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 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