The Thistle Armory Collection
Few plants boast such a complex and divisive history and ever-shifting cultural perception as the thistle. The value of thistle is undeniable to the butterflies, moths, and bees who rely on its nectar and pollen, to the goldfinches, ants, and mice who eat its seeds, and even to us, who have harvested thistle for its medicine and magic, and woven it into lore and mythology dating back to ancient times. In Ireland thistles are taken as a sign of good land, and in Scotland thistles climbed the ranks right up to the status of national emblem. Why, then, has thistle also been referred to as “the vilest weed the land ever produced”, a “rogue of rogues among weeds”, and a nuisance at best and a noxious weed that must be eradicated at worst? With all of the beneficial offerings of this plant, how could this be true? Thistle’s insistence on survival and its self-preservation at all costs has rendered it, to some, a terrible thing. But such is always the case when one thrives where others wish one wouldn’t. This plant fights for itself. In every strong section of its insistent root system, and with every prickly spike along its body, it proactively protects itself and ensures its survival. In the days since I first announced this collection to my IG stories on February 22nd, I’ve ever-more-deeply acquainted myself with thistle in many ways: reading piles of books, note-taking and sketching, enjoying Tincture of Milk Thistle, and sitting with the few dried specimens I harvested in Ireland. Images of armor, swords, and shields arose in my mind as I went on this immersive journey, of hedges and waysides, of witches and outlaws. Thistle shows us defiance in the face of unwanted meddling. It challenges entitlement and keeps unwanted forces away. It teaches us, with a sharp prick, to say no to self-betrayal. There will always be forces that run contrary to your growth. Thistle tells you to grow anyway. This collection is an armory of protective and boundary-enforcing talismans, of shields against any forces that wish to impede your growth. Each piece will elaborate on the many tales I’m excited to share about the dualistic and powerful nature of thistle.