Saturday, 17 December 2011

Holly Blue & Ivy, Gort in The Celtic Ogham

Ivy flowering in my garden
in December 2011
My garden is full of Ivy as until last week it  was heavily shaded by a 20 metre evergreen Pittosporum .  Ivy has grown up the fences  and  in the bottom third of the garden only Ivy flourishes on the East wall.  I loved its  glossy green leaves which are five lobed when young and as the Ivy matures and begins to flower the leaves change to a diamond shape.  The flowers grow in cluster and are green with yellow anthers and the fruits are black when they ripe inn early spring.  The fruit are loved by blackbirds, black capes and wood-pigeons. On sunny days in early spring the flowers  provides nectar for bumble bee  roused by the sun to come out of their warm nest.  It also harbours overwintering butterflies, moths, and spiders.   And in spring is a safe haven for the blackbirds to nest in and raise their young. 

In ancient hedgerow Ivy will clamber to the top of trees as it can grow up to thirty meters.  In one of the ancient woodlands I walk in the Ivy grows upwards and carpets the floor.  On the under side of the stems are  a thick mat of short roots, but it is not parasitic plant it is self supporting the red roots help it hold on  as it spirals to upwards.  In the Yew Grove at Kingley Vale ivy clambers amongst the yew where no other plant can tolerate the toxicity of the soil near yews.
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Holly Blue RSPB

Ivy and holly are bond together in ancient lore the ivy is the feminine and and emblem of the battle over sovereignty of the woods with holly, which is held to be masculine. Their relationship is linked not merely by carols and lore but in nature the holly and the Ivy share the nurture of  the beautiful Holly Blue Butterfly.  This beautiful butterflies emerge in March and can by seen flitting and basking high up on shrubs and trees.  In Spring the female Holly Blue will lay her eggs under the buds of a Holly tree.  Here the caterpillars will emerge after a week and eat the leaves of the holly, they prefer the female tree's leaves but will munch on the male tree as well.  In Summer the female Holly Blue will lay her eggs on or under Ivy flower buds  The caterpillars will feed on the Ivy leaf  and flower buds for three to four weeks.   Then Holly blue will pupate on the wood stems of the Ivy and overwinter there until they emerge the following spring. 

Early Spring and all Summer long this beautiful butterfly flit around my garden feeding on aphids' honeydew and salts from muddy ground.  In spring it is hard to tell the male and female apart.  the female has slightly thicker black edging to top of their wings, however, in summer the females emerging are a deep blue almost purple shade.  The males do not change colour.  both sexes have the same pale blue  under wings.   Wherever Holly and Ivy grow you will find The Holly Blue Butterfly.  Unlike many butterflies the Holly Blue is not endangered and it can be found in many gardens, churchyards, parks and woods.

Ivy is named Edihean in Welsh and  means Ivy for beauty.  In the  Celtic Ogham it is know as Gort.   Ivy often grows in a spiral as goes upwards to the sky and this is seen as representing growth and rebirth, and the cycles of lifeIvy even when cut back hard will regrow vigorously so to draw this few is guidance to be resolute in achieving a plan or task, or vigorous in the pursuit of an aim. It will also support the querent's spiritual journey   They Ivy has been seen as a plant of prophecy and is associated with the followers of  Bacchus And Dionysus.   But in the Celtic world, much closer to nature than we are,  could its reputation for helping  with prophecy be because of its important part in the life cycle of the Holly Blue Butterfly?   The colour of Ivy in the Celtic Ogham is gorm  - Sky blue -  the colour of the Holly Blue Butterfly.  Its  caterpillar after feeding  on the Ivy will change  into  a chryallis which clings to the woody stems for shelter from winters' chill and storms.   Finally in  early Spring it  transforms into a beautiful blue butterfly.  It is easy to believe it is a  magical messenger flying skywards taking messages to and from the otherworld.  

For the winter Solstice I will decorate the fire mantles with swathes of Ivy.  It will stay fresh for at least a week without water.  And  I will also decorate the Christmas table with Ivy twined with  flowering honey suckle .  The glossy evergreen leaves  of the Ivy and the fragrant flowers of the Honeysuckle are a reminder of the promise of  spring.

With Reiki blessing and light
to you all this Christmas
and a Happy New Year

Merry B

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