The Legend of Lycopodium and Pulsatilla


[Frederica E. Gladwin]

Should you ask me, whence this story, whence this legend and tradition, With the odor of the forest, with the dew and damp of meadow, I should answer, I should tell you, from the forests and the prairies, From the great lakes of the Northland, From the mountain, moors, and fenlands,

The good west wind, Mudjekeewis, and the north-west wind, Keewaydin, Kindly brought the story to me, Softly sang of Pulsatilla, Sang the song of Lycopodium and the timid Pulsatilla. I repeat it as I heard it from the lips of these Musicians.



When Spring came to the western prairies each year, she brought a sunny-haired, blue-eyed maiden, who danced all day among the grasses.

The children always watched for this fairy-like maiden and when they saw her little purple bonnet and green dress among the grasses, they clasped their hands with delight,

for they believed that pretty little Pulsatilla lived and danced in the sunshine just to please them with her beauty. Little they knew of her usefulness or dreamed of the responsibility resting upon her. When the Spring father journeyed to the northwest, taking little Pulsatilla with her the children mourned her departure and patiently waited until she should return again.

In the Northland, lived a sturdy little rover, whom his friends called club-moss, though his real name was Lycopodium. The children loved him also

and were never tired of smoothing his soft green coat. Dressed in a bright green cap and a dark green velvety coat, he roamed the forests all through the summer and autumn, searching for Pulsatilla and when he could not find her, he became melancholic and hiding himself under the leaves in the shadow of the cliffs, he wept and would not be comforted.

At 16 h., when the sun was sinking in the west, his grief seemed greater than he could bear and he could not calm himself until after eight in the evening. He grieved so

much that he became ill-tempered and morose. He turned from those who loved him and would not even see his friends and family.

One day, when he was mourning alone in his hiding place, he heard a bird singing in the tree-top the first welcome of Spring and the south wind shook him gently, saying, “Wake up Lycopodium, for the Spring and Pulsatilla are coming.” Then Lycopodium roused himself and discovered that his clothes were brown and threadbare, but he stood up in the bright sunshine and soon donned his dark green velvet coat and soft bright green cap and hastened to the border of the forest to wait impatiently for Pulsatilla.

Now Lycopodium was sometimes haughty and overbearing but when he came into the presence of Pulsatilla, he lost all confidence in himself. He could not take to her for

he was always forgetting the words which he needed to correctly express his thought, so he watched her timidly from the clearing.


Pulsatilla was a changeable little maiden; one moment she was all smiles and the next, all tears. Indeed her disposition was just enough like Lycopodium to be attractive

to him. When she smiled, he laughed, when she was sad, he was melancholic. She was too timid to speak to him and he was too bashful to talk to her, so they peeped shyly

at each other and became friends.

A day came when Pulsatilla neither smiled nor looked at Lycopodium but sat all alone by herself and mourned and wept, her hands clasped in her lap. To Lycopodium, she seemed the personification of despair. He was deeply distressed and with tears in his eyes, went to comfort her. Pulsatilla liked to be comforted and being of a yielding disposition, she readily followed him to the cool shades of the forest. Both enjoyed cool air, and sat down beside their old friend Silica. Then Pulsatilla told Lycopodium

the cause of all her sorrow. It seems that in her journeyings, each year, she had observed the sufferings of the nations and she wept for them in sympathy until the Great Law Giver had bidden her to heal the people. She had yielded to his biding, although she knew so timid a little maiden could never accomplish so great a task. She had found

that although there were some that she could heal, there were others she could only make better, while still others she could not help at all and she wept because she could

not obey the whole command of the Great Law Giver.

She had just seen one suffering from rheumatism. He had taken cold from exposure to wet. His pains were flying, now here now there, <: in the afternoon and evening and until midnight/warmth of the room/in damp weather/when sitting; better when moving about slowly; >: in the open air; She could cure him, but she had met others nearly

like him whom she could not even help. At this point, Rhus-t. who was swinging from a branch overhead, where he had climbed, called out, “When you find a fellow pretty much like that, only he is > in a warm room, <: beginning to move/from continued motion; just let him alone, and send

him to me, I’ll cure him for you”. Pulsatilla although somewhat startled by a promise of help from such an unexpected source began to feel a little relieved for possibly the command of the Great Law Giver might even yet be fully obeyed. Then she told them that often after she had relieved the acute state, she found a chronic condition

which had previously existed, which she could not help. These patients have gouty joints and, as Rhus-t. had said, were worse on beginning to move and better from

continued motion. Rhus-t. began to be uneasy when he heard this condition was chronic, for he had tried in vain to cure many such patients, but Lycopodium knowing

that such cases came into his field of labor, told Pulsatilla to do what she could for them in the acute stage and then give them to him and he would complete the cure. Whereupon Pulsatilla thanked him so kindly that tears came into his eyes. Pulsatilla’s tears had disappeared entirely by this time, for she began to understand that she

had misinterpreted the command of the Great Law Giver and that He only meant she should do all she could toward the healing of the people.


Much comforted, she went on to speak of the throat troubles she had encountered. When the throat feels raw, swallowing is difficult, and there is a sensation of swelling

in the throat; if the patient had a disposition just like her own, she could cure him but there were very similar cases which began on the right side and went to the left that

she could not help at all. The Lycopodium told her that whenever the trouble began in the nose and went to the right side of the throat, or began on the right side and went

to the left, he would take care of the patient and furthermore, almost any trouble, such as headache, pain in the eye, pain in the tonsil, diphtheria, pain in the mammary glands, pain in the ovary, and rheumatic affections, which began on the right side and went to the left, it would be his pleasure to cure for her. Just then Lach. wriggled through the grass at their feet and stopped long enough to remark that when those troubles began on the left side and went to the right, he would undertake to cure. Oftentimes, he could finish up a case that Lycopodium had been at work upon, but could not finish.


Then Pulsatilla related cases of consumption that had troubled her. When she went to work in her desire to help, she found, if there was: a loose morning cough and dry evening cough, soreness in chest expectoration yellowish green, choking, gagging, cough worse lying down, better sitting up, better in a cold room, suffocation worse lying

on the back, better sitting up, worse in a warm room, she could usually make them much more comfortable but sometimes instead of being relieved, the patient became

much worse. The loose morning cough turned to a dry cough, the expectoration was suppressed and the patient died suffering, much to Pulsatilla’s distress.


Here Stann-met., who when the conversation turned towards phthisis, had pushed his head above the ground and became an interested listener, told Pulsatilla that when

she got into trouble like that to send for him and he would undo the work she had done and perhaps give the patient a new group of symptoms, which someone else could

take up and cure the case.

Lycopodium told her that in those advanced cases of phthisis where there was morning cough with green expectoration, pain in the chest on coughing and upon deep inspiration, short rapid breathing with waving of the wings of the nose, wrinkled forehead, red sand in the urine, hectic fever, profuse night sweats and < 16 h., he would

help the patient for her.

Here Tuberculinum paused in his flight to tell them that he could help more cases than all the rest put together. He could put them in condition so that someone else could

go on with the cure. Tuberculinum is a very boastful fellow.

There is another class of sufferers which annoys Pulsatilla, the class to which belong those who have deviated from the straight line of morality. She has an extreme aversion

to them and wonders if they are worth the saving, but the Great Law Giver had issued the command “go forth and heal the sick” and with the command had given her the power to heal even these. What right had she to refuse? So when they come to her with frequent, almost ineffectual desire to urinate, cutting pains during urination, tenesmus, burning in the urethra during urination and after urination, the urine is discharged drop by drop and is followed by drops of blood, discharge from the urethra yellowish green, the patients are better in the open air, and are of a yielding disposition, she cures them. Often these people try to cure themselves. They go to the drugstore for medicine and succeed in suppressing the discharge and most of the symptoms. Orchitis is developed, then not knowing what next to do they come to Pulsatilla for help and she cures them also.

In some of these cases (suppression caused by copaiva), the orchitis had been allowed to become chronic. Lycopodium promised to take care of all such abused and neglected cases where there were pains in the perineum upon sitting, urine profuse at night, scanty during the day and burns the parts over which is passes. A small amount of urine in

the bladder causes pain in the back > after passing the urine, continued teasing to urinate, enlargement of the prostate, and white figwarts appear which are fissured.

So Pulsatilla told the story of her trials and so it was discovered that Lycopodium could almost always help her out of her difficulties and when he failed and both were “groping blindly in the darkness.” Others were waiting to do good these comprehended not. Always after that day when Pulsatilla went about healing the sick, she was followed by her good knight and true, the Northland rover, Lycopodium, and to this day, the legend tells us, they are at work for “the healing of the nations”.



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