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Heather Days

"Thou pretty wee flower, humble thing,
Thou brightest jewel of the heath,
Which waves at zephyr's tightest wing,
And trembles at the softest breath;
Thou lovely bud of Scotia's land,
Thou pretty fragrant burnie gem,
By whisp'ring breezes thou art fann'd
And greenest leaves entwine thy stem.
No raging tempest beats thee down,
Or finds thee in thy safe retreat;
By no rough wint'ry winds thou'rt blown,
Safe seated at the dark rock's feet."
~ The Wee Flower of the Heather, Lucretia Maria Davidson (1808-1825)

A day for the gathering and admiring of heather with this beautifully coloured tartan! Heather vies with the thistle as one of Scotland's most recognized flowers, especially in the Highlands where it grows in such purple profusion! The Gaelic for heather is "fraoch" and appears in many place names including Allt Fraoch Coire (stream of the heather corrie) in Glen Affric. As a plant, the beautiful heather has historically had many practical uses: its long leggy stems made durable thatching as well as strong rope which withstood the effects of seawater. Heather was also gathered together in bundles to make a variety of besoms and brooms. In fact heather’s botanical name Calluna comes from the Greek kalluna, meaning ‘to brush’. On the Isle of Lewis, a particular kind of heather hoe was used by drawing two rows of wooden teeth followed by a row of heather to smooth the soil. Heather has also been used in folk medicine. An infusion of heather tops were used to treat coughs, consumption and to soothe the nerves. Highlanders also made heather tea and ointments to treat arthritis and rheumatism. ‘Moorland tea’ made from heather flowers, was a favourite of poet Robert Burns! The sleep-inducing aroma from the dried flowers was also put to use to make heather mattresses. Long lengths of dried, flowering heather were placed together in the bed frame, flowers uppermost and leaning towards the bed head. These were so effective that In the 16th century James VI’s tutor George Buchanan was moved to write that a heather bed was “… so pleasant, that it may vie in softness with the finest down, while in salubrity it far exceeds it … and restores strength to fatigued nerves, so that those who lie down languid and weary in the evening, arise in the morning vigorous and sprightly.” 💜 💙 💚 💜 🌿

This tartan was designed by Locharron of Scotland.

Apart from its utility, heather is also an important plant in Celtic mythology and folklore.  Here are some beliefs about its magical qualities.

Keeping heather about the house is believed to attract friendly spirits and bring peace to the household. 

Carrying heather is said to attract positive energies, general good luck and protection against misfortune, making it useful for traveling sachets. 

Burning heather together with fern will bring rain. The two plants can also be bundled together and used to sprinkle water on the ground for the same purpose.

Heather can helps in summoning spirits and attracts faeries to the garden!

Apart from makig brooms, heather can be added to midsummer fires to ensure the fertility of the attendants.

For more on the uses and qualities of heather, click the beautiful photograph of the heathered highlands.

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