Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mythical Trees, Spirits of the Woods

The vast majority of mythological creatures and monsters are based on animal or human forms. However, some more subtle or cunning supernatural creatures prefer to align themselves with the more unassuming world of plants and trees, blending in with the forest, and gardens. Although, some supernatural trees are monsters unto themselves, the majority gain their supernatural abilities from the creatures or spirits which occupy them. In the Celtic tradition, the expressions, "touch wood" or "knock on wood" are used, even in the contemporary context, to avert bad luck. Those who use these expressions are, in fact, continuing the Druidic tradition of appealing to the spirits of the wood for help or favor.

"The Elum do grieve,
The Oak he do hate,
The Willow do walk,
if ye travels late."

This well repeated piece of Somerset lore, emphasizes the importance of tree-spirits in the British isles. Celtic tree-spirits may be nymph-like and feminine, like the Green Ladies of the birch groves, or gnarled and goblinish, like the Bodach na Croibhe Moire, a cantankerous old Oakman who guarded his father trees. Tree Fauns are male tree spirits and are said to be kindly, wise and reserved, open to sensitive women and may court their souls. Tree Nymphs are female tree spirits and are said to be more playful and adventurous with humans. They may even fall in love with a human man.

A Few of the Honored Faerie Trees:

The Bramble Tree - Fairies love the Bramble tree because it is wild and protects the penetration of secluded sacred fairie clearings.

The Ash Tree - Said to be the ancestor of humankind. Norse Gods populated their sublunary world with a newborn race by breathing a human soul and spirit into an ash tree. Today, in certain places, people will leave tokens of human hair hanging from an ash tree in the hopes their wishes, hopes and desires will be granted.

The Lilac Tree - The fragrance of the lilac tree is considered magical. It is believed to carry humans into fairyland. It is quite a beneficiary tree. It's flowers can be eaten and used as a tonic for the nervous system.

The Broom Tree - As you can imagine, the properties associated with the broom tree are those of astral travel and flight.

The Holly Tree - Symbol of life force, vitality and immortality. It is considered a lucky tree to have growing in your garden because it wards off negative energies. The shiny green leaves represent the vitality of life even in the coldest of times and is used in Yule for this reason.

The Juniper Tree - Considered a protective tree and unlucky to cut down. The tree has an abundance of healing properties. Infusions can be made to treat kidney and liver troubles, arthritis, dropsy and help the elderly.

The Hawthorn (Whitehorn or May Tree) Tree - This is the most sacred tree of the fairies because it is so wild, uncompromising and fragrant. If you sit under the Hawthorn tree on May Day Eve, Samhain Eve and Midsummer Eve, you can commune with the fairies.

The Rowan Tree - The tree of vision, healing, psychic powers, also known as Wicken-tree, Wild Ash, Witchbane, Witchen, Witch wood and Tree of Life. Sticks, twigs and branches of the rowan tree help in aid and protection. Rowan is associated with witchcraft. Runes were carved with sticks from a rowan tree. It is associated with the colors red and gray. It is also a tree held dear by Druids and the Celtic Goddess Brigid. Rowan is also used during rites of the 2nd moon - the vision moon for rites of knowledge and divination. This is based on the Celtic calendar of the 13 moons. Rowan bark can flavor liquers and can be used to make ale.

"Witch tree, rowan tree, pretty mountain ash,
Protect me right well from storm, flood and flash;
Now do I beg of thee some wee twigs and leaves,
And pri'thee turn from me all harm and grief."

The Apple Tree - Custodian of wisdom and sign of the soul. To grow an apple tree in the garden is a happy omen.

The Oak Tree - The tree of truth. It is ancient and wise and has an old spirit. An important tree for the Druids. The mistletoe of the oak tree has many magical properties. It is also a marriage tree. Symbolic of the marriage between the God and Goddess.

The Bay Tree - The tree of healing. It is associated with masculine principles, medicine, music and the rays of the sun. The bay protects dwellings and gardens.

The Hazel Tree - The tree of wishes and tree of the star goddess. It is associated with the Celtic goddess of the stars, Arianrhad. It has the power to grant the heart's desire.

Beautiful, solemn and wise, noble, sacred and ancient. Trees reach the highest heavens and penetrate the deepest secrets of the earth. Trees are the largest living beings on this planet. Trees are in communion with the spiritual and the material. Trees guard the forests and places that must not be spoiled. Trees watch over us and provide us with what we need to live on this planet. Trees provide a focal point for meditation, enlightenment, guidance and inspiration. Trees have a soul and a spirit.

1 comment:

  1. I like your blog, P. Were you aware that Druid means "of oak knowledge"...or some similar metaphor?