On the Calendar
As summer draws to an end, nights turn chilly, yet many afternoons are warm and fair as we begin that slow slide into autumn. This turning of the wheel of the year brings dramatic changes with foliage blazing into brilliant colors and summer birds gathering in huge flocks for their journey south. This is a time for gathering in and drawing abundance into our lives. This month takes its name from the Latin septem, meaning “seven” as it was the seventh month on the Roman calendar.89
On the Calendar
September 2: The Celtic Month of Vine/Bramble Begins
While vine has come to include the grapevine, it actually refers to the blackberry vines that populated the hedgerows in the British Isles and formed thorny thickets. The name of the ogham character Muin comes from a Gaelic word meaning “thicket.” 90 Wine has been produced from blackberries for many centuries.
American Blackberry (Rubus villosus)
European Blackberry (R. fruticosus)
*Also known as wild blackberry
Both are also known as bramble, brambleberry, cloudberry, and dewberry
Blackberry bushes are sprawling shrubs with woody, arching stems called canes. Canes tend to take root where their tips rest on the ground. Blackberry leaves are comprised of three to five coarsely serrated leaflets. They are oval and dark green on top and pale underneath. White, five-petaled flowers grow in clusters at the ends of the stems. Each flower produces a berry, which is actually a cluster of little fruits. The berries change from green to red to black as they ripen. They are fully ripe when dull black, not glossy. The European blackberry was instrumental in the development of modern garden cultivars.
In European folk medicine, the arching canes were believed to have magical properties, and people crept underneath the arches or passed children through gaps in the bush for particular cures. Blackberry bushes were also believed to protect against evil. In parts of England, they were sometimes planted or placed on graves with the belief that they would keep the dead in place. There was a widespread belief that blackberries should not be eaten after a certain date, which varied by region. This ban usually had to do with the devil or witches. Also, warm weather at the end of September was known as a blackberry summer.
Grow a blackberry bush on your property to attract fairies, or set out a small bowl of berries as a token of friendship with them. Eat a handful of blackberries before magic work or when working with the fairy realm. Burn dried leaves in spells to attract money, or sprinkle them around your property to draw luck. Make a wreath with several prickly canes to hang above your altar or on your front door for protective energy. Place a blackberry cane alongside your altar to aid in grounding energy after rituals. Also, because blackberries are associated with Brigid, gather enough to make jam or wine and use it to honor her at Imbolc.
Blackberry is associated with the element water, and its astrological influence comes from the moon and Venus. This plant is associated with fairies and the deities Brigid, the Dagda, Danu, Freya, and Manannan.
Figure 28. Blackberry is associated with the ogham Muin.
September 14: Nutting Day
In England, it was customary to go to the woods on this date to gather nuts. By contrast, September 21st was called Devil’s Nutting Day, and people were warned to stay out of the woods because the devil would be gathering nuts on that day.