Why this blog is called "Gallimaufry".

gal-uh-MAW-free\, noun.

Originally meaning "a hash of various kinds of meats," "gallimaufry" comes from French galimafrée; in Old French, from the word galer, "to rejoice, to make merry"; in old English: gala + mafrer: "to eat much," and from Medieval Dutch maffelen: "to open one's mouth wide."

It's also a dish made by hashing up odds and ends of food; a heterogeneous mixture; a hodge-podge; a ragout; a confused jumble; a ridiculous medley; a promiscuous (!) assemblage of persons.

Those of you who know me, will, I’m sure, understand how well some of these phrases (barring the "promiscuous" bit!) fit me.

More importantly, this blog is an ode to my love for Shimla. I hope to show you this little town through my eyes. If you don't see too many people in it, forgive me, because I'm a little chary of turning this into a human zoo.

Stop by for a spell, look at my pictures, ask me questions about Shimla, if you wish. I shall try and answer them as best as I can. Let's be friends for a while....

8 May 2006

The 'other' Yarrows

'Summerwine' Yarrow is a herb self-sown in the truest way meant by Wordsworth.
This aromatic, lacy-leaved plant is topped with a flat head of small flowers. It was once used for colds and as a tonic.
In the ancient times, Yarrow was used medicinally to staunch wounds & stop bleeding. It was sacred to the god Ares, & was in particular associated with the godlike warrior Achilles, for whom the genus "Achillea" is still named. It was said to have sprung from the rust Achilles scraped from his spear to heal a centaur fallen in battle, whom Achilles himself had injured.
Its association with warriors continued through the ages, so that it has been known by such names as Soldier's Woundwort, Staunch Weed, Military Herb, Knyten or Knight's Milfoil, Militaris, & was carried by soldiers into battle to insure courage & magical protection from being wounded at all.
I found two old English verses related to this flower...
1. If my love do not love me, it won't bleed a drop,
If my love loves me, 'twill bleed every drop.

Apparently, Yarrow was used to test whether one's love was true! For this purpose, a piece of yarrow was placed up the nose. If it induced a nosebleed, then one's lover was true; if it did not induce a nosebleed, one's lover was unfaithful!!
2. Yarrow, sweet Yarrow, the first I have found,
In the name of Jesus Christ, I pluck it from the ground.
As Jesus loved sweet Mary & took her for his dear,
So in a dream this night, I hope my true love will appear.

One was supposed to pick a sprig of Yarrow and place it under a pillow, resulting in a visit, in dreams, of one's lost lover....
Lastly, A tonic of Yarrow tea if taken within a church was supposedly a great cure for demonic possession.

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