The

Story

of

RAPUNZEL
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SHEEP's RAMPION (JASIONE MONTANA)  a.k.a. "RAPUNZEL"
The juice applied externally heals foulness and disclosing of the skin.  A perennial, also known as Sheep's Bit Scabious, which resembles Devil's Bit Scabious. It grows to about three feet (90 cm) with faint-green leaves and fine blue flowers.
Where to find it: Grassland, particularly high pastures, and heathland (found wild in the UK and  Western Europe).  It likes a lime-free soil.
Flowering time:  Late summer.
Astrology:  It is under the dominion of Mercury.
Medicinal virtues:  An infusion of the flowers is excellent for disorders of the chest, such as asthma and difficulty of breathing; also for fevers.
Past uses:  Medicinal and as a food item (salads, side dish).
Modern uses: The plant resembles Devil's Bit, which is indicated for similar purposes.  Sheep's Rampion is not in current use due to its rarity.
Once upon a time, a poor dayworker and his wife lived in a little cottage at the edge of their village.  They were poor but basically happy people, very much devoted to each other.  As this story unfolds, their happiness was especially great because the wife has just told her husband that, at last, there would be a child to make their lives complete.
     Now is happend that the little window of their bedchamber, which was right beneath the roof of their cottage, overlooked a huge garden which was normally protected from prying eyes by a high wall going all the way around.  Nobody had ever set foot in there because it belonged to an old woman who was rumoured to possess strange powers, a sorceress, and frankly, everyone was totally scared of her.  Alas, the young woman, well into her pregnancy, happend to notice a bed of Rapunzels, fresh and inviting, and she was beset by a terrible craving.  She started to beg her husband to get her some of these rapunzels, and no matter how her husband tried to tell her how dangerous and downright impossible it would be to get his hands on these plants, the woman was so overcome with longing that after a few days, the poor man started to get worried about her health and one evening bravely scaled the wall.  Luck was with him.  A basket of rapunzels over his shoulder, he made it back home unscathed.  His wife immediately prepared a salad and ate every last bit.  They went to bed very happy that night.
     But this wasn't to last for a few days later, her craving returned, much more powerful than the first time, and she flat-out declared that if she didn't have more of the delicacy, she would just die!  The man didn't know what to do and finally relented.  Again he scaled the wall, filled his basket ... when the old woman caught him.  A thief, she called him, and from her demeanor he knew he was in deep trouble indeed.  But finally, his story seemed to break through her anger just a little bit, so she made him an offer:  He could have all the rapunzels he wanted, wheneverer wanted them, but there would be a price:  When the child was born, it would belong to her.  In his panicked state, and not knowing what else to do, he agreed.
     As the weeks passed and his wife's pregnancy was nearing its end, he tried to push his promise to the old woman far into the back of his mind, telling himself that she could not have possible meant it.  After all, what was she going to do with a babe?
     Maybe he should have taken his wife and gone far, far away from their village, or maybe that wouldn't have helped either, for on the day of the child's birth, the old woman (who really was a sorceress), knocked on the door and demanded that the bargain be kept.  She didn't care a bit about the cries and pleas of the couple, she grabbed the child and left.
     So the sorceress raised the child as her own, having given her the name "Rapunzel".  She grew happy and healthy, playing in the garden and learning to keep the old woman's house in order.  She never saw anybody besides the woman, whom she called "Godmother," but that did not seem odd to her since she didn't know any different.
    As she had outgrown childhood and blossomed into a beautiful maiden, more beautiful than anyone could imagine, the old woman took her away from the garden and locked her into a high tower that had neither door nor stairs.  To protect her from the world and the eyes of men, she explained.  This did not mean anything to the girl, and she happily wiled away her days with singing and spinning and delicate needle work.  Her only friends were the birds that would sit on the window ledge and sing with her.  Every so often, the old woman would come to the tower and call "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair."  The maiden would hang her beautiful golden hair out of the window and if by magic, it reached all the way to the ground.  This the sorceress climbed to gain access to Rapunzel's chambers.
     Then one day, a young prince and his following were out hunting and the youth, riding ahead of this companions, got deeper and deeper into the woods.  All of a sudden, he heard singing, a sound so sweet, he thought it could only be the voice of an angel.  Then a screechy old voice "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair."
     He could hardly believe his eyes as he saw the golden hair falling down the steep tower wall, and an old woman clamber up to a little window ... where he saw the most beautiful site his young eyes had ever seen, a maiden so enchanting, he was immediately and wildly in love with her.  He soon saw the old woman leave the tower by the same way he had come.  It was time for him to rejoin his companions and ride home.
     But he could not get the beautiful maiden in the tower our of his mind.  So great was his longing for her that soon, he saddled his horse and again, he rose out into the woods, but this time he went alone.  He reached the tower and just saw the old woman leave.  His heart beat wildly in his chest, but after a while, he gathered his courage and called from under the window "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair," just as he had heard the old woman before.
     So Rapunzel, thinking her godmother had forgotten something, let down her hair.  We can imagine her surprise to see the handsome yong prince alight into her chamber, and it wasn't long before she was as crazy about him as he was about her.  Many a day they spent together from then on.  He called her his beloved wife and he know that some day soon, he would take her from the tower to live with him in his castle.
     Rapunzel normally took great care to conceal her relationship with the prince from the old woman, but one day, she carelessly remarked that the old woman was so much lighter on her hair than the prince.  As soon as she had said it, she knew the terrible mistake she had made.  The old woman got so mad, it almost frightened the girl to death, called her evil and ungrateful, a disgrace (and a few other things we won't mention here) and declared that neither she, nor anyone else, would ever see her again.  Next thing you know, Rapunzel's golden braids were cut off, and she was banished to a desolate place deep in the woods, with no way to get back to anywhere.  There, after a time, she gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, the children of the prince.  They meagerly subsisted on roots and berries, with only a shallow cave for shelter from wind and rain.  The only thing that kept Rapunzel going was the sweet memory of her prince.
     The prince didn't fare very well, either.  One day, as he went to the tower and called to his beloved to let down her hair.  The hair came down as usual, he climbed up ... and was greeted by a terrible old hag who grabbed him by the collar and with a terrible laugh, told him that his little bird had flown and he would never, ever see her again.  Then she pushed him down the tower.  He nearly died from his terrible injuries, but he was permanently blinded by the thorns he had fallen in to.  Not being able to stay at home and let his family take care of him, he desperately made his way through the forest, blindly groping along, his skin scrached and bloody where he couldn't get out of the way of thorny undergrowth because he couldn't see.  But on and on he pushed until one day, he came to the place where Rapunzel and the twins lived great squalor.  At first very frightened, she recognised her prince, and he recognized Rapunzel by her still-sweet voice.  They fell into each other's arms and wonder of wonders .... when the woman's hot tears fell on his dead eyes, his sight was restored and for the first time in years, he saw his beloved wife, and he saw his children.
    Fate had been on their side, and the journey back to the prince's castle was swift and easy.  For many years, they lived in happyness, watched their children grow, saw their grandchildren being born and grow .... and if they're still alive, then I bet they're still very happy together.