The Magic of Alder

Originally published on 08 August, 2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

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

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

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

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

Elements:  Water, Fire, Earth and Air

Ruling Planet: Venus

Gender: Masculine

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

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

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

Everything New is Old Again

First posted on 13/07/2017 by Isabella via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

That title threw you a bit, didn’t it? Just a couple of days ago I had written a dissertation on how new the concept of the Celtic Birth Tree Calendar is; however, it never stops – these “new-isms”. Mind, I am probably preaching to the vicar here but I thought as I’m on the subject…We all know “Oak, Ash, and Thorn”. Or perhaps we think we do.

Where did the concept of the Oak, Ash, and Thorn become a “Faery Triad”? I know as far back as the early 1960’s when I was a wee girl, my nana used to say if I sat under her Hawthorn tree I would see the Fae. Truthfully, I never saw a one, although I think I may have heard them laughing occasionally. Probably at the silly little girl who would believe so willingly the things adults told her would happen if she sat quietly.  Much in the same way of when my Aunty would tell me to poke a stick into a hole in the ground and watch til it wiggled and when it did, I would catch a worm. Waiting for faeries, fishing for worms…it was all a means to an end: keeping the child out of their hair whilst they worked.

Oak Ash and Thorn
Oak, Ash, and Thorn talisman

Here I have established – for myself, anyway – that a Hawthorn tree is a faery tree. As my nana was born in 1884 and she claimed it to be true, I believed her. Just bear with me here. So, what of the Oak and the Ash? All of Pagan-dom knows an Oak is a protective tree. Most will also know that the Oak is a tree sacred to the Druids. Ah, but that can be said of any tree. Still, the Druids would not hold meeting unless an Oak tree is present.  The Oak symbolises healing and protection along with prosperity and luck. But what about the Fae? Just be patient.

Then, we have the Ash tree. By all accounts, the Irish Celts held the Ash most sacred. There are several recorded instances in Irish history in which the people refused to cut an Ash, even when wood was scarce, for fear of having their own cabins consumed with flame. The Ash tree represents prophecy, prosperity, and protection, and is also recognised as The World Tree for the Celts. I have read around a bit and have found people saying Ash is used for Druid’s wands. Ahem…I’ve known a few Druids in my life, my father for one, and have never heard tell of this before and would think they would have a laugh about that one, but hey ho…perhaps the neo-Druidic tradition which is forming do use wands.

Everything must be new at some point in time. Even “the old ways” were brand-new once upon a time. Everything evolves over time and changes. Lore changes, mythos changes. The Druids did not write books about what they knew, they passed on their knowledge by telling and teaching others. Witches did not always write Books of Shadows/grimoires either. Paganism has always given rise to evolving practises. We hold to tradition loosely, but keep it close at the same time. It is as one farmer may find a better way to grow a cabbage and he passes on the knowledge to another farmer, and before you know, all farmers are growing 50-pound cabbages.

What I’m saying is, there is not a speck of evidence that there has been an ancient time-honoured “Faery Triad” consisting of Oak, Ash, and Thorn, although my nana and I used to tie bundles of the Oak and Ash together along with the Hawthorn spines, bound in red thread to hang around for protections or to leave for the Fae’s “firewood”. Perhaps again, it was just another clever way to keep the child busy. Or, my nana was quite old, so there may have been some old logic in there somewhere. Who knows?

The Faery Triad…well, there really isn’t one apart from the new-ish idea of one. But the logic, if you know your trees, is sound. So, why not?

I tend to believe that Rudyard Kipling’s book Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) may have set off the magickal notion of Oak, Ash, and Thorn. The elf, Puck who was self-described as the “oldest Old Thing in England” explained to the two children in the story, Dan and Una, “I came into England with Oak, Ash, and Thorn, and when Oak, Ash, and Thorn are gone, I shall go, too”

A Tree Song – Rudyard Kipling

Of all the trees that grow so fair,

Old Engerland to adorn,

Greater are none beneath the Sun,

Than Oak and Ash and Thorn.

Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, good Sirs

(All of a Midsummer’s morn)!

Surely we sing of no little thing,

In Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Oak of the Clay lived many a day,

Or ever Aeneas began;

Ash of the Loam was a lady at home,

When Brut was an outlaw man;

Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town

(From which was London born);

Witness hereby the ancientry

Of Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Yew that is old in churchyard mould,

He breedeth a mighty bow;

Alder for shoes do wise men choose,

And beech for cups also.

But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,

Your shoes are clean outworn,

Back ye must speed for all that ye need,

To Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth

Till every gust be laid,

To drop a limb on the head of him

That anyway trusts her shade:

But whether a lad be sober or sad,

Or mellow with ale from the horn,

He’ll take no wrong when he lieth along

‘Neath Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,

Or he would call it a sin;

But—we have been out in the woods all night,

A-conjuring Summer in!

And we bring you news by word of mouth—

Good news for cattle and corn—

Now is the Sun come up from the South,

With Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, good Sirs

(All of a Midsummer’s morn)!

England shall bide till Judgement Tide,

By Oak and Ash and Thorn!

We still find not one Fae. But, that is alright because we have this wonderful, magickal, evolution of folklore which has room for the Faery Triad of Ash, Oak, and Thorn. Just believe!

With gratitude to:

Druid Tree Lore – http://www.druidry.org/

Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) by Rudyard Kipling

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org

and my Nana 

The Magickal Magnolia Tree

First posted on 13/06/2017 by Isabella via speakingofwitchwands.net

by Isabella @TheWandCarver

The wood bark of the Magnolia Tree has long been associated with all forms of healing, including spiritual healing. In physical healing, Magnolia has been attributed with prevention of, and / or healing of, everything from cancer to being overweight. “One of the active compounds in magnolia, magnolol, is able to prevent the spread or increase of prostate cancer cells. Although research is in its early stages, many experts believe that magnolia bark extracts can also exert beneficial effects in terms of preventing/treating leukaemia and colon cancer.” – https://www.organicfacts.net – as well as a regular supplementary form of Magnolia is shown to help reduce weight by suppressing appetite..however, as always, see a health care professional before adding Magnolia in any form to your diet.

bull bay magnolia
 Bull Bay Magnolia Grandiflora

Every tree is a powerful source of spiritual healing that can help your own immune system to fight any illness or sorrow. Magnolia trees (Magnoliaceae) are an ancient species, arising before bees, they do not produce nectar, but carry a medicinal energy and essence. They are pollinated mostly by beetles. Over 200 species in the world, and often known as “Champa“, this tree bestows blessings of feminine strength and faith in our deepest ideals, as we open our heart and remember to stay true to ourself no matter how much pressure is placed upon us. The Magnolia is a perfect Mother Goddess tree. But that is my opinion and not really what most literature indicates. Magnolia not only heals her children physically, but she also soothes their anxiety and depression giving spiritual healing as well. This is the reason we sell Magnolia Bark in our Etsy shop, when available.

Magnolia Bark
photo by i.macy

The bark of Magnolia oficinalis has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to address anxiety and nervous tension and to promote sleep. Some researchers believe honokiol, a chemical in magnolia bark, is what makes this happen.  Without knowing what the dosage requirements and side-effects, if any, are involved, I don’t recommend brewing up a kettle of Magnolia bark tea and drinking it, although it probably wouldn’t do any great harm.  There are other ways in which to use Magnolia bark without ingesting it which I find, are very beneficial.

One of the ways I use the bark is in healing and anxiety prevention poppets. For instance, in a poppet for a good night’s sleep I would add the bark along with other sleep-inducing herbs and flowers. It is also wonderful as a base for loose incense if you are doing a healing spell.  But one of my favourite ways of using Magnolia is our Magnolia anti-anxiety pendants [availability unknown]. I leave the bark intact where it will be against the skin. Any time I feel particularly anxious, I simply rub the pendant between my fingertips and feel much calmer.

Magnolia is also said to increase feeling of love and loyalty; reduces the power of addictions and obsessions, especially smoking; helps skin problems; restores strength after a long illness. Promotes psychic development – a reason why I like to create dowsing pendulums with this wonderful wood. It aids meditation and spiritual opening; promotes harmony, peace, tranquillity.

Magnolia helps learning from past experiences and clarifies true identity. It eases restlessness and confusion and helps to maintain balance during difficult changes. Magnolia promotes a sense of freedom and relaxation. It really is a perfect wood for healing, spirituality, and mental health.

Gender-Feminine -Planetary Association: Venus; secondary-Uranus

Element-Water; secondary-Earth

Zodiac Associations-Taurus and Libra

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

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com

https://www.organicfacts.net

Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs