Blackberries, the devil’s revenge

How do you feel about landing fundament first in a blackberry bush?  Not overjoyed, is our guess and neither was the devil when it happened to him.  Satan, who, having lost a battle in heaven with the Archangel Michael, was ejected from heaven on Michaelmas Day, September 29th (or, the 10th or 11th of October, according to the old Julian calendar).  When he fell to Earth he landed in a blackberry bush in the aforesaid undignified manner.  He thereupon cursed all blackberries and those who ate them after that date.

More prosaically, Michaelmas was the day that farmers traditionally used to mark the change in seasons; it was time to finish reaping and time to prepare for winter.  Practically speaking, the berries have been hanging about for quite some time at this stage, so it is not surprising that they are off.

The consequences of Satan’s malediction are that anyone eating the fruit after the 29th September will suffer illness, bad luck or, according to one version, will die within a year of consuming the berries.  The Americans have taken the curse to heart, to the extent that Michaelmas is known as Poisoned Blackberry Day in the USA.

The manner in which Satan caused blackberries to wither and become bitter occurred in various picturesque ways, depending on which legend you believe.

The different methods of spoiling the berries include the following:  stamping on them with his cloven hooves (Ireland), waving his tail over them or wiping it on them, spitting on them (England) and throwing his cloak over them (Scotland).  The Cornish have an earthier alternative:  urinating on them.

While you are contemplating which story should prevent you consuming these fruits, feel free to disport yourself on one of our Sheepland Handcrafted Long Fur Sheepskin Rugs.

Blackberries, or brambles, are famous in other fields, too (and we aren’t talking mobile ‘phones).  Folklore, after the fact, relates that the biblical ‘Burning Bush’ that Moses saw was a bramble bush and that Christ’s Crown of Thorns was made from bramble stems.

Babies, cats and horses supposedly feel ill when blackberries are ripe and if the bush flowers in May, cold weather, known as a Blackberry Winter, will follow.

If you believe in vampires, plant a blackberry bush close to the house to prevent them from entering.  It is said that the vampires will become so preoccupied with counting the berries that they will forget why they made their house call.

Blackberry leaf salad reputedly reaffixes loose teeth (trust us, carry on visiting the dentist) and passing under an arch of blackberry boughs can prevent or cure hernias, pimples and boils.

Blackberries have also been identified with diverse attributes, such as sorrow, haste and hubris (arrogance).  Their association with hubris originates from the legend of the Greek hero, Bellerophon, who slew the mythical monster, the Chimera.  Bellerophon, whose mother was mortal, presumed that he was as great as the gods and so should reside with them on Mount Olympus.  Zeus punished his arrogance by causing him to fall to Earth from his horse, Pegasus.  He promptly landed in a blackberry bush and was blinded.