“Only spread a fern-frond over a man’s head and worldly cares are cast out, and freedom and beauty and peace come in.”John Muir
My mother is a gifted gardener. At times of crisis and despair I called my mother, which I was fortunate to be able to do. She often asked me when I was in my garden last. Creating a garden and caring for the plants and herbs has been therapeutic and nourishing to me. She often gives me plants as gifts and teaches me how to care for them. I have treasured these exchanges. In early March this year, she gave me a gift of two species of Fern in a beautiful pot for outside my front door.
I have always loved ferns. It is the reason I use them in my business logo. Young fern sprouts unfurl themselves in springtime to welcome the arrival of summer. Ferns adorn the forest floor in the woods near where I live, growing out of dead and decaying leaves. Over the past while I have learned a thing or two about them that I found interesting and decided to share.
As an Irish practitioner of Hawai’ian Lomi Lomi massage I was interested in finding out more about their significance in Irish and Hawai’ian culture. The Prehistoric Hawaiians, or Mu people, believed that due to the Ferns having acquired balance and completion within nature, they were chosen to hold and preserve emotional intelligence. It is the energy of Aloha, Love, which according to them is the truest expression of Earth reality. These codes or principles would be disclosed again at a time of change that many refer to as ‘The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.’
Ferns are an ancient group of plants of which there are over 10,000 species. The most recent estimate of their evolution dates them back to 400 million years ago. They have evolved many survival strategies for fertilization and dispersal of their spores. One example of this is through wind pollination. It is the only species on the planet to have achieved evolutionary stasis. This is when a species has fulfilled itself and has reached its evolutionary ceiling. They are well adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. They grow on forest floors and lakes sides here in Ireland and on remote islands in the South Pacific. They have an enduring legacy found in the mythology of ancient people all over the World.
In Irish mythology, the fern appears as a fairy or strange magical plant. It was also known as Bracken or Raithneach Mhór. The main reason for this was that they bear neither flowers nor fruit. Instead, they produce ‘mysterious’ almost invisible seeds (spores). They believed that a fairy changeling, banished into a river or lake, would turn into a clump of fern or yellow Iris. In one example the fern appears in the Cattle raid of Cooley. The warrior Nera enters a fairy mound at Samhain (Halloween). It’s summer in the land of the Sídhe (land of the fairies). So, he returns from the mound carrying flowers of Summer as proof of his stay. He brought back golden fern, wild garlic and primroses.
The many uses of Fern or Bracken in ancient Ireland ensured its place in the Irish Brehon laws. It was ‘one of the bushes of the wood’. The unlawful clearing of a field of bracken would set you back one dairt, which was a one year old heifer. (The currency of exchange was cattle in early Irish society). Some medieval scholars link Bracken with the Irish Ogham alphabet. These ancient, mysterious and magical plants have flourished over eons. Their ability to adapt through adversity ensured their survival and revival. They grow a strong steady network of roots. This provides them with the hydration and nourishment from the Earth and they thrive as a result.
Ferns are a wonderful totem to have at my front door. I look forward to welcoming my wonderful clients back with Aloha!
Culpepper’s Complete Herbal &English Physician-Nicholas Culpepper
Irelands Wild Plants, Myths, legends and Folklore. Niall mac Coitir
Principles of Aloha in Esotheric Hawai’in Botanical Medicine. https://www.pohala.net/fernlist