~ Celtic Alphabet & Numerology ~

According to the medieval Irish Book of Ballymote (written in 1391), The invention of the Celtic alphabet known as Ogham was achieved when "Ogma Sun-Face raised four pillars of equal length" (called Coel Bren), and etched upon these pillars the characters of the letters. It comprises three sets of five consonants and one set of five vowels, for a total of twenty letters. In actuality, the manuscript refers to more than one hundred types of Ogham, each with unique names and notches. The Book of Ballymote contains two lists of tree alphabets, which are often discussed separately from the Ogham. Although the initial letters of each tree and their order are the same as the letters given for the Ogham notches, these lists are intended to stand separately from the Ogham script itself.

The Sacred Grove consisted of 13 Sacred Trees. These Trees were pivotal in the religious celebrations of the Celtic Year. The Celtic year has 13 lunar months, each one named after a tree. To the Celts and many other people of the Old World, certain trees held special significance - as a fuel for heat, cooking, building materials and weaponry. In addition to this however, many woods also provided a powerful spiritual presence. The specific trees varied between different cultures and geographic locations, but those believed to be "sacred" shared certain traits. Unusual size, beauty, the materials they provided, their unique physical characteristics, or simply the power of the tree's spirit, could grant it a central place in the folklore and mythology of a culture. Even our modern culture finds that certain trees capture our imagination. The mighty oak, the mystical yew and many others are reminders of the power that trees have on our lives. Trees are living things, filled with the essence and energy of the Elementals and Mother Earth, with an aura of power that is visible to those who are in total balance and harmony. The lore that surrounds a particular tree or wood often reflects the power the old ones sensed and drew from their presence.

Celtic Tree of Life
Celtic Tree Lore

F ~ Fearn ~ Alder

This tree was sacred to the Druids. The pith is easily pushed out of green shoots to make whistles. Several shoots bound together by cordage, can be trimmed to the desired length for producing the note you want and used to entice Air elementals. The old superstition of "whistling up the wind" began with this custom.
The alder is a very ancient tree that has grown in the British Isles for thousands of years. The January tree is easily recognized by its regularly spaced branches and its conical shape. Like the willow, it is a water-loving tree. The timber is oily and water-resistant, and is often used for under-water foundations. Parts of Venice and many medieval cathedrals were built on alder foundations.
The common alder (Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertner) is found along lowland rivers, where it grows with aspens, poplars, and willows. Like willows, alders sprout from stumps. This allows them to regenerate after heavy flooding. In protected areas they may grow to 65 feet tall. Alders are members of the birch family (Betulaceae).
Bran the Blessed, or Bendegeit Bran is the god associated with this tree in the Ogham Tree alphabet. Legend says that he used his body to span the river Linon, forming a bridge to protect his followers from the flooding waters, as alder wood does when used as a building foundation.

Q ~ Quert ~ Apple (Domestic)

Another sacred tree to the Druids. It is said that you may cut an apple into three pieces, then rub the cut side on warts, saying: "Out warts, into apple." Then bury the pieces and as the apple decays, the warts will disappear. Use apple cider in any old spells calling for blood or wine. Apple indicates choice, and is useful for love and healing magic.
All apple trees are descended from the crab apple, which was likely the tree mentioned in the tree Ogham, as it grew wild in the British Isles and across much of Europe during the time of the Druids. The apple represents choice.
The wood of the apple tree is good for both burning and carving, and poultice made from roasted for boiled apples removes burn marks from the skin, and eases inflamed eyes. It is also known to be good for the bowels and for sufferers of asthma and other lung ailments.

N ~ Nuin ~ Ash

A Druid sacred tree. Druid wands were often made of ash because of its straight grain. Ash wands are good for healing, general and solar magic. Put fresh ash leaves under your pillow to stimulate psychic dreams.
The world tree is an ash, or is known as "The Cosmic Ash." It appears in Norse mythology as Yggdrasil (or the tree of Odin.) The ash tree has deeply penetrating roots and tends to sour the soil, which makes it hard for any other plants to grow around it. Its branches are thick and strong - in Norse mythology, it spans the universe, with its roots in the lower world and its branches supporting the heavens. In Celtic cosmology it connects the three circles of existence - Abred, Gwynedd, and Ceugant - which are sometimes interpreted as the past, present and future (or as confusion, balance and creative force.)
The ash can grow to one hundred and thirty feet high. The March tree has distinctive black buds and its seeds grow in bunches, each with a long, thin wing. It grows in all climates, but tends to do best in soil that is rich with lime. Its white wood is excellent for burning, and was often used for oars, ax handles, and was a favorite of the Celts when making spears.

B ~ Beithe ~ Birch

Known as Lady of the Woods, Paper Birch and White Birch. Carefully gather strips of the bark at the New Moon. With red ink, write on a birch strip: "Bring me true love." Burn this along with a love incense, saying "Goddess of love, God of desire, Bring to me sweet passion's fire." The specific name of a god/goddess may be added. Or cast the bark into a stream or other flowing water, saying: "Message of love, I set you free, to capture a love and return to me." ***Remember*** It is unwise to use this incantation and ritual directed toward a specific person as that would violate the rule. If a love is to come to you, it must be of that persons free will to do so.
The silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) is the most common tree in much of Europe. It grows up to 100 feet high,and is often found in sandy soils. It is one of the first trees to grow back in an area after a mature forest is cut; this is probably a large part of its symbolic connection with new beginnings. Formerly covering the whole of the United Kingdom, it is a graceful and slender tree with a characteristic white bole.
The birch represents new beginnings and opportunities. The name for the birch in the Tree Ogham, Beithe, has two meanings in Irish. It can mean "being," in the sense of the verb to be, and it is also a noun meaning "a being." Children's cradles were made of Birch, and the inner bark provides a pain reliever while the leaves can be used to treat arthritis. Axe handles were also made from Birch. On the Isle of Man, off the west coast of Scotland, criminals were 'birched' to purify them and to drive out evil influences.

Ss ~ Straif ~ Blackthorn

Blackthorn is a winter tree. Its white flowers are seen even before the leaves in the spring. It is black barked with vicious thorns and grows in dense thickets. The wood is used in the cudgel shillelagh and Blasting Stick. Its thorns are used to pierce waxen images. Blackthorn indicates strong action of fate or outside influences that must be obeyed.
The grape vine governs the month of August, the blackthorn is more of a shrub than a tree, and grows in dense, impenetrable thickets, often a nesting site for birds. It is covered with sharp thorns, has white, red-tipped flowers, and small oval leaves. It is the traditional wood of the Irish shillelagh, and is also used to make walking sticks.
The fruit of the blackthorn bush are deep purple berries known a sloes. These berries ripen only after the first frost, and are used to make jam, and to flavor the famous sloe-gin. It is a good astringent and can be used to stop bleeding, both internally and externally. The leaves can be boiled into a decoction and used as a treatment for laryngitis and tonsillitis.

Ng ~ NgEtal ~ Broom (Reed)

Also known as Scotch Broom or Irish Broom. It can be substituted for furze (gorse) at the Spring Equinox. The Irish called it the "Physician's power" because of its diuretic shoots. Sweep your outside ritual areas with it to purify and protect. Burning the blooms and shoots calms the wind. Be cautious if you plant Broom however, it will quickly multiply.
The broom is a wide, bushy shrub that grows in abundance in the British Isles, and blooms in yellow pod-shaped flowers. It can grow to seven feet in height, and its stem can grow very thick and strong. Its branches are often dried and used as brooms (as the name suggests,) and a decoction of young branches and seeds can be used to treat malaria, gout and painful joints. It is also a good diuretic. Oil drawn from the stems (by heating them over and open fire,) can be used to treat toothaches, and for the removal parasites such as lice.
Traditionally the Celts were a nomadic people. They camped on one place throughout the cold winter months, and would break camp in the spring when the first yellow blooms appeared on the broom. Although it has associations with spring, broom stands for the month of October in the Ogham Calendar.

Cedar

Also known as the Tree of Life, Arbor Vitae, Yellow Cedar. Ancient Celts on the mainland used cedar oil to preserve the heads of enemies taken in battle. To draw Earth energy and ground yourself, place the palms of your hands against the ends of the leaves.

R ~ Ruis ~ Elder

Also known as Ellhorn, Elderberry, Lady Elder. Sacred to the White Lady and Midsummer Solstice. The Druids used it to both bless and curse. Standing under an elder tree at Midsummer, like standing in a Fairy Ring of mushrooms, will help you see the "little people." Elder wands can be used to drive out evil spirits or thought forms. Music on panpipes or flutes of elder have the same power as the wand. Remember the words of the Rede. Elder is the Lady's Tree, burn it not or cursed ye be!
The elder tree rules the thirteenth month of the Celtic moon calendar, which was only three days long, and ended at Samhain. In popular Celtic folklore, it was believed that it was unlucky to use Elder wood for a child's cradle, but that only Birch wood should be used to symbolize purity and new beginnings.
The elder tree can grow to thirty feet in height, and is covered with a light brown bark with deep ridges and groves. Its leaves are broad and oval in shape, and it has a tiny white flower with five petals and a sweet scent. In autumn it is covered with bunches of black berries which are used to make wine and jam. Rich in vitamin C, a tea from the flowers is also used for the treatment of coughs and sore throat. Boiled leaves can be used in a mixture for the relief of pain in the ears. A distillation made from the flowers is used a skin cleanser, a cure for headaches and treatment for the common cold. The bark can be dried and used as a laxative.

Elm

A slightly fibrous, tan-coloured wood with a slight sheen. Elm is often associated with Mother and Earth Goddesses, and was said to be the abode of faeries, explaining Kipling's injunction; "Ailim be the lady's tree; burn it not or cursed ye'll be". Elm wood is valued for it's resistance to splitting, and the inner bark was used for cordage and chair caning. Elm adds stability and grounding to a spell.

Fir

Fir is a very tall slender tree that grows in mountainous regions on the upper slopes. Fir cones respond to rain by closing and the sun by opening. Fir can see over great distance to the far horizon beyond and below. Fir indicates high views and long sights with clear vision of what is beyond and yet to come.

A ~ Ailim ~ Silver Fir

Also known as the Birth Tree. The needles are burned at childbirth to bless and protect the mother and baby.
The silver fir, from the family 'Abies,' is a variety of pine that grows in the mountainous regions on the upper slopes overlooking the lower forests. Firs are known to grow to tremendous heights. Two silver firs planted by the Duke Of Argyll in the early seventeenth century stood until recent times, and reached heights of 124 and 130 feet.
The wood from fir trees is used in the making of furniture, and because of the straightness of the trunks, was used in the making of ship masts. It is a source of turpentine, resin and tar, and a tea made from the shoots can be used as a protection against urinary tract and kidney infections.
At one time, much of Scotland was covered with these great trees, but now only small patches of them remain.

O ~ Ohn ~ Furze

Also known as Gorse, Whin. Its golden flowers are associated with the Spring Equinox. Wood and blooms are burned for protection and preparation for conflict of any sort.
The furze is a yellow-flowering shrub that grows profusely on the open moors and hillsides of Great Britain. It blooms year around, although its densest bloom is in the spring and early summer. Its flowers are rich in pollen and nectar, and give off a strong sweet honey/coconut scent. They are a favorite of honey bees.
A concoction can be made of the flowers for the treatment of jaundice and to cleanse the kidneys of stones and obstructions.

H ~ Huathe ~ Hawthorn

Also known as May Tree and White Thorn. Wands made of this wood are of great power. The blossoms are highly erotic to men. Hawthorn can be used for protection, love and marriage spells.
"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

The Hawthorn is the female tree of April, which leads up to the fertile central Oak month after Beltane. It is often known as May, as it is closely associated with the tradition of 'maying,' or riding out on a spring morning and gathering hawthorne boughs laden with white flowers. These fragrant white blossoms were used to decorate the halls, and worn as crowns by maidens in wedding ceremonies. Young girls rose at dawn to bathe in dew gathered from hawthorn flowers to ensure their beauty in the coming year.

"The fair maid who, the first of May,
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree,
Will ever after handsome be."

The Hawthorn is a rather small tree that grows with a dense, many branched and twisted tangle. Due to its impenetrable growth, it is mainly used for hedgerows, and the origin of its name comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'haegthorn,' meaning hedge-thorn. It is also known as whitethorn.
Its bark is smooth and gray and its wood is used to make maypoles for Beltane (now celebrated as Mayday.) Its leaves can be used to make tea, and it is said to be good for people with cardiac or circulatory problems. It is also a remedy for emotional distress or long term nervous conditions. Its juice can be used in the treatment of asthma, rheumatism, arthritis, and laryngitis.

C ~ Coll ~ Hazel

Wands made of this wood symbolize white magick and healing. Forked sticks are used to find water or buried treasure. If outside and in need of maigckal protection quickly draw a circle around yourself with a hazel branch. To enlist the aid of plant fairies, string hazelnuts on a cord and hang up in your house or ritual room. Magically, hazel wood is used to gain knowledge, wisdom and poetic inspiration.
The hazelnut, in Irish legend, was the fruit of wisdom, and was eaten by the salmon swimming in the pool of life. Thus the hazel is associated with meditation, wisdom and mediation. Hazel branches were also used for divination because of their pliancy and affinity for water.
The hazel tree, which presides over the month of July, reaches 30 feet in height, but is often cut back. The nuts can be ground up and used to sooth sore throat and head cold symptoms. The dry skin covering the nut can also be ground up into a powder and used for the relief of heavy menstrual flows.

U ~ Ur ~ Heather

Heather is often connected with death and completion in the Celtic tree Ogham, but its name, Ur, means 'new.' Heather is the symbolic gateway linking the earth with the spirit world.
Heather is a rather twisted gnarled plant that grows profusely on the moors and heaths of Scotland. It blooms in small purple, red and blue flowers, which are favored by bees for their pollen. As a medicinal, it is used chiefly as a treatment of nervous disorders and cardiac palpitations. It can also be used to treat menstrual pain and migraine headaches. Bees make a distinctive honey from its pollen, and the Picts used heather to brew a potent ale. Its roots and stems are used to make rope, thatch for roofs, and brooms.

T ~ Tinne ~ Holly

A beautiful white wood with an almost invisible grain; looks very much like ivory. Holly is associated with the death and rebirth symbolism of winter in both Pagan and Christian lore and is important to the Winter Solstice. In Arthurian legend, Gawain (representing the Oak King of summer) fought the Green Knight, who was armed with a holly club to represent winter. It is one of the three timbers used in the construction of chariot wheel shafts. It was used in spear shafts also. The qualities of a spear shaft are balance and directness, as the spear must be hefted to be thrown the holly indicates directed balance and vigour to fight if the cause is just. Holly may be used in spells having to do with sleep or rest, and to ease the passage of death. A bag of leaves and berries carried by a man is said to increase his ability to attract women.
Holly is male, and symbolizes paternity and fatherhood, and the fight. With the Ivy and the Mistletoe, the Holly has always been regarded as a potent life symbol, both for his year-long foliage and for his winter fruits. Concealed within the verses of the "song of Amergin," chanted by a chief Bard as he landed on the shores of Ireland, is the line "I am a battle-Waging spear" wood of the June tree was generally used for spear shafts.
The old name for Holly is Holm, preserved in such names as Holmsdale, Surrey. With the coming of Christianity, the Holly became the Holy tree, the tree symbolic of the crown of thorns.

G ~ Gort ~ Ivy

The ivy is not considered a tree, but depends on a host tree for support. Ivy belongs to the evergreen family, and oversees the month of September. It's leaves are deep green and rather waxy, and it has thin tendrils that attach themselves to surfaces, and are strong enough to force their way into bricks, cracks, and plaster. Ivy can grow in such abundance on a host tree that it smothers the tree and actually kills it.
Ivy berries can be used for medicinal purposes, but can be poisonous if taken In large quantities. A broth of fresh leaves can be used to cleanse sores or wounds. A powder made from dried leaves and berries can be used to clear stuffy heads, and is also believed to be a cure for hangovers.
The Ivy was considered to be a very powerful tree to the Celts because of its ability to kill even the mightiest Oak tree. Because of its tendency to create dense, inpenetrable thickets in the forest, it is seen as more powerful than the vine, and rather sinister in nature.

Juniper

Its berries were used with thyme in Druid and Grove incenses for visions. Juniper grown by the door discourages thieves. The mature berries can be strung and hung in the house to attract love. Juniper berries are used in northern European and particularly Scandinavian cuisine to "impart a sharp, clear flavour" to meat dishes, especially wild birds (including thrush, blackbird, and woodcock) and game meats (including boar and venison). They also season pork, cabbage, and sauerkraut dishes. Traditional recipes for choucroute garnie, an Alsatian dish of sauerkraut and meats, universally include juniper berries. The Native Americans used the berry as an astringent, a purgative, a menstral aid and a spice. Such species have been used not just as a seasoning but as a nutritive food by some Native Americans. In addition to medical and culinary purposes, Native Americans have also used the seeds inside juniper berries as beads for jewellery and decoration.

Mistletoe

Also known as Birdlime, All Heal and Golden Bough. As far as a Celtic name, It was said that Mistletoe was too sacred to have a written word. It was the most sacred tree of the Druids, and ruled the Winter Solstice. The berries are poisonous! Bunches of mistletoe can be hung as an all-purpose protective herb. The berries are used in love incenses.

D ~ Duir ~ Oak

Oak has been considered sacred by just about every culture that has encountered the tree, but it was held in particular esteem by the Celts because of its size, longevity, and nutritious acorns. The oak was the "King of Trees" in a grove. Magick wands were made of its wood. Oak galls, known as Serpent Eggs, were used in magickal charms. Acorns gathered at night held the greatest fertility powers. The Druids and Priestesses listened to the rustling oak leaves and the wrens in the trees for divinatory messages. Burning oak leaves purifies the atmosphere. It can be used in spells for protection, strength, success and stability; the different varieties will lend their own special 'flavour' to the magic.
The oak was a central tree to the Druids, and is the king of the forest. Our modern English word "door," comes from the Gaelic word 'duir' - the word for solidity, protection... and the mighty oak tree. Oak groves were sacred to the druids. The oak tree has always protected Britain, by providing wood for the building of ships, and as boundaries between one area and another. Ovates Bards and Druids preached under their branches, gaining strength from their strength.
The oak is associated with the seventh of the thirteen Celtic lunar months. He is central, standing between Hawthorn and Holly, and presides over the celebration of Beltane, the spring Fire Festival of fertility and renewed growth. The month of Oak (May) is one of celebration, and the rebirth of life and living things.
Besides providing strong timber for building, the oak's bark produces tannin, which was used extensively in the leather industry for tanning raw hides. The oak is one of the longest living trees in the forest, often living for seventy to eighty years, even after being struck by lightning.
Acorns can be used to make a powerful antiseptic, and the juice from crushed oak leaves can be applied directly to wounds for the same purpose. A gargle made from the inner bark is useful to relieve sore throats and a decoction of the outer bark can help relieve severe fever symptoms.

P ~ Pethboc ~ Pine

The Pine tree is an evergreen, its old title was "the sweetest of woods." It was known to the Druids as one of the seven chieftain trees of the Irish. Mix the dried needles with equal parts of juniper and cedar and burn to purify the home and ritual area. The cones and nuts can be carried as a fertility charm. A good magickal cleansing and stimulating bath is made by placing pine needles in a loose-woven bag and running bath water over it. To purify and sanctify an outdoor ritual area, brush the ground with a pine branch.

L ~ Luis ~ Rowan

Also known as Mountain Ash, Witchwood and Sorb Apple. Rowan has long been known as an aid and protection against enchantment. Sticks of the Rowan were used to carve Runes on. Rowan spays and crosses were placed over cattle in pens and over homes for protection. Its lovely red berries feed the birds in winter. The berries have a tiny pentagram on them and are especially poisonous. The pentagram is the ancient symbol of protection. The Rowan tree indicates protection and control of the senses from enchantment and beguiling. The Rowan was sacred to the Druids and the Goddess Brigit. It is a very magical tree used for Staffs, Wands, Rods, Amulets and Spells. A Staff (shillelagh) made of a Rowan branch will protect and assist the Wanderer. A forked Rowan branch can help find water. The Wands are specially useful in the Quest for knowledge, Rods are for locating metal and general divination.
The rowan, or mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia L.) thrives in poor soils and can colonize well in disturbed areas. In some parts of Europe, rowans are most commonly found around ancient settlements, either because of their weedy nature or because they were planted. Rowans flower in May. They grow to 50 feet and are members of the rose family (Rosaceae). The rowan, which presides over the month of December, has a reputation as a protector against enchantment. Rune staves, (sticks upon which runes were enscribed,) were cut from this tree. Rowan wood was also used to divine for metal, as hazel twigs are used for water.
Along with several other trees, the rowan played a central role in Druid ceremonies. Sprigs of rowan were hung over the main door of the house, and often worn to ward off enchantment or "the evil eye." In Wales, rowans were planted in churchyards to watch over the spirits of the dead.

Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva)

Even though this is not one of "The Celtic Tress", It was the most sacred to the Native American. The native Ojibway tribe of Eastern North America prepared a blend of herbs which was shared with a French nurse called Rene Caisse. This still very popular herbal tea, now called Essiac (Caisse spelled backwards) is believed by many to be a treatment for cancer. One of the main ingredients of this blend is the soft, white inner bark of the native American Slippery Elm tree.
Whether or not essiac tea is an effective cancer treatment, one thing is certain. Slippery elm bark by itself, is a very useful herb.
When mixed with liquid, Slippery Elm bark becomes mucilaginous, or gel-like. This soothing characteristic makes it an effective, gentle treatment for constipation in babies. Mix 1 teaspoon of powder and a pinch of cinnamon in one cup of warm apple juice. Provide as much as the baby will drink.
The dry powdered bark can be sprinkled on babies skin to soothe diaper rash.
The powder can also be applied to chicken pox to soothe itching and dry oozing sores.
If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself wounded, and lost in the woods, don't despair. Cut some strips of the white inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree and soak them in water. Apply the wet bark to your cleaned wounds and it will dry into a natural bandage. Just make sure you get lost in the eastern part of the United States, as Slippery Elm is not native to the western part of the country.
One old fashion slippery elm product that is still popular throughout the country is the soothing Slippery elm lozenge. These soothing 'cough drops' can be purchased at herb and health food stores, but why waste your money? Restless children stuck in the house on a cold wintery day would have a blast mixing and rolling their own herbal throat soothers.
In a bowl, mix 3 tablespoons Slippery Elm powder, one tablespoon Ginger root powder, and one teaspoon of Licorice root powder. Blend in enough Maple syrup or Honey to form a dough. (Keep in mind that it is not safe for children under 18 months of age to eat honey.) Roll into a long 'rope' and slice into 1/4-inch pieces. Place on a wax-papered cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees until dry, about 20 minutes. Store in covered containers, and use as needed.
Even the FDA admits that Slippery Elm bark is a safe and effective throat and respiratory soother. However, the high mucilage content of Slippery Elm may interfere with some prescribed medications. If in doubt, consult your doctor.
It was once thought that the deciduous Slippery Elm trees were resistant to Dutch Elm Disease which has devastated the population of its close relative, the American Elm. We now know otherwise. Because of the destruction of Dutch Elm Disease The United Plant Savers Association has listed Slippery Elm as an endangered species. Therefore, when harvesting surviving trees, it is best to use bark from large branches. Cutting too much of the main trunk may kill this stately tree which has given of itself so generously.

M ~ Muin ~ Vine

The grape vine governs the month of August, the month in which the festival Lughnassadh is held. The fruit of the vine, the grape, can be used for many purposes: to make wine, calm coughs and distraught nerves, and aid in digestion. The leaves can be used (if boiled,) as a lotion for sore mouths, and as a poultice for inflammations. They are good for skin conditions, and a decoction of the leaves is often used as a treatment of kidney or bladder stones.

E ~ Eadha ~ White Poplar

Of all the trees of the Celtic tree Ogham, the white poplar is most concerned with earthly and material aspects of life. Used by the ancients to make shields, it is believed to have the power to protect from death and injury.
Poplars are often referred to as the 'whispering' or 'talking' trees, and in Irish Gaelic, as 'Crann Critheac', the quivering tree. The long flattened leaf stalks grow in such a way as to make a noise with every breeze that passes through the leaves.

S ~ Saille ~ Willow

Also known as White Willow, Tree of Enchantment and Witches' Asprin. One of the seven sacred trees of the Irish, a Druid sacred Tree. The willow is a Moon tree sacred to the White Lady, Its groves were considered so magickal that priests, priestesses and all types of artisans sat among these trees to gain eloquence, inspiration, skills and prophecies. For a wish to be granted, ask permission of the willow, explaining your desire. Select a pliable shoot and tie a loose knot in it while expressing what you want. When the wish is fulfilled. return and untie the knot. Remember to thank the willow and leave a gift.
The willow in the Tree Alphabet, stands for the female and lunar rhythms of life. It is water-seeking, with a preference for damp, boggy areas, river banks, or low-lying meadows. It is an imposing tree, with a thick trunk covered by dark gray, heavily ridged bark. Its spreading branches create a very full shape, and its leaves are long and slender and covered with silver hairs that give the whole tree a shimmering appearance.
The willow is sacred to the moon goddess, who rules the month of February, the willow month. The festival of Imbolc is held during the willow month, one of the two female fire festivals in the yearly cycle. The willow was also used as a protection against damp diseases.

I ~ Ioho ~ Yew

Also known as English Yew and European Yew. Another important tree to the Winter Solstice and the deities of death and rebirth. It is a beautifully smooth, gold-coloured wood with a wavy grain. The Irish used it to make dagger handles, bows and wine barrels. The wood or leaves were laid on graves as a reminder to the departed spirit that death was only a pause in life before rebirth. All parts of the tree are poisonous except the fleshy covering of the berry, and its medicinal uses include a recently discovered treatment for cancer. The yew may be the oldest-lived tree in the world. Ancient yews can be found in churchyards all over Britain, where they often pre-date even the oldest churches. There are some convincing arguments for it being the original 'World-tree' of Scandinavian mythology. The Yew may be used to enhance magical and psychic abilities, and to induce visions.
The yew tree lives the longest of all of the trees of the Celtic Tree Ogham. They are often found in cemeteries, but may be far older than the cemetery itself. The Crowhurst Yew in Surrey is believed to be at least 1,600 years old. Research work by dendrochronologists indicates that some yew trees in British churchyards may be as ancient as four thousand years old!
This longevity is achieved through the style of growth. The yew's branches grow down into the ground to form new stems, which grow to become trunks of separate but linked growth. In time, the central trunk becomes old, but a new tree grows from within the decay, and is indistinguishable from the original growth. Thus the yew tree represents age, rebirth and reincarnation - the birth of a new soul which springs from ancient roots.
The average yew tree grows to fifty feet in height. It is an evergreen with dark green needles, light on the underside, and bears a bright red fruit containing a single seed. Female flowers are green and small, as contrasted to male flowers which appear on different trees and are slightly larger and yellow in color. The needles, bark and sap are extremely poisonous and have no medicinal uses.


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