The Magick of Birch

Originally posted on 05/10/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Birch Ogham Pendant in our Etsy shop with Beith pyrographed on ~ photo by i.macy

The Birch tree is symbolic of starting over, new beginnings, a clean slate, if you will.  It is also the first letter of the Ogham as it is the first month of the Celtic Tree Calendar 24th December to 20th January. Its name is “Beith” and is often called “The White Lady of the Wood”.

The characteristics of those born during this Celtic “astrological” sign are risk-takers, high achievers, and movers and shakers. They are renowned as innovators and can easily be caught up in their ambition and extreme passion to always strive for more. Birch people are also revered for their beauty and gracefulness, just like their tree counterpart.

These are the people that will be the inventors, leaders and motivators who always strive for perfection. They are goal- oriented, strategists, and exceptional organisers with a strong will to succeed.

In the Druid religion, this tree represents the beginning of possibility and of growth that is not hindered by obstacles and setbacks.

Folklore

silverBirchTree_1403668c
Silver Birch ~ telegraph.co.uk

The Gauls used Birch twigs in marriage ceremonies by lighting them during the ceremony to invoke good luck for the bride and groom’s marriage and for a long and happy marriage.

Ancient Europeans brought Birch twigs and branches inside the home for protection.

In ancient times, brooms made of Birch twigs were commonly used to drive out the spirits of the old year and to ‘beat the bounds’ of property for protection. Thus, broomsticks made of Birch have the added benefit of these protective qualities.

It is said that a small piece of Birch carried upon a person will prevent the kidnapping of the individual by the Sidhe, or the Faerie Folk.

Nowadays, as in the past, Birch is one of the nine sacred woods with which to light the Beltane fire.

Medicine

Medicinal properties: The oil from Birch bark is used for treating skin conditions, and insect repellent. The sap is a natural shampoo and can be a remedy for dysentery and urinary tract infections. An infusion of Birch leaves is an antiseptic and diuretic.

Magickally, Birch wood is believed to ward off evil, banish fears and build courage.

Correspondences

Planet: Venus

Element: Air, Water

Symbolism: Renewal, Protection

The Tree of Inception and of New Beginnings.

Stone: Crystal

Flower: Daisy

Birds: Eagle, Pheasant, Egret

Colour: White

Deity: Freya, The White Goddess Brigid, Venus, Thor

Sabbat: After the Winter Solstice, as the days begin to lengthen again…

I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,

And climb black branches

up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven,

till the tree could bear no more,

But dipped its top

and set me down again.

That would be good

both going and coming back.

One could do worse than

be a swinger of birches.

Robert Frost, Birch Trees

Many thanks for reading and warm blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources

Druidry.org

Whats-Your-Sign

The Magickal Maple Tree

Originally posted on 12/09/17 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Acercampestre_1200_900_90_s
Chew Valley Trees, UK – Field Maple

Some may not think of Maple as being magickal, particularly if they live in Europe or the UK. There are mainly two Maple genus’ which are native and almost native in the UK and those are the Acer Campestre or Field Maple which is native to Britain, and the Acer Platanoides, or Norway Maple which is a naturalised tree in the UK. Both are quite different from the Acer Sapindaceae which is native to North American countries, the US and Canada, and can produce the sap from which Maple syrup is made. If I’m correct in thinking, there are still around 127 other Maple species in the region. However, whether they all produce sap for syrup, I do not know.

Sticking to North America for a short bit [and to tempt your taste buds] the Native American symbolism of the Maple, Acer Sapindaceae, is that of offering, generosity, balance, promise, and practicality. The Maple tree was of importance to the Algonquian tribes of the north-western United States and western Canada, who developed the art of processing Maple sap into Maple sugar, Maple syrup, and taffy candy.

Maple trees hold the wisdom of balance, promise, love, longevity, money, and practical magick. Special for its sugar and syrup it represents success and abundance, most likely because the Native Americans used it in trade and could purchase goods with their syrup when no coin could be made or spared.

Maple has both feminine and masculine energy. Libra and Virgo consider this tree to be sacred. Associated with the elements of Spirit and Water. Planetary Associations: Moon, Jupiter.

The great horned owl is the sacred bird of this tree.

Magickal Properties: Some cultures primarily use Maple wands for spiritual healing. Maple is a traveller’s wood. It enhances intellectual pursuits, acquiring knowledge, and communication. Spells concerning art, beauty, binding, and abundance should consider using this wood. The gipsies [travellers] believe Maple brings gold and that eating the seeds draws love.

Maple Bark
Maple bark from our Etsy shop ~ photo by i.macy

A peaceful wood used for purity and healing. Seeks a strong, devoted companion who cares for others. Excellent for cleansing spells, for use in money and luck spells as a base for loose incense, inside a poppet or in witch bottles. Maple reveals the options – even those that are hidden in plain sight – which lay before you. It enables you to make sound choices rather than rely on blind luck. It is also a wonderful wood for divination, and therefore, we shall soon be making pendulums with Maple.

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Some sources include:

Encyclopaedia of Magickal Herbs by Scott Cunningham

Wikipedia

Lady Ellhorn, the Magickal Elder Tree

Originally posted on 07/09/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

elder-tree
Elder tree ~ photo courtesy of Google images

She may provide a potent link with the Mother Goddess and facilitates contact with spirits of other trees. In a sense, she acts as a mother figure within the woodland. She carries the wisdom of the Crone, and is mistress of the deepest magic. ~ The Fairy Bible by Teresa Mooney

The Elder tree, or Lady Ellhorn, as we lovingly call her, is a tree of beginnings and endings, of birth and death, so the elder faery is a spirit of transformation and the crossing of thresholds. The Elder faery, seen as a crone, advises on what to cast away and what to take up.

In the Celtic Tree Calendar, The Elder is 13th month,  November 25 – December 21, and 13th consonant of the Ogham alphabet – Ruis. Elder marks the darkest time of year and so is associated with death and the Crone aspect of the triple Goddess. Indeed, funerary flints have been found in megalithic long barrows in the shape of elder leaves and in others, an Elder leaf-shaped portal has been carved out between two slabs of stone showing that its association with death goes back beyond the Celts into pre-history.

Elder Ogham Pendant from our shop

Born during the Elder month?

Elder archetypes among Celtic tree astrology tend to be freedom-loving, and sometimes appear to be a bit wild to the other signs of the zodiac. In younger years, you may have lived life in the fast lane, often identified as a “thrill-seeker.” At the time of your birth, the light of the sun was fast fleeting and so you take the same cue from nature. You are often misjudged as an outsider as you have a tendency to be withdrawn in spite of your extroverted nature. In actuality, you are deeply thoughtful with a philosophical bent. You also tend to be very considerate of others and genuinely strive to be helpful. These acts of assistance are sometimes thwarted by your brutal honestly (which you openly share solicited or otherwise). Elder Celtic tree astrology signs fit well with Alder’s and Holly’s. ~ Celtic Tree Astrology

Folklore

Like the Willow, Elder seems to have strong feminine associations. In Denmark, peasants would not cut down an Elder for fear of Hyldemor, the Elder-mother, who dwelt in its trunk. This belief is also found in Eastern England. In Lincolnshire until quite recently, it was important to ask permission of the ‘Old Lady’ or ‘Old Girl’. The correct way to approach the tree was to say: ‘Old Woman, give me some of thy wood and I will give thee some of mine when I grow into a tree.’ If this procedure was not adopted, ill luck could befall.  In Ireland, Elder was a sacred tree and it was forbidden to break even one twig.  In other parts of the British Isles, the Elder was less feared but still retained its magickal associations. If the eyes are bathed in the green juice of the wood, you might see faeries and witches. If you stand under an Elder tree at Samhain in Scotland, you can see the faery host riding by. Elderberries plucked on Midsummer’s Eve confer magickal powers. In the Isle of Man, Elders are the main dwelling-place for elves.

In Ireland, it was one of the magical trees carried in procession at Beltane. If you celebrate this merry month, let the EIder-Mother once more take her place in summer’s bouquet as this ancient Beltane song declares:

Holly and hazel

eIder and rowen

and bright ash

from beside the ford

Correspondences

Planet: Venus

Element: Water

Symbolism: Judgment, Transformation, Death & Regeneration, Fate, The Inevitable

Sacred numbers:

Five: each elderflower has 5 petals, 5 yellow stamens, and 5 sepals which form a tiny green star.

Thirteen: Elder is associated with all superstition surrounding the number 13.

Stone: Olivine, Jet (Black Amber)

Flower: Dandelion

Birds: Pheasant, Raven, Rook

Colour: Black, Dark Green, Blood Red

Deity: Hel, Hela, Holda, Venus, Hilde, The White Lady

Folk Names: Alhuren, Battree, Boure Tree, Eldrum, Elhorn, Hylder, Lady Ellhorn, Old Gal, Old, Lady, Pipe Tree, Rob Elder, Sweet Elder, Tree of Doom

Medicinal properties:

Elderberries

Traditionally all parts of Elder are useful medicinally. The berries and the leaves are both rich in vitamin C. The leaves can be made into ear drops to treat pain and inflammation. The flowers make a tea that is good for treating coughs and irritable throats, as well as being made into a skin cleanser and lotion. The bark of the new small twigs can be made into a laxative. The bark, roots, berries and leaves can all be used as a dye.  And the berries are good for making jam, wine, vinegar, and syrups.

Magickal properties:

Exorcism, Prosperity, Banishment and Healing

The leaves and berries are used for protection and in breaking spells that were cast against you or to undo spells of evil intent. Growing an elder in your garden will protect your property from misfortune and harm. In Europe, they planted elder in cemeteries to keep away the evil spirits

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

The Magic of Yew

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @iseabail_witchwriter

Originally posted on 5 Sept 2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

yew5
Yew leaves and berries, courtesy of Google images

Yew is a tree that commands much respect. If you don’t, it can kill you. Harsh? Not at all. Yew is a very poisonous tree, every part of it from bark to berry seeds, however, the fleshy fruit of its berries is not poisonous but the seed within is. This is because of Taxine, a toxic alkaloid component in the leaves, bark, wood, and seed of the Yew. Even when the Yew tree has died, its toxicity is still there. Handle with care.

handle of my wand
My Yew wand with crow fetish, photo by i.macy

So, how is it that you see so many lovely objects made from Yew? Everything from boxes to wands! As a matter of fact, my personal wand is Yew and I’m still here. The people who make objects from Yew wood know chapter and verse on how to protect themselves during construction of their beautiful items. It is essential to wear a good respirator mask, especially whilst sanding Yew wood, and gloves. It is also best to wear long sleeves and trousers and shoes…. this is not a job for wearing your shorts and vest top on a hot day. You don’t want the dust from sanding settling on your skin. Of course, most people would bath or shower after working in this way, however, it is very likely if you have a pet that the pet could lick your hand before you had a good clean up. This would end in tears, I’m afraid.  Yew is as toxic to pets as it is to humans so please don’t give Yew to your dog as a chew stick. If you have a Yew wand, keep it in a place where pets can’t get at it.

Hoping I have made my point about the dangers, let’s talk about the magick! The Yew is one of the most magickal trees for protection, reincarnation/rebirth, necromancy, and longevity spells. It is the 5th vowel of the Ogham alphabet, Ioho. It is called “Tree of Resurrection” or “The Tree of Eternity”. It is the Ogham of Winter Solstice and the Dark Half of the year. Yew is a wood of great strength.

5000 yr old yew in dafynnod wales graveyard
5,000 year old Yew in Defynnog, Wales

Yew is wonderful for connecting with your ancestors.  As it is the only biological creature capable of living indefinitely, possibly forever, it is much sought-after for longevity spell work. It is also exalted as a tree of rebirth which gives way to a Breton legend that the tree is said to grow a root into the open mouth of each corpse buried in the graveyard. This root is a symbol of rebirth with the spirit reborn in much the same way as the tree itself is reborn. And, so it may be as so many graveyards have Yew trees growing in them.

“Just as the Yew tree possesses an immortal ability to renew itself, so too do you.  Living for centuries, it is a silent witness to the passing of time. Evergreen, its red, waxy cup-shaped berries, enclosing a small poisonous seed, predict protection. A good thing in your life will continue, just as a branch grows down inside the hollow trunk, embedding itself in the soil to sprout a new tree. If you remain working quietly at what you want, like the inconspicuous small green female flowers, you will attract your aim.  Communication will surprise you in the same way that the large bright yellow flowers on male trees throw out clouds of yellow pollen when ready to mate.” ~ Tree Magick by Gillian Kemp

Yew Necromancer Witch Bottle
Necromancer’s Witch Bottle Necklace ~ photo by i.macy

Because of the possibility of poisoning, some witches or practitioners of delving into the past and connecting with their ancestors or other forms of necromancy, are not comfortable with using Yew outside of some form of containment. One of the things I have fashioned for myself as a hedge witch, travelling the hedge between Worlds to connect with my ancestors, is my Necromancer’s Witch Bottle Necklace. It is a simple glass bottle, filled with enchanted herbs and Yew, then sealed, not to be opened. I won’t divulge every item that goes inside this witch bottle but it has herbs which summons Spirit, help Spirit to manifest, eases the souls of the dead, appeases and relaxes any traumatised Spirits, to make the Spirit manifested tell the truth, and tobacco to show hospitality to the Spirit(s). The small stick of Yew is included to banish malevolent Spirits.  We do offer these in our Etsy shop. This witch bottle is also effectively worn when doing any spell work which may concern longevity or for doing any kind of past-life regression work. It is very protective and helpful in the case of the latter.  It is also said to be a bringer of dreams and helpful in overcoming fear of our own death. Yew teaches death as transformation, not an end. The witch bottle also can facilitate connection with your Spirit Guardian.

Correspondences:

Planet: Saturn and Pluto

Element: Earth and Water

Symbolism: The Tree of Life, Immortality, Rebirth, Protection, Longevity, Change, Divinity, Strength

Metal: Lead

Stone: Olivine

Birds: Eagle, Hummingbird

Colours: Black, Dark Green

Deity: Banbha, Dione, Artemis, Persephone, Hecate, Astarte, Odin. Yew embodies the crone aspect of the triple Goddess. Yew is one of the Guardians of the Underworld that assist in guiding souls from one world to the next.

Old Yew, which graspest at the stones

That name the under-lying dead,

Thy fibres net the dreamless head,

Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.

~Tennyson

Many thanks for reading, be safe when handling Yew, and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

PS… please don’t forget to follow us here on Wytchencrafts as the SpeakingofWitch blog will be removed once we have all our blogs transferred over. x

Necromancy – It is not a Dirty Word Anymore

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Necromancy

noun [ U ] UK ​ /ˈnek.rə.mæn.si/ US ​ /ˈnek.rə.mæn.si/

the act of communicating with the dead in order to discover what is going to happen in the future, or black magic (= magic used for bad purposes)

Source: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/necromancy

Right.  I think we can do better than this. I chose this snip because it is annoyingly narrow-minded and clueless. And I needed a little shove to get me blogging today. I think this shall do nicely.

Yes, necromancy can be used for bad purposes. But, so can potatoes. Let’s give necromancy a bit of good credit for a change. Necromancy is most generally understood to connote the manipulation of the souls of mortals and the reanimation of their corpses. That would be the old-school basics. Personally, I am not at all interested in making the dead rise. Can’t imagine it would smell very nice either. Let’s let those buried rest in peace as they should, shall we?

Modern necromancy is about re-animating souls, not bodies. Have you ever wished you could speak to a long dead relative again? Perhaps you can. For many years I have practised the All Hallows Eve Raising of the Ancestors.  With special preparations of my own, I can many times raise the spirits of an ancestral line from one side of the family or other with favourable effect. There are gaps in our ancestral story which, I have found in my genealogy research, and necromancy helps me to find valid answers. It is also a way of honouring the dead in my family and to find out what direction they might like me to take the family as it stands today. Throughout the year I keep a small ancestral altar with photos and relics meaningful to not only myself but to my deceased family members as well.

ancestral altar
My ancestral altar ~ photo by i.macy

It is not only witchcraft practitioners using necromancy to contact the dead. There are many cultures in different countries who keep the practise…some do so as in days gone by, so yes, there are people still raising the dead out there. Not so, for most of the modern necromantic community. You obviously don’t need to be a witch to practise, either. But you will need to have a healthy respect for the dead and embrace death as part of living, not fear it. Modern necromancer Leilah Wendell writes in The Necromantic Ritual Book that the necromantic rituals she describes contain no “brutality, desecration of the dead or any other practice that one would consider the antithesis of reverence.”

Whatever way you decide to practise necromancy, please first learn about it in detail and especially how to ground and protect yourself before contacting spirits or literally raising the dead. Know what you truly want in your contacting of the spirit. Do not use this as a parlour game. It is a serious business and not to be undertaken lightly. Be polite and respectful and all should go well for you.

We are just spirit ourselves, after all…having a human experience.

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

What is the Witches Familiar?

Originally posted on 22 August 2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

What is the Witches familiar? The short answer is “anything”.

The Witches familiar is primarily animal; however, artificial familiars are used as well. Familiars were and are the “go-between” for the Witch and Spirit world. They were also believed during the time of Inquisition to do the Witch’s bidding to harm those whom the Witch believed needing punishment. Many animals were viewed suspiciously during the Burning Times, particularly cats. There weren’t a household going what didn’t have a cat because everyone needed mouse and rat protection, therefore, everyone had a cat. And most likely, partially due to thinking the worst of the common housecat, almost everyone who had one was suspected of Witchcraft.

catsbroom706
courtesy of Google Images

“According to the Witchcraft Act of 1604, it was a felony to: “consult, covenant with, entertain, employ, feed or reward any evil or wicked spirit to or for any intent or purpose”, an act that “The Witch-Finder General” Matthew Hopkins used with zeal when extracting confessions. Hopkins also used the “Malleus Maleficarum“, the so-called Inquisitor’s Handbook. Though the Malleus offered no instruction concerning familiars in the interrogation and trial of witches, it did acknowledge that an animal familiar “always works with the witch in everything”. ” ~ from Pagancentric.org

Befoe the Witchcraft Act of 1604, King James VI of Scotland, later to become King James 1 of England and Scotland, wrote a book called Daemonologie in 1597. After he became the King of both countries in 1603, it was reprinted after he took the throne. There were three books in all and were supposedly meant for those officials faced with persecuting witches to provide them with a sound knowledge of what to look for as actual proof of their witchcraft, thereby that no one who might claim to be a witch or be accused as such under duress, would need to suffer for the supposed sins if nothing in deed could prove them guilty. This did not turn out as intended, obviously, and witchfinders the world over used it to bolster their cause.

But –

“In some cases, the magical practitioner then made an agreement or entered a pact with their familiar spirit. The length of time that the witch or cunning person worked with their familiar spirit varied between a few weeks through to many decades. In most cases, the magical practitioner would conjure their familiar spirit when they needed their assistance, although there are many different ways that they did this: the Essex witch Joan Cunny claimed, in 1589, that she had to kneel down within a circle and pray to Satan for her familiar to appear while the Wiltshire cunning woman Anne Bodenham described, in 1653, that she conjured her familiars by reading books. In some rarer cases, there were accounts where the familiars would appear at times when they were unwanted and not called upon, for instance the Huntingdonshire [Huntingdonshire is now an historic county and administrative district of the administrative county of Cambridgeshire] witch Elizabeth Chandler noted, in 1646, that she could not control when her two familiars, named Beelzebub and Trullibub, appeared to her, and had prayed for a god to “deliver her therefrom”. ” ~ from Wikipedia.org

So, the familiar clearly did not “always work with the witch in everything”.

The Witch’s familiar has many uses in our times and as before-mentioned, artificial familiars have become very popular, thanks to writer Raven Grimassi. An artificial familiar can be very effective for the Hedge witch, she (or he) who walks the hedge between the Worlds, as a protection. Being very familiar with hedge witchery, I have my Draenan Ddu, a quaint little mommet whom I feed what she wants and she in turn protects me during my Other-Worldly travels. Some have what may look like a witch bottle for this purpose. It is entirely up to the Witch and his or her needs and desires.

My mommet 1
My Draenan Ddu mommet familiar ~ photo by Karen and Ira

What I do not do is call my cat my familiar. She is never going to be charmed into doing my bidding, even if I tried…which I do not…she is a moggy with her own mind and I have done well to remember this. It does seem to me that every new Witch-ling starts calling their pet friend their familiar straight-away. This only causes me to chuckle, but I say nothing. They will learn in time. That is not to say that Witches don’t have animal familiars, they do. However, if this is the intended purpose for an animal, then I imagine the Witch knows what he or she is doing and treats the animal with the respect and care it deserves.

Hopefully this has de-mystified the Witch’s familiar for you.  There is truly so much more to tell, however, books are where you will find more information than a mere blog can allow. Regardless of whether your familiar is animal or artificial, treat it well and it will always protect you. Many warm blessings to all and thank you for reading x

Sources:

Life

Pagancentric.org

Raven Grimassi

Wikipedia.org

The Magic of Alder

Originally published on 08 August, 2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Alder is a tree you don’t really find much information on around the web. I find this strange as it is a very magickal tree and is one of the 25 trees of the Celtic Tree Ogham not to mention all the things it can be used for.  Perhaps it is ignored as a tree because it is more of a shrub? The same could be said of a Hawthorn, if it were kept pruned back. But the common Alder can grow to be as much as 90 ft tall. The Alder is also a relative of the Birch tree. I think it’s quite special because if you cut a branch from it (with its permission, of course!) the white wood turns red and in Ireland at one time it was a punishable crime to fell an Alder…it may still be for all I know. It is a tree sacred to the God, Bran. “Alders are especially associated with Bran; at Cad Goddeu, ‘The Battle of the Trees’, Gwydion guessed Bran’s name from the alder twigs in his hand. The answer to an old Taliesin riddle ‘Why is the alder purple?’ is ‘Because Bran wore purple’. Bran’s alder may be a symbol of resurrection”. ~ Wikipedia

golden alder uk
Golden Alder tree ~ perfectplants.co.uk

Alder is the 5th consonant of the Ogham, Fearn (F) and it is a birth tree for those born between March 18 – April 14.  If you are an Alder sign within the Celtic tree astrology system, you are a natural-born pathfinder.   You’re a mover and a shaker, and will blaze a trail with fiery passion often gaining loyal followers to your cause.   You are charming, gregarious and mingle easily with a broad mix of personalities.  In other words, Alder signs get along with everybody and everybody loves to hang around with you.  This might be because Alder’s are easily confident and have a strong self-faith.  This self-assurance is infectious and other people recognise this quality in you instantly.  Alder Celtic tree astrology signs are very focused and dislike waste.  Consequently, they can see through superficialities and will not tolerate fluff.  Alder people place high value on their time, and feel that wasting time is insufferable. They are motivated by action and results.  Alders pair well with Hawthorns, Oaks or even Birch signs. (cre8veonline.com, n.d.)

Alder Ogham Pendant
Alder birth tree ogham pendant, Fearn ~ photo by I. Macy

Elements:  Water, Fire, Earth and Air

Ruling Planet: Venus

Gender: Masculine

Powers:  protection, giver of courage, easer of fear and doubt

When using Alder for magickal uses, take care in using Alder as a magic wand. Alder harnesses the power of the four elements and can be a bit unpredictable. Alder wands are most often used in resurrection ceremonies. Alder bark and wood is a very purposeful base for loose incense and extremely useful for driving away negativity. Teas can be made from the leaves for treating many maladies from burns to sore throats.

So, next time you see an Alder tree, give it a hug! It’s a most fascinating and magickal tree, even if it doesn’t get talked about very much! Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x

Magickal Hawthorn Tree: The Mayflower Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram @thewandcarver

hawthorn alone
lone Hawthorn tree, courtesy of Google images

The Hawthorn tree represents the sixth month of the Celtic Tree calendar, 13 May – 9 June, and this period is represented by the Ogham for this tree, which is also the 6th letter of the ogham alphabet, Huath (Huathe, Uath).  The Hawthorn Tree, or Mayflower tree, is sacred to Roman Goddess Flora, Celtic Goddesses Aine and Brigid, along with the Manx – Celtic God Manannàn Mac Leirr. This Ogham symbol is used in Celtic Reiki and its essence represents the energy of cleansing and preparation. It clears the mind of negative thoughts and mental confusion, offering clarity: it gives patience and offers stillness. The Hawthorn tree is masculine and usually, but not always, grows in hedges, but a lone Hawthorn tree, growing on a hill is a portal to the world of faery and is also considered one of the three trees of the Faery Triad, including Oak and Ash.

Hawthorn Ogham Pendant
Hawthorn Huath Ogham Pendant ~ photo by i.macy

We offer a Hawthorn Ogham pendant in our Etsy shop for those born in the lovely month of May, or in fact, to anyone who loves Hawthorn.

Hawthorn Faery

“Along with Oak and Ash, Hawthorn forms the “faery triad” that is especially inviting to the fae. Hawthorn is, in some ways, the faery tree, forming a portal to the faery realm and holding strong magick.    The Hawthorn faery offers access to the Other-World, but also protects the unwary, so it is important to be patient with this spirit. She can enchant your life, bringing growth and fertility to all areas, and when the Hawthorn flowers in spring, it represents the bridal gown of the young Goddess.    Hawthorn is sacred to the Welsh sun goddess Olwen, the “white lady of the day.”  Where she trod she left white footprints on hawthorn, and her father, Yspaddaden Pencawr, was “Giant Hawthorn.” Thirteen tasks were demanded of her suitor, Culhwych, before he could marry her and overcome the power of the giant.   Thirteen is a number associated with the moon, for the moon makes 13 circuits of the zodiac to one of the sun. Thus, the Hawthorn suggests union of sun and moon, male and female.   The Hawthorn faery promises cleansing, fulfilment, guardianship, and fertility. Keeping grounded and practical is the best way to access her and use her gifts.” ~ The Faery Bible by Teresa Moorey

Oak Ash and Thorn
The Faery Triad Talisman: Oak, Ash, and Thorn ~ photo by i.macy

In Ireland, Hawthorns have always been highly respected as faery trees. They were often referred to as ‘gentle bushes’ after the custom of not naming faeries directly out of respect. Solitary thorns were known as the faeries’ Trysting Trees, and frequently grew on barrows and tumps or at crossroads, thought to be a favourite location of pagan altars.

Folklore: Much of the folklore attached to it seems to come from the fact that the tree is covered in long branches of early, white blossom around the time of Beltane – the First of May.  In England, the Hawthorn is known as the Mayflower tree in honour of the month during which it blooms. Symbolising hope, it was the name the Pilgrims took for their famous ship, The Mayflower.

Hawthorn flowers
Hawthorn flowers, photo courtesy of Google images

If 1st of May seems early and the blossom is not ready – remember that the British calendar was changed and went forward 12 / 13 days in 1752 – trees have long memories and so work to the ancient dates! This is evident as well in Hawthorn’s place in the Ogham Tree Calendar – beginning now on 13th May – it would once have started on May 1st. Hawthorn is still prevalent in May Day celebrations, whatever the case.

Maypole_1500-56a6e0953df78cf77290a7cf
A Pagan Maypole celebration, led by the Green Man, photo courtesy of Google images

But whilst Hawthorn was a propitious tree at May-time, in other circumstances it was considered unlucky. Witches were supposed to make their brooms from it, and in some parts, it was equated with the abhorred Elder, as in the rhyme:

Hawthorn bloom and elder-flowers

Will fill a house with evil powers.

In magick, Hawthorn is known as a psychic shield that can lift the spirits, and a little charm of the wood is a thoughtful gift for a friend going through a time of vulnerability or depression. It is also especially effective against malevolent spirits.

Protection Spell:

Carefully gather a few thorns from the tree.

“On a piece of paper, write the name of the person or situation from which you seek protection, and then wrap it around the thorns.  Bury this in the ground – if possible near the tree from which the thorns were collected.” ~ Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

Correspondences:

Planet: Mars and Venus

Symbolism: Purification, sacred marriage

and male-female unity

Stone: Lapis Lazuli, Blue Calcite

Birds: Blackbird, Owl, Purple Martin

Color: Midnight Blue, Purple

Deity: Olwen, Blodeuwedd, Gardea,

Hymen, Hera, Virgin Mary

Sabbat: Beltane, May Day

Folk names: May bush, May tree, quickset,

thorn-apple tree, white thorn.

A hundred years I slept beneath a thorn

Until the tree was root and branches of my thought,

Until white petals blossomed in my crown.

From The Traveller ~ by Kathleen Raine

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x

Sources:

Druidry.org

thoughtco.com

thegoddesstree.com

The Magickal Rowan Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram @thewandcarver

rowan tree in crafnant snowdonia
Rowan tree by a stile in Crafnant,
Snowdonia ~ Photographer unk

It is believed the origination of the Rowan tree began in China. How many thousands of years ago is anybody’s guess, but as it happens, almost everywhere now across Europe, the UK, and in North America, you can find a variation of the Rowan tree or as some call it “mountain ash” although an Ash tree is exactly that and it’s not a Rowan tree. They all seem to appear quite alike but have different genus names, as it would happen. But I’m not here to give you a lot of scientific gardening information on the Rowan tree. I’m more interested in its magickal side and its folklore, as I am sure you are.

The Rowan tree is one of the most sacred in Scotland and the tradition does not allow cutting the tree or use of its timber for anything other than sacred purposes. The Druids were known to use Rowan in funeral pyres and the Seers used the wood in most likely a form of incense for divination and invocation of spirits. My Scottish grandfather would form little bundles of Rowan twigs for protection charms to be carried by his children or anyone who felt the need for a bit of extra help. His wife, my Nana, would often make little crosses from the twigs, but then, if you’ve read many of my tree blogs, you would know she made little protection crosses from about any kind of wood. Particularly Oak, Hawthorn, Holly, and Rowan as those were in the readiest supply. It was always interesting to see what new protection amulets were hanging about when I visited and to learn why they happened to be hanging where they were.

Grandfathers Rowan Bundle
Grandfather’s Rowan Protection Bundle – photo by I. Macy

The Rowan crosses were hung to prevent enchantment of the occupants of their homes and barns. The Rowan twig bundles were carried in a pocket away from home to prevent enchantment or a spell being cast upon the carrier by an evil cunning sorcerer. Also, just like Hazel is used for divining water, Rowan is said to be useful in divining for precious metals. Rowan can be used to increase one’s psychic powers (my mother felt my Nana was very psychic as she swore she would know every move she made when away from home!), and to enhance powers of healing and success.

Rowan is sacred to the Celtic Goddess Brighid who was “changed” to Saint Brighid (with the advent of Christianity/Catholicism), patroness of the arts, healing, smithing, spinning and weaving. Spindles and spinning wheels were traditionally made of Rowan in Scotland and Ireland.

Planet: The Sun, Mercury

Element: Fire

Symbolism: Protection and Inspiration

Stone: Tourmaline

Birds: Duck, Quail

Colour: Green

Deity: Brigantia (English Goddess), Brighid, Virgin Mary, Thor

Sabbat: Imbolc, Candlemas

Folk Names: Delight of the Eye, Mountain Ash, Quickbane, Ran Tree, Roden-Quicken, Roden-Quicken-Royan, Roynetree, Sorb Apple, Thor’s Helper, Whitty, Wicken-Tree, Wiggin, Wiggy, Wiky, Wild Ash, Witchbane, Witchen, Witchwood

Luis [Rowan]is the second consonant of the Ogham alphabet – and the second month of the Celtic Tree calendar, 21st January  – 17th February

Rowan Pendant
Rowan Pendant with Luis pyrographed upon it ~photo by i. macy

With flu season around the corner, here may be a useful titbit I found recently:

Use a handful of dried Rowan berries for Rowan berry tea.

Place them in the centre of a small square of white or purple cloth. Gather the cloth over the berries and tie it into a bundle with white or purple ribbon. Hang this in your kitchen during flu season or keep it for the entire winter.

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings!

What is the Difference Between Amulets and Talismans?

Originally posted on 01/08/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

You may notice when you see our tweets that we have similar-looking items that we sell, however, one may be called an “amulet” whilst the other is called a “talisman”. I get the occasional query as to what makes one but not the other. Think of it this way: they are both regarded as “charms” but the amulet wards off whilst the talisman empowers. An amulet wards off evil, bad luck, and the like but the talisman is usually specific to something the holder/wearer desires, such as to help empower that person with good luck, good health, and assorted abilities.

Amulets can be almost anything such as a coin, a ring, or garlic (think of warding off vampires!). When a bride puts a sixpence in her shoe on her wedding day she is warding off the many number of dreadful things that can happen rather than being brought good luck as many would think. The original reasoning behind the sixpence in her shoe was to protect the bride and her groom. As time went on Mothers of brides insisted that their daughters have a sixpence “for luck”.  Still, they are known as amulets.

Amulets_and_Talismans_Collage
Assorted Amulets & Talismans ~ photo by i. macy

The talisman can also be almost anything, as well, if it is charged with the purpose of empowering its owner with additional ability. When I create a talisman for a specific purpose such as our Magnolia medical healing necklace [will be back in stock soon] or the Magnolia personal healing necklace, it is with great thought to increasing the power of the charm by using Magnolia as this is known as a complete healing tree. As you may have read in my earlier blog about the Magnolia tree, there are many parts that are used in medicine, both scientific and holistic. Simply stroking the bark of the Magnolia tree brings calmness so it is useful for anxiety. But back to the point of the talismans is that one is to increase strength and healing whilst dealing with scientific medical procedures like testing and chemo- or radiotherapy and the personal healing is more suited to the holistic healing. The pendants are even metal-free so they can be left on whilst being x-rayed or for scans. And, of course, it’s convenient if you have an attack of nerves for all you need do is stroke the bark.

Many say that talismans are “generally” made from gemstones or crystals and they can be. I have several crystals of different abilities which I may carry one or several around with me depending upon what kind of help I need in a day. Some also seem to be of the school of thought which believes all amulets are in a natural form (non-man-made) whilst the talisman is always man-made. I personally do not see how anybody can come to that conclusion as crystals/stones are as “natural” as can be but can give the power to you to love, to be calm, to rise above many things. By the same reasoning, an amulet can be man-made or natural. The sixpence is definitely man-made, however, there are natural crystals that are protective and ward off evil/bad luck, therefore, an amulet.

In conclusion, an amulet or a talisman can be anything you like, whether nature-given or man-made. Just remember to do your research and be certain that what you use for an amulet will protect you and ward off evil and assorted terrible things whilst your talisman can help you to achieve a standard that you do not feel you possess otherwise. As always, thank you for reading and many blessings on all whom this way wander x