Holly Wood

Elder Mountain Dreaming

Trees are magical, there is no doubt and those of us who love and respect them are far and few between. The Wood of the Holly is hard, compact and close-grained and its color is of beautiful white ivory that can be buffed to a very high polish.  When freshly cut the holly wood has a slightly greenish hue but soon becomes perfectly white, and its hardness makes it superior to any other white wood. However the wood of Holly is very retentive of its sap and as a consequence can warp if not well dried and seasoned before use. Old, fancy walking sticks were made from Holly, as were the stocks of light riding whips.  Today it is used in delicate instruments such as weather-gauges and barometers.

Holly is commonly used all over the world as a winter season decoration in many traditions, a custom derived from the earliest Romans who…

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Establishing Sacred Land: Shaping A Shared Vision

The Druid's Garden

In Tending the Wild, a book that has deeply shaped my thinking about humans, nature and relationship, M. Kat Anderson reports in her introduction that the concept of “wilderness” had a very different understanding to the native peoples of California.  To the native peoples, “wilderness” was a negative thing; it was land that was essentially “untended” and left on its own. Native peoples saw tending the land–scattering seeds, selective burning, cultivating various kinds of perennial and annual spaces–as necessary for the health and growth of the land.  And the abundance that is reported by early western visitors to California and all of what is now known as North America certainly supported that fact: the land was incredibly rich, diverse, and abundant.

Of course, today, we see “wilderness” as a good thing. It is something that humans haven’t touched, it remains pristine and unbroken. In the post-industrial western…

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Elder Tree and Elderberry Folklore

Elder Mountain Dreaming

Black Elderberry Sambucus-nigraBlack Elderberry Sambucus-nigra

Juniper and I here at Elder Mountain, went into the mountains to pick Elderberries last month and she made her yearly herbal remedy for the winter and it tastes delightful as a medicine. I thought I would look up the Elder Tree after our two days with the trees. I had said thank you to the Elder Trees every time I cut the berries off the branch and felt it was very important to honor the tree that way. After I gathered the information about the folklore, I am lad I did. 

Elder trees in one of their oldest folklore is about the tree’s power to ward off evil like the Hawthorn, and also to give protection, while other beliefs say that witches often congregate under the plant, especially when it is full of fruit. If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother…

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Establishing Sacred Land, or, A Home-Coming

The Druid's Garden

There has been a lot of talk in the American druid scene in the last few years about establishing sacred spaces, creating sacred groves, and really staring to re-enchant our land here. I think druids and other earth-centered spiritual traditions around the world, particularly those living in places shaped by colonization, face these same challenges: how do we create our own sacred spaces? What does that look like?  I wrote earlier this year, for example, about Stones Rising at Four Quarters farm, and the raising of standing stones. A few years ago, I’ve also written a series on sacred sites in the US and how to build some sacred sites. This post continues those conversations.

White Oak by the Creek White Oak by the Creek

In my Stones Rising post, I talked about how establishing sacred spaces, as a community, was certainly an “American” challenge because of the history of colonialism and the…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – H – Hickory

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Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Hickory – Carya 

Parts used: leaf, stem, nuts

Traditional uses: Leaves can be used for headaches and poultices. Bark can be used to help treat arthritis. The sap of the shagbark hickory is used like sugar or maple syrup.

Pegging for malaria, chills, fever, etc. – “To cure malaria, chills, fever, and ague all you need is a hickory peg about a foot long. Drive it into the ground in some secluded place, where you can visit it unseen. Do not tell anyone about this business. Go there every day, pull up the peg, blow seven times into the hole, and replace the peg. After you have done this for twelve successive days, drive the peg deep into the earth so that it cannot be seen, and leave it there. You’ll have no more chills and fever that season. If the cure doesn’t work, it means that you have been…

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Sacred Tree Profile: Sassafras’ Medicine, Magic, Mythology and Meaning

An ecoprint I made of the variety of sassafras leaves

The Druid's Garden

The fall months are coming and the leaves here are just beginning to turn.  Apples are starting to ripen, nuts are starting to fall. And with a quiet walk through the fall woods, you might be lucky enough to see a sassafras (sassafras albidum) in her fall splendor. She will be decked head to toe in yellow, orange, red, purple, and magenta; an old sassafras tree in full fall foliage is certainly a sight to behold. With her wavy trunk and twisted branches, Sassafras makes no apologies about her ability to stand from the crowd.  Her four variable leaf patterns (mittens (right or left), single leaves, double mittens) help show her flexibility and charm. While Sassafras is not present in the traditional Ogham or other Western Magical Traditions as she is distinctly an American magical tree, she is a powerful tree with much to offer us.

An ecoprint I made of the variety of sassafras leaves An ecoprint I made…

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Druid Tree Workings: Working with Trees in Urban Settings

The Oak Grove in the Morning Light

The Druid's Garden

Maples growing up through grate--been there for years! Maples growing up through grate–been there for years!

I walk down the sidewalk of a street in the small town that I call home.  As I journey, I see a crabapple friend with ripening fruit, her leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. I reach out to her, and tell her I look forward to harvesting some in the fall.  She is pleased, as her fruit is largely ignored, and delighted that I will return.  I see others along my walk: horse chestnuts, lindens, mulberries, serviceberries, balsam poplars–many trees that are different species from the forests where I often tread.  Finally, I walk across a grate and wave to the maples growing up from below, in the four foot space below the grate and the drainage channel and into someone’s driveway. These urban trees are often shaped by humans in ways forests are not: an odd growth habit becuase of pruning…

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Hazel Tree: August 5 ~ September 1 {Celtic Astrology}

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Good Witches Homestead

Celtic Symbol: The Rainbow Salmon

Zodiac Degrees: 12º00` Leo – 8º59` Virgo

Ruling Planet: Mercury – Mugher; Element: Air; Color: Orange

Ancient Gods Associated With Mercury: Greek – Hermes; Celtic – Ogma, Manannan, Artemis, Diana

Symbolism : Wisdom & Divination, Poetry & Science, Playfulness & Enchantment, Healing Arts

Gemstone: Amethyst, Topaz, Pearl

Birds: Crane

Flower: Vervain

Folk Names: Coll

In Irish Celtic mythology, the hazel tree was where the Faery spirits lived. The hazel nut in Celtic legends is an emblem of concentrated wisdom and all the knowledge of the arts and sciences was to be found by eating these nuts.

Hazel tree individuals are perceptive, clever people endowed with good reasoning powers. This sharpness of intellect promotes excellent debaters and writers. They are also great planners and organizers, down to the smallest detail. The urge to acquire knowledge promotes scholars and experts in their fields. People born during the first two…

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Druid Tree Workings: Establishing Deep Connections with Trees

The Druid's Garden

Imagine walking into a forest where you are greeted by many old tree friends, each members of different families that form a community.  You know their common names, their less common names, and the secret names that have taught you.  You know their medicine, how they can be used, even some of their stories and songs. They rustle their leaves in joy as you continue to walk.  The movement of their branches is music in your ears, the sound of the leaves a song, playing in your mind.  Their medicine and magic is open before you.  And yet, you realize how much more you have to learn, to know, and realize that this process –the process of reconnecting to the medicine and magic of the trees–will take more than one lifetime to complete.  This is the power of establishing deep connections with the trees.

Oak at Samhuinn Oak at Samhuinn

Over the last…

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