“hairy herb with erect flowering stems. Leaves oval, opposite. Flowers violet (sometimes white), in short, obling heads at the stem tips. Flowers April to July. Found in Field, woodland, wasteground, meadow and pasture habitats. perennial” – Gibbons 1992
Culpepper describes it as a small low, creeping herb and attributes it to the power of Venus. Like Bugle it is a ‘special herb for inward and outward wounds’. he also suggests its use for cleaning of external sores and ulcers, to flush green wounds and help them knit closed. Mixed with the oil of roses and anointed on the temples and forehead it was said to ‘remove the head-ach’ and mixed with honey of roses it ‘cleanses and heals all ulcers in the mouth and throat, and those also in the secret parts’.
So a cure all? A cleanse all to allow the body to heal itself, or just a pretty purple flower hiding in the grass?
She tasted and smelt mud and then raised her head and spat. Why was it always like this she wondered? why could it never happen when it was dry or just as she was about to fall into her blankets at the end of a long day. “Grandfather, Grandfather! come quickly!” The sound of her young brother’s voice pierced the painful haze surrounding her head. She felt the steady rain soaking her back as the rest of her body awoke, twinging and leaden.
Between them the two men helped her rise and stagger into the nearby hut, her basket of eggs forgotten. They would be broken and wasted but it did not matter, this was more important.
“What did you see?” Clamoured young Llew. “Go outside, impatient boy! Fetch the others, we will all hear then,” ordered their Grandfather. They all came, no one questioned a summons from Derw; Saille’s visions were not rare but they were always important. Everyone remembered when she foresaw the flooding last spring and the whole village left just in time to avoid being destroyed by the new path of the river.
As the thumping in her head receded and her normal vision cleared, Saille saw the waiting anxious faces around her and began to speak:
“I sat on a darkened hilltop and heard voices speaking quietly in some strange harsh language. They were coming towards me up the hill so I hid and watched from behind a rock. Ten geese flew across the moon as I waited for them to appear. They were strangers dressed for battle but muffled so their swords would not strike against their belts. They were happy to see such an open land in front of them, quiet in the dark with no lookout. ‘And so shall the daughters of the sea be unprotected as we come upon them and though their fathers shall rise, they will be cast down’. Then the mists rose and fell and I stood above a battlefield and all the pennants of men were broken and torn and blood ran in streams down the cliffs into the sea. As the sun set, a wolf stood and howled above the Dragon’s Tail and the laughter of men and marching of feet rang in my ears. The moon was full and the night black with ravens that covered every path and stream and rock like a cloak.”
“What does it mean?”
“A darkness is coming and we must be vigilant,” Derw concluded. “The king should know of this.”
“But when is it coming and how?”
“We will have to watch and be ready, be it ten days or ten generations until they come.”