A messy upcycled
child planted collection of favorite herbs, old slates telling stories behind the plants created by my daughter, scraps of folklore and ancient myths chalked onto stones amidst native Scottish plants.
As taken by my daughter with school for a recent Scottish photography competition…
Yep we’re slap bang in the middle of the (stunningly beautiful) setting of the Scottish part of Outlander!
My lovely friend Claire MacKay http://www.herbalheritage.co.uk/ and I have spent several years now talking about a co-joining of her work collecting traditional Scottish herbal remedies and uses and my researching, collecting and patchworking together the stories that I feel were once (in times when oral traditions were a more commonplace way of sharing knowledge) a vital way of sharing and enjoying our knowledge of plants.
Then one day I phoned her for a chat to discuss the native plants I wanted to use in my story garden and she told me the news…she had been asked to be the herbal consultant on the TV production of Diana Gabaldon’s best seller “Outlander”http://www.outlanderherbal.com/ …. very fabulous…AND a brilliant opportunity to do the thing we’re both passionate about…share our love of herbs, the history, the uses, how they bind us to our culture, landscape and give us all sorts of gifts in a little bundle of botanical magic.
A year or so passes, weddings are held, babies are born…
We talk about other stuff, weddings, the baby, bicycles, marigold, raspberry leaves, Atropa Nights http://www.botanicafabula.co.uk/Atropa-Nights.html , journeys…
Then we have a late night catch up on facebook…’I’m off to New York’ she says, ‘for Tartan Week’ http://nyctartanweek.org/ she says, ‘with Visit Scotland’ http://www.visitscotland.com/ she says, ‘will you create or share a wee herbal story based on the herbs they’ll be using at a banquet?’ she says…’to go on USB sticks to go in the guests goody bags’ she says…
Will I?….OF COURSE I’d love to
My work is a bit like the view from my garden…part working with children often for people like the National Literacy Trust for example, who fund sessions to encourage reading in big inner city schools or with Alzheimers sufferers in care homes, voluntary sessions, community projects…Some of my work is a bit glamorous …and it takes the glamorous sessions, I find, to get the stories out, to share my love of stories and herbs and in fact to keep the storytelling alive and to ensure it’s something that schools, community projects etc want to have… it takes both, I love the mixture it’s a combination that makes me happiest.
Tartan week…Visit Scotland’s ‘Give in to Your Kilty Pleasures’ campaign sounds pretty exciting and glamorous, the editor of Vogue might be going to this do….she might read my story…heavens above she might like it….that’s glamorous! It sounds like the perfect opportunity to encourage a love of our stunning landscape, an interest in our history and the amazing things herbs can do and hopefully a chance for some more people to maybe enjoy some of my stories, I’m only sad that I didn’t get the chance to go and tell them story in person!
Anyway this week I thought I’d share the story I wrote it’s about Rosemary and Juniper a vital Scottish Native thats sadly under threat http://www.plantlife.org.uk/wild_plants/work/savingjuniper/scotlandjuniper both were used throughout history to smoke out both illness and demons and this is part of the tale I wove from the references in classic literature, legends and folkore that surround them:
On Rosemary and Juniper Amanda Edmiston 2015
Mara had only the barest memory of the sea, she remembered her mother’s lullabies lilting softly in time to the echo of the waves, the intermittent shriek of the gulls, the percussive shingle unsettled by the tides moon struck nuances, but she wanted to remember, wanted to remember now as she held her own child, her shawl wrapped round them both, its blue woolen fibers buffeted by the cold wind as she fled from that which would harm her.
She had tried the ancient traditional purification rituals her mother had taught her, to rid her world of these demons, burnt Rosemary as the romans had done when they came to this shore and Juniper as the highlanders always had, to cleanse the air, but the witches had battled through, they had counted all the leaves on the Juniper bush planted on her threshold and had only been distracted from their mischief for long enough to allow her to gather Violets for her child’s cough and Rosemary to help her remember the shore she sought and to ward off the plague (like a Queen carrying a Maundy bouquet as she tended the poor) and then she hastily left through the back of the bothy.
‘Look at my flowers’. The words kept whirling round her head, the words of a young girl lapsing into madness ‘There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembering. Please remember, love. And there are Pansies, they’re for thoughts’, Ophelia’s bouquet so sorrowful, a floral manifestation of a young girls hopes to meet her lover shown on St Magdalen’s day, or maybe as Herick said
‘Grow for two ends – it matters not at allBe’t for my bridall, or my buriall.”
Mara clutched her bundle, her herbs and her child and ran…the wisps of shawl turning the flowers of the bushes blue as she fled from the sickness that sent those around her mad and dreaming of demons and fled to the shore where the sea foam she just remembered would take her away, like a mermaid returning, to safety and distant dreams…
Amanda Edmiston 2015
Based in the beautiful Scottish village of Doune one time student of herbal medicine and now acclaimed professional storyteller: Amanda researches, collects, writes and retells stories which contain the traditional uses and folklore surrounding plants, she often finds snippets of lost ancient stories, myths and literary references and combines these to create new stories. She has created work for the Scottish Ballet which can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/33029012 and for Edinburgh International Science festival