Walking outdoors on a late autumn morning, looking at some fragile, dying trees, next to the water, I noticed something green and very much alive growing on the trees – mistletoe. I tried to understand how an evergreen half-parasite, which can produce its own food by photosynthesis, prefers to take and weaken the lives of others rather than use its own potential. I started thinking of humans and how often we do the same thing.
Taking advantage of others, mistletoe remains green during the winter without having roots. Due to this fact, ancient Celtic Druids believed mistletoe was planted by gods, thus representing divine blessing, and bringing good luck. There are many rituals and ceremonies connected with this plant, yet one of the most interesting origins comes from the Celts, when on the sixth night of the moon, Druids, dressed in white, cut off mistletoe from Oak trees (tree of the gods), whilst two white bulls were sacrificed and mistletoe was transformed into an elixir for fertility, circulation, and healing. Interestingly, even in modern times, this plant has actually been used to cure cancer. Proving its characteristics of healing, mistletoe soon became a symbol of love and protection, as well as a way of dispelling negativity and evil.
Let's start kissing and spread love!
The belief that kissing under mistletoe brings luck probably comes from those times, however, in Swedish tradition there is a beautiful myth grounding this belief and keeping it alive. During those times, the goddess of love and mother of the summer sun used mistletoe as her sacred plant. One night, in her dreams, she was given the message that her son was about to die. She went to all the elements in nature, including the animals and plants, asking for them to promise to not harm her son. Yet, she forgot to ask the mistletoe. God of evil and the enemy of the summer sun, used this opportunity, made an arrow tip from the mistletoe, gave it to the blind god of winter, who then struck the summer sun dead. After a long time of weeping, she managed to bring her son back to life. It has been said that each tear, she shed for her son turned into a pearly white berry on a mistletoe. When her son was alive again, the goddess kissed everyone passing beneath the tree on which the mistletoe grew. This is why a kiss given under the mistletoe represents a token of true love.
Spreading love, wherever it grows!
During my next walk I realised that despite dying trees, there are more birds around than there were in my childhood because the mistletoe provides more space for the birds to nest in. Moreover, during cold winter days, birds and other animals rely on the mistletoe berries as they are high in protein. Some native bees also depend on the mistletoe nectar for survival. So, at the end of the day, nature always has an answer to everything, balancing itself out completely. A mistletoe takes in order to give!