Magickal Hawthorn Tree: The Mayflower Tree – Revisited [again!] for Beltane

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

This blog was published in 2018, including part of my 2017 Beltane blog…I like reusing things, so why not the reuse of a blog? Especially if it touches on some very good points! Besides, it does aide me in getting more of the blogs from the old site over to this one…win! So, here in 2022 with much water under the bridge between here and 2018, I wish everyone a very happy and safe Beltane. May everyone be blessed with good health, prosperity and protection.

hawthorn alone
lone Hawthorn tree, courtesy of Google images

Happy Beltane, everyone! Or, if you are in The Land Down Under, Happy Samhain! I thought it appropriate to re-visit our Hawthorn tree blog today as it is traditionally used as the “May Pole” being today is also May Day.  And then I get thinking “what more can I say about the wonderful Hawthorn?”.  I really couldn’t think of  a thing, however, as I sat researching a herb I plan on writing about by reading in Nicholas Culpeper’s herbal, The English Physician, I ran across his passage on Hawthorn! What better way to begin my re-blog than to quote the words of the foremost herbalist of his day and still popular in our time? So, forgive the misspellings, for the English language had not quite been tamed yet, or, the authors of many of the olde worldy books just could not spell! Without further hesitation, I give you Nicholas Culpeper’s take on Hawthorn:

HAWTHOEN.

It is not my intention to trouble you with a description of this tree, which is so well known that it needs none.  It is ordinarily but a hedge bush, although being pruned and dressed, it grows to be a tree of reasonable height.

As for the Hawthorn Tree at Glastonbury, which is said to flower yearly on Christmas-day, it rather shews the superstition of those that observe it for the time of its flowering, than any great wonder, since the like may be found in divers other places of this land; as in Whey-street in Romney March, and near unto Nantwich in Cheshire, by a place called White Green, where it flowers about Christmas and May.  If the weather be frosty, it flowers not until January, or that the hard weather be over.

Government and virtues.]  It is a tree of Mars.  The seeds in the berries beaten to powder being drank in wine, are held singularly good against the [kidney] stone, and they are good for the dropsy.  The distilled water of the flowers stays the lask.  The seed cleared from the down, bruised and boiled in wine, and drank is good for inward tormenting pains.  If cloths and sponges be wet in the distilled water, and applied to any place wherein thorns and splinters, or the like, do abide in the flesh, it will notably draw them forth.

And thus you see the thorn gives a medicine for his own pricking and so doth almost everything else.” ~ Nicholas Culpeper, The English Physician and Complete Herbal, 16th century

Culpeper’s way was to assign a planet to every tree, flower, and wort and every part of the human body was assigned a planet as well. If a wort or tree was ruled by Mars you only need to use it for healing the part of the body also ruled by Mars.  This was not something you took lightly in those days.  He spent most of his life researching by astrology, biology, and the science of making people well again. On the top of it all, he was quite a prolific writing.  Although centuries have passed since  this writing, we have found all to be true the things Culpeper learned in his research.  Many times when I am writing about a herb I consult The English Physician to see what Culpeper made of the herb back in his time and I find that we are still, for instance, using Angelica to help with stomach ailments or Cherry to cure a sore throat or chest congestion.  It goes to prove they did get it right in those days and we owe Culpeper and many others a huge debt of gratitude for what they learned and left with us.

Today is May Day and the first day of Beltane.  And in many places a tall post of Hawthorn may be being used today for a May Pole.  But I do hope in preparing the Hawthorn for its celebratory ritual that people remembered to use all of the Hawthorn and not to waste it…keeping leaves, bark, and so forth for healing potions or protections.

So, please enjoy the rest of the blog, if you have never read it before, and if you have, I hope you have enjoyed the re-visit with new information. Happy May Day and Beltane to all!

From August, 2017:

Hawthorn Ogham Pendant
Hawthorn Huath Ogham Pendant ~ photo by i.macy

The Hawthorn tree represents the sixth month of the Celtic Tree calendar, 13 May – 9 June, and this period is represented by the Ogham for this tree, which is also the 6th letter of the ogham alphabet, Huath (Huathe, Uath). The Hawthorn Tree, or Mayflower tree, is sacred to Roman Goddess Flora, Celtic Goddesses Aine and Brigid, along with the Manx – Celtic God Manannàn Mac Leirr. This Ogham symbol is used in Celtic Reiki and its essence represents the energy of cleansing and preparation. It clears the mind of negative thoughts and mental confusion, offering clarity: it gives patience and offers stillness. The Hawthorn tree is masculine and usually, but not always, grows in hedges, but a lone Hawthorn tree, growing on a hill is a portal to the world of faery and is also considered one of the three trees of the Faery Triad, including Oak and Ash. We offer a Hawthorn Ogham pendant in our Etsy shop for those born in the lovely month of May, or in fact, to anyone who loves Hawthorn. Not available as of this writing.

Oak Ash and Thorn
The Faery Triad Talisman: Oak, Ash, and Thorn ~ photo by i.macy

Hawthorn Faery
Along with Oak and Ash, Hawthorn forms the “faery triad” that is especially inviting to the fae. Hawthorn is, in some ways, the faery tree, forming a portal to the faery realm and holding strong magick. The Hawthorn faery offers access to the Other-World, but also protects the unwary, so it is important to be patient with this spirit. She can enchant your life, bringing growth and fertility to all areas, and when the Hawthorn flowers in spring, it represents the bridal gown of the young Goddess. Hawthorn is sacred to the Welsh sun goddess Olwen, the “white lady of the day.” Where she trod she left white footprints on hawthorn, and her father, Yspaddaden Pencawr, was “Giant Hawthorn.” Thirteen tasks were demanded of her suitor, Culhwych, before he could marry her and overcome the power of the giant. Thirteen is a number associated with the moon, for the moon makes 13 circuits of the zodiac to one of the sun. Thus, the Hawthorn suggests union of sun and moon, male and female. The Hawthorn faery promises cleansing, fulfilment, guardianship, and fertility. Keeping grounded and practical is the best way to access her and use her gifts.” ~ The Faery Bible by Teresa Moorey

In Ireland, Hawthorns have always been highly respected as faery trees. They were often referred to as ‘gentle bushes’ after the custom of not naming faeries directly out of respect. Solitary thorns were known as the faeries’ Trysting Trees, and frequently grew on barrows and tumps or at crossroads, thought to be a favourite location of pagan altars.

Folklore: Much of the folklore attached to it seems to come from the fact that the tree is covered in long branches of early, white blossom around the time of Beltane – the First of May. In England, the Hawthorn is known as the Mayflower tree in honour of the month during which it blooms. Symbolising hope, it was the name the Pilgrims took for their famous ship, The Mayflower.

Hawthorn flowers
Hawthorn flowers ~ Courtesy of Google Images

If 1st of May seems early and the blossom is not ready – remember that the British calendar was changed and went forward 12 / 13 days in 1752 – trees have long memories and so work to the ancient dates! This is evident as well in Hawthorn’s place in the Ogham Tree Calendar – beginning now on 13th May – it would once have started on May 1st. Hawthorn is still prevalent in May Day celebrations, whatever the case.

Maypole_1500-56a6e0953df78cf77290a7cf
A Pagan Maypole celebration, led by the Green Man, photo courtesy of Google images

But whilst Hawthorn was a propitious tree at May-time, in other circumstances it was considered unlucky. Witches were supposed to make their brooms from it, and in some parts, it was equated with the abhorred Elder, as in the rhyme:

Hawthorn bloom and elder-flowers Will fill a house with evil powers.

In magick, Hawthorn is known as a psychic shield that can lift the spirits, and a little charm of the wood is a thoughtful gift for a friend going through a time of vulnerability or depression. It is also especially effective against malevolent spirits.

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

Correspondences:
Planet: Mars and Venus
Symbolism: Purification, sacred marriage
and male-female unity

Crystals: Lapis Lazuli, Blue Calcite
Birds: Blackbird, Owl, Purple Martin
Colour: Midnight Blue, Purple
Deity: Olwen, Blodeuwedd, Gardea,
Hymen, Hera, Virgin Mary
Sabbat: Beltane, May Day
Folk names: May bush, May tree, quickset,
thorn-apple tree, white thorn.

“A hundred years I slept beneath a thorn Until the tree was root and branches of my thought, Until white petals blossomed in my crown.” From The Traveller ~ by Kathleen Raine

I hope you have enjoyed the re-visit. Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
Druidry.org

thoughtco.com

thegoddesstree.com

Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes

The Fairy Bible, by Teresa Mooney

The English Physician and Complete Herbal, by Nicholas Culpeper

Experience

The Magickal Ash Tree II

Originally posted on 22/06/2017 by Isabella via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

So much can, and has been, said about the magickal Ash tree that I’m not sure where to begin – or to end – this blog. I can only really attest to what I personally know, right? In that case, Ash is a wonderful wood to work with, as a wand carver and rune maker, I find Ash wood the easiest to carve and sand, and the result is always gorgeous. It is also quite a chatty wood, for me, anyway, as I listen to the wood to get the direction of where to go with carving for wands. It always has much to say. The spirit of Ash is quite strong! (Well, it IS believed in some traditions that Witches live in Ash trees) But mainly, the point of this writing is not much to do with making wands, or runes. It was intended to be a hopefully helpful bit of information regarding the bark and wood of the Ash tree in magickal usage.

Many people write to me when looking through our Witchcraft Supplies section in our Etsy shop asking questions. I have come to realise that most people do not read the description provided, and that is mostly down to how hard the description is to find if you are using your phone’s Etsy app to shop. Therefore, I’m happy to explain here as much as I can on how to use wood bark and shavings in your magick. Ash is definitely a wood you want in your potionary stocks, when we have it available, that is.

Ash Wood
old photo by i. macy ~ will be a WytchenCrafts label from here on

There are many magickal uses for all parts of an Ash tree, however, as said, we’ll only stick to the wood and bark here. The wood is traditionally burned at Yule to bring prosperity into the New Year ahead. Maybe you don’t have a fireplace, but you can use it in a loose incense mixture and burn on a charcoal disc for the same effect. Ash is also known as one of the three trees in the Faery Triad (Ash, Oak, and Thorn) along with Oak, and Hawthorn. Ash is a wonderful wood for promoting “brain power”. We have had, at one time, a talisman in our shop to this very purpose and will be having them again in future. In meantime, you can use the bark and or shavings in poppets for this purpose as well. Ash bark rubbed into a wart is said to make it go away. And Ash wood and bark is said to have magickal effectiveness in protection from drowning, sea power, and healing. Ash is also used for protection of any kind, whether in loose spell incense, poppets, or in witch bottles.

If you have a need and you can, at the very least, fashion a witch bottle, adding Ash shavings or bark to the ingredients, it will most likely be quite effective. Every witch has his or her preference in how a wood, herb, or flower is used in their magick. You can find your most effective vessel, we can provide the ingredients.

A few other facts about Ash which may be helpful to you in planning your spell work:

Planet: The Sun and Neptune

Element: Water, Fire

Symbolism: Mastership and Power

Stone: Turquoise, Lepidolite (Increase psychic awareness)

Birds: Common Snipe

Colour: White, pale Blue

Deity: Eostre, Frigg, Hel/Holle, Minerva, Nemesis, Odin, Nemesis, Poseidon, Neptune

Folk Name: Hoop Ash, Nion – (a rune name from the Irish Gaelic word Nionon which means heaven.)

The Ash tree is also a sacred tree to the Celts and to Druids. The ogham for Ash is “Nuin” or “Nion” and it is most likely sacred to the Norsemen as it is associated with and said to be Yggdrasil. Ash is the third month of the Celtic Tree calendar, February 18th – March 17th and the 3rd consonant of the ogham alphabet. 

I hope this little article has been of use to the magickal community in your quest to use Ash wood in your spell work. Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all x

Sources 

Woodland Trust, UK

Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Herbs

Druidry

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