Celtic Tree Lore
The Hawthorn Tree - Hauth - May
Willow Tree - Celtic Moon month - 13th May to 9th June
Latin name - Cratagus Monogyna
The Hawthorn grows mainly in Europe and can grow as a tree or shrub. It is used widely as a hedge/boundary tree in the farming community. It prefers moist regions but grows in most places in Europe especially where there is a damp lime-based soil. Species of this Tree can be found in most places of the world and all have myths and legends associated with them.
Hawthorn’s trunk and branches are of hardwood with smooth ash grey bark. The branches are thorny and it has small shiny leaves which are dark green on top and a light bluish green underneath. The leaves are three irregular toothed lobes and very distinctive. The Hawthorn can live over 400 years in some regions. The Hawthorn flowers in May with an abundance of small white flowers with round petals. These grow in terminal corymbs.
The fruit or Haw has a two or three seeded fleshy pome scarlet on the outside, yellow and pulpy on the inside.
The Hawthorn has many medical properties. Among them being antispasmodic, cardio vascular, sedative and a vasodilator. Young leaves and flower buds can be added to salads. Teas are made from the berries and flowers. Also strong liquor is made from the buds. Berries can be made into a jelly. The wood has been used for making handles and engravers blocks. Also the wood from the roots was used to make boxes and combs.
The Hawthorn is sacred to the Goddess Brigid and fertility. It also has connections to magic, happiness and chastity amongst others. Spring weddings would include bunches of flowering Hawthorn to help with fertility, with prayers to the Goddess for the happy couple. It is also the tree of True partnership, love and commitment. In ancient Greece the bride and groom would wear hawthorn flowers on their heads and the wedding party would carry burning branches of Hawthorn.
Women would hold on to some Hawthorn as they called upon their Goddess (Brigid or Aine in UK or Ireland) to increase their fertility throughout the year. This would be in the form of a branch or wand. On the other end of the scale the leaves of the Hawthorn would be placed in someone's bed to bring chastity.
Hawthorn branches would be placed on a home to adorn it during the spring and summer this was called “going a maying”. Hawthorn is not usually in flower on the 1st of May this is because May Day was traditionally on the 13th May until it was changed in 1732.
On May Day morning the branches, with its abundance of flowers would be collected and woven together and placed on windows and doors. The weaving together would strengthen the magical properties of the Hawthorn as would the morning dew. A home would look and feel surrounded by abundant white flowers of the Hawthorn, adorning your home after long winter months and knowing the spring was here and summer round the corner. This was also said to protect your home against evil spirits for the year.
Hawthorn is also a tree of protection. It is said that it prevents lightening from striking the home, storm damage too, and it also brings happiness to the sad and depressed.
Hawthorn would be protected by the locals as it was said to have a guardian spirit that would be angry if the tree was not cared for. The penalties given to those who cut a sacred Hawthorn or any of the seven Sacred Trees of Europe were severe especially in Ireland and ancient Britain.
The Hawthorn is a very important tree to local wildlife. Boundary hedges were used for taking parts of the trees for its use but a Hawthorn standing alone would be left as this was considered a faery tree and is sacred to the faeries. The faery triads of trees are the Oak, Ash and Thorn and if all three trees grow together it was said one could sit by them and see the faeries. Tying together Oak, Ash and Hawthorn with a red ribbon would also bring protection from the Faeries. Tying ribbons or rags to a Hawthorn on May Day was an old custom to give gifts to the faeries.
The hawthorn has associations to Kings and Queens, Saints and also Christianity. The Holy Thorn on Wearyall Hill in Glastonbury is one of our most famous of Hawthorn’s as it flowers on the Midwinter Solstice and on Christmas day a flowering twig is cut and sent to the Queen. This tree is said to be from the original Hawthorn planted by Joseph of Arrhythmia two thousand years ago. The crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head was said to be a hawthorn.
There are many myths and legends connected to the Hawthorn tree these were some of them.
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Written by SpiritDancer © Mystic Familiar 2009
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