Celtic Tree Lore
The Ash Tree - Nuin - February
Ash Tree - Celtic Moon month - 18th February to 17th March
Latin name - Fraxinus Excelsior
Ash trees are members of the Olive family, Oleaceae. This group of trees has over 45 species. Ash has deeply penetrating roots and sours the soil for other trees and plants which find it difficult to grow underneath the Ash. The roots of the Ash can also strangle those of other trees. It has thick and strong twigs. The Ash can grow to 150 feet or more in height. This is a native tree to Britain and also grows in many places of Europe and America. It’s a tree of lowlands forests and woods and prefers to grow in wetter regions and limestone soils.
The bark is greenish gray in colour which is smooth when young but develops fissures with age. The gray twigs of the Ash have large black opposite buds. The leaves are deciduous and made up of four to eleven pairs of leaflets with toothed edges opposite each other on a central stalk, with a single leaf at the end. The Ash is one of the trees that develop leaves later but they fall early in the autumn. Some subtropical trees are evergreen but these are not native to Britain.
The flowers of the Ash are small and reddish purple in colour. Male and female flowers occur on the same trees. The flowers appear before the leaves do and have no petals. The Ash tree can have all male flowers, all female or a mixture of both and each season can change the amount of them. The fruit/seeds of the tree hangs in a bunch and have a long wing hence they are called helicopter seeds by the children. This seed/fruit type is known as a Samara. The uses of the Ash wood is many and varied, it doesn't split when it’s worked and it the most elastic and toughest of all woods. The wood is almost pure white and course grained.
With the Ashes ability to flex it was used to build wagons and coaches, as the wood could absorb shocks. Ash tree many uses include wheel rims, oars, poles, furniture and implements. Weaver’s looms were also made of Ash. It was also used to make handles for axes and hammers. It was also used as a veneer for furnisher. The wood was used in ancient times to make shafts for arrows and also spears which would fly true and straight. Ash was known as the Widow Maker due to the ash been used to make weapons. Also called the young warriors wood. Today the Ash is still used for high quality sports goods including hockey sticks, billiard cues and tennis rackets.
For burning it gives out a sweet smelling aroma which made it a sought after wood for home fires.
The Ash Tree represents the World Tree in many cultures. This tree has roots that go deep into the earth and branches that reach high into the heavens so are known as a tree that can connect to the different realms of the spirit worlds. The realms are; The Underworld, Middle Earth and the Spiritual realm. The spiral buds of the Ash are seen to be linked to the spiral of life. It is also taken to represent the past, future and present. In Anglesey in Wales a Druidic wand was found made of Ash covered in spiral designs showing us that this wood was sacred and was used for wand making in Celtic times and possibly before. The witches broom was often made of Ash wood as this gave strength and protection.
In Norse Mythology the Ash spans the universe and a belief that the essence of humankind originated from the Ash tree is found in many ancient world cultures.
In Norse the first man Ask was formed from the Ash tree. Elsewhere in Europe ash leaves were said to repel snakes or a circle drawn with an ash branch. In Ancient Ireland the Ash couldn't have its shadow fall on crops as this was seen to damage them. Ash was sacred to the priests of Britain and Ireland before the Celts appeared from Europe, its status remained sacred however and it was represented by the word Nin in Gaelic. Nin in Gaelic means the letter N and is the word for letters. In Old Irish it was the vowel Ogham Onn, which means Ash tree. Many scholars believe it was changed due to Latin influences as the Ash was part of the thirteen tree months or moons before it was changed to match the Latin translations of the Ogham alphabet. In ancient times it was the third letter in the Ogham and is now often seen as the fifth.
An Ash leaf placed under a pillow is said to promote prophetic dreams.
The medicinal property of the Ash are many and include a mild diuretic, regulates the bowels, laxative, expels intestinal parasites, reduces fevers, treats kidney and urinary infections. The bark has been used for arthritic rheumatism, also for applying externally to cuts grazes and sores also was thought to cure warts and rickets. The leaves were used in teas for rheumatism and joint pain. The bark should be gathered in the spring and leaves in the summer. A drink was made from the fermented surgery substance the ash produced that was said to be the Mead of Inspiration to the Norse people. Odin found the runic alphabet made from fallen twigs of the Ash tree.
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Written by SpiritDancer © Mystic Familiar 2009
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