The ancient Celtic tree alphabet was used by the followers of the Old Religion to construct a language of the trees that could be used in conjunction with the occult symbolism of each of the trees. When translated from the ancient tongue we find the following trees referenced often: Elm, Birch, Hazel, Oak, Aspen, Alder, Ivy, Yew, Rowan, Ash, Pine, Willow, Elder, and Spindle. These trees, along with others, will be covered. From early times, there have been the sacred groves and the sacred tree. Individual trees of particular species have been revered, the kind varying with the divine force represented. Oak and Cedar are obvious examples of father emblems as Willow and Hazel are mother emblems. The androgynous Pine and the world bearing Ash also have their place in our folklore. The symbolism of the woods are very important in the construction of any magical tool. A complete description of the various woods and their uses is impossible in a limited space but we will cover as much as possible.
The oak tree is the tree of Zeus, Jupiter, Hercules, The Dagda (The Chief of the Elder Irish gods), Thor and all other Thunder Gods. The royalty of the Oak needs no enlarging upon. The Oak is the tree of endurance and triumph, and like the Ash, is said to count the lightings’ flash. The Oak is a male wood which is ideal for the construction of any tool that needs the male influence such as Athames, certain wands and staffs. The midsummer fire is always Oak and the need fire is always kindled in an Oak log.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Endurance, triumph, strength, power, dominion, prosperity, sacrifice, guardian, liberator.
With the exception of the mysterious elder, the Birch is the earliest of the forest trees. The Birch is used extensively in cleansing rituals. Throughout Europe, Birch twigs are used to expel evil spirits. Birch rods are also used in rustic rituals to drive out the spirits of the oldyear.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Controlled by the Lunar influences. Birth, healing, Lunar workings, and protection.
The Hazel is a tree of wisdom. In England, all the knowledge of the arts and sciences were bound to the eating of Hazel nuts. Until the seventeenth century, a forked Hazelstick was used to divine the guilt of persons in cases of murder and theft. We have retained the practice of divining for water and buried treasure.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Wisdom, intelligence, inspiration, wrath.
The Alder is the tree of fire. In the battle of the trees, the Alder fought in the very front line. It is described as the very “battle witch” of all woods, the tree that is hottest in the fight. from the alder, you can make three different dyes, red from its bark, green from its flowers, and brown from its twigs; this symbolizes the elements of fire, water and earth. The Alder wood is the wood of the witches. Whistles may be made of this wood to summon and control the four winds. It is also the ideal wood for making the magical pipes and flutes. To prepare the wood for use, beat the bark away with a willow stick while projecting your wishes into it. The Alder is a token of resurrection.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Controlling the four winds, banishing and controlling elementals, resurrection. Making magical dyes.
IVY / VINE
The Ivy was sacred to Osiris as well as to Dionysus. Vine and Ivy come next to each other at the turn of the year, and are jointly dicated to resurrection. Presumably, this is because they are the only two trees that grow spirally. The Vine also symbolizes resurrection because its strength is preserved in the wine.
OCCULT ASPECTS: (VINE) Faerie work, Joy, Exhilaration, Wrath, Rebirth. (IVY) Fidelity, Constancy, Love, Intoxication.
The Yew is known as the death tree in all european countries. Sacred to Hecate in Greece and Italy. Yew wood makes excellent bows, as the Romans learned from the Greeks. This strengthened the belief that Yew was connected with death. Its use in England is recalled in Macbeth where Hecate’s cauldron contained:”… Slips of Yew, slivered in the moon eclipse.”The Silver Fir of birth and the Yew of death are sisters. They stand next to each other in the circle of the year and their foliage is almost identical.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Destructive workings concerning death. Not recommended for magical tools. “…for I am the tomb to every hope.
The Rowan is seen as the tree of life. It is also known as Mountain Ash, Quickbeam, The Witch or Witch Wand. In the British Isles, Rowan is used as a protection against lightning and magical charms of all sorts. In ancient Ireland, the Druids of opposing forces would kindle a fire of Rowan and say an incantation over it to summon spirits to take part in the battle. The Rowan is also used for many healing purposes. The “Quickbeam” is the tree of quickening. Another use was in metal divining. In Ireland, a Rowan stake was hammered through a corpse to immobilize the spirit.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Divination, healing, astral work, protection.
The Ash is sacred to Poseidon and Woden. The Ash is considered to be the father of trees. The Ash is the tree of sea power, or of the power resident in water. Special guardian spirits reside in the Ash; This makes it excellent for absorbing sickness. The spirally carved druidical wand was made of Ash for this purpose.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Sea power, karmic laws, magical potency, healing, protection from drowning.
External symbol of life and immortality. It is one of the few trees that are androgynous. It was also worshiped by the ancients as a symbol of fire because of its resemblance to a spiral of flame. It is regarded as a very soothing tree to be near.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Strength, life and immortality, rejuvenation
The Willow was sacred to Hecate, Circe, Hera, and Persephone, all death aspects of the Triple Moon Goddess, and was often used by the Witches in Greece. The moon owns it. Female symbol. It is the tree that loves water most and is sacred to the Moon Goddess who is the giver of dew and moisture, generally. The Willow is the tree of enchantment. Can be made into a tool to make wishes come true.
OCCULT PURPOSES: Moon magic, psychic energy, healing, inspiration, fertility
A waterside tree, the Elder has white flowers that bloom to their peak in midsummer (as is also true for the Rowan) thus making the Elder another aspect of the White Goddess. The Elder is also said to be the crucifixion tree. The inner bark and the flowers have long been famous for their therapeutic qualities.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Witchcraft, banishment, magical art, waters of life.
The Whitethorn or Hawthorn or May Witch takes its name from the May. It is a generally unlucky tree and its name, translated from the Irish Brehon Laws, had the meaning “harm”. The Goddess, under the name Cardea, cast spells with the Hawthorn. In many cultures, the month of the Hawthorn (May) is a month of bad luck for marriages. The Hawthorn blossom, for many men, has the strong scent of female sexuality and was used by the Turks as an erotic symbol. The monks of Glastonbury perpetuated it and sanctified it with an approving tale that the staff of Joseph and the Crown of thorns were made of Hawthorn.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Purification, enforced chastity, male potency, cleansing.
Holly means “holy”. The identification of the pacific Christ with the Holly is poetically inept a it is the Oak king, not the Holly king that is crucified on a T shaped cross. The Holly has many uses form making a dye from its berries to being used as an aphrodisiac.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Holiness, consecration, material gain, physical revenge, beauty
The tree of the Autumn Equinox and of old age, is the shifting leaved White Poplar, or Aspen, The shield makers tree. Heracles bound his head in triumph with popular after killing the giant Cacus (the evil one). The Black poplar was a funeral tree sacred to the Mother Earth. Plato makes a reference to the use of Black poplar and Silver Fir as an aid in divination. The Silver Fir standing for hope assured and the Black Poplar for loss of hope. In ancient Ireland, the coffin makers measuring rod was made of Aspen, apparently to remind the dead that this was not the end.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Hope, rebirth, divinations.
This concludes trees referenced to be in use in Europe. However, I thought there may be interest in a few local trees.
Almond has a very sweet natural being. Aids in self protection.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Fruitfulness, virginity
It is an old English custom to drink to the health of the Apple tree with a good glass of cider all in hopes of encouraging the tree to produce a good crop next year.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Fertility
The Coconut is feminine and very fertile. The shell represents the womb, and the milk, fertility.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Protection from negative psychic forces.
The Fig is androgynous. The fruit representing the feminine and the triple lobed leaves suggest the masculine force.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Balance
The mistletoe was sacred to the Druids and to the Norse. It was considered to be the great healer and has both male and female qualities. It was so well regarded by the Norse (because it was sacred to Freya) that they refused to fight in the vicinity of Mistletoe. The custom of hanging Mistletoe in the house to promote peace comes from this. Generally regarded today as a symbol of love and purity.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Love, fertility, sexual potency.
PALM Is regarded as particularly powerful because of its incredible durability and because it is self renewing, never changing its leaves. Aids in rejuvenation.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Resurrection, and the cycle and matrix of life
PEACH The Peach is an emblem of marriage.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Abundance, fruitfulness, happiness.
This concludes this short treatise on the various woods, their types and uses. This information was passed to me through various sources, and no claim is made as to its accuracy