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Also known as All Heal, Mistletoe is one of the sacred herbs of the druids, perhaps because it lives in that liminal space between the sky and the earth. Even the (Viking) gods of Asgard held this plant to be sacred, but it is a sad tale.

Balder was the most beloved of all the gods in Asgard. Everyone loved him for he was beautiful, and he shone with love, joyfulness, wisdom, and generosity. But now, he was deeply disturbed, for he had had recurring dreams that a grave misfortune would befall him, and not one of the other gods doubted that his life was in danger.

They all thought about the ways in which one could die. They named each earth-thing, sea-thing and sky-thing that can cause sudden death. Frigg, his mother, travelled to the nine worlds to persuade each and every substance to swear an oath that it would not harm Balder.

Fire swore an oath. Water swore an oath. Iron and every other kind of metal swore. The stones swore oaths. Earth swore an oath. The trees swore oaths. Each kind of illness swore. All the animals swore an oath and each slithering snake, but one small bush was overlooked. A small, crooked and insignificant bush that Frigg just couldn’t imagine would be able to harm her son. Mistletoe.

Alas, the jealous and tricksy god, Loki learned of this oversight, and picked a branch of Mistletoe. He shaped it into an arrow, and with this, he tricked Hod, Balder’s blind brother into hurling it at the beloved god. The arrow pierced Balder right through the heart, and he fell onto this face.

The uproarious noise and laughter stopped dead in a stunned chilled silence as the gods realised that their beautiful Balder was dead. We depart from the gods in their grief, as we focus instead on the Mistletoe because what the gods did with this plant, was inspirational to us mere mortals.

Despite the tragedy, the gods and goddesses did not punish or destroy this little plant. Instead, they decreed that all should stop and kiss under the mistletoe, in order to show that this is a plant of love and peace, and not one of hatred.

If I may add an extra line pertaining to our times. There are a lot of strong reactions between friends and family relating to our personal health choices at the moment. Let us remember the plant which taught us to love through a tragedy not of its own making. Let’s respect each other’s personal decisions with kindness, and remember how much we love each other.