Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore

A Review

by Paris Finley

This book surprised me. I was expecting something a bit on the silly side.

I know, I know. That reveals my prejudice against anything tagged “fairy tale” or “fairy lore” as being children’s lit. But I admit I was wrong. For one thing, the book included tons of cool little details about Scotland. (Did you know that they pasteurized before Pasteur was even born?) Even though I have some Clan Farquharson blood in me somewhere, I didn’t realize how close to the land those ancestors of mine lived.

Yes, I did discover important and useful information on the uses of herbs, from a culinary standpoint, from a medicinal view, and from their traditional uses in magic. Ancient stones, ceramics, skulls sit side by side with the cultural customs of birth and death. I learned how to create my own Stonehenge (it looks hard; I probably won’t).

It isn’t just that Ellen Evert Hopman has put together a book of lore — farming, fishing, drinking, cursing — (verbally and magically) — she has also made it an entertaining week (or three) of evening reading. For the academically inclined, she does have an index and a pronunciation guide. (Pendraig Publishing, paperback, $17.95.)

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