Trees have many magical uses. You can keep some on your altar to use with any spell which uses the energy of the fairies or nature spirits. They are particularly useful when performing rituals for prosperity, healing, binding, banishing and protection.
A slightly fibrous, tan-coloured wood with a slight sheen, elm wood is valued for its resistance to splitting. The inner bark was used for cordage and chair caning. Elm is often associated with Mother and Earth Goddesses, and was said to be the abode of fairies. Elm adds stability and grounding to a spell. Once known as ‘Elven’, its nature spirit is the elf — when carried by humans it will ensure a new love.
Fir is a very tall slender tree that grows in mountainous regions on the upper slopes. Its cones respond to varying weather conditions by opening and closing. Symbolically, fir indicates high perspectives with a clear vision of what is beyond and yet to come. Known as the Birth Tree, the silver fir needles are burned at childbirth to bless and protect the mother and baby, and to clear the environment. According to Scandinavian folklore, the spirit or Genii of the Forest is traditionally depicted as holding an uprooted fir tree.
It is believed that the fir tree has strong connections with the owner of the land where it stands. Should a fir tree ever be struck by lightning, begin to wither or be touched, it is said that death is present, and the owner will die.
Also known as May Tree, White Thorn, Haegthorn and Quickthorn this is one of the most wild, enchanted and sacred of trees. It can live to a great age, becoming gnarled in the process. Hawthorn is traditionally used to make psychic shields for the innocent and vulnerable, particularly children — often at puberty when the youngster may be particularly sensitive.
The hawthorn tree is associated with the sacred as well as with inauspicious events. Because the hawthorn guarded the Celestial Fire, to destroy a hawthorn was to incur the wrath of the gods. Wands made of this wood are of great power. The blossoms are highly erotic to men. Hawthorn can be used for protection, love and marriage spells. You can make a charm ball which incorporates these at first light at Samhain.
The hazel tree has long been magical and is used to gain knowledge, wisdom and poetic inspiration and the art of communication. It is said that it was the nine magical hazelnuts which gave the Salmon of Knowledge its wisdom. Wands made of this wood symbolize white magic and healing, whilst forked sticks are traditionally used to find water or buried treasure.
If in need of magical protection, string hazelnuts on a cord and hang them up in your home or sacred space and carry them with you when out and about. When working with nature, a circle drawn around you with a hazel twig will enhance the energy.
A white wood with an almost invisible grain, holly is similar in appearance to ivory. Associated with death and rebirth, holly may be used in spells to do with sleep or rest and to ease death’s transition. This symbolism is evident in both Pagan and Christian lore and holly is important at Yuletide. In Celtic mythology holly is the evergreen twin of the oak. It is called a kerm-oak. The oak rules the light part of the year while holly rules the dark part.
Holly suggests directed balance and the courage to fight if the cause is just. A symbol of luck and good fortune, a bag of leaves and berries carried by a man is said to increase his ability to attract women.
Ivy is evergreen and represents the ever-present aspects of the human psyche. Traditionally regarded as the harbinger of death, the Celts associate ivy with their lunar goddess Arianrhod and her ritual which marks the opening of the portal to the Otherworld, but is also as a symbol of hope of better things to come.
Ivy was worn as a crown at the winter feast of Saturnalia, is associated primarily with fidelity and is a symbol of married love and loyalty and stable relationships. Houses with ivy growing on them are reputedly safe from psychic attack. Ivy represents all that is mysterious and mystical.
An evergreen coniferous tree which has prickly leaves and dark purple berries, juniper is used in numerous incenses. Berries were used with thyme in Druid and Grove incenses for visions and manifestation, the smoke being helpful to the working. Also used for protection and purification, juniper can be grown by the door where it discourages thieves.
A small bunch of twigs or a few berries in a pouch can also be hung in the rafters of a building or over the lintel of the doorway as a longer-term protection against accidents and also to attract love.
Also known as Birdlime, All Heal and Golden Bough, mistletoe is probably the most well-known and sacred tree of the Druids. It rules the Winter Solstice when bunches of mistletoe can be hung around the home as an all-protective device. It is extremely poisonous and should only be used homoeopathically under strict supervision. It is used magically to combat despair, to bring beautiful dreams, to unlock the secrets of immortality and to protect the bearer from werewolves.
The wood can be used for wands and ritual items, or such items can be placed in a mistletoe infusion to strengthen their power.
Oak is such an all-purpose tree, providing food, shelter and spiritual regeneration that it is considered sacred by just about every culture that has encountered it. The oak was the ‘King of Trees’ and Druids and Priestesses ‘listened’ to the tree and its inhabitants to acquire wisdom. Acorns gathered at night hold the greatest fertility powers and oak galls, also known as Serpent Eggs, are sometimes used in magical charms.
The oak has the propensity to help you to find new understanding. This brings strength and courage in adversity. The oak tree nourishes our faith in ourselves and enables us to aim for what we most desire. Wands made from an oak which has been struck by lightning are considered to be particularly powerful, firstly since lightning does not strike twice in the same place and secondly because the wand is empowered by the blast of energy. When you burn oak leaves it purifies the atmosphere lending strength, success and stability to your magic.
The pine tree is an evergreen and is known for its ability to cleanse the personal environment. It is one of the seven chieftain trees of the Irish. There are numerous ways it can be used; to purify and sanctify an outdoor ritual area, brush the ground with a branch of pine wood. For the home or indoors, mix the dried needles with equal parts of juniper and cedar and burn (this leaves quite an exceptional odour). The cones and nuts can be carried as a fertility charm, whilst a cleansing and stimulating bath can be prepared by placing a few handfuls of pine needles in a loose-woven bag. To make things easier you could, of course, use a few drops of the essential oil in running water.
Pine is very efficacious when used with other herbs and incenses to accumulate wealth, as shown in the incense below.
2 parts Pine needles or resin
1 part Cinnamon
1 part Galangal
Few drops of Patchouli Oil
Also known as Mountain Ash, Witchwood, Sorb Apple and Quickbeam, the rowan has long been known as an aid and protection against enchantment by beguiling. Sacred to the Druids and the Goddess Brigit, it is a very magical tree which is used for wands and amulets. A forked rowan branch can help find water; wands of rowan wood are for knowledge, locating metal and general divination. Indeed, this is the wood to use for making any magical tool which has anything to do with divining, invocation and communication with the spirit realms.
The rowan has the ability, perhaps more than any other tree, to help us increase our psychic abilities. It has a beneficial energy which will increase our abilities to receive visions and insights.
In the past it was valued as a protection against enchantment, witches, unwanted influences and evil spirits. Sprigs of rowan were placed over doorways and fixed to cattle sheds to protect the animals from harm. Speer posts, magically protective house timbers inscribed with runes and magically charged patterns, were traditionally made of rowan wood. Rowan bushes were often grown near stone circles as protective devices.
Rowan will help you to discriminate between what will do you harm and good and help you deal with anything which threatens you.
Also known as White Willow, Tree of Enchantment and Witches’ Asprin and one of the seven sacred trees of the Irish, the willow is a Moon tree sacred to the Goddess. There are legends and myths of willows being able to move around, to use their branches like arms and to communicate through their whispering leaves. One of the nature spirits, called a hamadryad, often makes its home in a willow tree and it is said that the willow gives an understanding of the feminine principle.
It is said that priests, priestesses and all types of artisans sat among these trees to gain eloquence, inspiration, skills and prophecies. The willow will always enhance inspired leaps of the imagination as it is known as a tree of dreaming and enchantment. It is recommended for use when seeking to assimilate the teachings of a wise woman or master or any oral tradition. Willow wands are used for any ritual associated with the moon and as a protection on deep journeys into the underworld and the unconscious since the willow tree has always been associated with death.
In Celtic mythology it is associated with the creation myth of two scarlet sea serpent eggs which contained the Sun and the Earth. These eggs”were hidden in the boughs of the Willow tree until they hatched, thus bringing forth earthly life.
A smooth, gold-coloured wood with a wavy grain, the yew is an ancient tree species that has survived since before the Ice Age and, as such, as been revered and used by humankind throughout the ages. Because of its longevity and the way it regenerates itself by growing new trunks from within, it has come to represent everlasting life, immortality, renewal, regeneration, rebirth and transformation.
Many churches and churchyards once stood in a circle of yews — representing the passage from life to death — a belief based on old Druidic custom. The yew is sacred to Hecate (the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess) and therefore the ancient wisdom of the feminine and is also a symbol of the old magic.
Considered to be the most potent tree for protection against evil, magically it is a means of connecting to your ancestors, bringing dreams and Otherworld journeys. This is one of its most valuable abilities, for it provides us with the opportunity face death, to progress further than fear and to establish communication through visions with what lies beyond. These all bring about an understanding and clear insight. It is thought by many to be the original ‘World Tree’ (Yggdrasil) of Scandinavian mythology.