I’ve been thinking about mistletoe a lot lately.
I know, strange way to come back after a long absence, but hear me out.
With the Christmas season just over, mistletoe was a hot topic of song and conversation. For most people, it’s a fun, harmless little plant under which to plant a smooch on their sweetheart. But of course, there’s more to it than that.
European mistletoe is both a parasite and a poison. It grows attached to a host tree, stealing nutrients while producing its own blend of toxins. In Roman literature, scholars have associated mistletoe with the Golden Bough that granted Aeneas access to the Underworld, and in Norse mythology, it was mistletoe that killed Baldur, the god of beauty and light. Romantic, right?
I feel like there’s a lot of mistletoe around us right now. In fact, I feel like I’ve even been mistletoe at times. It’s is a tendency to drain the good from life and turn it into festering negativity, all while maintaining the façade of beauty and happiness. I’ve been through a lot since being absent from this site, however, going forward I’d like to try be more open, personally and professionally. I don’t want to call it a New Year’s Resolution, since we all know how those work out, but it’s something I’ll be working on.
In that spirit, here’s an excerpt from my upcoming novel that I promise I have been working on, despite my absence. Enjoy!
There was an additional item on the list of ingredients that was both smudged and indistinct in its vernacular. But as I slowly worked out each phonetic stroke, its meaning became clear: Mistletoe!
I reeled back in my chair, shoving the hide away from me, rubbing my temples. Why would a poison such as mistletoe be included a fertility potion? It was a fertility potion, wasn’t it? Or had I been wrong in assuming the old woman’s intentions all these months?
Then my memory flashed back to one of my early days on the Isle. A visiting Druid had sheltered overnight, and we young girls had gathered around him to hear tales of his land, Midgard, where magic once flowed freely but was now drying up like water in a summer’s creek. He told of the methods still used there, one of which was the essence of mistletoe for women trying to conceive. We – we young, all-knowing, bright-eyed darlings – scoffed at such an idea. Yet now I had second thoughts. If even my own body has the potential for irredeemable death, couldn’t such an innocuous berry also surprise me with its life-giving capabilities?