Ailm - Silver Fir/ Scots Pine
December 22nd - Second day of Winter Solstice - Start of the new year
Animals : Crow, piebald, lapwing
Color : Light blue, black
Lore and Legends
Ailm is thought to mean „pine tree“ although in the Ogham Tract it is referred to as the fir tree. Both trees are often interchangeable due to their similar appearance and qualities.
This ogham is about impetus, breaking new ground, and motivation. It promotes perspective and clear-headedness, its energy helps to overcome knotty problems and stuck circumstances.
The pine is associated with the Winter Solstice and still today it is common use to decorate the pine tree for Christmas.
With its red trunk and evergreen needles, pine stood out across the bleak and grey landscapes of the northern winters. Its prominent vitality and hardiness promise that life continues through the harshest of seasons, and that in the darkest times the sun’s journey has already begun to swing towards the earth once again. Its reputation as a tree of regeneration also has a practical manifestation; when cut down, the tree may appear dead, but new stems will appear from the sill growing roots.
The tradition of decorating the tree at the Winter solstice or Christmas goes back millennia, to when the spirit of the tree was honored and asked to bless and support to people through the cold season, conveying its vitality upon them.
In Scandinavia’s Viking eras branches of pine or fir where brought indoors and decorated to entice or honor the spirits of growth to return in the spring as forbearer to the modern Christmas tree.
Pine was also used to decorate the Yule log, which was usually oak or ash itself. Although the yule log is now associated with Norse Yule celebration, it is thought that this was part of the continuous practice from much earlier times and cultures.
The fragrant pine was often burnt at the Winter solstice, its fumes purifying the air, stimulating the circulation, refreshing the mind, and clearing the house energetically.
The Scots Pine and a silver fir rise above their heads of other trees in the landscape and are used by shamans to assist in the envisioning of the upper realms. The trees also served as lookouts, giving a view of the distant horizon even across wooded areas.
The pine’s associations with regeneration and resurrection, together with their magnificent height, naturally suggest a connection with the upper shamanic realms, the seat of the gods known as „Gwynfyd“ in the Welsh Celtic tradition. Gwynfyd is accessed by many means, often with the assistance of bird spirits, but by visualizing the pine or fir tree and asking spirit for permission, the upper realms can be accessed by means of imagining yourself to be climbing its branches, guided and held by its steady yet clear headed presence. Here the perfect vision of all things is held; it is the realm of ideas and ideals, heroes and divinities, existing out of time in a state of eternal grace and light, the balancing counterpart to the underworld, Annwn.
Ailm lends itself to attaining clear headedness and vision on many levels.
By reaching above the clutter of the forest canopy, the mundane day-to-day distractions of the mortal world, it is a great teacher of perspective. The viewpoint above the world allows patterns and threads of meaning to become apparent, enabling the seeker or shaman to find solutions and predict the likely future events. A higher perspective can also be useful to understanding the past. We can see how events unfurl in streams of cause and effect and witness seeds of destiny and fate grow and take root along ancestral bloodlines. Once we understand the past using the gifts of foresight and insight we are granted wisdom and the ability to implement divine, upper world vision; we are capable of restoring health, wholeness, and healing, correcting mistakes and negative patterns.
The word ogham for this tree is „the weaver’s beam“, the pine helps the seeker perceive the web, the warp and weft of life patterns and events.
Taliesin’s Cad Goddeu reveals, the fir is „uncouth and savage“ in contrast to the „courtly pine“. Can therefore be seen that the ogham Ailm represents the key to transforming ignorance and inexperience, the passive victimhood of a lack of perspective into clarity, wisdom, and thus ability and effectiveness.
Pine smoke, perhaps 'smudged' around you or your home during incense burning will energise the atmosphere and ‘counter magic’ any evil influences.
You can also use it for prosperity spells, as well as calling upon upper world spirits for assistance in bringing changes in fortune.
Should a shower of snow accidentally fall onto you from the branch of a pine-tree, a great blessing will occur.
Fir resin can be used to "seal" a spell, or as a fixative for any magical craft.
Needles of silver fir may be burned for ceremonies to bless mother and baby. Or wet them and use them to sprinkle water over mother and baby (most birthing centers do not take kindly to burning things in their rooms).
Pine helps to build magical endurance and restores hope and positivity to those who have been suffering for a long time.
Floor washes with pine oil, cleanses a space of negativity and ward off illness. Throw pine needles into winter fires for protection, or burn pine incense for purification, for example a ritual area or a new home; or burn them for divination.
It also helps to "stay the course" during difficult times.
You can use the pine cones as fertility charms, especially for men, as the phallic energy helps to build up vigor and good health.
A pine cone-tipped wand can draw the earth’s fertility and abundance into your life.
Pine and fir can both be used in herbal sachets and charm bags to ease depression, fatigue and overturn bad luck.
Gather needles and cones.
Tie a small bundle of needles together
with thread and burn them in your cauldron.
Pass the cones through the smoke
and then place them in a location
where you will see them frequently
and be reminded of your blessings.
Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes
An infusion can be made to help with the respiratory tract, and to help clear blocked sinuses some people inhale the steam of boiled needles or resin. It helps against colds and chest infections and
it is also used to kill germs.
As a vibrational essence Ailm can help to heal fear, to allow us to let go of old trauma and to move forward with certainty and clarity. It helps to decongest mind, body, and spirit, it clears blockages and brings clear vision. It assists in developing awareness and a sense of purpose.
It is useful for those who blame themselves. Even when successful they think they could have done better, and are never content with their efforts or the results. They are hard-working and suffer much from the faults they attach to themselves. Sometimes if there is any mistake it is due to another, but they will claim responsibility even for that.
In a Pine state we may feel guilty even when events outside our control have caused a problem, or we may assume responsibility for mistakes made by others. We suffer needlessly.
We sometimes feel so guilty in a Pine state that we end up saying 'sorry' all the time.
It can also help connect a spiritual traveller to their guides, or to their ancestors.
It can be used to help those who have a deep rooted sense of loss or guilt, and those who cannot see a worthwhile future no matter which way they look.
Ailm suggests a calm viewpoint should be sought, seek for quiet contemplative times between periods of action. It aids seeing things in perspective and expanded awareness.
You have now the opportunity to affect change by becoming present in each moment and aware of your surroundings, physically, psychologically, and energetically.
The route to empowerment asks you to connect your past and your future to your present. It suggests looking at the both what’s behind you, and what’s ahead of you, in order to really understand why and how you are where you are today. You may be living as if traumatic experiences in the past are still a reality in your present, and if that is the case use the Ailm symbol to help you to move forwards, and leave the past behind. Ailm urges us to let go of fear, and reminds us that we are safe and protected. It can also symbolize a journey to a faraway place, although the journey may be symbolic in nature, a spiritual journey and the growth of the soul.You can now see what is beyond you and what is still to come. You also have the perception and understanding from the point where you stand. Take a good long look and you foresee the future. You use sight in healing from which to draw insight and knowledge for your future. View your progress on your spiritual voyage with care and an eye of discernment.
Time to seek clarity and vision through stillness and cleansing.
Onn/Furze - Gorse
Spring Equinox 20-23 March
Animal: Cormorant, Rabbit
Colors : Gold
Lore and Legends
Gorse is very similar to the plant broom, that we find in the Ogham as well, but as you know I personally associate Ngetal with Fern. However one difference between the gorse and the broom is that gorse has sharp thorns, and broom not.
Both have yellow flowers and refreshing and clearing energy.
Gorse is a great provider of fertility, it increases life force, creativity, and vitality.
It is associated with the sun god Lugh, and his festival Lughnasadh on August 1.
Lughnasadh was known as „the Festival of the Golden Gorse“.
Lugh is associated with light, inspiration, and skill. His spear of light, one of the „hallows“, the sacred treasures of Ireland, is said to induce ecstasy. This ecstatic energy is invited by gorse in many different aspects, drawing inspiration as well as passion and lustiness, a rise in life force spreading across the body.
The connection to Lugh also reveals gorse to be a powerful „warrior“ plant, a fierce ally helping with mental agility and the ability to sweep away and destroy redundant or negative thoughts.
This is similar to the broom, but gorse is more powerful and intense.
It is not only muscle that compromises the warriors strength but also skill, mental and physical agility, and the courage and energy for sustained periods of action.
Another side of gorse is desire and eroticism. When we look at the gores we often find the old saying „when gorse is in bloom, kissing is in season“ this is a reference to the fact that love is a everlasting aspect of life, just as the gorse can blossom all year round.
The sweet smell of gorse, as with the hawthorn, has been associated with the scent of female genitalia and arousal. Its great life force also links it with the fires of passion and sexuality.
For the Faery Queens, gorse is especially sacred, and the flowers have been eaten in times past to induce visions of Faery, which are often accompanied with a sense of great and primal erotism present in the natural world.
With its five petals reminiscent of the pentagram and the sign of the goddess, it draws seekers back to a simpler, more primal and animalistic side of themselves, where the tangles of the intellect are unravelled by instinctual knowing of the body.
For me personally this the key meaning for this plant, as human beings we are so often caught up in our thoughts and way to often we forget to trust our instincts, not intuition, but instinct.
Gorse is an ogham of lovemaking, partnership and desire. As such, it is useful in love magic, especially in acquiring skill as a lover, although the results may be more passionate than anticipated.
Gorse is traditionally burnt at the spring equinox as an offering to the returning sun and to destroy the plant’s hard thorns to encourage fresh and softer new shoots.
Whilst in some parts of Britain gorse is said to be a marker of faery dwellings, in others it is associated with many tales of „wicked“ faeries. In the nineteenth century there were several recorded cases of faery abduction in Anglesey.
Like the hawthorn and the blackthorn, gorse’s thorns create an energetic sacred enclosure, protecting those within from those without. Just as with the other two trees, this particular protective aspect seems to be especially potent when women and/or children are seeking sanctuary.
Using gorse can also lead to a surge in intuition and imagination, increasing the flow of awen.
Such a state is one of heightened visionary knowledge as well as intellectual expansion. It is the radiant brow of initiated and illuminated mystics like Merlin, Gwydion, and the bard Taliesin, whose name itself means „radiant brow“.
Because of the gore’s yellow flowers, it is also associated with the element of air, and thus with intellect. It can lead us to clever solutions and gives us the ability to empower thought forms and visualizations. The other side of this, as you may know from the suit of swords in the Tarot, is an overactive mind that leads to inflation, overstimulation, and even divine insanity. If this happens, gorse’s thorns and the cleansing, warrior qualities should be sought to clear the ground and deflate the energy to a more earthed and balanced state.
Gorse is said to attract gold so it can be used in money spells.
Carve the name „Gorse“, or the Ogham sigil of gorse into a gold or yellow candle. Face east, light the candle, and meditate on the light. Ask for protection, money, love, whatever it has to offer that you desire. If you want to use it in prosperity spells you can carry the flowers in a gold cloth in your wallet or purse to attract more gold.
It is a herb of love, and protection against evil. It can help us to restore faith and it brings optimism. Gorse also attracts good luck and ignites passion and enthusiasm for life with its solar and martial energy.
Because of its color and solar qualities it also has an excellent effect on the solar plexus. You can wear gorse to draw in and develop your personal power or for shamanic power retrieval ceremonies.
If you scatter gorse around your home it attracts good luck and prosperity.
You can also burn it as an incense when you feel stuck or stagnant in any way.
If you have blessed spring water you can sprinkle it around your home using a sprig of gorse to bring fresh energy, prosperity, and good luck.
Gorse is used to help people who have given up hope, who have no faith in the future. It puts people in touch with their own inner resources and helps them move forward by releasing courage and determination. It can also help to ease depression and feelings of feeling lost or stagnant.
But Culpeper warns that while it may take away melancholy, gorse may „send up strong fancies, and as many strange visions to the head… therefore it is to be taken with great moderation“.
While fiery, enthusiastic energy may indeed help with depression and melancholia and set you back upon your true path in life, Culpeper’s warning should always be heeded, gorse is a powerful plant and should not be taken if you are undergoing any significant mental or emotional instability or repression.
However as a vibrational essence it can help you to refresh your point of view, it empowers positive thinking and resourcefulness, and it clears negativity.
The vibrational essence doesn't contain any of the herbal matter, and the accompanying visionary side effects. It is a much safer alternative for those with delicate psyches.
Gorse reminds us to remain positive and focused whatever life throws at us. Gorse brings hope to the disillusioned and brightens those who are disheartened. Gorse thickets are spiny and may seem impenetrable but find a way to deal with them, and they can provide food and shelter for the mind and body, and fragrance to soothe the senses. Gorse promises that effort will be rewarded when we honor our achievements. For the Celts, gorse was symbolic of optimism and good faith.
Your search is over. You will find what you are seeking. Continue towards your goal. Share your knowledge. Know that there is an abundance of blessings in your spiritual voyage, so do not hoard them all to yourself. Share with others, you will be rewarded.
Gorse can indicate a time of resurging life force and inspiration, and guidance from the visionary within. It ushers in a time of new ideas and great fertility. It is a fiery catalyst for change.
However it also warns of the potential for life force to burn out of control, or even burn out entirely, when primal or inspirational energies simply cannot be found or they have become so imbalanced that they no longer have a basis in the health and right action of a properly functioning life.
Gorse also brings cleansing, as well as renewal and restoration, so that properly balanced energy and inner equilibrium will return. Onn reminds us that a time of high power, pride, and inner light of an empowered soul are our birthrights. The light of summer is ahead.
Ur - Heather
Animals : Bee, Lion, Skylark
Colors: Purple, Red, White
Lore and Legends
The word heather is „fraoch“, which means fury and wrathful, and Fraoch is also the name of a warrior of the Tuatha de Dannan. He had a powerful and fiery lineage, as he was the son of the hero Cuchulain and the lady of the sidhe, the otherworldly Aoife.
There are other sources that state that his mother was queen Maeve, and she is notorious for her sexual appetites and erotic nature, and Fraoch is connected with warriorhood and sexual energy, the rhythms of life and death.
The next stage in the journey after the fierce, warlike energy of life and death, is UR, the new, a return to the earth.
The sexual energy is not just about individuals, but we have to look at it on a planetary scale.
In the eternal cycle of life, death, and decay, new life is nourished and sustained. We see this as much on the forest floor as we see it in human lives, when the lessons, those many lives and deaths of our ancestors, provide context, meaning and support to our own.
The energy that moves the leaves from the tress and feed the ravens upon carcass is the same which brings new life to the world, upends that life to the underworld and returns it to the soil, transformed into a source of new life once more.
This is sexual energy in one of its myriad forms, the very impulse of life itself.
The purple flowers of the heather are said to be stained from the blood of fallen warriors, like Fraoch himself.
Our ancient dead are said to dwell in the barrow mounds and tumuli scattered across the British and Irish landscapes, their bones lying within whilst their spirits feast in otherworldly halls.
Heather often grows upon burial mounds. Cuchulain refers to this when he calls UR „the grave“ and „the shroud of a lifeless one“.
New life is fed from the death of the old, it is the „growing of plants“, from the soil nourished by cropped of the past.
Heather is also associated with bees that swarm around it and produce honey from its nectar.
The spiritual importance of the bees is a worldwide and ancient phenomenon, often connecting the plant with numerous goddesses, teaching many lessons on our erotic , primal state, community and fertility. The importance of bees to the fertilization of crops and the survival of the environment as a whole was always known, but the modern world is only beginning to regain the understanding and respect that earth deserves. So maybe you yourself could do something to help the bees, you could plant different flowers that attract the bees around your house, on your balcony or just on you window sills. This could be of course heather, or sunflowers, fennel, thyme, aster, marigold, primulas and many more.Often the flowers in the garden center are marked with a sign that they are attracting bees.
The thread upon which our lives travel is similar to notions of the great web, the strands of destiny woven by the Norns in Nordic mythology. It was said that the thread of our lives was spun before we were even born an is cut by the crone goddess when it is time for us to die and our energy takes a new form. The thread passes from the spiritual realm into manifest reality and back again, only to continue weaving between the worlds, one life form and the next.
Heather’s connection with the threads and the flow of life is so strong that it encourages us to make the right decisions and follow the right direction through our lives.
Bad luck can be considered the opposite of this, those moments when our inner balance and innate connection to the universe is out of harmony. Then the restoration of our lives requires awareness to see the problem with scots pine, the correction and clearing with gorse, and the restoration of flow along the paths of our destiny, facilitated by the heather. Life in all its forms blossoms and moves along natural rhythms when balanced between life and death.
We may also think about our relationships with each other, when the flow between giving and receiving and the individual and collective is in balance, healing and wholeness follows.
When this flow develops harmoniously between individuals, love is the results. Between couples it becomes sexual and soulful love; the journey between one life to the next continues as one generation conceives and gives birth to the next.
Heather functions as a gateway between the worlds, it is the flow between our conscious and unconscious selves.
Heather is said to ignite faery passions and open portals between their world and our own. Heather represents solitude because it thrives in wide open spaces, and Faeries who enjoy living in such undisturbed places are said to feast on the tender stalks of Heather.
The Faeries of this flower are especially attracted to shy people.
Heather is also used to contact your spirit guides, or it can also be used for spells calling the Earth Goddess. Brigidh is another goddess you can work with while using heather, as she has many bee and heather associations; use the flowers and scatter them around your sacred space, or burn it as an incense to call upon her.
Charms made with white Heather can be worn or carried as protection against danger, rape and other violent crimes.
You can also wear it in order to tune in and harness empowers feminine energy.
When you sleep on a pillow stuffed with this magic herb, it can bring dreams foretelling good fortune. If Burned outside with fern, it brings rain.
Heather is also used to conjure ghosts, to do so, place a sprig of white Heather in a special place of silence and meditation. After picking a piece of white Heather at midnight, place it in a glass of river water in the darkest corner of your home. Sit and think of a departed loved one and it is said that the loved ones shadow will visit you.
Heather is both helpful to those who shape shift, as well as protective against harmful shifters.
You can burn it as an incense while meditating on inner healing, or if you want to gather your thoughts, or find the passion in your life.
It is also said that apple trees bear much more fruit when growing near heather.
An infusion of the flowering shoots is used in the treatment of coughs, colds, bladder and kidney disorders, cystitis etc. Heather is a cleansing and detoxifying plant, it has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and gout. The flowering stems are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.
It is also said that it is good for insomnia.
As a vibrational essence it can help those who are always seeking the companionship of anyone who may be available, as they find it necessary to discuss their own affairs with others, no matter whom it may be. It can also be helpful for people that worry over the troubles of others, not the big things of life, but the affairs of everyday. It also helps those who need too much attention and may be self-centered or selfish.
It is also good for talkativeness, as excessive talkativeness can be seen as a form of purging, attempt to restore the flow, by using words to push the energy along. This, unfortunately, can create yet another pattern of stuck energy, as we focus only on what has hurt or disturbed us.
Heather’s essence repairs the threads and the flow, it restores harmony and our relationship with the world and each other. It does that by being a great comforter, nurturing and encouraging.
Heather is also good for healing the sense of the feminine, restoring a sense of respect and empowerment for feminine energy.
Heather may indicate that now is a time for healing. Do not permit yourself further stress, other things can wait now, focus to go into your inner being to heal. Weave your inner soul together with your outer self to become whole again. Heather represents luck and an entry point to the inner worlds.
It encourages us to reconnect with ourselves and each other. We are encouraged to follow our passion and desire.
When you get heather in a reading it could also indicate a certain comfort in your life, the comfort that comes when you feel the sun upon your face, when you listen to the singing of the birds, a sweetness in your life, you're feeling blessed.
Enjoy the time for what it is, and don't take anything for granted.
It could also indicate that something which comforts you has been taken away. If so, do not despair for it will be returned, or renewed, as heather also indicated renewal.
The never-ending cycle through seasons, lifetimes, birth, and death is an eternal dance with life itself.
We are reminded that we are connected by the web of life and are also the web itself, the conduit through which other forms also travel through time and space, as we do.
Heather encourages us to be children of the universe, beginning, ending, and beginning again, opening up to the kindness and comfort of the divine.
Ur reminds us that if we simply follow what feels comfortable and wholesome, only goodness follows. We have to trust our luck, than we open ourselves in innocence to the bounty of the universe, and that makes us lucky.
New doors of opportunity are open and Spirit is allowed to lend a hand. We become more confident and positive, and our lives are filled with ease and playfulness.
It could also indicate that there is romance in the air, or that your dreams are about to come to fruition.
Eadha - Aspen
Letter : E
Animal : Swan, white mare, dove
Color: red speckled, or grey, silver
Lore and Legends
Aspen is very closely related to the white poplar and in many places those two trees are used interchangeably.
Aspen is known as the trembling tree, and also strongly associated with the festival of Samhain.
It has a history of use in spellwork for helping the alleviation of fears, controlled contact with beings from the underworld, and peaceful contact with the spirits of the dead.
In Ireland, rods of aspen were used for the measuring of dead bodies for coffins, thus aspen was deemed a respectful tree to use for this delicate and sacred task. But in ancient Wales, the tree was considered cursed because of its connection with the dead; it was thought to be the wood from which Jesus’s crucifixion cross was made.
The association with death also connects aspen with the autumn equinox, a threshold between death and renewed fertility.
Cuchulain called the Aspen „kinsman of birch“, referring to its position as liminal, the closing of one phase inevitably ushering in another’s new beginning.
Oengus’ word ogham for it is „exchange of friends“ a time of transition and „passing on“ which suggests a safe, assisting energy, an ally and support. Erynn Rowan associates it with the Fly Agaric. It grows in a symbiotic relationship with the birch tree, and can thus be interpreted as a brother or „kinsman of birch“. This fungus is well known for its association with vision seeking, being used by Siberian shamans and other spirit workers around the globe.
Aspen is associated with fear because of its role as a threshold tree; in the Scholars’ Primer it is referred as „horrible grief….test tree“. Threshold means change, and it can be a terrifying thing on many levels. Fear sucks life energy and causes us to resist change, this makes the transition even harder, strips us of strength and makes us more vulnerable.
Aspen can also be seen as a powerful goddess tree, with its different species being attributed to the various aspects of the triple goddess. Thus the aspen is the tree of the maiden, the white poplar is associated with the mother goddess, and the black poplar the crone. The goddess embodies the threshold and portal into life, serving as caretaker and later she who lays out the dead, and aspen can be seen as accompanying that experience, youth through death to life again.
The aspen’s trembling leaves link it with the presence of spirits, particularly wind spirits but also otherworldly and ancestral beings. As such, it was also associated with oracle and augury. It was used in making divinatory incense, and listening to its leaves rustling can invoke states. The rustling is sometimes believed to be the tree itself communicating.
The aspen’s voice was also attributed to faeries and otherworldly beings who gathered around its shade. For this reason aspens and other poplars are considered to be gathering places for all sorts of spirits and energies.
It was also thought that the voices of the dead could be heard in aspen’s rustling leaves, understood only by seers or shamans. These trees are especially significant, serving as threshold and visionary trees where messages from the otherworld can be accessed.
Aspen grants assistance in the ability to receive these messages, helping us to develop the courage to do so.
Aspen also teaches us the right use of magical power, as connection with the otherworld and multitudes of spirit grants access to greater abilities and knowledge. It helps us to understand, when working with spirits, we are participating in a magical universe far larger than our perception.
Aspen was used to make shields and it was almost as popular as the alder for this purpose.
Like the alder, aspen also makes good shamanic shields, giving courage when embarking on new terrain, assisting the spirit of the fallen warrior to move on and find a way to the next world should the worst happen. It is said that the hero Cuchulain’s shield was made of aspen and that he received his final training on the Isle of Skye from a woman called Scáthach which means both „shadow“ and „shield“. To pass the tests and learn the lessons of shadow is to come to terms with the underworld and otherworld inside and outside ourselves; gaining courage and going beyond our limitations and perceptions is crossing the threshold between what we are and what we could be.
Aspen can be used in anti-theft spells, it was also planted in gardens and fields to protect the property from thieves.
You can burn aspen as an incense at Samhain to protect you from unwanted spirits and to help you release old fears.
Otherwise you can also use the wood of the poplar to burn as an incense for change and success; it carries the vibration of foresight, protection, powerful speech, renewal and healing.
Poplar was also added to flying ointments. The Poplar spirit is a keen guide into the world of divination and seeing true, as well as a bridge-builder between Earth and Spirit realms.
In Scotland, it was thought that by placing an aspen leaf under the tongue would make the person more eloquent.
In older times aspen crowns have been buried with the dead to enable these spirits to be safely reborn.
You can use the aspen tree also for weather forecasting; if you need to know if it will rain, stand near an aspen or white poplar tree. If the leaves make a great noise and clatter, then heavy rain can be expected soon.
Put aspen wood under you pillow to bring you a quiet night without worry.
Aspen is also used in sympathetic magic to heal nervous complaints and conditions that induce shaking and trembling, and of course the overcoming of anxieties and fears.
Sometimes a lock of a person’s hair was buried beneath an aspen tree or hung in its branches so that the tree would take the illness from the afflicted.
It can also be used in communication and money spells, or in spells relating to legal issues.
In Celtic Tradition, aspen and poplar are associated with the Faery Queen who grants the seeker a „tongue that cannot lie“ an ancient reference to the gifts of prophecy and magical eloquence.
Aspen also has value in peaceful banishing and space clearings, especially relating to rites of the dying and dead, when it can be used to anoint, spray, or burned as fragrant oil. Using aspen can help the spirits’s transition and attract beneficent guides and ushers to lead the way to any lost or fearful spirits. But the aspen’s essence must be actively asked for assistance, and when using the tree’s physical matter, permission should always be sought and the material magically charged with specific intent.
Aspen was used for fever and nervous complaints, and tea made from its buds is said to be good for cuts as well as sore throats.
You can use aspen as a vibrational essence to aid you if you feel fear, anxiety and apprehension but without knowing the cause. It is also helpful for people who are sensitive to impulses and psychic current around them, such as conflicts in the workplace, the psychic energy of strangers, but also the fear of war, financial disaster, and other „what ifs“. It can aid you to take you from that fearful place, where you seem to be caught. It can help you to recognize the divine power of love.
Dr. Bach recommended Aspen for those with profound spiritual sensitivity, whose unconscious or semi-conscious soul disposition is imbued by those influences from the psychic world which are not fully understood. The inability of the awake consciousness to process, digest and transform such experiences produces various states of fear and dread in the human soul.
It helps ease shaking and trembling, and relaxes the light body, helping agitated vibrational rate, the result of communicating with spirits, or simply being close to them.
It also helps to make the spirit communication experience easier, replacing fear with trust of self and others.
Aspen is an especially powerful remedy for those, who feel nervous or anxious at night, or who experience fretful, disturbed sleep. In fact, these sensitive souls are often experiencing the phenomena of unseen realms, ancestral influences, not yet fully apparent to, nor regulated by the conscious self. As well many adults suffer from various states of low grade anxiety, panic or other states of fear, because their soul consciousness is so immensely susceptible to, yet incapable of encountering in a clear and peaceful state of mind, the reality of worlds beyond the physical.
Aspen can indicate that now is the time to conquer your fears and, you have the ability to endure your problems such as doubts or self-confidence issues. It reminds you to take the necessary steps to get to know yourself by dealing with your shadow side. Know that you are able to bend instead of breaking. Turn your thoughts from the fears and doubts that plague you. Refuse to give in to worldly pressures. Great assistance is headed your way and will accompany you on your journey to rebirth. Aspen speaks of the power of pure will, of the individual ability to overcome through mind over matter.
It relates to communication and connection between worlds, people, and individuals, it urges you to get things moving, drawing in life force and enthusiasm.
Aspen may indicate the missing piece of the picture and brings in completion, whether that may be a task, a journey or an elusive thought or idea.
You are reminded to listen to your inner promptings and the messages of spirit, but you may also consider advice from your elders.
It can indicate that you have become imbalanced with the ebb and flow of life, either in overload, shaking and trembling with fear or unused energy, or in a state of inner drought and stickiness where life needs stirring up and quickening once more.
Trust in the infinite and cross over the threshold.
Ioho / Idad - Yew
Color: very white, dark green, or black
Lore and Legends
Yew trees may well be the longest living trees on earth. We can find them often in church yards, and some of them vastly predate the accompanying churches and are thought to be as much as four or five thousand years old. They survive the modern era by their connection to these churches, themselves often built in places of local pre-existing spiritual significance.
The oldest living thing in Britain, is the Fortingall yew, which stands at the geographical centre of Scotland in Fortingall churchyard, this tree is estimated to be over five thousand years old. It is thought that yew trees achieve such long lifespan via their constant regeneration.
In Breton Legend, the tree is said to grow a root into the open mouth of each corpse buried in the graveyard. This root is a symbol of rebirth with the spirit reborn in much the same way as the tree itself is reborn.
Morrain refers to the yew as „oldest tree“ revealing a depth of practical knowledge we have lost.
Yews where once considered to be the species of the great World Tree particularly in the heathen traditions and across the northern hemisphere due to its incredible lifespan. In Norse tradition the World Tree Yggdrasil is thought to have originally been a yew, although later Yggdrasil was considered to be an ash, perhaps signifying a cultural change to a more ordered on goal orientated society suggested by the ash’s magical qualities, as opposed to the Yew’s contemplative and meditative qualities, concerned with the balance between mortality and infinity.
Yew provides a link between this world and the next but not in the guiding and transitional way of the Aspen. Instead, it represents that which lies beyond, the void that must be crossed between this life and the next and a solid presence of the unknowable an inevitable that accompanies all our lives. Our lives are as mayflies in comparison to the infinite unfolding us, a fact both terrifying and reassuring. We may end, yet something, indeed everything, continues. Idho signifies this awesome truth and as such is associated with endings and beginnings, rebirth and mortality, the fact that death and life and the ever turning wheel between the two are our only known certainties.
Yews also grow upon barrow mounds and places associated with our ancient ancestors as markers of the world beyond and our eternal spirits. For this reason, yew trees where often planted on the graves of fallen lovers, and tales abound of the trees linking the two graves, joining the soul in death. Legendary lovers Tristan and Isolde were reunited in their death by the yew as were the Irish Deirdre and Noisiu, whose separate yew tress were said to have grown over Armagh Cathedral to embrace.
The yew also holds special importance at the festival of Samhain. It was burnt at this day to lend protection and balance these energies, negotiating relations between the living and the dead.
We can find the yew tree also mentioned in „The Lays of Fionn“ known as „The Lament of Fianna“, which heralds the end of the legendary band of heroes. Fionn makes a prophecy: „On Samhain’s eve, in the yew glen, that the faultless Fianna should depart, and that it should be an end of us tonight. Tonight it is an utter end.“
Other names for the Yew were „ spell of knowledge“ and „the King’s wheel“. The King’s wheel referred to here is a special brooch worn by the high Kings of Ireland, passed from one king to the next as a reminder that each king was part of a whole. The king’s role required this knowledge, and was a caretaker with responsibilities to future generations. It was a reminder that the wheel would always turn, and that duty to the past and future should be paramount in the king’s mind.
The same could be said for all magical workers and wisdom seekers in the Celtic tradition, where the honoring of ancestors and the consideration of future generations is of utmost importance.
This explains Oengus’s word oghams associated with the yew „fairest of ancients“ or „pleasing consent“. The duty of honouring our ancestors and looking to the future is required of us whether we undertake it or not.
Yew can be seen to represent the total of all the other ogham in the sense that all the lessons of the other nineteen take place beneath its aegis.
As it allows access to the infinite, it naturally reveals the next in between all things, time, space, and points of consciousness, the sum of all knowledge. And yet yew’s position reveals an innate paradox, that whilst containing the ever-changing All, it itself holds a position of utter stillness and reflective silence. This is what Cuchulain is referring to when he says yew is „the strength of the sick man, people or an age.“ He is referring to the gift received in coming to terms with death and the endless movement of time, when it is realised that one’s actions or errors mean little in the face of eternity. It is in being, not doing, that we learn to be truly alive.
Magically the Yew is used for summoning spirits and any Otherworld communication.
Robert Ellison said that the tree could be used in divination or in spells. The Yew, he said, represented the ancestors, re-birth, death, and could be used “for its powers to cast an arrow a great distance, with strength.” Although burning yew as an incense is still a traditional means for raising the dead and thus in a sense, entrapping them, you should burn it only outside because of its toxicity. With its connection to the underworld and infinity beyond, yew is used in all sorts of ancestral magic, as well as to protect against negative forces or unwelcome ghosts.
A few leaves placed upon the altar or worn when journeying or invoking ancestral assistance can be very effective, but again, be very cautious as all parts of this tree is very toxic. It should not be in contact with the bare skin for any length of time.
Yew wands are especially powerful, best to use from wood fallen from a tree with its permission and with whom you have already established a relationship. If you work with a yew wand always oil, wax or varnish it before use. The yew wand not only proffers the great knowledge of infinity and ancestors, it also may assist in contacting deep land-based ancestral lines, following in the very parts of the druids who walked the land before us.
The poison of the yew tree protects its powerful energies.
It requires careful handling, as does our magical and spiritual work.
Yew has been found to have some use in cancer treatments, but it must be said that herbally yew has no place whatsoever in common use, it is just too dangerous.
As a vibrational essence this plant spirit ally of this most ancient of trees serves as a gateway that helps us to connect to the inner realms and our innate wisdom.
It offers spiritual insights into our patterns, past and present, and connects us with the ancestors and with those who are still to come.
Yew helps people to see that there is no sin in being both resilient and flexible, or indeed bowing before the storm. It also brings the discernment needed to assess accurately just what forces are involved in any particular situation. After all, only a fool will stand in the path of an express train!
Yew helps people to become less proud of their own ideas and concepts, more open to new approaches and ideas, and break up the rigidity of outmoded patterns of thought and behaviour.
It helps people to come to the realisation that the time has come to release attachment to someone or something that is holding them back, like the irrepressible yew tree they are pushed onwards to change, adapt, and make choices and that will allow them to be free to grow, expand and regenerate. It can assist in letting go of whatever is standing in the way of achieving your purpose.
Yew can also help us come to terms with our own death and find healing and solace in the realms beyond. It also helps balance of psychic burnout or times when our awareness has expanded excessively fast, leading to inflation, fear, or mental illness.
Know that this is not the tree to impose your will and wishes upon, their benefit lies in its example, in „being“ rather than „doing“.
It can also help with issues relating to grieving and aging, as well as helping to prepare the soul for the inevitability of death, and the promise of rebirth.
Yew can indicate that you may tend to try and hang on, but now is the time to let go and to experience change as an ally, and not as an enemy.
Remember that nothing lasts forever. This concept will bring you ease. You will be experiencing change now and you need to accept it.
When Ioho appears in a reading, it may be pointing you to older sources of information, whether stories from your elders, books of lore, or links drawn in previous lives. It challenges us to look at our past as we determine our future, and to lay foundations of wisdom for the generations to come. It can indicate the permanence or endurance of a condition or situation that you have created or that has been forming around you. There are both positive and negative implications to this, and it may be that advice is needed from others who have gone through similar situations before you. The Aspen may be seen as the tree of death and finality within the Ogham divination system. The Yew, on the other hand, can be seen as the tree of rebirth. The Yew does not simply represent change, however, the Yew represents the rebirth that follows death. This is an important distinction. Often death is fraught with a sense of loss, but the Yew can teach us to see death as a form of transformation and that it is never final.
Yew councils patience and perseverance if either has been absent. Yet it also may suggest the need to rebalance the other way, seizing the day or the moment wholeheartedly, as if it were the last.
In the Celtic tradition the afterlife is a splendid, beautiful place full of wonder, joy, and love. Finding this in the mortal world and the easing of difficulties is achieved through small, simple acts of progress and tenderness towards ourselves and others. It is our subjective experience that we have the most power to change, and peace is something that is therefore best sought within rather than without. Yew asks us to enter into silence and surrender to creation with joy.
Book : Celtic Tree Magic by Danu Forest,
Online : www.druidry.org, www.thegoddesstree.com, www.thriveonnews.com, www.livinglibraryblog.com