Hocus Pocus

'Hocus Pocus'
Purple Meadow Crane's-bill

"O geraniums, & yours O foxgloves,
Springing up amidst the coppice,
That gave my childish cheeks their rosy warmth."



Geranium pratense 'Hocus Pocus' was introduced to the world gardening market in 2003. It was developed by the Dutch hybridiser Marco van Noort at his nursery in Warmond, from select seedlings of 'Purple Hazel.'

The subltle light purple flowers with white centers & black anthers are larger than for other dark-leafed Meadow Crane's-bills, up to two inches, extremely numerous starting either late May or in June & lasting throughout the summer.

This cultivar is more compact than the species & will often remain well under two feet by two feet. The leaves are chocolately purple-black in spring, with bronzy hightlights, adding deep sea-green to the center of the leaves in summer while leaf edges remain dark, for a two-tone appearance.

The large deep-cut leaves & their dark bicolor makes them an attractive accent even when not in flower. They erupt late enough in spring that winter's end & very early spring daffodils, muscaris, chionodoxa, scilla, or crocuses can be planted in the same area, with 'Hocus Pocus' filling in the area when the flowering bulbs are done.

The name Hocus Pocus as used by magicians originated with an otherwise obscure 17th Century conjurer who according to a 1655 text lived in the age of King James & billed himself as "His Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus." He was first to use these very words as part of a faux-Latin incantation which ran, "Hocus pocus, toutous talontus, vade celerita jubes."

The name was appropriated by a whole series of Tudor England conjurers & jugglers, so that the history of the very first Hocus Pocus became lost among a multitude of imitators, whose lowly social status was not thought worthy of historical preservation.

Some have suggested the phrase predated His Majesties Hocus Pocus, being corrupted from the name of a demonic sorcerer of Norse folklore, Ochus Bochus. Ochus Bochus is himself quite possibly a corruption of Bacchus, god of conjuration who turned water into sacred wine. Bacchus/Bochus could well be related to Jesus who turned water into wine, wine into his own blood, & bread into his flesh (all coopted from Dioynisianism).

Jesus said, in the Latin version of a canibalistic passage of Christian gospel, "Hoc est corpus meum," or "This is my flesh," which some have speculated was condensed & mangled into the very name of His Magesties most excellent Hocus Pocus.

One further speculation is that Hocus Pocus is derived from the Welsh term Hovea Pwca, a hoax perpetrated by a hob-goblin or will o' the wisp called a Pwca, Pooka, or having the personal name Puck. This creature was a shape-shifter whose name recurs throughout Europe as a name of the devil, inclusive of Ochus Bachus.

See also:
Mythology & Lore of Geranium pratense


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