The Magic of Bilberry
I had never heard of Bilberry before. I was researching the grain harvest festival of Lammas when I ran across this peculiar fruit. I had initially mistaken the name for another coinage of blueberry, but it is not. It is a very different fruit altogether.
I sniffed around online and found the reason I had never heard of bilberries…is because bilberries are not native to America. Bilberries are found in Europe and are most prevalent in Sweden. They have enjoyed much popularity in European regions, being baked in cakes and pies, and even fermented into wines, much like blueberries and blackberries are here in the United States.
The Healing Power of Bilberry*
As for healing, like blueberries, bilberries are an incredibly potent healing fruit. Due to the copious amount of Anthocyanins and other powerful vitamins found in bilberries, they contain more antioxidants than cranberries, strawberries, plums, and raspberries.
The antioxidants in bilberries make them excellent for the skin and collagen health. They can also prevent premature aging and wrinkles and do well in fighting against cellulite. Any unsightly bruises? Bilberries can also help with that by helping them heal faster and make your skin more resilient to bruising in the future.
The Japanese have often referred to bilberries as “the vision fruit” because of their unique ability to improve night vision. Studies have shown that bilberries can help the eyes adjust quickly to darkness and even reverse the effects of macular degeneration.
Bilberry Rituals and Traditions
There is a myriad of rituals and traditions surrounding bilberries in Europe. In Iceland, wild harvesting of bilberry is very popular during the berry season. The Finnish like to eat bilberries fresh and bake them into Mustikkapirrakka –bilberry pie.
In Ireland, you can find a festival called Fraughan Sunday on the last Sunday in July, where bilberries, or as the Irish call it fraughan are gathered, and they also gather bilberries during Lammas. The Polish call bilberries jagody and make jagodzianka by putting bilberries in sweet buns as filling. Bilberries can even be found in the De-Militarized Zone of North Korea – where they have bog bilberry brandy.
Bilberry Lore and Mythology
According to myth, bilberries were created by Hermes when he turned his son Myrtillus’ body into a berry shrub after it washed onto shore. Œnomaus, the son of Aries, has an attendant named Myrtillus. Œnomaus was quite proud of his ability as a chariot racer and decided to challenge his daughter’s suitors – whoever could beat him in a chariot race could have his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Pelops, to secure his victory, asked Myrtillus to take the linchpin out of Œnomaus’ chariot. Sure enough, during the race, Œnomaus’ chariot overturned, mortally wounding him. With his dying breath, he petitioned Pelops to seek out his murderer and avenge him. Pelops in turn, threw Myrtillus into the sea. Coincidentally, bilberries are often found growing along the sea shore, and “myrtillus” is the classification for bilberry.
Magical Ways to Use Bilberry
- Bilberries have a close link to Lammas and harbor protective magical properties.
- You can dry bilberry leaves, powder them and sprinkle the dust around the house to protect your household.
- Burning bilberry as incense will also help you to this end and steer off negative energies.
- Foods that contain bilberry are good for de-hexing enchantments.
- A satchel containing bilberry can improve your luck.
- Bilberry leaves are helpful when pursuing material wealth and gain.
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