The Ivy
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

The Ivy is an evergreen vine. Poison ivy is highly toxic. While the common ivy is a dark green hardy vine. The Greek god, Bacchus, wore a crown of ivy. Ivy is the plant badge of the Gordons who originated in the lowlands of Scotland. They raised two famous regiments to form the Gordon Higlanders.

The ivy depends on its host for support. Its leaves are deep green and waxy with four or five pointed lobes. The long spindly stems are thin and slightly hairy, and grow quickly, soon covering the entire building. Their thin tendrils hold on to plaster and brickwork, and sometimes cause structural damage. When they vine on trees, and get thick, they can eventually smother and kill it. :The Holy and the Ivy" are Christmas symbols.

The ivy bush has always symbolized a wine-tavern in England. Ivy ale was a highly intoxicating medieval drink. This drink is still brewed at Trinity College, Oxford, in memory of a Trinity student who was murdered by Balliol's men.

Irish people chew the leaves of ground ivy to clear their chests of congestion. The juice of the leaves was used to cure wounds, ulcers, burns, and scalds. A cure for soft corns is to tie an ivy leaf around it or ivy leaves steeped in vinegar and cooked for 48 hours was used.

The Greeks and Druid priests gave newly weds weaths of ivy to confer a blessing of strength and eternal love. Bards were presented Ivy crowns for their festivals (Eistedfods).

Ivy flowers in the 11th lunar month and were used to decorate Druid shrines.


Blamires, Steve. Celtic Tree Mysteries: Secrets of the Ogham. St. Pual, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1997.
Paterson, Helena. The Celtic Lunar Zodiac. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1992.

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