Saturday, 9 July 2016

Common Beech by Unity
Fagus sylvatica

Other Names : Queen of the woods, Mother of the woods
Planetry ruler : Mercury, Saturn
Sign: Sagittarius
Element: Earth, Air
Gender: Feminine
Associated Deities: Artemis, Diana, Ogma, Thoth, Hermes, Mercury, Cronus.
Magical properties: Wishes, creativity, spirituality, divination, luck, success.

The beech tree is a tall, elegant and impressive tree with a smooth silvery-grey bark. It grows up to 40 m/140ft. It's roots are shallow, often appearing above ground making them vulnerable to heavy winds and many were blown over in the 1987 hurricane including those at Chanctonbury ring on the South Downs.

Where beeches grow close together in woods their trunks will grow without any lower branches, to a height of 60ft or more. Their lofty interiors are often compared to the inside of a cathedral. The solitary beech is different, it's bark is sensitive to light so the tree keeps its lower branches as a form of protection.

The nuts are known as beechmast, they are poisonous to horses, but a favourite food of squirrels, deer, cattle, pigs and pheasants. When peeled and roasted, the nuts have been used as a coffee substitute.

The leaves were given to German soldiers in the first world war in place of tobacco.

Beech wood is fine-grained, knot free and pinkish-yellow with darker flecks. It bends easily and is used for making furniture, tool handles and small implements such as spoons.

The beech tree is a symbol for the written word and for ancient learning and wisdom. It was once used to make the early writing tablets and thin slices of beech wood bound together made the first book. The Anglo-Saxon word for beech is boc, which later became book. The German word for beech is Buche which became buch for book, and the modern Swedish word bok means book and beech tree.


Beech trees are associated with all the Gods of wisdom and learning including, Ogma the great warrior of the Tuatha De Dannan who is said to have invented the Ogham alphabet. The Greek god Hermes, the messenger, Thoth the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom and mathamatics, Mercury the Roman equivalent of Hermes and Odin the supreme god of the Nordic tribes who was given the gift of the runes. As a tree of ancient learning it is also associated with Cronus, the Greek god of time and the cycle of the ages of man.

Both Artemis and Diana were worshipped as embodied in beech trees in sacred groves.

Ancient Greek legend tell us that Jason used beech trees to build his ship the Argo and that Helen of Troy, like many another lover through the ages, carved the names of herself and her lover on a beech trunk.


Beech trees are not used very much in conventional medicine, but in the past beech tar or oil were a traditional remedy for chest and skin complaints.

Mattresses stuffed with beech leaves were once thought to aid in the healing process.

Culpepper recommends the bruised leaves as a compress for swellings and healing scabs.

Native Americans used the American beech -F. grandifolia in several ways including chewing the nuts for worm infestations.
The Greenman essence of beech is recommended for those who need to boost their confidence and hope. It aids in relaxation and the release of held in trauma, promoting an easy going attitude.

The Bach flower remedy of beech helps promote tolerance. It is useful for those who find it hard to make allowances for the shortcomings of others and who are overcritical and lacking in sympathy. It helps us to see the good in all things.

Magical uses

The wood or leaves of the beech tree can be carried to increase creative powers, or for luck and success.

Write your wish on a beech leaf or a small piece of wood and burn or bury it.

Beech wood is perfect for rune sets and divining rods as it can help you see into the future.

A beech wand can be used to help open a channel to the Divine.


Sources :
The Celtic wisdom of trees - Jane Gifford
Herbcraft - Anna Franklin and Susan Lavender
Tree medicine - Peter Conway.
Tree Wisdom - Jacqueline Memory Paterson
A Kitchen Witch world of magical plants and herbs - Rachel Patterson
Magical Guardians - Philip Heselton

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