“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.”
― Emily Dickinson
Common garden-variety clover (officially known as trifolium repens, within which we find the shamrock…or, as they say in Gaelic: seamróg) is one of the oldest and widespread of the arcane plants. Used by the Druids and Ancient Celts to pierce the veil between worlds, and regarded from Ireland to Turkey as a source of Apotropaic magic (that is, magic to keep evil away) historical accounts of this plant being a source of magical power go as far back as the ancient Egyptians, who presented newlywed couples with clover to bring blessings to the union.
All shamrocks have three leaves, it is the four-leaved clover which has four; not all clovers are shamrocks but all shamrocks are clover. The three-leaved variety is most commonly found, but clover with two, four, five and upward numbers of leaves have been found the world over. The odds of finding a clover with other than three leaves is a little better than one in ten thousand. But, don’t be daunted—there are tens of thousands of clovers in every acre of clover meadow you may find: surely you can come upon what you seek if you look. (Note: while some say you must find a magical clover by accident for it to work, there is no basis for this. A magical clover is powerful to possess, no matter how it is obtained.)
It is the three-leaved shamrock that is used for most protective magic. With the sacred number three at its core, the leaves can be considered as corresponding to the protective ministrations of The Mother, Maiden, Crone, or the Holy Trinity or the holy power of nine (which is three times three) which is a number protectively sacred to Celtic as well as Norse and Germanic paganry. St. Patrick used this three-leaved clover to illustrate how the Christian god was three in one. The Druids used this same clover to illustrate how our world is three in one: made up of the living, the dead, the unseen one. The three in one nature of clover lends it well to being used for travel over the three worlds in three different ways: it can be burnt along with incense, it can be consumed, it can be worn. Wearing it while traveling between worlds ensures protection. Particularly as clover is well known as a fairy attractant. Fae folk do not adhere to human standards of safety, and may not ‘play well’ unless a person is ‘protected well’.
Leprechauns (a type of fairy) are the most partial to clover, a fact still attested to every March 17th as leprechaun and clovers are used as St. Patrick’s Day decorations just about everywhere you look. Should you fall into the magical sway of a Leprechaun, the wearing of a clover will keep you from being harmed. The best way to wear a clover is to press and dry it and hang it around your neck in a locket, or in a small sachet, you carry with you in your clothing.
Two-leaved clovers are always involved in love—specifically in women finding a husband. For a woman to find one, she will soon come across the man she will marry. Some traditions have it that she must place the clover in her shoe, which will then lead her to her man—others have it that she will marry the first man she meets after finding the clover, if that man is married already, she will marry someone with the same name instead. Please note, the two leaf clover can also be used to simply locate a lover rather than a spouse if so desired.
Clovers with five leaves are sometimes wrongly considered bad luck. Finding a five-leaf clover is wonderful: the abundance of leaves brings with it sympathetic magic in the form of abundance of riches to the finder. And sometimes to the keeper, should one be given to you. If you find one, preserve it carefully and wear it to attract lots of money.
The four leaf clover is the luckiest of all. It does everything the other clovers do, from finding love, to offering protection, to gaining wealth. It does more than just that, though. A four leaf clover, if worn, will enable the wearer to see fairies, to detect witches and other malevolent forces, it will keep the wearer from being pressed into military service and it will keep you from going mad. Additionally, should you find one and split it down the middle and share it with a person you wish to have fall in love with you…you will be rewarded with mutually undying affection.
Not only does clover bring abundance and luck to those humans who find them, reemerging clover is often the first sign of spring in fields just coming back from winter bareness….bringing in their white flowers a source of early food for the bees. That is something magical and powerful enough to keep us all ‘in the clover’ and revery come harvest time or any time.