Friday, June 28, 2013

Ash Tree in Natural Medicine and Magic for Weight Loss and Spells of Creation & Destruction

The ash tree is prized for building and flexibility and has been used throughout time to make weaponry and useful household items. Spiritually, it has a special association in different cultures as being a tree of creation, destruction, and rebirth.  Some variations of the ash tree used in medicine and magic include the white, native to North America; the European, native to Europe; and the flowering, native to Europe and Asia.

Ash in Northern European and Celtic Mythology

In Northern European lore, the famed World Tree—Yggdrasill—may have been an ash or a yew. This tree is at the heart of the nine worlds. Each world has its own inhabitants, from Asgard as the realm of the gods and Midgard as the world most familiar to humankind; to Hel as the underworld and the subconscious. The creation, destruction, and rebirth of the worlds are woven into the mythology of Yggdrasill.
Yggdrasill, public domain Wikimedia Commons

In Celtic lore, the ash was sacred, especially to warriors. Steve Blamires states in Celtic Tree Mysteries that the ash was a favorite wood for fashioning spears. He goes on to suggest that the spear is not just a physical weapon but symbolic of a magical weapon and relates it to the spear of the Celtic god Lugh—the god of many talents.

The Ash Tree in Natural Medicine

The leaves from the white and European ash are used to make a tea for weight loss as it has diuretic and laxative properties. Ash bark is believed to have liver and spleen cleansing attributes.  In homeopathy, the white ash is used for uterine problems and European ash for rheumatic conditions. The berries of the tree, also called keys, are used to relieve gas.

The Ash Tree in Magic

As mentioned above, the ash spear is a magical weapon and corresponds to the wand used by modern witches and Pagans. This, paired with the ash being associated with masculine and sun energy, enhances the purpose of this magical tool which serves to direct energy in magic.

While a magician may want to interchange the ash spear and wand in ritual, a spear could be used for magic which calls for more strength, will and focus, especially in the context of magical battle. This battle could be with a foe or some aspect of the self, which takes just as much, if not more, determination.

When things that no longer serve the magician are removed, the situation at hand can be approached from a new perspective. Meditating on the physical flexibility of the ash tree aids the magician in understanding how that same trait is needed mentally in order to remove obstacles to bring forth the spiritual properties of rebirth after a period of creation and destruction.

References not mentioned in article:
  • Hopman, Ellen Evert. Tree Medicine Tree Magic. Phoenix Publishing, Inc., 1991.
  • Gundarsson, Kveldulf Hagan. Our Troth Volume 1: History and Lore, second edition. BookSurge, LLC, 2006.

© Trish Deneen

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Walnut - Witchcraft Tree for Fertility Magic, Healing and Transitions

The walnut tree has provided food and material used for healing since the Roman times. Its long association with witchcraft once made the tree an object of suspicion and fear. Modern witches, however, hold the tree sacred and use it in folk magic and herbal remedies following in the footsteps of their ancient counterparts.

In much of Europe and Asia, the common walnut, also known as the English walnut, is widely cultivated for its delicious nuts. The most prevalent walnut trees in North America are the white or butternut walnut and the black walnut tree.

Walnut Trees in Natural Medicine

Besides being a favorite nut in baking recipes, the walnut itself contains the mineral manganese. Linda Rector Page, N.D., in Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone relates that one of the many benefits of manganese is supporting the brain and nerve centers. It also helps eliminate fatigue and nervous conditions.

The leaves from the tree are gathered in the spring or summer and dried for use in relief of skin conditions. Tea made from the leaves is also used for stomach problems and sore throat.  The green husks of the walnut have natural healing properties as well. They are boiled in water with honey added when cooled and used for sore throats. The husks are also known for being germicidal and antiseptic.

Walnut Trees in Magic and Transitions of Life

The planetary correspondence for the walnut tree is the sun, which makes its element fire. Wands from the tree have this fiery, masculine energy, believed to have magical associations with fertility and high energy.  The tree was also sacred to Astarte, the Semitic goddess of war, sexuality and fertility. The Greeks later came to associate her with Aphrodite who is most commonly known as a goddess of love and beauty.
Black Walnut By Jami Dwyer
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It once was called the tree of evil since witches in Italy are said to have danced under walnut trees during their rituals. Modern Pagans and witches may not carry on this specific tradition, but its use in magic is still prevalent. Specifically, carrying the nut in the shell is believed to promote fertility of mind and body.

The walnut tree is also helpful in making a transition from one state of affairs to another including major changes in life circumstances. It has the ability to break the link of past unwanted associations. Meditation on the energy of the walnut tree helps to bring clarity and strength to make the needed change.

References not mentioned in article:
  • Cunningham, Scott. Magical Herbalism. Llewellyn Publications, 1993.
  • Hopman, Ellen Evert. Tree Medicine Tree Magic. Phoenix Publishing Inc., 1991.

© Trish Deneen

Monday, June 24, 2013

Willow Tree in Natural Medicine and Magic

*Previously published elsewhere; see note at end of article. This information is based on my understanding and research done at the time of original publication.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

The willow tree has been used medicinally and magically in cultures nearly worldwide. The Salix alba or white willow bending over lakes and ponds is what is most commonly associated with this tree. However, there are approximately 300 species within this genus in the form of trees and shrubs.

Willow in Natural Medicine

In the New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses, author Deni Bown relates that the anti-rheumatic properties of this plant are recorded on clay tablets of the Sumerian period as early as the 4th millennium BC. Bown also states willow was once a tree associated with grief in England where garlands of the leaves were worn in honor of departed loved ones.

Willow is considered a natural aspirin alternative. In fact, the active ingredient in aspirin is the synthetic acetylsalicylic acid, which is a derivative of salicylic acid in willow. Its pain-relieving and fever-reducing properties were known to Native Americans who brewed the bark into a tea for such purposes.

English astrologer-physician Nicholas Culpeper in his famous 17th-century Culpeper's Complete Herbal tells us the white willow in particular is good for healing wounds, stopping vomiting, and clearing skin of spots and the scalp of dandruff.

Willow in Magical Practice

Culpeper also tells us that willow is governed by the moon. Many Neo-Pagans associate the moon with the Divine Feminine. As such the willow has come to be associated with the feminine aspect of nature. Wands made from willow are used by witches and Pagans to draw upon this energy.

In African American hoodoo, willow is used for good or ill as a doll baby, which is a representation of a person. In conjure work, another term for spell work, willow is combined with other items in mojo bags that are usually made of red flannel.

Since it has such a strong association with water, willow also relates to emotions, the moon, intuition, love, and friendship. The leaves are used in love magic and divination. Wands are used in full moon ceremonies when the feminine energy is considered at its highest. Branches are popular for dowsing because of the tree's natural inclination towards water.

Observation of its characteristics belies its flexible nature as it bends with the wind. This bending down also gives it a sheltering nature. Thus, it is used in protective spells for warding the home and person from evil or ill intent.

Modern Pagans use its leaves, bark, and branches in medicine bags, for wands, and herbal mixes in magic or they simply commune with the tree's essence through meditation to bring these feminine and protective energies into their relationships and lives.

References not mentioned in article:
  • Hopman, Ellen Evert. Tree Medicine Tree Magic. Phoenix Publishing Inc., 1991.
  • Yronwode, Catherine. Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure. Lucky Mojo Curio Company, 2002.
[Note: This is one of my original articles that was first published at Suite 101. Unfortunately, much of my work has been copied and posted it elsewhere. All of the content on this site is my original work unless otherwise noted.]

© Trish Deneen

Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Summer Solstice

Happy Midsummer, Summer Solstice or Litha.  By whatever name you call the holiday and however you celebrate may you have a beautiful summer season.

I've always loved Lisa Thiel's voice.  I found this tune on YouTube in honor of Litha.  Enjoy!

© Trish Deneen

Birch Tree Medicine and Magic for Sleep, Purification and Rites of Rebirth

*Previously published elsewhere; see note at end of article. This information is based on my understanding and research done at the time of original publication.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

The birch tree has many species including short trees and shrubs, but the two most well known are the tall white and paper (a.k.a. canoe) trees. The peeling bark was used to make paper and in the construction of canoes. The wood is used for household items such as items and kitchen ware. All parts of the tree have uses in natural medicine and magic.

Birch Tree in Natural Medicine

Birch tree drawing -
By published by Ward, Lock, & Tyler of London
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Oil extracted from birch bark is astringent and used in healing severe skin conditions such as eczema. Tea made from fresh leaves is used in breaking up small kidney stones. Tea made with either young leaves or the inner bark is used for rheumatic conditions and as a sleep aid.

Leaves of birches have diuretic properties and are used in teas along with young shoots as a laxative. All parts of the birch are high in potassium and vitamins including A, B, C and E. A tincture made with birch buds is used for fevers, colds, stomach and rheumatic problems.

Birch Tree in Magic and Divination

The Irish word for birch is beith (pronounced bayth). It was the first letter in the ancient Celtic alphabet known as the ogam. According to Erynn Rowan Laurie in her book Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom, drawing birch in a reading may indicate a need to purify intentions or that clarity and discipline are required for the question at hand.

As a result of its association with purification, birch can be used in meditation to cleanse the mind and energy fields. Brooms made of birch twigs can be used to sweep away negativity before rituals or around living spaces.

The birch tree has a feminine energy which is exemplified in berkano, a rune from an early Northern European writing and magical system. Berkano represents the goddess in her birth, death and rebirth aspects. It can be used in protection magic, especially for mothers and children as well as fertility spells. Drawing this rune in a reading signifies a rebirth or death of an old way of life.

In Celtic Tree Mysteries: Practical Druid Magic and Divination, Steve Blamires calls birch a colonizer. Because of its shorter life span than other trees, it gives its life to fertilize the ground for other forest life. Birch signifies a new beginning and the possible need to sacrifice a strongly held desire for the common good. Wands made of birch can be used in rites where the magician wishes to invoke a new phase of life.

References not mentioned in article:

[Note:  This is one of my original articles that was first published at Suite 101.  Unfortunately, much of my work has been copied and posted elsewhere.  All of the content on this site is my original work unless otherwise noted.]

© Trish Deneen