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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shamrock Charms


The Carmina Gadelica has a variety of charms relating to specific herbs. These charms are useful to anyone who in modern practice uses herbs either medicinally or magically so I've decided to start looking at some of them here by discussing the charms and the herbs properties. I'm going to start with two charms from volume 2 about the Shamrock (Seamrog or "little clover" in Irish) which could include any species of Trefoil, although there is debate over which Trefoil exactly was originally being referenced. The most likely candidates seem to be Red or White Clover or Lesser Clover, all of which are known as Shamrocks in different areas of Ireland and Scotland.  
 Medicinally the Shamrock has a long history of use. Historically it was used as an anti-spasmodic in the treatment of bronchitis and whooping cough (Grieve, 1971). It may also have been used in poultices to treat cancerous tumors (Grieve, 1971). Red Clover is still used medicinally today as an anti-spasmodic and anti-tumor, as well as a diuretic, expectorant, and stimulant (DeVries, 2010). White Clover in America has a long medicinal use as well, externally treating skin disorders, gout symptoms, and eye problems, and used in a tea for fevers and coughs (Plant Life, 2012). Because there are multiple types of Trefoils that are called Shamrocks anyone seeking to use them medicinally needs to clearly identify which exact type of clover they are dealing with and research its unique medicinal properties before using it.
Magically Shamrocks are best known for bringing good luck. Additionally modern magical practitioners use them for success, money, protection, love, and fidelity (Cunningham, 1985). When utilizing the traditional charms from the Carmina Gadelica for Shamrocks one might also add peace, fertility, and health to its magical uses. For that purpose you would want to chant the charm over the plant while harvesting it and save it for later use or carry it with you to gain its effect.  
Below are my updated pagan versions of the traditional Shamrock charms. Charm #170 is meant to be used with lucky clovers which may have four or five leaves, depending on which school of thought the person follows, as some say that four leaves are lucky and others favor five. From page 106 of Volume 2 of the Carmina Gadelica “some people say that the lucky shamrock has four leaves, other say five, but all agree it must be found by chance not sought out intentionally. Once found it is preserved as a peerless talisman.” (Carmichael, 1900).  The charm references seven joys, including health, friends, cattle, sheep, children, peace and piety, all of which are magnified by possessing a lucky four (or five) leaf shamrock.  
Lucky Shamrock Charm 170

Shamrock of good omens,
Beneath the bank growing
On which stood the gracious Lugh
,
     the many-skilled God.
The seven joys are,
Without evil traces,
On you, peerless one
Of the sunbeams--
     Joy of health,
     Joy of friends,
     Joy of cattle,
     Joy of sheep,
     Joy of sons, and
     Daughters fair,
     Joy of peace,
     Joy of the
Gods!
The four leaves of the straight stem, (alternately five)
Of the straight stem from the root of the hundred rootlets,
You shamrock of promise,
you are bounty and blessing at all times.”

   Alternately, for those of us without cattle or sheep, there is this more heavily re-written version:

"Shamrock of good omens,
Beneath the bank growing
On which stood the gracious Lugh
,
     the many-skilled God.
The seven joys are,
Without evil traces,
On you, peerless one
Of the sunbeams--
     Joy of health,
     Joy of friends,
     Joy of prosperity
     Joy of abundance,
     Joy of fertility, and
     Success fair,
     Joy of peace,
     Joy of the 
Gods!
The four leaves of the straight stem, (alternately five)
Of the straight stem from the root of the hundred rootlets,
You shamrock of promise,
you are bounty and blessing at all times.”


This next short charm is rather ambiguous in its meaning and could apply to any type of clover. It seems to me to imply both a protective quality to the shamrock and an association with the dead. It may also mean that shamrocks are good to plant on graves.

   Shamrock of Power Charm 171

Shamrock of foliage,
Shamrock of power,
Shamrock of foliage,
Which Airmed
 found under the bank,
Shamrock of my love
,
Of most beautiful hue,
I would choose you in death,
To grow on my grave,
     I would choose you in death,
     To grow on my grave

References 
Carmicheal, A., (1900). Carmina Gadelica volume 2
Daimler, M., (2010). By Land, Sea, and Sky
Cunningham, S., (1985) Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs
Grieve, M., (1971) A Modern Herbal
DeVries, L., (2010). Red Clover., http://medicinalherbinfo.org/herbs/RedClover.html
Plant Life (2012). White Clover., http://montana.plant-life.org/species/trifol_repe.htm 

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