delicious fruit. But I have a deep and abiding love for the wild variety, no matter how often it scratches me.
And I love using invasive plants for magic. They have big, aggressive energy which makes for potent magic. And they are available for free in great quantities.
Blackberry in the Ritual Circle
Blackberries can be used as-is for the simple feast in ritual, and given as offerings to nature spirits and the gods. Blackberry cordial makes a delicious beverage for harvest feasts or rituals.
Scott Cunningham, in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, says Blackberry is sacred to the goddess Brigid. I'm not sure if this association is based on lore or folk tradition, but it seems appropriate to me. Consider: If you've been scratched by blackberry canes, you know the scratches burn like fire. But the berries and flowers are cool and soothing, and I find them intensely watery, especially the fruit. The leaves are the most interesting: they often have sharp little spines on the underside, running along the center vein, so they have that scrape and burn quality about them. But blackberry leaves are traditionally used to treat burns and scalds. Cunningham attributes Blackberry to water, but for me she’ll always belong to both fire and water. This is one reason I feel an association with Brigid is fitting, Brigid being a goddess of both the forge and the holy well.
There's not room in this post to discuss blackberry's many medicinal qualities: I'll leave that to the clinical herbalists. But she heals at the spirit level as well as the physical.
All invasive plants teach us about resilience: blackberry can be used in magic and energy work to inspire strength and courage in challenging circumstances.
Blackberry takes hold in disturbed habitats, covering damaged ground, healing the soil, and providing food where there might otherwise be none. She can be used in healing magic for people who've been so wounded emotionally and spiritually they feel raw and exposed, and/or empty and barren. She can help you return from devastation.
Blackberry offers food and medicine to humans, and a tangle of brambles will shelter a surprising variety of birds, reptiles and rodents. But she doesn’t give it all away for free. If you approach without respect and attention, she’ll let you know she doesn’t appreciate your attitude, young lady. She is firm in her demand for respect and good boundaries. Sure, you might take her down with a lawn mower, but she’ll get a few good bites in before she falls: and she’ll be back good as new faster than you can say “bleeding blackberry scratches.” She's a valuable ally for anyone with a giving, caring nature who has a problem setting healthy boundaries. For this purpose, one might spend time meditating with the plant and/or ingesting the edible parts regularly over time, or walking in places where blackberry grows wild.
Blackberry is used for protection spells and charms as well, and I especially like the thorns for protective magic.
Anything as vigorous as blackberry makes good prosperity magic. Blackberry roots are especially good for spells designed to help meet our physical needs like food and shelter, and the leaves are wonderful for expanding businesses and creative efforts, or any situation where our prosperity is related to how we reach out into the world.
Resilience, healing boundaries, prosperity, protection ... that’s a lot of magic for an unassuming plant. But I’m a fan of everyday sorts of magic, and I like the company of so-called common things. There’s a lot of unexplored potential in the things we take for granted.
More information about the magic of blackberry, including a recipe for blackberry cordial and a prosperity spell using blackberry leaves, is available in printable pages in our on-line shop.
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