Four Leaf Clovers

The Luck of the Irish

One of my favrite childhood memories is of looking for four leaf clovers with my mother.  She wa sa professional four leaf clover finder, spending plenty of time looking through patches of clover wherever they appeared, searching, with her face inches from the grass examining each clover for the unsuspecting fourth leaf.  After she passed away, it was amazing the number of four leaf clovers I found pressed between the pages of books.

So, what causes people to look for four leaf clovers?  Why do we find them lucky?

Well, it turns out, that though we think the four leaf clover, like the shamrock goes back to St Patrick and those notions about Ireland, it goes to a point before that point with the druids.

4 leaf cloverThe druids carried shamrocks because they thought that the clover allowed them to see evil spirits.  When the first druid came across a clover with four leaves, this was thought to be a good sign, a sign that the holder of the four leaf clover would give the owner not only the ability to see evil spirits but it also granted them the ability to ward off evil magic and gave them good luck.  This is years before the Christians and their traditions arrived on the shores of Ireland.  Of course, as we have learned from some of the other pieces of symbolism we have run across, the Christians certainly put their spin on things.

One of the first Christianized versions of the four leaf clover story goes back to the beginning of the Bible.  Supposedly, Eve left the Garden of Eden with a Four Leaf Clover. Some people still hold that finding and keeping a four leaf clover gives you claim to a piece of paradise.  St Patrick then comes to Ireland.  He used the Shamrock as an explanation of the Trinity (more on this another time), he then made the claim that the four leaf version of the shamrock was extra special due to the fact that it resembled the cross and therefore it was also a Christian symbol.  The fact that the clover was already tied to the people of Ireland made using the clover in connection to Christianity a no-brainer for those early church founders in Ireland.

Next time you find yourself looking at a patch of clover, using the toe of your shoe to see if one of those clovers is a mutant with four leaves, think about the varied history of the clover.  The uses that the druids had for the clover and of course the way those early missionary tied it into their faith.  Maybe you will even find that clover a little more special then you did before.