The Sweetest of Woods: Scots Pine

Originally posted on 05/12/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Scots Pines Buttersmere Valley Cumbria
Scots Pine, Buttermere Valley, Cumbria, Courtesy of Alamy

The Scots Pine…this time of year many think of it first as the go-to live tree of choice for Christmas. Little do they know what a piece of history they are bringing into their homes. Scots Pine is believed to have been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth, some 300 million years ago, and it is known as “The Pioneer Tree”. Records indicate that it was, along with Birch and Willow, one of the first trees to grow in Ireland since the last Ice Age, and is the only Pine tree native to that country.

The largest trees we see commonly grow to around 65 feet or 20 metres high, but old specimens may be much taller. They can, if allowed, live for up to 350 years. Because of their great height, the trunks of the Scots Pine made reliable masts for ships and they were also used as “waymarkers” at crossroads and ancient cairns. They would stand for many generations, kindly marking the way for travellers.

Alim highlighted

We consider the Scots Pine as an Ogham tree, although the author, Robert Graves calls the Silver Fir “Ailm” however, the Silver Fir, unlike the Scots Pine, is not native to the British Isles. Pine is documented in medieval Irish law [source: Bretha Comaithchesa – Neighbourhood Law – 8th century] as one of the seven ‘Airig Fedo – the Nobles of the Wood’ – listed for their usefulness. Ailm is the Ogham Letter A and 22nd December, the second day of Winter Solstice, and the beginning of the new year. Its associated festival is Yule – 21st – 22nd December by many writings, however –

There is a period of time between the 21st of December and the 24th of December when the Sun stops, or stands still, until the 25th of December. Most things you read about the date for Pine is confusingly wrong – and I’ve gotten it wrong before myself – but the true Sun return begins on the 25th of December, and the days start getting “longer”. The Sun shines for a little longer each day, rather than less as it has done. In truth, the Yew tree represents the Winter Solstice, 21st December, it is the “death” of the old year, the ending of the dark, the end of “shorter” days. The Pine is the “birth” of the new year, a bringer of light. It is also associated with the Winter Solstice, 21st/22nd of December, however, I think it would be better to have it represent the 25h of December in the true role the Pine plays like the one who brings back the Sun. You will find many conflicts if you find yourself studying trees, particularly as a Druid, and you will find so many conflicting dates. Just remember that, nothing is set in stone, and that Yew and Pine play twin roles in the Winter Solstice but very fraternally – not at all alike!

Medicinal Uses:

People used to inhale the steam from boiling Pine needles as a remedy for stuffy noses and cold congestion. Infusions of Pine bark and needles were used as an antiseptic for wounds. Pine resin was made into a balm for dry, parched lips.

Magickal:

Incense made with pine needles, resin or oil will purify a space and banish any negativity that’s lurking there. The same can be achieved by burning pine logs on an open fire or dropping in a handful of pine needles or cones. Pine needles can be interwoven with sage or other smudging vegetation such as Cedar for smudging sticks. Use any part of the pine in workings for fertility. Use a wand made from its wood if a new life is hoped for as it will attract positive energies and transfer them to the worker. Should a shower of snow accidentally fall onto you from the branch of a pine tree, a great blessing will occur. Originally in Scandinavia and Germany, it was thought to bring prosperity into the home by decorating with boughs of evergreens. Since, it has become a standard in many homes in Britain, America, Canada, and other countries.

Correspondences:

Attributes: abundance, fertility, good fortune, healing, health, immortality, love, prosperity, protection, purification, and regeneration

Element: Air, Fire

Ruling Planet: Mars

Zodiac: Cancer, Capricorn

Gender: Masculine

Diety: Dionysus, Bacchus, Attis, Cybele, Aphrodite, Artemis, Diana, Ishtar, Isis, Mithra, Pan, Vulcan

Gemstones: Black Opal, Onyx

Colour: Black

Energy: Masculine and Feminine

Celestial bodies: Jupiter, Mars

Other names: Balm of Gilead, the sweetest of woods

“The pine tree seems to listen, the fir tree to wait: and both without impatience: they give no thought to the little people beneath them devoured by their impatience and their curiosity.”

from “”Der Wanderer und sein Schatten – The Wanderer and His Shadow 1880” Friedrich Nietzsche

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

Sources:
Druidry.org

Whispers from the Woods. By Sandra Kynes

The Magickal Spindle Tree

Originally posted on 23/11/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

I have a theory about Sleeping Beauty’s fateful finger prick on the spindle in her 15th year of life – besides the one in which I think she was far too young to be kissed by princes – is that the spindle was poisonous by Nature. And, this is true of the Spindle tree…it is quite a poisonous tree, mainly the leaves and berries but I wouldn’t want to prick my finger on the wood, either…just incase!

How was the Spindle tree so-named? From my research it seems the major consensus it that William Turner concluded, this being from The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, 1922:

I coulde never learne an Englishe name for it. The Duche men call it in Netherlande, spilboome, that is, spindel tree, because they use to make spindels of it in that countrey, and me thynke it maye be so well named in English seying we have no other name. … I know no good propertie that this tree hath, saving only it is good to make spindels and brid of cages ” [bird cages].

Woodland Trust

The Spindle tree, and it’s leaves and berries, has been used over the centuries for many medicinal purposes. Everything ranging from appetite stimulants to nits [head lice], and horse/cattle mange. As before mentioned, the tree and its parts are very poisonous, so it would be better left in favour of other, safer options for these ills.

It has also been used for many household items in addition to its namesake reason, spindles, and other items such as bird cages, and even toothpicks.

The Spindle tree is found in many countries – albeit, named differently in each, I am sure. To America it was brought from England several centuries ago to be used in gardens and eventually became known as the Arrow Tree. I can only imagine it was as useful for making arrows there as it was for making spinning wheel spindles in Britain and other parts of the world. The Spindle tree is found mainly in hedgerows in Britain but has become very useful as an ornamental tree as well.

Spindle is also one of the trees of the Ogham alphabet. It is not one of the Celtic Birth Tree Ogham, but one of the five extra Ogham. It was declared there were not enough sounds to cover all human speech from the other Ogham, therefore, OI or TH, from the Irish Oir, was created. In the diagram of the Ogham, you’ll see it encased in red. It is the 22nd letter of the Ogham. OI represents the Spindle tree. It is also associated with lightning. It has been said it eases the pain of labour and birth. In modern times it has come to be associated with wealth and inspired knowledge.

According to authoress Sandra Kynes, Whispers from the Woods, Spindle is a symbol of magic in the Norse Pagan tradition. Another name for the constellation Orion was “Freya’s Spindle”. Spinning is associated with the Goddess Athena because she is credited with being the inventor of spinning and all womanly arts. The spindle was the tool of the Fates, daughters of the Goddess, Necessity [the Mother of Invention], who fashioned the destiny of humans.

Magickal:

Can be used effectively in cleansing rituals to heal old emotional wounds. Spinning and weaving spells that bring people together. Confronting one’s “shadow self” or when facing difficulties. Spindle tree wood makes an excellent pendulum for divination.

Correspondences:

Element: water
Deity: Athena, Frigg/Freya, Minerva, The Fates
Energy: feminine
Sabbat: Imbolc
Attributes: attaining quests, cleansing, divination, honour, inspiration, spiritual work, feminine power, seeking true self, community spirit
Other names: Spindleberry, Pegwood


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

Sources:
The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde
Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes
Druidry.org
Wikipedia
Woodland Trust

The Magickal Sycamore Tree: My First Tree Love

Originally posted on 21/11/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

sycamore01
Sycamore tree ~ woodlandtrust.org.uk

The Sycamore tree is a member of the Earth’s oldest family of trees – found to be more than 100 million years old. They can live to be around 600 years old and can sometimes grow to be over 100 feet tall. The Sycamore is an extremely fast-growing tree…and this I know from experience. In Britain they are also known as Plane trees, more specifically American Plane.

In Greek history, according to Herodotus, the Greeks owed some of their military success to the charm of the Sycamore. In 480 BC, an invading Persian king, Xerxes, camped his army in a sycamore grove. Xerxes was so taken by their beauty that he decided to stay camped there, putting off his march for a few days. It was said that this delay cost Xerxes the war, and Greece went on to build the Athenian Empire.

In ancient Egypt, the “Holy Sycamore” was believed to connect the world of the living with the world of the dead, but this information is due to a mistranslation; Sycamore has been mistakenly credited with being sacred to the Egyptians. And the Sycamore tree is mentioned many times in the Bible, so I’ve read.

Sycamore symbolises development, perseverance and vitality. They are often able to grow where no other tree can; represents versatility and symbolises coldness. It is believed to promote relaxation and harmony, whilst at the same time raising energy levels and banishing lethargy. It is good for any magic to do with prosperity, love or longevity. It is said to bring success and abundance, but also to teach humility. Also said to be good for using in healing potions. Sycamore is an air and water element tree.

More correctly called Great Maple, in North America, the Native Americans used the sap from Sycamore for wine-making and syrup! In healing remedies, it was used for wound dressing and a variety of medicinal purposes, including cold and cough remedies. It was also used for dietary, dermatological, gynaecological, respiratory, and for gastrointestinal problems.

To past Native-American cultures, the Sycamore was equivalent to the Oak, as Holy trees go. It is fairly water-resistant and can adapt itself well to grow nearly anywhere. It even grows hardily in the cold, rain-drenched, acidic soil of the North Highlands of Scotland.

In Britain you never hear about the mystical qualities of Sycamore. It would seem the witching world never give it a second look when thinking of wands or other magickal charms made from wood. As a young girl, I was lucky to have been moved from the big city to a life relatively in the country at an age when my little witchy wings were forming. We had a massive Sycamore tree behind our detached house, right outside my bedroom window. There were four Sycamores, in truth, planted in a row behind our house. The largest of all was outside my window…they had all been planted at the same time…I would know, my father, planted them. And whilst three grew at a normal-ish rate, the one in front of my window grew so fast I was able to climb it very soon! Mind, they weren’t little trees when first planted – my father always planted semi-grown trees around our house. Dad was such a Druid when it came to trees. He had at least one of everything and if he found the room, he had at least two of every tree…It wasn’t long before we were living in a veritable forest.

My Sycamore tree was everything to me for years. I climbed high up in it…I could sit on a large branch for hours just thinking. As I sat, many times fat squirrels would venture up in hopes of a treat, or a bird would light close by and give me a wary side-ways look, as they do. My favourites were the visiting Owls at night and the Crows and Ravens in the morning. And, naturally, my first wand was a Sycamore branch. I didn’t carve it into anything special, I just carried with me most places around our gardens or into the woodland behind us…well, if you could tell where our property ended, and the natural woodland began, that is! It was broken a bit by my parents veg garden – the size of several allotments; my Dad was over the moon! – and my Dad’s kennels for his beautiful English Setters, as he was a Quail hunter. Then, the “real” woodland began and there were small streams, tiny ponds, loads of different trees to learn about, but truthfully, my first tree love was the giant Sycamore.

I think it fitting now that I look back, that a Sycamore tree would be my first tree love…it is, after all, a tree of Ancestral and Earth Wisdom. Many of you whom have read my previous blogs know that I am a Hedge Witch…not the neo-Hedge Witch but the one who rides the Hedge and walks between the Worlds…mainly to speak with my ancestors primarily during All Hallows Eve. And, as a Taurus, I am very much an Earth Girl. This could also have much to do with loving to help my Dad when he planted in his gardens, the smells of rich Earth being turned to accept our little seeds to grow a lovely harvest of many healthy delights. I spent hours as a young girl playing in the soil, quite literally, and the most soothing thing to do at times, when my little girl life became fraught from the dreadful things that could happen from time to time, was to sit and dig my hands into the warm, fragrant Earth, feeling cosy and calmed by the connection.

And, I could always sit in my Sycamore tree…perhaps it is when my ancestors began working my life through that tree. Do you ever wonder why you make some of the life decisions you make? I can clearly understand nearly every one of mine by tracing through my ancestry. I believe it began with that tree, if I’m honest. And I am grateful for it.

So, yes, I think that a Sycamore has a lot of magickal value. It is definitely a tree perfect for any sort of ancestral workings. I have no doubt that it promotes relaxation and harmony. I can safely say it banishes lethargy and raises energy levels. I can not attest to whether it does anything for love spells, prosperity spells, or longevity spells, but it couldn’t hurt to try. As for success and abundance…perhaps it has done. I feel I’ve been very successful with nearly all things I’ve gotten stuck in and determined to do, as well as through lean times and all other times, I have had an abundance of what was needed to get by. And, we were certainly not rich growing up, but abundance was always ours. We never went hungry and the bills were paid. I can certainly see how Sycamore teaches humility…try acting stupid whilst half-way up one and see how quickly you land on the hard Earth! Lastly, I haven’t been on the receiving end of any Sycamore healing potions, but I do know Sycamore heals the soul…it feels like a loving parent. And I have days when I would give about anything to climb up into my old friend’s arms, or limbs, I should say, and snuggle up on my favourite limb and let its wisdom and love fill my soul and heart with hope again.

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

Sources:

druidry.com

Trees of London

Woodland Trust

Wikipedia

Experience

The Magick of Ivy

Originally posted on 16/11/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Gort Ogham Ivy
Gort

Ivy! How I adore Ivy! You may be able to see that by the photos of our items in our Etsy shop. Most pictures will be adorned with a sprig or more of lush, green Ivy. Ivy is also a wood of the Celtic Birth Tree calendar, an Ogham tree. It is Gort, the 11th month of the Celtic Tree calendar, 30th September – 27th October and the 11th consonant of the Ogham alphabet.  It is not a tree, obviously, however, in England, the vine can get very thick like a tree limb.  The Ivy person has determination, patience, and is able to accept change. The Ivy person is your go-to source for attaching dreams with reality, just like Ivy wraps around our visions and helps us bring them into the real world.  The Ivy-born are good for creating healthy bonds with friends, family, and co-workers.

As you might tell from our shop photographs, there are many species of Ivy but for the Ogham, there are only two acceptable species, i.e., Hedera Helix [English Ivy] and the Australian species, which is confined to the southern Continent.  There is an Australian version of the Ogham and I have read there is also a Florida [US] version using species of trees indigenous to that area which are much the same in most cases as the original Ogham. You must work with what you have, sometimes!  Mind, most people can simply buy an Ogham set from a British maker unless they prefer making one out of their own indigenous trees.

Folklore / History /Magick

Ivy has been used for various purposes throughout history and is associated with Bacchus because it was supposed to grow all over his fabled homeland, Nyssa. Its leaves formed the poet’s crown, as well as the wreath of Bacchus, to whom the plant was dedicated, probably because of the practise of binding the brow with Ivy leaves to prevent intoxication, a quality formerly attributed to the plant.  It was said that the effects of intoxication by wine are removed if a handful of Ivy leaves are bruised and gently boiled in wine and drunk.  Please don’t try this at home. Ivy is poisonous if ingested.

English Ivy on
English Ivy on Celtic Cross in cemetary ~ dailymail.co.uk

Ivy wood is very porous, and the ancients thought it had the property of separating wine from water by filtration, an error arising from the fact that wood absorbs the colour of the liquid in its passage through the pores. On the Continent, it has sometimes been used in thin slices as a filter.

In former days, English taverns bore over their doors the sign of an Ivy bush, to indicate the excellence of the liquor supplied within; hence the saying ‘Good wine needs no bush’.

In England, it was once believed that if ivy refused to grow on a grave it meant the soul was unhappy in its other world.

If it flourished on a young girl’s grave, it meant she died of unrequited love.

Ivy crown
Ivy crown ~ courtesy of Google Images

Greek priests presented a wreath of Ivy to newly-married persons, and the Ivy has throughout the ages been regarded as the emblem of fidelity.

The custom of decorating houses and churches with Ivy at Christmas was forbidden by one of the early Councils of the Church, because its pagan associations, but the custom remains.

As Ivy grows in the shape of a spiral, it is considered to be of the Goddess.

Use ivy in fidelity and love charms.

Wherever Ivy is grown, it guards against negativity and disaster.

Ivy is magickally paired with Holly and is often woven together into crowns.

Correspondences:

Planet: Moon, Saturn

Element: Water

Symbolism: Fidelity and Fertility, Protection, Healing

Stone: Opal

Colour: Indigo

Bird: Lark, mute Swan, Swallow

Deity: Ariadne, Artemis, Arianrhod, Pasiphae, Dionysus, Bacchus, Osiris

“Oh, roses for the flush of youth,

And laurel for the perfect prime;

But pick an ivy branch for me

Grown old before my time.”

~Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1862

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

Sources:

Druidry.org

whats-your-sign.com

The Magickal Beech Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Originally posted on 07/11/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

Beech Ogham, Phagos is marked in red. 

The Beech tree, for the Celtic Birth Tree Calendar enthusiasts, will disappoint as it is an Ogham tree, but not of a particular month, but for the entire year.  The Ogham for Beech is Phagos [encased in red on the Ogham Tree chart] and is simply an additional consonant. Those whom are studying the Ogham alphabet will be pleased.  Beech is often called The Tree of Learning.

Sadly, in Britain, The Queen of Trees since the Ice Age may be extinct before long due to global warming. Research has revealed that the damage inflicted on Beech trees during the record-breaking scorching summer of 1976 has impacted forests throughout the UK. The effects of the 1976 drought have lasted to the present day and expect future changes to UK forests may be sudden and put many of our most iconic Beechwoods at significant risk.

Beech-trees Daily Mirror
A stand of Beech trees – The Daily Mirror

The King of Trees in the UK is Oak, by the way.

Beech trees have inspired the building of cathedrals, its leaves used for nourishment, and its seeds used to make coffee in Germany. A very important tree all round, but it seems not many people realise how magickal a tree it is.  Beech is linked with time, wisdom, and knowledge but especially written wisdom, as the Beech was used in thin slices to write upon and to form the very first books.  Whatever material words were inscribed upon, they took on the power and magic of the gods which is why the Beech tree was held in such awe. Writing made knowledge manifest into the physical world and therefore allowed that wisdom to be passed on to future generations. Beech can help us make wishes, by scratching your wish upon a piece of Beech and then burying it. Say a simple spell or prayer as you are giving it back to the earth and then it will begin to manifest in your life. Some say you should carry small pieces of beech bark in your pocket for luck and success and that a Beech wand will open channels of communication with the God/Goddess.

Medicinally, Beech is used for skin problems and the “tar” from Beech has been proven effective as a remedy for psoriasis eczema.  Preparations made from bark could reduce fever.

Correspondences:

Planet: Mercury, Saturn

Element: Air, Earth

Symbolism: learning, knowledge, understanding, sustenance, preservation

Birds: Bluebird

Colour: light blue

Deity: Ogma, Thoth, Hermes,  Mercury, Odin, Cronos

Folk Names: copper beech, white beech

The tops of the beech tree

Have sprouted of late,

Are changed and renewed

From their withered state.

When the beech prospers,

Though spells and litanies

The oak tops entangle,

There is hope for trees.

excerpt from “Battle of Trees” by the Bard Taliesin,

interpreted by Robert Graves

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

Sources:

Druidry.org

Battle of the Trees, Robert Graves

dailymail.co.uk

The Magick of Broom

Originally posted on 02/11/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Ngetal Broom

What is Broom? Technically, it is not a tree…more of a shrubbery, and is sometimes referred to as “Reed” …still, it is considered in the Celtic Birth Tree Calendar as one of the thirteen woods which comprise the CBTC.  Broom [or reed] is the 12th month of Celtic Tree calendar, 28th October – 24th November and is the 12th letter of the Ogham alphabet – Ngetal.  If you were born on 31st October, Samhain, both the Broom and the Blackthorn would have great meaning for you.

People born under the Broom/Reed sign among the Celtic tree astrology signs are the secret keepers. You dig deep inside to the real meaning of things and discover the truth hidden beneath layers of distraction. When there is a need to get to the heart of the matter, most certainly the Reed sign will find the core. You love a happy story and can be easily drawn in by gossip, scandals, legend, and lore. These tendencies also make you an excellent historian, journalist, detective or archaeologist. You love people because they represent a diversity of meanings for you to interpret. You are adept at coaxing people to talk to you, and sometimes you can be a bit manipulative. However, you have a keen sense of truth and honour so most of your scheming is harmless. Broom/ Reed people join well with other Broom/Reeds, Ash or Oak signs.

Broom_2009_06_12_GlenriddingHut_BBQ_203p5
Broom growing wild..as it does 🙂

The Broom seldom grows large enough to furnish useful wood, but when its stems acquire a sufficient size, it is beautifully veined and being hard provides valuable material for veneering.  As its name suggests, it was popularly used for making brooms and brushes and was commonly used for basketwork, especially on the island of Madeira.  In the north of England and Scotland, it was used for thatching cottages and making fences or screens.

A traditional rhyme from Sussex says: “Sweep the house with blessed Broom in May / sweep the head of the household away.” 😊

The branches of the Broom shrub are perfect for sweeping [but not whilst the yellow blossoms are standing at attention, wait till the flowers drop off – otherwise sweeping with Broom branches leads to very nasty luck as the fables warn]. Because of its handy household uses, the flower symbolism of the Broom includes a sense of orderliness, cleanliness, and tidiness. Kind of like a “symbol of good housekeeping.”  Its bright yellow flowers are likened to the gold of the radiating sun, and therefore conjure symbolic attributes of light, energy, vitality, and warmth.  The Broom flower as a symbol also hints at humility – it’s a simple bush…its needs are few [it can live quite well without much tending]. Those who are drawn to the Broom flower as a personal symbol will be humble in his/her ways…. resourceful, too – making the best [and being happy] with simple things in life. Broom flower symbolism also points to matters of the heart; ingestion of the plant is known to affect cardiac function. Folk medicine cites Broom teas as a heart regulator [don’t try it at home unless you know what you’re doing, please]. The Broom is a bright reminder of how simple values can go a long way to balancing the heart.

Medicinal and Folklore:

The whole of Broom is medicinally valuable. The main medicinal ingredient in Broom is sparteine. When consumed in large doses it can cause excitability and hallucinations.  This has been speculated as the reason Broom is associated with witches flying around on brooms. I would imagine this would raise blood pressures to an incredible height so please don’t try this.  The sparteine found in Broom is now used for heart and circulatory disorders. Other preparations from Broom can help with gout, sciatica, joint pain, malaria, fever, kidney stones. I would think it best to leave this to the pharmaceutical companies to know how much and what part of Broom should be used.

broom flowers RHS
Broom flowers ~ Royal Horticultural Society

Flowers of the Broom were once used to concoct an elixir for gout and it was known that King Henry VIII drank the infusion of water with Broom flowers to “cure” the effects of his many excesses.

Before hops, Broom was added to flavour and enhance the intoxicating effects of beer.

My Nana insisted the broom be stored on its end, never on the bristles, to keep the magick from running out.

It is bad luck to loan your broom to anyone, even a friend.

A broom laid in a doorway would detain a witch from entering a cottage. For a witch would not cross over objects without first numbering the parts, and counting all the fibres of a broom would slow her progress. [Wales]

Stand a broom upside down – Marry soon. [Ireland]

Magickal:

Broom was hung up in the house to keep all evil influences out, and an infusion of Broom sprinkled throughout the house was used to exorcise poltergeist activity.  Sweeping the ground with a brush of Broom will clear the area of unwanted influences.

Banishing and releasing spell:

Bundle a handful of twigs to create a small ritual hand broom. Write the name of what you want to release or banish from your life on a piece of paper and burn it.  When the ashes are cool scatter them on the floor around your altar. Take the broom and sweep the ashes from the centre out to the edge of your circle. Gather the ashes and then scatter them to the wind.  [You can also sweep the floor as you burn the ashes, and then take a few pieces of your broom, burn them in your cauldron, and scatter them to the wind after they cool].

~Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

Correspondences:

Planet: The Moon

Element: Water

Symbolism: Royalty, cleansing, healing, psychic protection, astral travel

Stone: Opal

Colour: Blue

Bird: Geese, kingfisher

Deity: Mercury, Morpheus, Bacchus

Sabbat: Samhain

Folk Names: Scotch Broom

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

Sources:

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

Whats-your-sign.com

In Worship of Trees, by George Knowles

The Magick of Aspen

Originally posted on 26/10/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

aspen tree
from aspentreeservices.co.uk

A friend on Twitter mentioned Quaking Aspen some months back and I said I should blog about it soon. So, today we’ll consider the magickal side of the Aspen tree, a British native, but far more common in the US and Scotland. Much smaller in stature than the White Poplar, slender in growth on a tall, slim trunk, they spread easily by means of underground shoots and so are often found growing close together in little groves. The roundish toothed leaves sprout on flattened stalks, each one unusually long and flexible. These are a soft, rusty colour in spring before maturing to a uniform mid-green. Aspens seem continually on the move which gives the tree its nickname of the ‘Quaking Aspen’ or ‘Shivering tree’.  The Aspen, being closely related to the White Poplar, often the names of the two trees are used interchangeably.

Now, you know, Darren 😊

Also called the “Whispering Tree”, the Aspen is representative of the Autumn Equinox, 21st September and is the fourth vowel of the Ogham alphabet – Eadhadh, and it is the 19th Ogham of the alphabet.  The Aspen is not a Celtic Birth Tree Calendar tree, therefore there isn’t an “Aspen zodiac” reading. However, the Ogham itself has meaning and if you were born on the Autumn Equinox, it would be a special Ogham for you, in addition to your birth tree for your place in that month.

Lore and legend is associated with these quivering Aspen leaves, and it’s no wonder. When you have the first opportunity, observe the aspen leaves in action – loosen your body and mind and really watch these amazing trees. Their stark, white bodies ascending to their shimmery leaves will keep you spellbound.  It is, as many trees are, quite sacred to the Druids.

Folklore

The Aspen is felt to be a tree of rebirth.  It is also thought of as a tree of overcoming death. The writer, Nigel Pennick in Magical Alphabets sees the Aspen as a resistor of inhospitable conditions.  On the other hand, the Aspen is also seen as dark and evil as per its role in the Bible as the betrayer of Christ.  In France, it was a religious belief that the leaves shook with fear because Christ’s cross was made from Aspen wood.  In Germany, it was legend that the Aspen was the only tree that refused to acknowledge him, so Jesus had placed a curse on the Aspen – which caused the tree to tremble in fear. Any way you look at Aspen, it has a connection with death.

Early folk healers in England would tell a palsy patient to pin a lock of her hair to an Aspen tree and repeat:

Aspen tree, Aspen tree

I prithee shiver and shake

Instead of me.

They were to walk home in silence from there [or they risk breaking the spell, and the cure would fail]

Medicine

The bark of the Aspen tree contains an analgesic and early Native American women would brew a tea of the bark and leaves to relieve menstrual cramps, and other pains.

Magick

Burn incense made of powdered Aspen bark on a charcoal disc at Samhain to protect you from unwanted spirits and to help you release old fears as you move forward into the next new year. Plant an Aspen tree on your property to prevent thieves from robbing your home.

Correspondences

Planet: Mercury

Element: Air

Symbolism: Ascent, Protection, Overcoming fear.

Stone: Black Opal

Birds: Mourning Dove, Swan

Colour: Grey

Deity: Persephone, Hades

Sabbat: Mabon, Autumn Equinox

Folk Name: European Aspen

“And the wind full of wantonness

Woos like a lover

The young Aspen trees

Till they tremble all over.”

~Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh, Light of the Harem

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

Sources:

Magical Alphabets, by Nigel Pennick

Druidry.org

Wikipedia

Samhain and the Magick of Blackthorn

Originally posted on 31/10/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

treeid-blackthorn woodlandtrust
Young blossoming Blackthorn ~ photo by woodlandtrust.org.uk

It is the tree of Samhain. In the Celtic Birth Tree Calendar, Blackthorn is 31st October, the beginning of Samhain and more recently associated with Halloween. Its ogham name is Straif, Chieftain tree.  It is not a CBT Calendar birth tree, therefore there will be no “zodiac” reading associated with Blackthorn, although some traditions believe those born upon this day to be born from something less than angelic. We shall lay superstitions and old beliefs aside to look at Blackthorn as the wonderfully magickal and protective tree that it is.

“The holy day of Samhain is, in the Celtic tradition, the first day of Winter: a time of sacrifice, divination for the New Year, communion with the dead, of endings and rest. On this night the world of spirits, ancestors and mortals might meet.

The Blackthorn tree is esoterically known as both the Mother of the Woods and the Dark Crone of the Woods.  It is found primarily in the British Isles and is generally part of hedgerows and in thickets. You’ll often find it alongside Elder and Hawthorn in the hedgerows bordering many farmlands. It is a very difficult tree…more like a shrub than a tree, traditionally never becoming taller than thirteen feet in height…to physically come close to. And if you do, mind the thorns or “spines”…

Within the mythic cycle of the Goddess as Crone, she deepens into Herself and enters the Dreamtime, the place between the worlds where past, present and future exist simultaneously. The season invites you to enter a place of stillness and simply be where you are: not moving forward or backward but utterly present, suspended in the space between past and future. It is here that you may hear Her voice in the crackling fire, rain, and wind.

Review the year that has passed with introspection and retrospection. Commune with your ancestors and honour your beloved dead. Remember your sisters who perished in the Burning Times, and commit yourself to the struggle for justice. Divine and ask the Fates for blessings in the coming year. What do you leave behind in the year that has passed, and what do you wish to take with you? How will you prepare to listen to the Old Wise One within?” ~ Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries by Ruth Barrett, and We’ Moon

sloe-dave kilbey photography
Sloe berries on Blackthorn tree ~ photo by Dave Kilbey davekilbeyphotography.co.uk

The Blackthorn does produce fruit, called sloes, and is often made into sloe berry jam and sloe gin.  The berries have medicinal use as well which we’ll look at later.

Folklore

Blackthorn is generally depicted as an ill omen throughout Britain and even Europe, however, the Celtic people formed its most sinister reputation…a hard, cold winter would be referred to as a “Blackthorn winter” and the Ogham letter straif is where the English word “strife” is derived from. Drawing the straif Ogham stave [made of Blackthorn wood, of course!] means the diviner is in for a thorny go of things. The drawing of the stave also indicates the actions of fate in your life, something that cannot be avoided but must be faced and dealt with. Blackthorn gives you the strength to accept and persevere in the face of adversity.

Blackthorn is associated with death quite frequently. Samhain is the death of the old year whilst hailing in the new.

In the Irish legend, the Pursuit of Diarmaid and Gráinne, a passage describes Sadhbh eating sloe berries and becoming pregnant as a result. She gave birth to a son who was born with a lump on his head. The lump turned out to be a worm or snake. The snake was eventually killed in sacrifice for another man. In The Sword of Oscar, sloe berries are part of a sacrificial theme as well. Blackthorn’s theme in traditional stories often indicate a warrior’s death in service to the High King or tribe.

In the Word Ogham of Cúchulainn Blackthorn is ‘an arrow’s mist’ and ‘smoke drifting up from the fire.’ These are both kennings for death.

Magickal Use

Blackthorn is used for purification, as well as protection, ridding the atmosphere of negative energy. It deals with the issues on a Karmic level, which cannot be avoided. Meditating on Blackthorn can purify our minds of negative thoughts and impulses at the deepest level of our psyche. It can aid us in combating fear, depression, and anger. The thorns of the Blackthorn can be imagined lancing the built-up abscess of negative thoughts, and release the emotional toxins, which can then begin to heal. Using the gentler sister tree, Hawthorn, in conjunction with Blackthorn, can aid the process of healing.

Traditionally, Blackthorn is used in protection against evil, creating boundaries, purifying, confronting our own dark side. Blackthorn dispels negativity, toxins, old wounds, and impurities. It can be used in exorcisms. It is associated with chthonic and protective deities.

Blackthorn Spines
Two of my Blackthorn spines…one is 3″ long! Photo by i.macy

The spines can be used as pins to stick in a poppet. A wand or staff can be used for help in exorcisms or for protection from fire and for general protection.  A staff can be used to make wishes, and carrying the wand or staff protects one from evil. The wood makes a good divining rod. Often the Blackthorn wand is called a “blasting rod” for the power is so intense. An ideal wand for casting spells against enemies.

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

Medicinal Use

The fruit and leaves contain Vitamin C, organic acids, tannins, and sugars. Steep the flowers for a diuretic, tonic, and laxative. The dried fruits can treat bladder, kidney and stomach ailments. Boil the leaves for a mouthwash or to soothe the throat from tonsillitis or laryngitis.

Correspondences

Planet: Mars, Saturn

Element: Earth, Fire

Zodiac: Aries, Scorpio

Symbolism:  The inevitability of Death, Protection and Revenge, Strife and Negativity, The Balance between light and darkness.

Stone: Black Opal, agate, bloodstone

Colour: Purple, Black, Red

Bird[s]: Thrush

Deity: Morrigan

Sabbat: Samhain

Folk Names: sloe, sloe plum, wishing thorn, faery tree

Pronounciations:

Scots Gaelic: Draighionn

Irish Gaelic: Draighean

Welsh: Draenen ddu

Many thanks for reading.  Have a blessed Samhain and warmest blessings to all x

Sources:

Druidry.org

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries by Ruth Barrett, and We’ Moon

Experience

The Magickal Hazel Tree

Originally posted on 24/10/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Hazel Ogham Pendant by i.macy

The Hazel tree…also known as “The Tree of Knowledge” is the ninth month of the Celtic Tree Calendar, 5th August – 1st September and is the ninth consonant of the Ogham alphabet named Coll.

Hazel tree people are known as “the know-ers” of the Celtic tree “zodiac”.

People born under the Celtic Hazel tree sign are highly analytical and intelligent. They are gifted in academics and are often the brightest students in the classroom. They are also artistic and can make motivating teachers. They tend to be profound in thought and philosophical by nature.

Their intellect gives them the talent to remember and repeat things with amazing accuracy. Hazel people are well versed in all topics which can make them seem as a know-it-all in social situations. They pay great attention to detail and like things to be just right.

The perfectionist tendencies of the Hazel tree zodiac will sometimes leave them with control issues if everything doesn’t turn out exactly how they pictured. Their ambitious standards can make it impossible for anybody to meet them. They can be perceived as someone who is very difficult to please because of their overly critical nature.

Their critical nature is just their way of trying to analyse a problem and find ways to fix it. They want situations and people to be at their best, but they need to realize that no one is perfect and very few, if any, will meet such high exacting standards.

The Hazel Druid Celtic tree sign often finds it hard to unwind and relax and can come across as too argumentative.

According to The Fairy Bible, by Teresa Mooney:

Hazel Tree ~ woodlandtrust.org.uk

The Hazel Fairy is a mercurial sprite, deeply wise, a bringer of insight and flashes of inspiration. This fairy can help you to find knowledge in a very individual way, and to develop your intuition so that you can see deeply into many things.

Hazel holds the secrets of the earth and can teach about dowsing and the currents within the land, known as ley lines. She also encourages meditation and confers eloquence on those who respect and honour her.

Folklore:

Wisdom is at the heart of the Hazel tree. Druids, Poets, Bards, and Shaman have long sought wisdom through Hazel. Many early Irish tales describe poets and seers as ‘gaining nuts of Wisdom’, which is most likely a metaphor for such heightened states of consciousness, although the more literally-minded have argued that this expression could refer to a potent brew made from hazelnuts that had psychotropic effects. As to this theory, there are numerous references to drinking ‘hazelmead’ in early Irish literature and many references to Scottish druids eating hazel-nuts to gain prophetic powers.

Hazel woods frequently figure in the sacred landscape. In Ireland, hazel is coll, and the early triad of gods of the Tuatha Dé Danaan, MacCuill, (son of HazeI), MacCecht (Son of the Plough) and MacGréine (Son of the Sun) supposedly divided the island into three so that the country was said to be under the plough, the sun or the hazel, for ‘these were the things they put above all other’.

The Hazel’s association with wisdom extends to other cultures of the ancient world. In Norse mythology it was known as the Tree of Knowledge and was sacred to Thor; the Romans held it sacred to Mercury, who – especially in his Greek form, Hermes – was the personification of intelligence. Hermes’ magic rod may have been made from hazel. The English word derives from the Anglo Saxon ‘haesl’ which originally signified a baton of authority.

Medicinal purposes:

Finely powdered Hazel nuts steeped in hot water then with the addition of honey and lemon is thought to relieve a stubborn cough.  The leaves brewed into tea can be used to treat such ailments as circulatory problems, fevers, diarrhoea, and excessive menstrual flow.

Magickal:

Hazelwood has been used for centuries to divine for water. For help from the faeries, tie hazelnuts onto a cord and hang in your room. Like Holly, Hazel protects your home against lightning.  It is a wood used often for making wands and other magickal things such as talismans and amulets for purposes of gaining knowledge and wisdom.

Correspondences:

Planet: Mercury

Element: Air

Symbolism: Wisdom & Divination, Poetry & Science, Playfulness & Enchantment, Healing Arts

Stone: Topaz, Pearl

Birds: Crane

Colour: Orange

Deity: Hermes, Aemgus, Artemis, Diana

Underneath this hazelin mote,

There’s a braggoty worm with a speckled throat,

Nine double is he,

Now from eight double to seven double

And from seven double to six double

and so on until:

And from one double to no double,

No double hath he

~Old adder bite charm, writer unknown

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

Sources:

The Fairy Bible, by Theresa Mooney

Druidry.org

SunSigns.org

woodlandtrust.org.uk

Our Samhain Oil ~ Cypress Wood and Its Use in Magick

by Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

The Cypress Tree has already been written about in an earlier blog, however, many do not think about how magickal Cypress wood is when it comes to making poppets, potions, and other spell-work.

Cypress wood may be used to consecrate ritual tools in its smoke.  It can also be powdered and used as an incense for those who work with the magick of the legendary King Stag of the forest.  Of course, many already know that it may be carried in a pocket to help aid in longevity of the bearer.  And, it is said to give a happy hereafter to a loved one whom has died if you throw a handful of Cypress in upon the coffin.

All parts of a Cypress tree may be used in magick.  Cypress oil is a very sought-after oil for protection and longevity.  However, we may not always have every oil that we wish for so here is a recipe for an oil that is rich in magickal properties for longevity, protection, and comfort.  It may be used as candle dressing, annointing, and any spellwork that involves longevity, protection, and comfort for grief.

**WytchenCrafts Samhain

Longevity and Protection Oil

You will need:

Cypress wood, cut fine or powdered (small chunks are fine) about 1/8 tsp

Maple wood, cut fine or powered, about 1/8 tsp

Lavender, dried  about 1/8 tsp

1/8 cup Olive Oil

3 drops Rosemary Oil (for protection)

3 drops Lavender Oil (for longevity, protection)

3 drops Lemon Oil (for longevity)

1 tiny Amethyst chip (for healing, protection)

1 tiny Citrine chip (for protection & charging of oil)

1 tiny rose quartz chip (for receptivity, harmony)

Firstly, enchant your Cypress, Maple and Lavender. Mix all ingredients into a bottle that will accept all items, cork or cap bottle, and shake 3 to 9 times, putting your intent into what you are doing.  Use for all magickal workings to do with protection, healing, and longevity.  May be used for anointing.

**This is our own recipe and is not to be made for sale by anyone but Wytchencrafts, all rights reserved.  Please feel free to make and use it for your personal workings only.

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