Fern is an herb rooted deep in herbal lore. More powerful than even mandrake, people depended on the fern to stay safe. Fern tea bathed away the evil effects on frightened child and ancient Greek nymphs lived beneath the leaves of bracken.
An Herb of Many Cultures
Varieties of fern have a place in traditions of cultures in many places around the world. Protections from all types of sorcery and witchcraft could be guaranteed when French fern was gathered before the sun rose.
While the devil is said to make a face each time he passed fern, Northern Italians claimed that witches rub it over their hand as they direct damaging hailstorms to devastate crops and property. In Germany, ferns growing over the graves of animals possessed the power to bring riches and invisibility. However, the Germans knew better than to step on these ferns accidentally or they would lose their way no matter how well they knew the area. Clothes and shoes turned backward were the only means to find the path again.
Estonians preferred to gather their fern herb fronds on Midsummer's Eve to insure they were at their most potent. Special powers of invisibility were granted to the herb harvester if they could reach the fern by walking through a ring of live snakes and not look back. This brave soul could steal at will, passing through any locked door.
Fern gathered at Midsummer seems to have been special in many cultures. Place of sprig of it under the pillow at night, and awake with a coin in the morning. Homes in Central Europe found protection from lightening strikes and luck was attracted instead by hanging the root of the fern dug up on Midsummer's Eve. However, this herb had to be dried in a room without light.
Botanists can say that the fern doesn't produce a true seed, but that doesn't change the tradition and folk history of the fern seed. It's said that on certain extraordinary days the herb will burst into flowers and then to seed. Luckily this is an event that usually happens only once every century or so because as soon as the seeds are gathered and the flowers fade fierce storms erupt. Both seed and flower smell like corruption, but their rarity make them worth the gathering.
A single fern seed in the pocket allows speaking with inanimate objects. The lucky person will never be short of luck or energy. Put the seed in an amulet to keep from being wounded while retrieving the treasures that are revealed to the wearer.
Even the devil, who hates the fern so much that he makes a face whenever he sees it, uses the elusive fern seed to his advantage. Men have been known to sell their souls for a single seed that will be delivered in the devils own hand at midnight. The recipient of the rare seed will enjoy vast wealth, right up until the devil returns to collect.