Muin - Blackberry
September 2nd - September 29th
Letter : M
Color: varied colored
Animal : lizard, titmouse
Flower : Valerian
Lore and Legend
We often see Muin referred to the vine, but as there are no native vines in the Celtic world, it is now commonly agreed that Muin refers to the blackberry.
Muin has three different meanings in Old Irish; firstly as a cognate with the Welsh word „mwn“, possibly referring to the throat or neck. Other interpretations of Muin are to be wily, a ruse, and love or esteem. It is possible that those who originally used the ogham were aware of all three meanings and found within them the poetic reference to the qualities and energies they wanted to refer to via the blackberry.
This is perhaps what Cuchulain’s word ogham refer to, Muin calling to mind the throat, indeed the „path of the voice“ that has three „vines“, or strands of meaning.
Using the voice was a primary tool of the Fili, the Irish poets, not only to entertain but to give voice to the spirits, expressing divine wisdom and prophecy. Both blackberry and the other plant most associated with muin, are both used to make wine, whose intoxicating properties were in ancient times often associated with inducing prophetic verse.
It is significant how quickly brambles are able to reclaim a patch of land for the wild, they send out their tendrils which take root again, tethering the vine to the ground every few feet rather than growing from a single root stem. As a result brambles grow in hoops. In ancient times it was a custom to pass babies through these brambles to secure good luck for their lives ahead. This is similar to another folk healing technique where the people passed babies, or sick persons through a stone with a hole in the middle. Both the stone, and the tethered bramble are strongly connected to the earth and its energies, drawing in the negative and giving out restorative energy.
Eating blackberries is also good for the same reason. When you gather them during the waxing moon, they are said to give protection from ill will.
In folklore, blackberry is linked with the faeries. In France, for example, eating blackberries used to be considered taboo as it was kept as food for the faeries alone. Still today, in some parts of Britain, it is tradition that the berries should not be picked after Samhain, as they belong to the fae and should not be touched.
Blackberry patches are a great shelter for the faeries and animals alike. They provide excellent food, and protection due to its many thorns.
Oengus called muin „the proverb of slaughter“, referring to its fierceness. The juice of the berries reminds us of blood and its extreme persistence makes it comparable to a warrior’s stamina.
The blackberry is an important power plant in the Celtic tradition due its strong life force.
It is said, if we have a blackberry winter; this is when the dew on the blossoms is frozen in the spring, that this is a sign of an abundant harvest to come.
In the Irish tale of the otherworld „ The Voyage of Maelduin “, Maelduin and his men arrive at an island covered with berries that save them from starvation and bring them renewal, easing the exhaustion of their long and challenging travels.
We can also find the bramble in the faery tale of „Sleeping Beauty“ there it shows us its significance to protect, enclose, and contain in magical ways, providing the boundary for the spell of sleep, also serving as a test for the adventurous hero.
The tale of Sleeping Beauty and Maelduin’s Voyage can be seen as a quest of the soul. The internal treasure gained by working with such strong earth energy and the inevitable tests of endurance helps the hero to discover his or her inherited connection to Source and wholeness.
This is the paradox of the blackberry, its fruit and thorns can illustrate the often contradictory human condition.
Blackberry teaches the importance of harvest and gathering, as well as patience; getting through the brambles to gain treasure, the vitamin rich fruit. It teaches humans the importance of living in harmony with nature and acting at the right time.
As a food producing plant, it is concerned with attending to the body’s needs, and the needs of the community to endure through the harsh winter. It can only do this if the human thinks ahead and gather when they can in preparation. It is not possible before or after the appropriate time.
Thoughts, dreams, and talents also need to be harvested at the appropriate time.
John Matthews writes in the Celtic Shaman the phrase „strongest of effort“ about the Ogham Muin.
A technique that you can use to work with blackberry is to journey or visualize yourself becoming the blackberry, and connecting a variety of other trees in turn. When you have practiced this a few times, it is possible to extend the exercise and try with a group of trees simultaneously. This exercise can be quiet grounding and develops skills in working multidimensionally and with a whole community of energies.
Its binding abilities are also useful in cord magic and binding spells of many kinds, but know that its friendly and uniting capacity makes it ill-suited for spells of negative intention.
You can use the blackberry leaves in spells for protection, money, and abundance, as well as healing. A simple spell to attract money is to write you name upon a leaf in felt.tip pen, wrap it in deep blue cloth, and leave it in your purse or wallet.
Dried leaves can be used in incense blends for prosperity and protection.
You can also use a prickly blackberry whip and sweep it over your aura or around your home, to banish negative energies, illness and hexes. Then you must bury the plant as soon the job is done.
You can use the different parts of the blackberry to invoke the goddess in all her aspects, use the flowers for the maiden, the fruit for the mother goddess, and the prickly stems and dried fruit for the goddess as crone.
In Cunningham’s book we can find a spell to heal scalds, by using nine blackberry leaves. Dip the nine blackberry leaves in spring water and then lay them gently upon the wound, while saying the following chant three times for each leaf:
Three ladies come from the east
One with fire and two with frost
Out with fire, in with frost.
This is an old invocation to Brighid, the ancient Celtic Goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft.
Use leaves and berries in spells of wealth. You can also weave a pentagram from the brambles to hang in the home for protection.
Blackberry leaf tea is very good for coughs, colds, and upset stomachs.
The fruit is very rich in Vitamin C and it was an essential part of our ancestors’s diet. In medieval times, blackberry wine was taken to restore energy and hope, effects of its high life force and tenacity.
As a vibrational essence blackberry is excellent for breaking inertia and stirring up energy to get on with difficult and tiresome tasks. It is an important essence to take to develop initiative and mobility in the world of work and emotional or spiritual quests. Whatever you may want to avoid, try to take the essence and know that you can face and move through it, use the stamina and effort that the blackberry provides.
It teaches the pleasure of harvesting your own work and achievements in due time, as well as revealing the folly of sowing negativity or nothing at all.
It activates the inner drive to begin projects and is helpful for writers and speakers, due its connection with the throat.
It aligns the mind with the will, making it easier to ground goals and ideals in the physical world. It is also used as a purifier and cleanser.
As an ogham, Muin shows that the harvest you have sown is coming in due course, the fruition of plans are always in their timeliness and in the quality given to their achievement.
Blackberry is kind and reveals the bounty of the goddess and nature herself, which gives out to those in need and those who have plenty, the deserving and the undeserving in equal share.
All things come around, good and bad, and the things that need learning or attending to will have another chance at a later time if the present opportunity is missed.
Let intuition be your guide and open your senses so as to speed up your inner development. You must learn to trust in them when they are of an intense nature.Don't just ignore them.
Open your inner being, so that it can harvest and gather all signs and portents that it is capable of understanding.
When you get Muin in a reading it can also indicate a Lessing of burdens, it could represent that you are/have/will be entering a time of great fruitfulness; reaping in the sweet-tasting harvest of a well-balanced summer season. It may be a time to feast or a time to relax and enjoy the results of what you may have recently been working on.
If you have recently been experiencing a period of depression or sadness then blackberry will also help to rebuild your defenses, offering you protection while you take some time out to take part in the celebration of Nature’s fruitful harvest. But remember not to pen yourself in for too long for the long restrictive branches and thorns on the Bramble, when left to their own devices, may prevent you from joining in once again with the flow of Life.
Otherwise it could suggest to take time to think about what you say before you open your mouth, but once you open it to speak, only speak the truth. It is better to be honest than to tell people what they want to hear just to gain popularity.
Gort - Ivy
September 30th - October 27th
Letter : G
Animal : Bore, Swan
Color : Sky Blue
Flower : Woody Nightshade
Lore and Legends
Gort is also represented by grass, green pasture ( pasture here means dwellings or habitations) or corn fields. When we look up „greener pastures“ in the dictionary it refers to a new place or activity that offers new opputunities, it can also mean to change homes, or to move, which brings us already an understanding for this Ogham.
John Matthews in the Celtic Shaman states that the word Ogham phrase „sweetest of grasses“ can be interpreted as meaning „satisfaction“.
Ivy does appear within Celtic literature with two different faces; on one hand it is associated with poverty, death and decay, just have a look how quick ivy covers ruins and it is also a very invasive plant; on the other hand it can be found in folklore as a powerful magical herb.
Ivy is often identified with immortality, resurrection, and rebirth due to the ivy’s spiral growth. It is also often connected with wild or fae characters.
In the Celtic tradition, Ivy is sacred to the goddess Arianrhod, she is also associated with the moon and stars, as well as the ever rotating wheel of the year. Her dwelling is the axis mundi, the spiral castle about which the stars turn, which can be seen in the ivy’s spiraling growth, especially in its unfurling tendrils.
Ivy is feminine in nature and ruled by the moon. As such, it was worn in the old days, by a girl for the Winter Solstice, as crown, while a boy was wearing a holly crown to represent the sun, the male aspect. They were paraded about the villages, poetically satirizing each other in a formalized battle of the sexes.
The boy symbolized the Holly King, lord of the underworld and counterpart to summer’s oak king. The Ivy was given to the girl as a symbol of the goddess of the green world and also perhaps the Faery Queen, whose fertilizing power is never diminished.
The Ivy is an ideal representative of goddess energy at this time, as Ivy flowers in autumn and seeds over winter into springtime, revealing its extra potent life force and its goddess-like ability to be fertile through the winter months. The youth of the holly and the Ivy at these festivals was also to signify to burgeoning sexuality that would ensure the fertility of the coming year, and this sexual energy can also be seen in the Ivy’s entwining and embracing growth.
Ivy looks to others for its support, interweaving and making stronger connections as it grows, giving strength and protection in return. Ivy usually knows how to give and how to take, and the connection that it makes in its early days will last for years, often for life, although it needs watching as it can become bossy ,a lesson of friendships.
Ivy was in high esteem among the ancients. Its leaves formed the poet's crown, as well as the wreath of Bacchus, to whom the plant was dedicated. It is often the tree of underworld gods like Dionysios. For the Celts this is Bran. Bran is one of the father-figure gods and a giant. It is told that when he lay down over a river, an army could march across him. He is also king of the underworld, and watches over the treasures of Don. These treasures are the animals, plants, insects, birds and the fabric of life itself of the Earth, for Don is one of the names of The Mother. So Bran is a king in the Celtic sense in that he was guardian to and of the goddess and he is also the God of Bards.
We are told by old writers that the effects of intoxication by wine are removed if a handful of Ivy leaves are bruised and gently boiled in wine and drunk. Please do not try this at home. I take no responsibility for that action.
Ivy both supports and is supportive, it binds together and unites.
When ivy grows on its own along the ground, it is far weaker than when it climbs and grows in union with other plants, and this is a good lesson for people who are similar weakend by isolation and enriched by living as part of a community.
Ivy can be used for developing wisdom in social situations and to harmoniously bind communities, it assists with connectivity and group matters. It teaches us that we need each other’s support and shelter, and also reminds us that this is a two-way process between people and energies that needs to be carefully regulated lest the power of the Ivy burden its host or wilt and weaken all alone.
In the older days, Ivy was thought to protect cattle from enchantment by the faeries, and it was worn by the milkmaids for the same reason.
You can carry an ivy leaf in your pocket or tell the plant your concerns if you feel socially awkward.
Ivy is known to grow up the outside of the home to act as a guardian and protector, and to bind a family together. It is worn or carried by brides to bring luck to the marriage. It is a symbol of friendship and fidelity. Holly and ivy were put together to symbolize man and woman, bringing peace to a household at Christmas.
You could also bind together a twig of ivy (female) and a twig of holly (male) with red wool, ribbon or thread to make a love talisman which will bring fidelity and good luck.
Because of Ivy’s tenacity to cling walls it is a perfect component in binding and friendship spells.In England it was once believed that if ivy refused to grow on a grave it meant the soul was unhappy in its other world. Another belief was that, if ivy grew upon a young woman’s grave, it meant that she died of a broken heart.
You can also use Ivy to connect with the goddess Arianrhod and her spiral castle of stellar wisdom.
To do so, use ivy to cast a circle in her name, journey in vision to seek her wisdom on seasonal understanding, and astrological insights, as well as how to become a greater networker in order to achieve your goals.
Please be aware that ivy is commonly considered poisonous, so be careful and use common sense when you work with this plant.
As a vibrational essence it can give us a sense of adventure in enjoying being earthly beings. It can help us to attune to the earth, and to become grounded. It can also help those who are clingy, or those who suffer from separation anxiety. It helps with letting go in life and giving loved ones enough space and freedom, as well as giving this to yourself.
It is also good for learning to give and receive support.
The essence can also be used by adults who move back home, or by those who are afraid to move forward. It is also good for those with energy gaps that have shut off the flow of the subtle bodies.
It helps people discover that being around likeminded others can be comforting. This helps bring out one's finer qualities and allows one to feel more self confident.
It aids those who have great difficulty dealing with the harshness of the world and retreat into physical or emotional isolation.
It is an essence for those times when self-doubt, overwhelm, anxiety or despair surface, when all decisions seem impossible to make because you are feeling so scattered, and when you feel that there is no way forward.
This is no time to be alone, or to isolate yourself. Visit with others and know that good support is available. Recognize that group unconsciously has an influence on you. Absorb & go inside your deepest inner being to learn more about your inner and outer nature. Enter group associations happily and assist others in their spiritual journeys, as they assist in yours. We all are intertwined as the leaves of the Ivy; their success is yours and vice versa. Its spiral form reminds us of our soul’s journey through infinity and the balance between the self and the whole or the collective.
It could also indicate that we are holding on to tightly and that we are smothering others. Ivy reminds us that we are safe to go with the flow, and that love and connection is our greatest gift.
As Ivy is sacred to the gods of revelry and the wild, it reminds us of our natural selves, and inheritance, to find our place among people and the universe as a whole.
As we saw before Ivy is sacred to the moon goddess and as such it reminds us of her gentle, all-embracing side that understands the subtleties of the human journey.
See yourself and others with compassion.
We will never be able to fully understand the true mystery of life, it is a journey without an end, a question without an answer, and all we can do is appreciate the effects of the unknown and unknowable upon us and value ourselves and each other as humans who are „being“ and „becoming“ rather than as finished, perfect creations. Through compassion and acceptance of our human condition we are able to unite us all.
Ngteal - Broom/Fern/Reed
October 28th - November 24th
Letter : Ng
Animal : Dog, Rat, Goose
Color : Emerald Green, Blue
Flower : Watermint
Lore and Legends
It is not very clear to which plant this ogham refers. It could represent the broom, the fern, or even the dwarf elder (more rarely though).
The remaining source material attributes different trees to the ngetal, which makes it quiet confusing. In the „Ogham Tract“ it is associated with Fern, and in „The Sholar’s Primer“ it is associated with broom, and sometimes it is also connected to reed.
There is however a connection between the reed and the broom, as the old Irish word giolcach means both „reed“ and „broom“.
However reed is a neopagan addition to the Ogham, Robert Grave promoted it in „the White Goddess“ and Liz and Colin Murray adopted Graves’ interpretation for Ngetal as the reed, later on.
We find no „ng" in the Irish language, instead „ng“ is a composite letter compromised of n from „Nion“ the ash tree, and „g“ from gort, or ivy which we saw last week.
We are now moving on a subtler level in the Ogham, ngetal is not dependent on a single tree, or plant, but on a blending of these different meanings and the energies connected to these different trees and plants.
As we saw before there is no letter ng in Irish, so the Ogham scholar Damian McManus instead refers to it ass gg, relating the word „getal" to an old word, „gonid“, which means wound or slay, and the welsh „gwanu" which means pierce or stab, and both those words come from the root „ghen" which means to strike.
John Matthews interprets the word Ogham as „Physicians strength“, which relates to healing.
So you can see that we have two interpretations for this ogham, wounding and healing.
From a magical point of view, it is significant that ngetal combines both a redundant n as well as the g. With the g for „gort“ ngetal is revealed as having uniting and binding qualities, gathering together disparate elements, while the sharp directness of intention revealed by n for „nion“ the ash tree, links it with ideas of incisions and stitches.
The Irish tale of Airmed’s Cloak, we see the paradoxical relationship between wounding and healing.
Airmed and her brother Miach were the children of Diancecht, the chief healer of the Irish gods, the Tuatha de Danann. After the first battle of Moytura where de King Nuada lost his hand, Diancecht made him another out of silver. His son Miach however, went on to make him a hand of flesh and bone, restoring him completely. Diancecht was so jealous that he slew Miach. He attacked him three times and Miach healed himself, but when Diancecht attacked him a fourth time, he died. From Miach’s grave grew 365 herbs with wonderful healing powers. His sister Airmed gathered them upon her cloak in the order of their properties. However, the jealous Diancecht scattered them to the four winds so that no human may know them all. It is said that Airmed decided to spend eternity searching for each of them and relearning their properties.
So we see in this tale the connection of the „physicians strength“ or healing, and the slaying or wounding.
Before I go on, please know, that I personally connect ngetal with fern, and as such I will focus on this plant for this Ogham. But I do encourage you to do your research on the broom, or even the reed and to make your own connection.
Fern is one of the oldest families of plants on the earth. They are excellent plants for camouflage and its foliage can even hide larger animals.
The seeds of fern were considered magical and lending invisibility.
in „The Battle of trees“ by Taliesien, the fern is used to discover the god, and thus power, of the enemy, and one passage of this poem is : „I have plundered the fern, through all secrets I spy“-
The ferns gift of invisibility helps it protect treasures of all kinds. As it grows on burial mounds it is often called „death flower“. It was or is said to be guarded by trolls who also frequented burial mounds and the fabled treasure within, the fern being a marker of the treasure’s presence while obscuring it at the same time.
The fern flower is said to glow like an ember when discovered at nigh, its light being that of inner illumination, signaling the way through a complex mystery.
Fern can raise the life force, and has the reputation of being able to uncover secrets and find secret and hidden knowledge, such as the herbs of Airmed’s Cloak. For this reason it is useful in seeking vision or divination.
Fern is a highly magical plant, protected by fierce spirits and the sidhe.
As we saw before the ‘seeds’ from a Fern are said to render one invisible – but only if the seeds are gathered on Mid-Summer’s eve.
Male Fern can be used to bring luck and prosperity. If it is carried, it will attract women to the carrier and if it is burned outdoors it will attract rain. If the Fern is dried over a balefire on the day of the Summer Solstice, it can then be used as a protective amulet.
You can use fern to maintain invisibility and protection when you want to go unnoticed.
You ca make a vibrational essence at summer solstice, then it is the most powerful. Don't forget to leave an offering for the plant’s spirits. Scatter the drops of the vibrational essence around anything to remain hidden, but please know, this could make the object or area particularly attractive and visible to the faeries and other spirits.
If you work with broom for this ogham instead, know that broom is used to invoke the air spirits, linking it to the idea of clear thinking and communication. It is also used to sweep away negative energies. If you throw broom into the air you can raise the winds, or burn it and bury the ashes to calm them.
If you use broom and birch twigs together you can make a traditional witch besom.
You can also make an infusion of broom flowers and leaves to sprinkle around for purification, blessing and good luck.
Broom attracts faeries, so you can wear broom if you seek faery contact or earth healing.
Ferns have the ability to access very deep levels of healing in the human psyche, restoring a natural sense of equilibrium. It helps to clear cell memory of trauma and pain regardless of the degree or age of trauma. As a vibrational essence it can bring you a sense of security, and helps you to create healthy boundaries regarding your sexuality. It helps in the matters of emotional and sexual abuse.
You can also use a vibrational essence of broom to assist you in shamanic journeying, divination, and in the clearing of mind stagnation or stuck emotions.
If you get Ngetal in a reading it is possible that you are able to find order, where others find and create only chaos, you can bring in clarity. Put this valuable skill to work, and take charge. Keep your target in sight and do not be distracted. It encourages you to think outside the box and maintain clarity of purpose and energetic hygiene.
So it could also indicate a need for cleansing or emotional healing.
It encourages you to think before you act, and be proactive rather than reactive.
Ngetal reminds us of the importance of combining skills and knowledge for the best end, being resourceful and flexible in our thinking and approach to life. Like the web of creation itself ngetal draws from many aspects and areas, maximizing the uses of all whilst depleting nothing. In this way knowledge is discovered, maintained, and preserved for future generations, in addition to serving as future steps along our own paths through life.
Fern can also offer a place to rest, hidden from eyes which may seek to distract you.
It can also remind you to be discreet in sharing or broadcasting knowledge, choosing only suitable people and places.
You have to be aware of the effects and consequences of disclosure.
It also provides shelter, so that you can regenerate undisturbed; safe in the knowledge that the sacred spirits of Nature are watching over you.
Straif - Blackthorn
Samhain, the dark side of the year
Animal: Wolf, Black Cat, Toad
Color: Bright Purple
Lore and Legends
The Blackthorn features in many Irish stories, often as a metaphor for the destructive ability of a warrior, or for death itself. Sometimes it appears as a symbol of transformative vision of death, and even of sacrifice.
In the Tales of Fionn, Sadbh eats sloes from the blackthorn and becomes pregnant from it, bearing a son who has a lump on his head. This lump is a snake that can be killed in compensation for another man’s life.
This theme is repeated in „The Lays of Fionn“, where in the poem „The sword of Oscar“ sloes are again mentioned connected with someone dying on behalf of another.
Blackthorn is associated with death, battle, and transformation, which can be seen in the three colors found in it, the white color of spring, symbolizing the beautiful, and life-giving and transformative aspect, the black fruit of autumn, or the black bark, which symbolize death and destruction, and the red sap which represents blood.
These associate blackthorn with the triple goddess, and the tree is thus especially sacred to the Irish goddess Morrighan, who oversees matters of war, death, and sexuality.
Blackthorn is one of the first trees to blossom at the end of winter, before its leaved have even unfurled; this associates it with the crone or dark goddess, but also with fertility and endurance over though circumstances.
This sort of relationship with the goddess as Crone, the sometimes cruel, testing side of her, is balanced by her loving, beneficent side, and her sexuality.
Connected to magicians and sorcerers, blackthorn cautions that access to the otherworld and its magical powers require clarity, caution, experience and an awareness of the dangers as well as its blessings.
To witches, the Blackthorn often represents the dark side of the Craft. It is a sacred tree to the Dark, or Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess, and represents the Waning and Dark Moons.
Blackthorn is known as ‘the increaser and keeper of dark secrets’.
Blackthorn was often used for ‘binding and blasting’. A black rod is a Blackthorn wand with fixed thorns on the end, used to cause harm to others. In British folklore, a Witch will use a Blackthorn in rituals of cursing. The sharp thorns were reputedly used by witches to pierce poppets in their curses, called the ‘pins of slumber’. In South Devon folklore in England, witches were said to carry Blackthorn walking sticks, with which they caused much local mischief. Witches and heretics were burned on Blackthorn pyres. The Devil was said, in medieval times, to prick his follower’s fingers with the thorn of a Blackthorn tree.
There is a strong connection in Celtic lore between the underworld, the dead, and the faery races. In Irish, the word „sidhe“ means „ancestor“, „faery“, or „hollow hill“, the latter referring to the burial mounds in which the faeries were said to dwell. These burial mounds also function as entry points into the otherworld. Because of this connection, blackthorn is a popular wood for calling up the Faery Wild Hunt. The Faery raid of the horned god and his hounds to gather lost souls and bring them to the realm of the dead.
Straif is connected to the Leanan-Sidhe and also associated with goddess Aine and the Ban-Sidhe.
The Leanan-Sidhe are very protective of the blackthorn tree and they will not allow any wood to be cut from it without permission, and never at the sacred faery times of Beltane and Samhain.
Blackthorn is used for purification, as well as protection, and ridding the atmosphere of negative energy.
Blackthorn wands are extremely powerful, but only safe when used by those with extreme clarity and experience, as the energies they invoke are really not controlled but rather allied with, and only when justly in need.
When you use Blackthorn, be sure you work with the highest intent, lest the blackthorn turns against you.
Before you work with blackthorn it is recommended to learn the lesson of ngetal, the broom or fern, beforehand so you have a good energetic and magical hygiene, clarity of purpose, and experience with responsibly wielding the power the blackthorn may grant you, if you are worthy. Meditating on Blackthorn can purify our minds of negative thoughts and impulses at the deepest level of our psyche. It can aid us in combating fear, depression and anger. The thorns of the Blackthorn can be imagined to lance the built up abscess of negative thoughts, and release the emotional toxins, which can then begin to heal.Using the gentler sister tree, Hawthorn, in conjunction with Blackthorn, can aid the process of healing.
Traditionally, Blackthorn is used in protection against evil, creating boundaries, purifying, confronting our own dark side. Blackthorn dispels negativity, toxins, old wounds, and impurities. It can be used in exorcisms. It is associated with chthonic and protective deities.
Use the dried wood, thorns and berries in an herbal incense to banish negativity and in ceremonies of purification. If the malicious influences are very strong, burn the incense for seven days at noon and midnight.
You can use blackthorn boughs and burn them as an offering to the sun at Winter Solstice, as a sign of the end of the reign of the Winter King, Gwyn ap Nudd, who is the Lord of the Celtic Underworld.
You can also use it to honor the Wild Hunt at Samhain, particularly to help guide on those who have passed from life to death but may have difficulty doing so.
As a vibrational essence, Blackthorn is a remedy for the depths of despair. It is also especially effective for warding off any perceived dark, negative or evil energies and helps to make an end to repetitions and begin from scratch, it removes the old and unnecessary.
It can be used to bring about change from hardened, ossified circumstances. It gives the strength to deal with karmic issues and to heal the shadow side of our natures. It brings light to those stuck in severe darkness. It heals trauma and soul damage. It helps in contacting the wild spirit of nature, reconnection with this energy restores our natural state and vital well-being.
You can use the fruit to make jams and jellies.
Herbally, blackthorn flowers and fruit are both tonic, and an infusion of either the flowers or the fruit is useful for stomach problems and urinary infections.
Blackthorn flower infusion is also used to clear the skin of toxins by cleansing the blood and liver.
If you get Blackthorn in a reading it can indicate the actions of fate in your life, something that cannot be avoided but must be faced and dealt with, maybe it indicates an unexpected change. Blackthorn gives you the strength to accept and persevere in the face of adversity. The Sloe berry sweetens after the first trial of winter, the frost. Accepting fate and adversity as a challenge, and making it work for you, this can result in an unexpected sweetness in your life.
Blackthorn can also herald the presence of the darker deities in your life, such as the Irish Morrigan and Dagda. Again, this is a sign of the spiritual strength and support that is available to you if you pick up the gauntlet. Straif also offers initiation into the mysteries of self-conquest and transcendence. Daring to travel with the darker deities of the Celtic pantheon is a spiritual adventure at the deepest level. Blackthorn opens the pathway to Underworld initiation. Blackthorn is the tree, which helps us to face the necessity of our own death. In many magical practices, we are encouraged to face death, in order to abate our morbid fear of it. On the negative side, Blackthorn can indicate a persistently negative, resentful attitude that draws negative experiences to you. Blackthorn can indicate a persistent and morbid fear of death. How you ‘frame’ your life is how your life plays out. Blackthorn can be seen as a reminder not to frame your life in negative scenes, but re-interpret them in a more positive way, to draw more positive experiences.
The challenge here is to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Through challenges we are born anew.
When we face up to our own negativity, blackthorn guides us through the darker parts of our personality, helping us to pay off spiritual debts, and to accept the inevitability of our own death, which is the one thing on earth of which we can all be certain.
Straif, the composite of „S“ for Saille, the willow, and „T“ for Tinne, the holly, show that this is a combination of movement, to and from the otherworld as seen in the willow together with the energy and the vital force of the holly. The movement of this energy is magic, s to t, the blackthorn.
Ruis - Elder
November 25th - December 23rd
Color: Red, Dark Green
Animal: Badger, Raven, Rook
Lore and Legends
Elder is one of the trees that has particular regenerative abilities, it recovers easily from damaged branches and brutal pruning. By extension, this suggests its life giving qualities and thus its association with magic, the goddess, and female energies, all of which have long been feared and respected.
Elder is sacred to the Germanic goddess Holda, or Frau Holle, she is a Goddess of Wisdom, Winter, and Protector of the housewife and mother. In some parts of Germany she rides the winter skies in her wagon, as the leader of the Wild Hunt. She watches over women while they are spinning flax. When she shakes out her featherbed it snows. She has two faces: To the good daughter she shows her grandmotherly beauty, but the bad lazy daughter sees only a frightful ugly old hag. She brought the souls of unborn children through her sacred pool, delivering them to their expected mothers, and later she would rock the baby cradles after the nursemaid fell asleep. During the winter's Yule time, leave a bowl of milk on the table for Holda when you leave the house to go for ritual and worship. Offer the unused milk to your garden or livestock to enhance fertility.
Holda is also considered to be a faery woman called a huldra, a forest spirit known for being a beautiful, powerful seductress, with a hollow back like an old tree trunk and a cow’s tail.
Huldras are usually benevolent, the friends of charcoal burners, and woodsmen, as well as dairymaids.
Elder is known as being the home of the Elder Mother, also known as Lady Elhorn, in folklore, especially in Britain and Scandinavia. As a guardian and protectress of the tree and its surrounding area, the Elder Mother is a form of genius loci.
Often growing near a sacred spring or well, elder was also traditionally planted near houses, particularly in Britain, to grant the inhabitants the Elder Mother’s protection and assistance, although later Christianity transformed her into a wicked witch, her transformative testing qualities became subverted and misunderstood. Last summer, we finally planted an elder tree in our garden, it is still very tiny, so I haven't used any of the flowers or berries of it, but I am really looking forward to work together with this tree.
However, since Pagan times, it has been held taboo to ever cut the wood of an elder unless granted the Elder Mother’s express permission, lest you suffer her terrible wrath. Such things are achieved by magical deals, offerings, careful and respectful communication, or by cunning such as the traditional folkloric prayer :
„Lady Ellhorn, give me some of your wood, and I shall give you some of mine when it grows in the forest.“
Folklore holds that it is unlucky to use Elder wood for a child's cradle, which should always be made of Birch for a new start and inception. It was considered to be bad luck because it was said that either the mother of elves, a fairy or a witch, lived in the elder roots.
In many ways, the Elder Mother is the archetypal witch, feared for her magical power and sacred knowledge, but also desperately needed.
Its berries are particularly potent and the Druids regarded any that remained on the tree in December as a gift from the Earth Goddess. These were gathered and made into a sacred wine which was drunk to aid clairvoyance. Its wood is said to protect against enchantment, negativity and lightning, whistles or flutes made from elder have a reputation for aiding fairy contact.
It is also said that sleeping beneath an elder tree grants access to the otherworld, sometimes physically and sometimes through magical empowered dreams. If you stand beneath an elder tree at midsummer, it grants the vision of the sidhe as they ride by, on their quarterly migrations.
If the eyes are bathed in the green juice of the wood, you might see fairies and witches. If you stand under an elder-tree at Samhain in Scotland, you can see the faery host riding by. Elderberries plucked on Midsummer’s Eve confer magic powers. In the Isle of Man, elders are the main dwelling-place for elves.
Elder has the ability to assist in changes of consciousness and the development of visionary skills. The elder’s visionary qualities also reveal the trees’s position as a gateway to the otherworld, be it faeries, or indeed the ancestors and the realm of the dead, known as Annwn in the Celtic tradition.
Due to its connection with the crone and the underworld , the elder has associations with the dead, contact with spirits, and the ancestral realm.
Ruis means „Red“, facing our shadow and thus our failures and hurts, as well as our achievements induces the „blushing“.
Elder is most often used in Faerie Magic, banishment and closure spells, the magical arts, protection from evil, imagination, change, and healing.
You can use an elder wand for the same magical properties.
Burn the dried leaves of the elder as an incense for Samhain to clear negativity, as well as at other threshold times such as births and marriages, where its protective energies come to the fore.
You can make elderflower water, use spring water or dew, and charge it in the light of the full moon. Then you can use the water for beauty spells and to connect with the goddess and the faery queens.
The leaves and berries are used for protection and in breaking spells that were cast against you, or to undo spells of evil intent. Growing an elder in your garden will protect your property from misfortune and harm.
To increase your clairvoyance you can anoint your eyes with elder sap or juice, but don't forget to leave offerings and assure to have permission.
It was said that if you wear or carry Elder wood, leaves, flowers or berries this would protect you from being attacked.
Keeping elder leaves and branches hung over doorways and windows will also stave off negative energies and entities. In some cultures, it is believed that elder twigs can bring good luck to newlyweds, and in Britain it is told that if a man and woman drink ale that has been infused with elder flowers, they would be married within a year. Elderberry can be used in blessings. The oil can be used in blessing rituals, and scattering elderberry and elderberry leaves to the winds while naming the person or object you wish to bless, then scattering leaves on that object or person will grant a blessing.
Here is a spell by Sandra Kynes, from her book Plant Magic:
If you are concerned about hexes or dark magic, hang elderflower over your altar and say three times :
„Lady Elder, powerful tree, I call to you, please aid me. Keep at bay, those who may do harm, make these flowers a powerful charm.“
The berries and the leaves are both rich in vitamin C. The leaves can be made into ear drops to treat pain and inflammation. The flowers make a tea that is good for treating coughs and irritable throats, as well as being made into a skin cleanser and lotion. The bark of the new small twigs can be made into a laxative. The bark, roots, berries and leaves can all be used as a dye. The berries are good for making jam, wine, vinegar, and syrups.
As a vibrational essence it assists in dreams and the balance between the realms within and without. It can help those who are excessively earthy or excessively dreamy. And as we saw already it also helps faery and ancestral contact in magical and shamanic work.
It also stimulates powers of recovery and renewal of the vital life energies that rejuvenate.
Elderberry offers the light of the stars and moon and assists you to illuminate the way for others and yourself.
The Ogham Ruis symbol suggests a cycle – a time of a beginning and of an end of something that you are working on or waiting for, it indicates that you are standing at a threshold. It also counsels us to enjoy life now. The death of something in your life is only the beginning of a new time, new growth, and a new cycle.
Ruis offers a spark of inspiration… or awen. It nudges you to take hold of that inspiration and to let go of the things in life that have been holding you back.
Ruis may also suggest that you are experiencing or going to experience a disagreement with someone. You may be in a legal dispute with someone, and Ruis suggests that you let go of past assumptions and past definitions of how things are meant to be in order to move ahead. Changes bring creativity and draw in new ideas and thoughts. If you get Ruis in a reading it could also suggest that now is the time to seek guidance from your ancestors, a time to learn from their past and your own past.
It can also indicate that a sacrifice must be made in order to gain in the long term.
Mistakes must be corrected and wrong deeds put right lest the blushing of embarrassment and shame follow as well as the red of wounds. It reveals the possibility of forgiveness and redemption in these circumstances if right action is taken to restore and repair the situation.
Often this rebalancing means cooling your temper and releasing resentments, calm wisdom reflected in the soothing effects the flowers have on the body’s feverishness. Cool, calm thinking often guides the way out of the troubles hot, headedness can create.
It can also encourage us to face our shadow selves and come to a state of peace with our less graceful or positive aspects. It reminds of the need to be responsible, upright, honest, and honorable.
Book : Celtic Tree Magic by Danu Forest,
Online : www.druidry.org, www.thegoddesstree.com, www.thriveonnews.com, www.livinglibraryblog.com