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

The Magick of Willow

Originally posted on 28/09/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

white willow salix alba_200
Photo from heathwood.co.uk

It is a tree I’ve long admired. To sit and watch the Willow gently blown by a soft wind is mesmerising and soul-lifting. Willow can truly put you into a state of zen without trying very hard.

Perhaps that is best explained in The Faces of WomanSpirit, A Celtic Oracle of Avalon by Katherine Torres, Ph.D. (see below)

Trust All is here and now.

Know it.

Connect with the Hand of Goddess.

Let Divine Mother Transform you.

Be an Example in the World.

Willow asks you to bend with her into the path of retrieval.

Follow the labyrinth trail, connect with the power of wisdom and the rhythm of your soul, and return to your ordinary world strengthened. You will find that your awareness of your purpose is stronger and your intent cannot be broken by the spell of someone else’s desire.

Could not say it better myself. The Willow tree can put you into a state of rightness with the world, only by observation. Imagine what it can do it in magick!

Willow is the Fifth month of the Celtic Tree calendar, 15th April – 12th May and is the Fifth consonant of the Ogham alphabet – Saille being its alphabetical name.  If you are a Willow sign, you are ruled by the moon, and so your personality holds hands with many of the mystical aspects of the lunar realm. This means you are highly creative, intuitive [highly psychic people are born under the sign of the Willow] and intelligent. You have a keen understanding of cycles, and you inherently know that every situation has a season. This gives you a realistic perspective of things, and causes you to be more patient than most tree signs. With your intelligence comes a natural ability to retain knowledge and you often impress your company with the ability to expound on subjects from memory. Willow Celtic tree astrology signs are bursting with potential, but tend to hold themselves back for fear of appearing flamboyant or overindulgent. It is your powers of perception that ultimately allow your true nature to shine, and what leads you to success in life. Willow signs join well with the Birch and the Ivy.

Willow Birth Tree Ogham Pendant [Etsy]

Willow’s Medicinal Value

It is a tree of many, many uses. Most well-known is its active ingredient in aspirin, salicylic acid, contained in Willow’s inner bark. But it has been used for centuries for all sorts. These very bark scrapings were made into astringents and used to reduce fever. Willow was also used as a diuretic, a gargle for sore throats and gums, an external wash for sores, skin problems, wounds and burns.

White Willow was commonly used. Purple Willow has the same general properties as White and may even be more effective in lowering fevers. Black Willow has these same properties and can also be used as a sexual sedative. The Black Willow has also been used to treat gonorrhoea, and to relieve ovarian pain. Goat, or Sallow, Willow eases indigestion, whooping cough, and catarrh and is used as an antiseptic for disinfecting bandages. All varieties of this Tree can be utilised as an eyewash, clearing up of skin problems, and a decoction of leaves and bark, simmered, can be used to treat dandruff. All can also be utilised to prevent recurring fevers and as a digestive tonic, especially for dyspepsia.

Folklore

The Willow tree is one of the seven sacred Irish trees and is a sacred tree to Druids.

Willow is used for the enhancement of psychic abilities.  Orpheus, the poet, was said to have received his Gift by touching the Willows in a grove sacred to Persephone. Groves have been used by many types of artisans to gain eloquence, inspiration, skills and the gift of prophecy. This Tree is held sacred, also, to Minerva, the ancient Great Goddess whose bird, the Wryneck, nests only in the Willow. Cranes are also known to nest here and a grove of Willows with nesting cranes is a symbol of extremely happy domesticity.

Magickal uses are extensive. The Besom, the Witches Broom, is traditionally made from three trees. The stave is made from Ash, for protection; Birch twigs are used for the broom itself to expel evil spirits. The Besom is bound with Willow to honour Hecate. Willow branches are said to be the best for divining Water, channelling Earth energy, and finding lost objects.

“Clootie” – Scottish or “cloutie” wells are places of pilgrimage in Celtic areas. They are wells or springs, almost always with a tree growing beside them, where strips of cloth or rags have been left, usually tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual. In Scots nomenclature, a “clootie” or “cloot” is a strip of cloth or rag, a prayer rag, if you will. These can be tied to any tree when asking for a nurturing love or a release of grief; Willow will serve this purpose best. By the same token, for a wish to be granted, ask permission of Willow, explaining your desired goal. Select a pliable shoot or branch and tie it into a loose knot while expressing your wish, leaving the branchlet on the Tree! When the wish is fulfilled, return and untie the knot, remembering to thank your Friend and leaving a gift of gratitude.

Correspondences:

Planet: Moon

Element: Water

Symbolism: Resonance and Harmony

Stone: Moonstone

Birds: Hawk, Snowy Owl

Colour: Silver

Deity: Persephone, Hecate, Cerridwen,

Artemis, Selene, Luna, Diana, Brigit

Sabbat: Beltane

Alone with myself

The trees bend

to caress me

The shade hugs

my heart.

– Candy Polgar

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

Sources:

wikipedia.org

druidry.org

The Magick of Birch

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

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

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

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

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

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

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

Folklore

silverBirchTree_1403668c
Silver Birch ~ telegraph.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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

Medicine

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

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

Correspondences

Planet: Venus

Element: Air, Water

Symbolism: Renewal, Protection

The Tree of Inception and of New Beginnings.

Stone: Crystal

Flower: Daisy

Birds: Eagle, Pheasant, Egret

Colour: White

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

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

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

And climb black branches

up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven,

till the tree could bear no more,

But dipped its top

and set me down again.

That would be good

both going and coming back.

One could do worse than

be a swinger of birches.

Robert Frost, Birch Trees

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

Sources

Druidry.org

Whats-Your-Sign

Lady Ellhorn, the Magickal Elder Tree

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

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

elder-tree
Elder tree ~ photo courtesy of Google images

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

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

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

Elder Ogham Pendant from our shop

Born during the Elder month?

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

Folklore

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

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

Holly and hazel

eIder and rowen

and bright ash

from beside the ford

Correspondences

Planet: Venus

Element: Water

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

Sacred numbers:

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

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

Stone: Olivine, Jet (Black Amber)

Flower: Dandelion

Birds: Pheasant, Raven, Rook

Colour: Black, Dark Green, Blood Red

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

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

Medicinal properties:

Elderberries

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

Magickal properties:

Exorcism, Prosperity, Banishment and Healing

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

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

The Magickal Rowan Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram @thewandcarver

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planet: The Sun, Mercury

Element: Fire

Symbolism: Protection and Inspiration

Stone: Tourmaline

Birds: Duck, Quail

Colour: Green

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

Sabbat: Imbolc, Candlemas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings!