Herbal Cures and Charms
From Mooshie & Cinderella Bull
Moll is hopelessly headstrong and reckless but she has a few people back in Oak’s camp looking out for her – which is probably just as well… Because if Mooshie wasn’t on hand to brew herbal cures for her scrapes and bruises and Cinderella Bull wasn’t there to work spells against Skull’s dark magic, who knows where Moll would be. So, without further ado, over to Mooshie, Moll’s adoptive mother, and Cinderella Bull, the camp’s fortune-teller…
MOOSHIE: All trees have a spirit and they lend it to us if we listen hard. Trouble is, Moll is so busy tramping around her tree fort with Siddy and leaping from branches with Gryff, that she sometimes forgets about the old magic lying at the heart of the forest. But just in case you have a moment, here are a list of my favourite trees, plants and animals, together with their uses and medicinal gifts.
- Silver birch: its spirit protects against evil beings and the sap is good for sugar when you’re making beer and wine. And if you have kidney stones, drinking a few glasses of birch sap every day will dissolve them
- Holly berries: the greatest fertility charm there is. It’s worth hanging a cluster from your wagon though try telling Moll that – she has no interest in this kind of thing. It’s also a protection charm against witches, goblins and the devil and the young leaves can be used as a cure for colds, bronchitis and rheumatism
- Crab apple trees: the fruit can be used in crab apple jelly and wine and the pips can determine whether you are in love! Throw the pips into the fire while saying the name of your true love aloud, then if the pip explodes, the love is true
- Lovage: if you sprinkle this herb on your lover’s food it will increase his or her love for you and ensure faithfulness (my friend, Patti, is a firm believer in this). You can also use lovage as a cure for colic and wind in young babies
- Mugwort: after laying some mashed potato on the wound, press cooling, anti-inflammatory herbs like mugwort into the poultice. Try to gather the mugwort in a thunderstorm (herbs picked in a thunderstorm carry extra healing properties)
- Hedgehog: carrying a hedgehog paw in a leather pouch around your neck will cure toothache (though it took me ages to convince Hard-Times Bob of this). If the toothache is particularly bad, suck on the paw from time to time
CINDERELLA BULL: For the past few years I haven’t had to use that many protection charms – and I’ve only ever brought my crystal ball out at feasts – but Skull’s dark magic has grown stronger and I’ll do everything I can now to keep the camp safe.
- Talisman: every gypsy in the camp has a talisman, a good luck charm to ward off evil. Moll has a boxing fist necklace with her initials on, Siddy has a stone with a hole in the middle hung round his neck and I have a leather pouch full of salt
- Protection charms to hang from wagons: It’s worth hanging any of the following to ward off evil – lemon peel, fragments of mirror, salt, fox teeth, jay feathers…
- Reading the crystal ball: My crystal ball is made from black obsidian and has been handed down the Frogmore family for generations. I keep it hidden inside my wagon and wrapped tight in silk. Though it drains my energy to read it, I can sometimes foresee events. The trick is to wait for a full moon and then look inside the obsidian (don’t stare at it without blinking as that only strains your eyes). After a while the ball will fill with swirling white clouds and when they disappear you are left with a picture
- Learning animal signs: sometimes the animals in the camp or on the farm nearby provide clues as to what weather might unfold (though Siddy’s pet earthworm, Porridge the Second, has brought no such luck). If pigs grow restless, grunt loudly and jerk up their heads, there will be a great deal of wind; if spiders, in spinning their webs, make the final filaments long, the weather will be fine for a considerable stretch of days; to meet a red-headed person riding a white horse is extremely good luck
Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher in Africa, Berkshire and London.
The Dreamsnatcher is her debut novel and when she’s not writing about Moll and Gryff, she also runs her the children’s books blog www.moontrug.com.
Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life. Because Moll is more important than she knows…The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure.
Read the interview with Abi Elphinstone review by clicking the link HERE
You can read my review by clicking the link HERE