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Carmina Gadelica, Volume 2, by Alexander Carmicheal, [1900], at


p. 96

p. 97




SAINT JOHN'S wort is known by various names, all significant of the position of the plant in the minds of the people:--'achlasan Chaluim-chille,' armpit package of Columba; 'caod Chaluim-chile,' hail of Columba; 'seun Chaluim-chille,' charm of Columba; 'seud Chaluim chille,' jewel of Columba; 'allus Chaluim-chille,' glory of Columba; 'alla Mhoire,' noble plant of Mary; 'alla-bhi,' 'alla-bhuidhe,' noble yellow plant. Possibly these are pre-Christian terms to which are added the endearing names of Mary and Columba.

Saint John's wort is one of the few plants still cherished by the people to ward away second-sight, enchantment, witchcraft, evil eye, and death, and to ensure peace and plenty in the house, increase and prosperity in the fold, and growth and fruition in the field. The plant is secretly secured in the bodices of the women and in the vests of the men, under the left armpit. Saint John's wort, however, is effective only when the plant is accidentally found.

When this occurs the joy of the finder is great, and gratefully expressed:-- p. 97

'Achlasan Chaluim-chille,
Gun sireadh, gun iarraidh!
Dheoin Dhia agus Chriosda
Am bliadhna chan fhaigheas bas.'


Saint John's wort, Saint John's wort,
Without search, without seeking!
Please God and Christ Jesu
This year I shall not die.

[paragraph continues] It is specially prized when found in the fold of the flocks, auguring peace and prosperity to the herds throughout the year. The person who discovers it says:--

'Alla bhi, alla bhi,
Mo niarach a neach dh’ am bi,
An ti a gheobh an cro an ail,
Cha bhi gu brath gun ni.'


Saint John's wort, Saint John's wort,
Happy those who have thee,
Whoso gets thee in the herd's fold,
Shall never be without kine.

[paragraph continues] There is a tradition among the people that Saint Columba carried the plant on his person because of his love and admiration for him who went about preaching Christ, and baptizing the converted, clothed in a garment of camel's hair and fed upon locusts and wild honey.



p. 96


p. 97


BUAINIDH mise m’ achlasan,
Mar achan ri mo Righ,
Chosga fuath nam fear fala,
Chosga meanm nam ban bith.

Buainidh mise m’ achlasan,
Mar achan ri mo Righ,
Gur liom-sa buaidh an achlasain
Thar gach neach a chi.

Buainidh mise m’ achlasan,
Mar achan ris an Tri,
An sgath Triura nan Bras,
Agus Moire Mathair Ios.


I WILL cull my plantlet,
As a prayer to my King,
To quiet the wrath of men of blood,
To check the wiles of wanton women.

I will cull my plantlet,
As a prayer to my King,
That mine may be its power
Over all I see.

I will cull my plantlet,
As a prayer to the Three,
Beneath the shade of the Triune of grace,
And of Mary the Mother of Jesu.


Next: 166. St Columba's Plant. Achlasan Chaluim-Chille