The elf chaser

In ancient times plants were attributed with powers to chase away elves and banish devils, and were part of elaborate festivals. Midsummer was once seen as a dangerous season, when the sun needed strengthening, and crops and cattle needed protection from evil influences. Sun-like plants like St John's Wort, a midsummer weed, must have seemed very powerful as they were burned to purify the land. St John’s Wort had a special significance as it had leaves with curious marks that suggested pain and sacrifice. As the pagans became Christians, it became a holy herb, a symbol of St John. Now it has become absorbed into medicine, as a drug in the armoury against depression. A modern chaser of elves.

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