Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Magical Trees: Ash by Unity

Ash by Unity
Fraxinus excelsior

Planetry ruler: the Sun or Neptune
Element: Fire and Water
Gender : Masculine
Magical properties : Protection, prosperity, dispels, negativity, healing, sea magic, dreams, love, intuition.
Ogham : Nion
Deities : Odin, Gwyddion, Woden, Poseidon, Nemesis, Achilles, Andrasteia, Neptune, Mars.

Ash is a common European tree that is often found growing near water and in woods. It has a smooth grey bark that gradually develops interwoven ridges with age. It can grow up to 148 ft and seldom lives longer than 150 years. In winter is can be identified by it's black buds. It's one of the last tree's to come into leaf in Spring. The seeds appear in Autumn, hang in bunches and are called 'Ash keys'.

The ash appears in many ancient world cultures. Historically Ireland was said to have been protected by five magical trees, three of these were ash and the other two were yew and oak.

In Norse mythology the Great World Tree was an ash tree - Yggdrasil, that linked the realms of existence. Odin hung from it for nine nights to gain the wisdom of the Runes and enlightenment. The Vikings also believed that the first man was born of ash and the Viking men were known as 'Aescling' - 'Men of Ash'.

Poseidon was associated with ash trees and the element of water.

The Welsh magician god Gwyddion carried an ash staff, a symbol of healing, transformation and empowerment.

In the Ogham tree calender ash correspondes to the 3rd month from the 18th february - March 17th and in the Ogham alphabet it is Nion.

The Greek goddess Nemesis carried an ash branch as an instrument of divine justice on behalf of the gods.

Ash is one of the nine woods of the Beltane fire, and the Yule log was traditionally ash.

Carry a small piece of ash wood to keep you safe while travelling over water.

An ash wand is good to use for working with the spirit world and for raising and directing healing energies.

Ash keys are said to be protective against sorcery.

Ash leaves placed under your pillow are said to bring prophetic dreams, and bunches of the leaves can be placed in vases or bowls around the home to fight illness. The leaves can becarried to attract a lover. The seeds were believed to promote lust and ash wood was also used an an ingredient in an aphrodisiac powder.

In Irish Folklore it was said that snakes could not bear to be near an ash tree. Ash twigs placed in a circle were used as a charm against snakes. They can also be placed around your home for protection and above your door to keep negativity away.

In folklore it was said that ash berries placed in a baby's crib would prevent the Fae from stealing it and leaving a changeling in it's place.

Standing in the shadow of an ash tree would cause the Fae to leave you alone. Although if shadows from an ash tree were cast over your crops, they would be ruined.

In the past lameness and swellings in cattle were thought to be caused by shrew's running over their legs. A popular and rather cruel remedy would be to place a shrew into a hole bored in an ash tree trunk, and then plug it up. The patient would then be brushed with leaves from that particular tree and be cured ! In Richmond park London in the mid 19th century such a Shrew ash was widely visited with the intention of healing sick children.

In Cheshire, to get they used to rub warts with bacon, cut a slit in an ash tree and place the bacon inside. The idea being that the warts would leave and appear on the trunk as knobbly bits.

Traditionally the juice from an ash stick was given to newborn babies to protect them from harm. The bark was used to ease fevers and treat arthritis and rheumatism and is an effective anti-inflammatory.

Ash trees were sometimes split longitudinally and young children were passed through the hole three times. The tree was then bound up and as it healed, so did the child.

Ash tree's today are at risk from a disease known as Ash dieback. It is casued by a fungus - Hymenscyphus fraxineus which blocks the water transport system in the trees causing leaf loss, lesions in the wood and dieback of the crown of the tree. Young trees are more vulnerable and die quickly, but older trees can resist it for some time before they eventually succumb to it and die. The disease can be spread through the wind born fungal spores but is also known to be spread via clothing, footwear and vehicles. There are currently no effective strategies for managing this disease.


Sources :
Herbcraft - Anna Franklin and Susan Lavender
The Enchanted Forest - Yvonne Aburrow
Magical Guardians - Philip Heselton
The Kitchen Witch world of magical plants and herbs - Rachel Patterson
Tree Wisdom - Jacqueline Paterson

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