Fairy Magic, Sacred Spaces and Memories
I stumbled upon a bluebell glade with dappled light onto the hazy blue carpet below. It seemed that, for a moment, I was held in that enchanted place. It was a natural Cathedral, the tall surrounding trees like vast columns reaching up to the heavens and I breathed in time with the gentle sigh of their leaves in this tranquil spot. I was held in a timeless clearing, seemingly protected by the fairy folk, and for a while I escaped the modern world. The bluebells hung their heads with humility, despite their constancy, in this long-lost space. I was a visitor in a magical sanctuary where I felt uplifted by the tuneful choir of birds singing. And perhaps there was the faintest tinkling of the bells of the fairies calling . . . ?
Keats and the Bluebell Saphire Queen
It was Keats who named the bluebell ‘Sapphire queen of the mid-May’ in his poem ‘Fancy’ 1818. Two hundred years later the bluebells still capture our imaginations. We watch them gradually unfurl until they were full of regal splendour in May. When I see the bluebells en masse in the woods I feel a sense of rejoicing. In his expression of the Language of Flowers, written in 1869, Robert Tyas wrote that the bluebell represented kindness. However, I believe that the bluebell holds even greater significance for many of us.
Bluebells and Memories
Over the last few years of giving talks to groups about flowers and having Facebook and Instagram pages I have asked people what bluebells mean to them. Their answers are heartfelt and often moving. Many people mentioned their parents and grandparents and picking bluebells in days gone by. One person talked about how their grandmother had bluebells in her wedding bouquet. It was really moving that several people shared that they had scattered their parent’s ashes in bluebell woods. What an uplifting place to say your final goodbyes and be laid to rest and how reassuring it must be to go and visit that place every year and know that a loved one is at peace amongst the bluebells. I am a firm believer that when we see a flower that had special meaning to a loved one then, for an instant, we are with them again. Memories come flooding back and it is a moment to connect with them. It is an amazing and healing power that flowers have.
Bluebells are Fairy Flowers
I cannot talk about bluebells without mentioning fairies. Bluebells are often called fairy flowers. Some people believe that the dainty petals form perfect fairy hats, others that they are fairy thimbles or that fairies climb inside the bells to shelter from the rain. Other people say that the bluebells are rung to summon fairies to a meeting. Remember that fairies were not always good. In fact, the word ‘enchanted’ can mean a powerful ‘enchantment’ which left adults lost in fairy woods and children snatched by the fairies forever. So, hearing the tinkling of bells may not always be a good thing. I find it very easy to accept that fairies would dance and play in such a beautiful place. All I know is that I always ask the fairies’ permission before I enter a bluebell wood and I certainly whisper a ‘thank you’ as I leave.
The Flower Writer