The Foxglove

Good Thursday, readers! Since I’ve written on the legend behind the Chinese Lily Lycoris Radiata, I’ve wanted to look into more myths and legends surrounding flowers. This week, I thought I’d focus on the British Isle’s foxgloves.

A sign and symbol of the fae, foxgloves have a few different nicknames that nod to the flower’s lore such as folk’s gloves and fox’s gloves. There are oodles more, but let’s just talk about these two. The name fox’s gloves refers to the belief that foxes wore the flowers on their fingers to steal from chicken coops. Folk’s gloves refers to the faerie, sometimes known as the wee folk.

Where foxgloves grow there is said to be a doorway to the faerie realm. It is said that if a person were to pick the flowers, the faerie folk would seek their revenge as the flower is loved by the fae. Some faeries make their homes in this flower, others wear it. When the long stalk of the flower bows its head, it is said the fae are walking by. In Norse mythology, it is thought foxes wore the flowers around their necks and the ringing of the bells warded off hunters and hounds.

Outside of mythology, the foxglove is poisonous, and many animals avoid it. A true sign of the fae, the flower appears in the moors, woodlands, and seaside cliffs. It is also said to appear where the forest has been burnt. A true testament to the fae, don’t you think?

In folk medicine, the herb was once used to help treat those with epilepsy or those who suffered from seizures, and a certain dosage helped regulate the pulse. This is most certainly not recommended, as we know all parts of the plant are poisonous. Don’t do it. Bad.

This flower has loads of stories to accompany it, each donning the flower with a new name. For instance, in Roman mythology, the goddess Flora touched Hera three times with a foxglove in order to impregnate her with the god Mars. Because of this, the flower is associated with midwifery, women’s magic, and white magic, thus granting it the name Granny’s Gloves or Witch’s Gloves. The dew collected on the flower is perfect for faerie magic (beware though! The wee folk are tricky!). In this part of the world as well, those white-magic-practicing witches are said to have fox familiars with foxglove flowers around their necks.

As Christianity turned the earth, it brought foxgloves with it, deeming the flower as sacred to the Virgin Mary.

The plant has mythologies and good symbols galore, despite its being poisonous. Be wary though, don’t forget this plant is the fae’s favorite. Pick it absent-mindedly and you may get some tricks played on you!

Do you have a favorite flower, or mythology that surrounds a flower? Let me know in the comments!

 

Thank you all for reading!

-M

 

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