Reddish Vale Country Park
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Apples are a natural remedy for the stomach, bowels and heart. Our folk memory is rich with such phrases as "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" and not without good reason. The malic and tartaric acids of the apple particularly benefit people of sedentary habits as they neutralise the acid products of indigestion.
The apple has close links with the shaman, the wisewoman and the magician. It is used when undergoing magical transformation or otherworld journeys. Celtic/Arthurian myth names one of these otherworlds as Avalon, the Apple Vale, the mythical paradise where hills were clothed with trees bearing flowers and fruit together. The word "Avalon" is derived from the old Iris "Avalock" meaning "a place of apples". The Isle of Arran was believed by the Celts to be a physical manifestation of an otherworld paradise.
An ointment mentioned by John Gerard in his herbal of 1633 suggests mixing apple pulp with pig fat and rose water to make a treatment for rough skin. For a more magical beauty treatment, the following charm could be tried:
"Gather maydew and steep apple blossom in it, heating all over a fire of ashen wood, bless the apple water and apply it to the skin, letting it dry off itself. Ask a blessing of beauty and purity from the chosen deity and the tree spirit will heal the complaint and grant a lovely complexion".
The crab apple is native to Britain and it is the wild ancestor of all the cultivated varieties. This is the origional stock which cultivated varieties have been grafted.
Nowadays we buy our apples from a shop, and have lost contact with the tree and the process of enjoying the sight of trees in full bloom, of sitting in an orchard on a quiet summer's evening and picking basketfulls of perfect, crisp fruit in the Autumn.
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