Friday, May 29, 2009




With honeysuckle, over-sweet, festooned;
With bitter ivy bound;
Terraced with unguses unsound;
Deformed with many a boss
And closed scar, o'ercushioned deep with moss;
Bunched all about with pagan mistletoe;
And thick withnests of the hoarse bird
Taht talks, but understands not his own word;
Stands, and so stood a thousand years ago,
A single tree.
Coventry Patmore, 1823-1896

The Ivy is not able to support itself but depends upon trees and walls up which to climb. But once it has gained hold, nothing can seperate it, hence its meaning. It does not live off its partner, however, but feeds off its own roots.

Associated with Holly both are used to decorate our homes at Christmas. This tradition originated centuries ago in order to protect us from evil spirits: the druids believed the Holly and the Ivy has magical properties and would drive away the devil. Hung in the cow-shed Ivy would stop the milk from turning sour.

Growing on the wall of a house Ivy would keep the occupants safe from witches and if it died, disaster was anticipated. In Wales, if the Ivy failed, it meant the house would pass into other hands, probably through infertility.

Ivy, with its clinging habit, is a feminine symbol.

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