#SuperstitionSat Highlights: Shrubbery! Superstitions of Trees, Herbs & Veggies

Welcome back, everyone! We’re here for another pick of some Highlights of our Sessions on Twitter. Yesterday (19/11/22), you planted some superstitions of TREES, HERBS AND VEGGIES, and we watched them all grow into wonderful shrubbery. It’s all we wanted (lots of points if you know that reference)! But things have been hard behind the scenes at Superstition Saturday, which is why we shall be making an announcement at the end of this post. Anyway, without any further ado, let’s get into our Highlights!

Our first Highlight was from MaryAnn Thorson, who told us a tale about the mandrake. With roots said to resemble the shape of an infant, it was once believed that if this plant was dug out, you could hear it scream in total agony, as it cursed everyone involved in the process. Thus, one superstition arose that, if a dog were to pull it out from the soil, only the poor animal would be affected by this evil shriek. One of these strange rituals that MaryAnn alluded to was recorded in Custom and Myth (1884) by fairy tale book author Andrew Lang, available to read for free here, and which we’ll quote from:

“Then before sunrise on a Friday, the amateur goes out with a dog ‘all black’, makes three crosses round the mandrake, loosens all soil about the root, ties the root to the dog’s tail, and offers the beast a piece of bread. The dog runs at the bread, drags out the mandrake root, and falls dead, killed by the horrible yell of the plant. The root is now taken up, washed with wine, wrapped in silk, laid in a casket, bathed every Friday, and clothed in a little new white smock every new moon.”

Tweet says: "Mandrake. When the plant was uprooted, it would scream killing anyone who heard it. The gathering of the mandrake was carried out following elaborate rituals. The most famous ceremonies required the help of a hungry dog who was tied to the stem of the plant."
Tweet by MaryAnn Thorson.

Our second Highlight was from Ksandra, who told a tale about the yellow toadflax from Ukraine. Here, it was said that taking a sprig of this herb and wearing it in your hair might help you stay single a while longer! Unfortunately, we could not determine a source for this superstition, which is understandable as we don’t speak the language or know the alphabet. But we have always strived to feature regions of the world which we don’t talk about often enough in folklore. At times, we have focused too much on the United Kingdom and Ireland ourselves, as that is where sources were easier for us to find. But we shall be working towards decolonising folklore from here on out, so that’s why we decided to include this superstition today nonetheless.

Tweet by Ksandra.

Our third Highlight goes to Mina Stillwater, who shared some of the spiritual properties which agrimony is believed to possess. According to Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, agrimony can indeed be used to “cleanse and heal”, which is probably why it was considered an effective remedy against the evil eye. Other medicinal properties include: “weak acid stomach, indigestion, sluggish liver [and] gall bladder disorders”, among many others. So, all in all, a very useful plant to have in your cupboard!

Tweet says: "Agrimony has the power to boost any spell and counteract the Evil Eye, break a jinx and return it to sender. Works with Jupiter and Air. For restful sleep, do not ingest, rather use it in a charm and place under your pillow."
Tweet by Mina Stillwater.

Today, we have a fourth Highlight for you, as we will be saying goodbye to our Highlights. We picked this extra tweet for you today because of a running gag between us and our pals at ofdarkandmacabre, who would frequently jest that the patron of our Sessions was Lady Wilde. In that regard, Wunderkammer (one of the founders of ofdarkandmacabre) shared a tale from this enigmatic writer, who over the last few months seemed to have a superstition for everything. Lady Wilde’s book of Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions, where surely many of these were sourced from, is freely available to read here. Farewell, Lady Wilde!

Tweet says: "Take this herb, and hold it in your hand until you reach home, and no one can harm you. By Lady Jane Wilde. A branch of Athair-Luss, alehoof, catsfoot or ground ivy will keep the Others at bay, at least in the West of Ireland."
Tweet by Wunderkammer.

But yes, you have read it right. We are saying goodbye to our Highlights today. We do apologise for this, as we have been saying that we would carry on until the end of this year with this segment of our project. But the emotional toll of running #SuperstitionSat on Twitter has become too great to deal with, especially when considering recent developments regarding the future of the platform. It is because of this that we shall also be discontinuing our Twitter Sessions until further notice. From January 2023, all will be welcome to carry on sharing lore with our hashtag, but we shall be following in the footsteps of our inspiring and supporting friends at Folklore Thursday and stop hosting the hashtag on Twitter for now. This decision isn’t new—we confess we have been thinking about this for a long time as various events kept accumulating. Still, all Sessions scheduled until the end of this year will proceed as planned, and if we ever return to Twitter, or start hosting Sessions in another platform, we’ll be sure to let you know.

These Highlights shall also remain on our Blog for your archives and perusal, but moving forward, we shall be carrying on solely at our Instagram, as well as right here, on our website, where we will continue to post our in-house articles, our guest blogs, as well as create a new space called FLASHLORE, with small snippets of folklore the size of tweets—alongside our upcoming list of Sources, planned to be filled with lots of books about superstitions and general lore!

And of course, we shall be launching our new project with Bookworm Saturday soon, called Salt & Mirrors & Cats, so please stick around for that too!

Until then, do join us next week (26/11/22) for a super special and open theme, about your personal traditions and childhood memories. It’s what


Photo by Superstition Sam, depicting a stone cottage built in 1795!

As you will hopefully know by now, whether you’re old, new or just passing through, thank you so much for stopping by. Your presence has been much appreciated on our #SuperstitionSat Sessions on Twitter, as well as here on our website. Please do keep in touch if you would like to submit us anything, including your own Flashlore!

Thank you, from the bottom of my little heart. Your slightly unlucky cat pal,
– Superstition Sam 🐾