From Roots to Leaves, Branches to Bark
The Goddess Tree Grows
The Mother of the Wood
Samhain, Hallowe'en, All Souls; October 31 / November 1
Fourth of the Witches' Cross-Quarter Sabbats
Planet: Mars, Saturn
Element: Earth, Fire
Zodiac: Aries, Scorpio
Symbolism: The inevitability of Death, Protection and Revenge, Strife and Negativity, The Balance between light and darkness.
Stone: Black Opal, agate, bloodstone
Color: White, Black, Red
Deity: Morrigan, The Great Goddess
Folk Names: sloe, sloe plum, wishing thorn, faery tree
Medicinal properties: The fruit and leaves contain Vitamin C, organic acids, tannins, and sugars. Steep the flowers for a diuretic, tonic, and laxative. Her dried fruits can treat bladder, kidney and stomach ailments. Boil the leaves for a mouthwash or to sooth the throat from tonsillitis or laryngitis.
Magickal properties: The thorns were used as pins to stick in a poppet. Wand or Staff can be used for help in exorcisms or for protection from fire and for general protection. A staff can be used to make wishes, and carrying the wand or Staff
protects one from evil. The wood makes a good divining rod.
The blossoms, the fruits and the crimson sap display the three colors of the Great Goddess: white, black, and red. The dangerous long spikes and the red "blood" that flows in the veins of this tree enhance the dramatic effect of her symbolism.
The advance of dualistic religions, which separate the world into "good" and "evil”, brought about the demonization of the blackthorn tree. Where it once had provided magical protection against negative influence, it now became the emblem of evil forces.
Blackthorns are sacred to the Luantishees, which are Blackthorn Fairies who guard the trees. Their Festival is November 11th.
Blackthorn has twisting and angular branches, seldom reaching over twelve feet in height. Traditionally used in hedgerows, it produces white blossoms in spring and later, sloes (clusters of small round berries.) It's most potent feature is the thorns which are long, slender and extremely sharp. These thorns may be the reason for the association with strife, warfare, and wounding.
"Straif" is a tree-letter associated with pain, wounding and damage...however, it also offers initiation into the mysteries of self conquest and transcendence.
There is new life in the soil for every man.
There is healing in the trees for tired minds and for our overburdened spirits,
there is strength in the hills, if only we will lift up our eyes.
Remember that nature is your great restorer.
Calvin Coolidge, speech, Jul. 25, 1924
The Song of the Blackthorn Fairy
The wind is cold, the Spring seems long
The woods are brown and bare;
Yet this is March: soon April
will be making
All things most sweet and fair.
See, even now, in hedge
and thicket tangled,
One brave and cheering sight:
The leafless branches of the Blackthorn,
With starry blossoms white!
by Cicely Mary Barker
THE CELTIC TREE ORACLE
by Liz and Colin Murray
The Blackthorn is a wintery tree. The fruits, known as sloes, ripen and sweeten only after the first frosts. The white flowers open early, often before the leaves appear. A cold spring was traditionally known as "a blackthorn winter." Black-barked and with vicious thorns, the Blackthorn forms dense thickets when given the opportunity to spread. The Gaelic word "straif" has links with the English "strife." The wood of the Blackthorn is that traditionally used for the Irish cudgel, or shillelagh; the thorns, those used in witchcraft to pierce wax images.
The Great Goddess
Morrigan is a Triple Goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. She reigns over Destruction and Creation. Her name means “Great Queen,” “Phantom Queen.” She also was a prophet and a shape-shifter, frequently appearing as a hooded crow, and the raven of battle. Some say she evolved into Morgana LaFay, sorceress of the Arthurian Legend. Worship Her at Samhain, the Festival of Death, and the decent into the time of dormancy.
A Barmbrack is an Irish Halloween cake that has one ring, one coin, and one piece of rag baked inside of it.
The cake is cut, and each person gets a piece.
If your piece has the ring, you can expect romance in your life this year.
If your piece has the coin, you can expect prosperity this year.
But if your piece has the rag, it is doubtful that you will find love or romance this coming year.
Samhain, or Halloween, is the ending and beginning of the year. The veil is thin now between the world of the seen and the unseen, the living and the dead. Death does not end our connection to those we love. The ancestors, the beloved dead, remain part of the community, and at this time of year, they speak to us and visit us again, offering guidance, closure, and aid.
Many religions look for justice beyond death - when we will be rewarded or eternally punished for our actions. The justice of the Goddess is more subtle. She offers us chances to learn and grow. If we don't learn, she continues to present us with the same lessons, over and over, in more and more extreme forms.
Maybe the ultimate justice it this: we all die. No one escapes, no matter how much wealth she may acquire or how much power she may wield. Life is short, and precious. Our time here is limited, and not to be wasted.
On Samhain, we create an altar with pictures of our Beloved Dead. We set out lights to guide them home, and food for offerings. We give gifts of candy and sweets to children, who are the ancestors returning.
Call upon the Dead to help the living make choices that will protect the mainstays of life, sustain future generations and bring healing and renewal to the earth.
Starhawk 2007, and We'Moon 08
An old Celtic custom was to light great bonfires on Halloween. After each fires had burned out, they made a circle of the ashes of each fire. Within the circle, nearest the circumference, each family member that helped build the fire place one pebble. If, on the next day, any stone was out of its place or had been damaged, that family member was to have a very bad upcoming twelve months.
On Halloween, we wear costumes and masks to mimic or trick the spirits into thinking we are one of them, so they will not create havock for our crops and livestock.
Sprinkle some salt on your child's hair to protect her/him from evil spirits.
The Goddess Pomona and her Roman harvest festival inspired the traditional "Bobbing for Apples" at this time of year.
If you hear footsteps behind you tonight, don't look back - it may be the dead following you. And if you turn back, you may join them soon.
If you see a spider on this day, it is the spirit of a loved on watching over you.
Have a Blessed Samhain, Halloween, All Hallows Eve, All Saints Eve, Hallowmas, Witch's New Year, Dia de los Muertos!
This letter is a labor of love, from Gwendolyn
Permission to share freely, please in its entirety, with links and credits
Feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
from Moon Bee Acres
There is a branch for you to sit upon with a beautiful view.
Climb up into her arms, and stay for a spell.
Feel her roots, her bark, her branches, her leaves.
She is shade, shelter, a home, a hide-away.
She is an escape.
She rocks you to sleep in your hammock.
She holds up your birdfeeder, your wind chimes, and your decorations.
She embraces anyone who loves to climb.
In the spring she offers life, and in the fall she gives her own.
She does not judge.
She just is.
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