The Magickal Ironwood Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

lignum vitae
Holywood Lignum Vitae ~ courtesy of Google images

Ironwood is a common name for many woods that have a reputation for hardness.  And the insane number of species of “Ironwood” made it impossible to make this a sweeping inclusion of all Ironwood trees into one blog about how the wood may be used for magickal and medicinal needs.  So, the only thing for it was to choose one and go with it, therefore, I chose Lignum Vitae [Guaiacum officinale] which hails originally [near as I can tell] from the Caribbean and Northern South America. There is an Ironwood cousin in the UK called Persian Ironwood [Parrotia persica], however, it is more of a garden-variety ornamental tree and the leaves are stunning. Every country of the world has its own Ironwood species, whether by hailing from there originally or having been naturalised into that country.  As its name might suggest, it is the hardest of woods.

Persian ironwood ,Parrotia persica, red autumn leaves
Parrotia Persica, UK ~ courtesy of yours.co.uk

According to Druidry.org, Ironwood may be considered a birth tree for the dates of Jun 4-13 / Dec 2-11 and is called a tree of discipline, order, and admiration.  When given this tree sign, one can be referred to as having a steady and sturdy enough foundation for further growth and development, both in themselves as well as enabling the same in others.  I have detailed much about the various birth trees in one of my blogs but have yet to follow up on the Druid’s notion of birth trees.

Fact and Folklore

Lignum Vitae was the traditional wood used for the British police truncheon until recently, due to its density [and strength], combined with the relative softness of wood compared to metal, thereby tending to bruise or stun rather than cut the skin.

Another way Lignum Vitae has helped police work is the heartwood of Lignum Vitae exudes a brown colour resin that has a pungent taste and has therapeutic as well as non-remedial uses. Amongst the various non-medical utilities of the resin, one extremely remarkable use is founded on the fact that when it is blended with any alcoholic solution, the colour of the resin changes to blue when it is exposed to bloodstains. Therefore, the Lignum Vitae resin is valuable to the police as well as other investigators who use this sap to detect bloodstains that may have gone unnoticed.

On a lighter note, it is used to make lawn bowls, croquet mallets, and skittles balls. The wood also has seen widespread historical usage in mortars and pestles and for wood carvers’ mallets. I think I should like one of those!

In Charles Dickens’ novel Bleak House, one of the characters, Matthew Bagnet is referred to as Lignum Vitae, “… in compliment to the extreme hardness and toughness of his physiognomy”.

According to T. H. White’s version of the King Arthur story, The Once and Future King, Lignum Vitae, from which the wand / staff of Merlin is made, has magickal powers.  Well, belonging to Merlin, of course it would!

From A Book of Highland Minstrelsy: With illustrations by R. R. M’Ian [1846] – “The Clan Mac Pherson possess a curious relic of the past in a Black Chanter [or flute part of the bagpipe], made of Lignum Vitae, and endowed with magical properties according to tradition.  Its origin is described by Scott in the “Fair Maid of Perth””.

According to Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph [1964], Ironwood pegs would take away toothache.  The patient and a female companion, one whom is unrelated to the patient, would go into the forest with a mallet and an Ironwood peg.  The patient would stand with his or her back against an Ironwood tree whilst the female companion would drive the Ironwood peg into the tree at the exact distance from the ground as is your toothache.

Magickal

Lignum Vitae is an exceptionally powerful magickal wood and has a profoundly positive energy. The overall energy of the wood can be summed up as “the power and strength of goodness.” Its strong connections with the Sun, Jupiter, and luck energy make the wood an ideal tool for any worker of positive magick. The energy about the wood is also very healing, in both physical and spiritual matters. The energies within the wood would also be excellent for divining information from far away as well as close to home.

Being startlingly durable and strong, with a heavy weight and impressive hardness, Lignum Vitae is so dense it can sink in water.  Known by other names, including Guayacan, Greenheart, and Iron Wood, the name Lignum Vitae itself means “wood of life”.  This is perhaps because it is well known as a powerful aid in preserving health and can be a potent component in spells with such an intention. Its sturdy properties are also reflected in the potency it can lend to spells of protection.

This wood represents the end of strife and the beginning of a new, positive, cycle.

Health

Initially, Lignum Vitae wood was transported from the Caribbean to Europe in the form of an extremely valuable remedy for gout as well as the sexually transmitted disease [STD] syphilis. Although a misleading praise, using this wood to treat syphilis was said to be very effective during the 16th century. In effect, the treatment entailed administering large doses of the resin obtained by boiling the Lignum Vitae wood to patients who were covered tightly with plasters from their head-to-toe and subsequently detained in extremely hot rooms for about a month. Throughout the course of the treatment, the patients were provided with very small amount of food. However, besides being given the resin, they were administered big doses of mercury. Whilst several people succumbed to the disease as well as the treatment process, the few who managed to survive were cured of syphilis!

During the current times, scientists have discovered that this resin encloses two very active elements – guaiaconic acid and guaiaretic acid, which are highly effectual anti-inflammatory agents and work as local stimulants. They also possess laxative properties. Owing to their anti-inflammatory attribute, these substances are made use of in pharmaceutical formulations for treating tender throats as well as several inflammatory ailments, including gout and rheumatoid arthritis. In Europe, particularly in Britain, Lignum Vitae is employed in the form of a medication to treat arthritic as well as rheumatic conditions, as the anti-inflammatory attributes of this tree facilitate in providing relief from swelling and joint pains. In addition, Lignum Vitae possesses sweat-inducing, laxative, and diuretic properties. At the same time, Lignum Vitae accelerates the process of eliminating toxic substances and wastes from our body, making it an excellent remedy for gout. The tincture prepared with Lignum Vitae is often used in the form of a friction rub on the areas affected by rheumatic arthritis. In addition, if you are enduring tooth ache, you may dampen cotton wool with the resin exuded by this tree and apply it externally to the affected area to alleviate pain and swelling, if any. At the same time, the decoction prepared with the wood chips of Lignum Vitae works in the form of a local anaesthetic and it is employed not only to cure rheumatic joints but to heal herpes blisters as well.

The wood is known for helping to preserve health, making it great for healing magick when fashioned into a healing wand.

Correspondences

Planetary:  Sun, Jupiter, Venus

Zodiac:  Taurus, Sagittarius

Element:  Earth, Water

Gender:  Male and Female

Powers:  Healing, strength, divination, spirituality and protection

Deity:  Jesus, Jupiter, Venus

Other Names:  Guayacan, Greenheart, Iron Wood, Guaiac, Guaiacum

Many thanks for reading my blog.  I hope you found something helpful to your practise.   Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources

The Once and Future King, by T.H. White

A Book of Highland Minstrelsy: With illustrations by R. R. M’Ian [1846]

Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph [1964]

Wikipedia.org

Druidry.org

The Magickal Fig Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

fresh figs
Fresh Figs ~ photo courtesy of Eric Hunt, his original work

According to the most recent figures I have found, there are between 750 and 850 Fig tree species.  One of the most popular Fig tree species is Ficus benjamina, or just “Ficus” which many of us grow inside our homes.  But the one I’ll be writing about today is the Ficus carica, or “Common Fig” which produces the lovely Figs which songs have been written about.

There is evidence that figs, specifically the Common fig [Ficus carica] and Sycamore fig [Ficus sycomorus], were among the first – if not the very first – plant species that were deliberately bred for agriculture in the Middle East, starting more than 11, 000 years ago.

Ficus carica is an Asian species of flowering plant in the mulberry family, known as the Common Fig [or just “the fig”].  It is the source of the fruit also called the fig and as such is an important crop in those areas where it is grown commercially.  Native to the Middle East and western Asia, it has been sought out and cultivated since ancient times and is now widely grown throughout the world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant.  The species has become naturalised in scattered locations in Asia and North America.

Unlike other fig species, Ficus carica does not always require pollination by a wasp or from another tree, but can be pollinated by the fig wasp, Blastophaga psenes to produce seeds. Fig wasps are not present to pollinate in colder countries like the United Kingdom as they need warmer climates to live and breed. The Fig tree is androgynous, with the fruit representing the feminine and the triple lobed leaves representing the masculine.

The Fig is listed by the Druids [Druidry.org] as a “birth tree” for Jun 14-23 and Dec 12-20 which I have listed in an older blog, but to this day I have not had time to settle in and learn why they have a much different list of birth trees and dates than the one for the Celtic Birth Tree Calendar.  I do plan on sorting this out eventually!

Magickal

In Greek mythology it is believed that Demeter gave a Fig to Dionysus as a gift, hence the link to love and fertility. The Greeks revered Figs so much that they made it illegal to transport excellent quality Figs. The Romans held Figs sacred as well, and it was believed that the wolf who raised Romulus and Remus rested under a Fig tree. The Buddhists viewed the Fig tree as a symbol of enlightenment, as it is believed the Buddha reached his enlightenment under a Fig tree [the Pipal, Ficus religiosa]. Ashoka the Great bestowed kingship on the branch from the very tree and planted it in a thick-rimmed solid gold vase.

Figs are linked to male potency. Men can eat fresh Fig to increase their potency and virility, as it increases the mobility of male sperm.  As the copious amount of seeds within the fruit suggests, Figs can help with fertility magick. Women have carried Fig carved into phallic images to raise their chances of conceiving.  When travelling, leave a fig tree outside of the door. This will ensure you return safe and happy. Grow Fig in the kitchen to make sure that your family never goes hungry.  To get an answer to a question, you can write the question on a Fig leaf; if the leaf takes a long time to dry, the answer is yes, and if it dries quickly than the answer is no.  Growing a Fig tree in the home can bring the household good luck. Fig trees grown in the bedroom can help with restful sleep.

The wood and bark from Ficus/Fig trees can be used in poppets and loose incenses for purposes of fertility, and good luck, as well.  We once offered this in our shop.

Health

An ointment made of the juice and hog’s grease, is an excellent remedy for the biting of mad dogs, or other venomous beasts, as most are.  A syrup made of the leaves, or green fruit, is excellent good for coughs, hoarseness, or shortness of breath, and all diseases of the breast and lungs; it is also excellently good for the dropsy and falling sickness.  They say that the Fig Tree, as well as the Bay tree, is never hurt by lightning; as also if you tie a bull, be he ever so mad, to a Fig Tree, he will quickly become tame and gentle.  As for such figs as come from beyond sea, I have little to say because I write not of exoticks” – Nicholas Culpeper, 17th century excerpt from The English Physician and Complete Herbal.

ficus carica rhs co uk
Ficus carica, Fig trees ~ courtesy of rhs.co.uk

Plant parts and extracts of the Fig tree have traditionally been used for internal, as well as external, application. For example, poultices from fresh or dried Figs, Fig leaves, or Fig wines; lye from Fig tree bark; or latex from stems and leaves have been used to aid in many conditions. Latex has been used as expectorant, diuretic, and anthelmintic, or to ameliorate anaemia. Leaves are known for their antidiabetic and vermifuge effect. However, they also cause contact dermatitis in humans and phototoxicity in animals. Seeds are processed to edible oil or lubricants. Sporadic cases of fig allergy after ingestion of fig fruit have been reported, especially in patients whom are allergic to Ficus benjamina. Also, Phyto photodermatitis caused by contact with various parts of Ficus carica has been reported and linked to furanocoumarins in latex.  If you have an allergy to latex I would suggest not using those parts of the Fig/Ficus in your healing practise.

Correspondences

Gender: Masculine

Planet: Jupiter

Element: Fire

Deities: Aphrodite, Demeter, Hathor, Juno

Powers: Divination, Prosperity, Fertility, Love, Luck

Folk Names: Common Fig, Fico, Mhawa, Chagareltin

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

Sources

BBC

Wikipedia

The English Physician and Complete Herbal, by Nicholas Culpeper

Druidry.org

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

The Magickal Hackberry Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver
Instagram: @thewandcarver

I would like to dedicate this blog to my best friend, Liss, who was born under the sign of the Hackberry tree… whether she realises it or not, she has the traits bang on 😊

Hackberry is a tree of the Druids horoscope / Gallic horoscope according to the Druidic calendar. The Hackberry is from 9th February – 18th February and 14th August – 23rd August. I don’t know why… yet. Trees and calendars are all still a work in progress for me. Many of both to learn about! However, do not confuse the Druidic Calendar/horoscope with the Celtic Tree Calendar / Birth tree horoscope I have previously written about.

Hackberry tree

Hackberry Tree ~ courtesy of Google

Hackberry [Celtis occidentalis] is a member of the Elm family. Hackberry is native to North America but is grown all over southern Europe and UK. It, unlike its other Elm cousins, is immune to Dutch Elm Disease and as the Elm population in the UK has dwindled so much due to this horrific tree disease, it is good to know the Hackberry goes unharmed by it. All related species are known to be associated with the Underworld.
Curiously enough, in the UK the Hackberry tree rarely grows beyond around 12 to 15 metres high, making it a fab little tree for gardens, however, in the Americas there are Hackberry trees which grow up to over 50 metres high! They are the same genus – it is just the soil difference, I suppose. But even more curiously, the everyday Elm tree grows to over 50 metres in the UK. Well, it’s a fact – not all brothers and sisters are the same height in a family…there is always one at least whom is shorter!

As mentioned above, the Hackberry tree is the Druidic birth tree for those born between both 9th February – 18th February and 14th August – 23rd August. Traits of those who were born under the sign of Hackberry: impulsiveness, optimism, intelligence, ability to deduction. These people were born under the sign of Hackberry: Galileo Galilei, Darwin, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Brecht. It is a tree of nobility, pride, and dedication. A tree sign such as this one will not settle for less than what they obtain to achieve in their lifetime. Their strict dedication and vision is what inevitably makes them feel proud and great. – Druidry.org This, I believe, is a good segue into…

Magickal

Abigail, the Hackberry Tree, Written by Joe H. Slate PhD

“Soon after joining Athens State College (now University) as Professor of Psychology, I introduced into the curriculum an eight-week remediation program called “Summer Start” designed for college applicants whose entrance exams did not qualify them for admission to a regular college program. The specially designed program included instruction in certain core subjects, along with counselling and tutoring.

As a part of the program’s counselling component, I introduced what was then an innovative strategy called Tree Power Infusion designed specifically to improve student academic performance. The strategy is based on the premise that our interactions with trees can provide a direct link to totally new sources of untapped potential, both within ourselves and beyond. For use in the procedure, I selected a large hackberry tree situated on campus near the stage entrance of McCandless Auditorium. The tree seemed particularly appropriate for use in the program because of its magnificence as well as the legend associated with it. According to the legend, the tree was planted around the turn of the last century in honour of the talented actress, Abigail Burns, who had performed in McCandless Auditorium and then met with tragic death enroot to her next engagement. Soon after her death, the bright image of Abigail appeared at a third-floor window of the building, where she is still often seen, particularly around midnight on November 12, the anniversary of her death.”

“Here’s the Tree Power Infusion procedure as used by our Summer Start students who named the hackberry tree Abigail:

Formulate your goals, and with your hands resting upon the selected tree, invite it in your own words to be your partner in achieving your stated goals.

Gently stroke the tree as you experience your connection to it and the responsiveness of the tree as your energies interact with it. Sense the vibrations of that interaction as the tree’s powerful energies permeate your total being.

With your hands still resting upon the tree, envision it as a powerful antenna piercing the unlimited powers of the universe. Again, state your goals and express your gratitude to the tree as your partner in achieving them.

Conclude the exercise with the affirmation: The energies of my being are balanced and attuned. I am endowed with limitless growth potential. Mentally, physically, and spiritually, I am fully empowered to achieve my highest goals.

Incredibly, all thirty students enrolled in Summer Start qualified at the end of the term for entrance into the college’s regular four-year degree program. As further testament of Summer Start’s success, all participants successfully completed the baccalaureate degree, with eleven of the thirty students graduating with honours. That initial Summer Start program was so successful that the college continued it for several years, with Tree Power Infusion remaining an essential component.

Although Tree Power Infusion was originally designed to improve student academic performance, it can be used with various trees for a wide range of personal empowerment goals, including losing weight, smoking cessation, building self-esteem, and rejuvenation, to mention but a few.”

As with all Elm-related trees, many of the powers of help can be utilised from one tree to the next. The Hackberry tree is a powerful grounding tree and persuades one to not only be at their personal best but to have strength in doing so. For a tree many have heard little about, it is a tree to be learned much from.

Healing/Medicinal:
Medicinal use of Hackberry: An extract obtained from the wood has been used in the treatment of jaundice. A decoction of the bark has been used in the treatment of sore throats. When combined with powdered shells it has been used to treat VD [Venereal Disease].

hackberry with berries

Hackberry leaves and berries ~ Courtesy of Google

Edible parts of Hackberry: Fruit – raw. Very sweet and pleasant tasting, they can be eaten out of hand or can be used for making jellies, preserves etc. The fruit is often produced abundantly in Britain, it is about the size of a blackcurrant, but there is very little flesh surrounding a large seed and it is therefore a very fiddly crop. The flesh is dry and mealy but with a pleasant sweet taste. The fruit and seed can be ground up finely together and used as a flavouring. The Native Americans ate them with parched corn.
Other uses of the herb: A dye is obtained from the roots. Fairly wind-tolerant, it can be planted as part of a shelterbelt. Wood – rather soft, weak, coarse-grained, heavy. It is sometimes used commercially for cheap furniture, veneer, fencing, fuel etc. It is a valuable tree for both honey bees and butterflies.

Known hazards of Celtis occidentalis: None known

Correspondences:
Planetary: Moon
Zodiac: Saturn
Element: Water
Powers: Protection, Strength, Courage, Grounding, Personal Empowerment
Deity: Artemis, Saturn, Rhiannon
Other Names: Common Hackberry, Nettletree, Sugarberry, Beaverwood, Northern Hackberry, American Hackberry

Many thanks for reading our blog today! Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
Druidry.org
Wikipedia.org
http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/748

The Magick of Elm

By Isabella @TheWandCarver
Instagram: @thewandcarver

With the blooming of new daffs and bluebells trying valiantly to peek through patches of snow in some parts; Ostara having just brought us the hope of Spring and sunnier days, it makes me wonder why I would want to write about Elm. Because Elm’s and Yew’s mythology are twinly bound to Death and the Underworld…Elm has been used for many years to build coffins and Yew is a staple tree in most graveyards. It was found in the Underworld and at the crossroads leading to the faery world. Elm is very popular with the Elves. So, why would I bring such a downer into the Spring forecast? Well…

Magickal

Elm at Blackness by MJ Richardson
Elm at Blackness ~ photo by MJ Richardson

Elm is carried to bring love. Isn’t Spring about love? Right you are! Elm energises and balances the mind and heart. It not only attracts love, but it also protects love and all. Elm is also used in fertility spells and rebirth. You can use the wood and flowers in love spells. The wood is best-used ground up finely and used in your loose incense for love. The flowers are used in poppets or sachets.

A wood of femininity, Elm draws from the element of earth and is a strong, neutral wood that can be used for protection or hexes. It seeks a companion of strength and is excellent for destructive spells, protection, and defensive magick.

“Because of its rich foliage and sap, the Elm is sacred to Saturn, Roman god of agriculture. Representing fertility, it foretells that your wish will meet with success. Its other meaning is their need to give way and let nature run its course, to sacrifice what you have for what could be. Elm wood is flexible and durable and does not rot when wet. You probably know in your heart that your wish will be granted. A hopeful sign is that Elm twigs are used as divining rods. The Elm tree stands at the entrance to the underworld as a living connection between the living and the dead. What comes to you is blessed by heaven. It may be that all you need do is wait and have faith in nature.” By Gillian Kemp, Tree Magick

Other spell work to use Elm: Dark Moon and initiation rituals, grounding after ritual, seeking comfort.

Healing

Elm’s legendary associations are of death and the Underworld, but funnily enough, people looked to Elm for medicinal cures. The inner bark was particularly effective when chewed or boiled into a syrupy liquor to treat colds and sore throats, coughs, diarrhoea, internal bleeding, and fever whilst the boiled bark was also used to treat burns. Can be applied to external wounds for healing or drink to ease menstrual problems.

A medical manuscript from 1509 [in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin] mentions cures that included hitting an afflicted person with a rod marked with the Ogham. It was believed that this action would release the illness from the person’s body. The type of wood depended on the cure needed, for example, Elm for impotence. The Ogham inscription on the rod consisted of the person’s name or, according to sources, a spell.

Here is where I might mention that Elm is a secondary Ogham tree, associated with the Ogham “ailm” and Fir is the first and mainly used. I suppose if you can’t have Fir, Elm will suit. It is not a Celtic Birth Tree.

Correspondences
Gender: Feminine
Planet
: Mercury, Saturn
Zodiac
: Capricorn
Element: Air, Water, Earth
Powers: Compassion, Empathy, Intuition, and Love
Symbolism: Communication and Relationships
Colour: Turquoise
Gemstone: Moss Agate
Birds: Lapwing, Ruffled Grouse
Deity: Dionysus, Odin, Loki, Hecate, Cerridwen, Danu, Gaia, Hel / Holle, Ran
Folk Names: Sweet Elm, Elven, English Elm, European Elm

Many thanks for reading this offering. I hope you have enjoyed reading about Elm and have taken away some useful knowledge. Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources
Tree Magick, by Gillian Kemp
Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

The Magickal Gorse Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Gorse Ogham Onn
Gorse Ogham

I have been saving Gorse for Spring. Yes, I am a week early but I have other plans for that day. Gorse is an ogham tree, but not a Celtic Birth Tree. It is the symbol of the Spring Equinox… the beginning of Ostara/Eostra. Gorse is the second vowel of the ogham and it is called “onn”. There are several folk names for Gorse, but it seems “Furze” is most predominately used. It is a perennial evergreen shrub belonging to the pea family. It forms a much-branched, stunted shrub usually no taller than six feet high, therefore, I almost want to call it an ogham shrub, but it is still considered a tree. The plant’s thorns and its dense habit make Gorse/ Furze an excellent hedging plant. It can also be used as a barrier to protect young tree seedlings in coppices. The thorny nature of the plant means that it is often viewed as having protective powers. In Wales, it was said to guard against witches. The flowers are a deep yellow and have a pungent coconut scent. Although the main flowering period is from March to August, flowers can be found on bushes throughout the year. This lengthy flowering led to the country saying: when the Gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of fashion.

Gorse9AW
healingherbs.co.uk

As well as its use as a hedging material, furze was traditionally gathered into faggots and used as tinder to start fires. In 1864 it was cultivated in Surrey and other English counties especially for this purpose, being popular with bakers to whom it was sold as fuel for their ovens. The bark and flowers produce a fine yellow dye. In Eire the flowers were also used to flavour and add colour to whiskey and the Danes were reputed to use them to make beer. They can also be used to make wine and tea. Flower buds collected and potted with a blade of mace and some peppercorns, in white wine vinegar and salt solution, make a fine pickle.

[Nicholas] Culpepper states in his Herbal, that Gorse was good to open obstructions of the liver and spleen.

A decoction made with the flowers therof hath been found effectual against the jaundice and also to provoke urine, cleanse the kidneys from gravel or stone ingendered in them.”

Nicholas Culpeper was a seventeenth-century English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer. Published over 350 years ago as a practical health guide, The Complete Herbal (1653), is still the most complete and definitive herbal available today. It contains a rich store of pharmaceutical and herbal knowledge, including herbs and where to find them, herb preparation, plasters, and much more.

Medicinal properties:
There is a Bach Flower Remedy that is given to the hopeless, those who feel they are beyond help or suffer a serious illness. “Greenman Essence of Gorse” helps ease frustration, restlessness, and jealousy, and helps promote emotional security and a feeling of deep inner joy.   Edward Bach was an English homoeopath in the 1930s.

Gorse flowers are high in protein and can be eaten raw in salads, made into fruit tea, cordial or syrup. It adds extra flavour and colour to beer, wine or spirits, and a whole range of sweet delights like chocolate and ice cream. The buds can be pickled in vinegar and eaten like capers. Don’t overeat! The plant contains slightly toxic alkaloids.

Gorse has surprisingly few medicinal uses, though its flowers have been used in the treatment of jaundice, scarlet fever, diarrhoea and kidney stones.

Magickal properties:
Herb of Love, Protection against evil. Restoration of Faith, Hope and Optimism. Gathering of Strength. It also attracts gold, so it is used in money spells.

Associated with love, protection, romance, and weddings. Used to further the romance of a consensual relationship. Protects against negativity and dark magick.

Carve the name “Gorse” into a gold or yellow candle. Face east, light the candle, and meditate on the light. Ask for protection, money, love, whatever it has to offer that you desire

In Wales hedges of the prickly gorse are used to protect the home against fairies, who cannot penetrate the hedge.

Correspondences:
Planet: Mercury, The Sun
Element: Fire
Colour: Yellow and Gold
Bird: Cormorant, Harrier Hawk
Stone: Topaz
Deity: Lugh, Celtic God of light and genius
Folk Names: Broom, Frey, Furze, Gorst, Goss, Prickly Broom, Ruffett, Whin

Thy yellow blooms – oh, they to me Are gold and sunshine blent together – Moses Teggart 1908

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

Sources:

Culpeper’s English Physician: And Complete Herbal (Classic Reprint) by Nicholas Culpepper

The Bach Flower Remedies, by Edward Bach, 1998 reprint

Druidry.org

Wikipedia.org

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