Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Myth & Magic of the May Tree

Today I want to share some of the fascinating folklore surrounding the Hawthorn Tree which inspired this botanical card in the May Issue of Emerald Post (You can still get May's issue HERE)....

Folklore holds that Hawthorn trees possess magical properties and guard entrances to the Faery Realm. These often lone, gnarled and weathered trees stand sentinel at portals to the Otherworld. Across the verdant isles of Ireland and Great Britain you may notice the frequent presence of a single tree atop a barren hill, amid moorland or bog land, standing eerily alone. These are most often the well respected and revered Hawthorn Trees.

Hawthorn at Hound Tor, Dartmoor, Devon, England

Throughout Celtic lands, Hawthorns are found very near ancient standing stones and stone circles, sacred springs, and holy wells where visitors and pilgrims adorn the revered tree with ribbons, rags, cloth, or other offerings as they say a prayer, utter a wish, or offer gratitude. Referred to as Wishing Trees, Rag Trees, Faery Trees, or Clottie Trees, their branches hang low under the weight of wishes and prayers.

A Faerie Tree near Killary Harbour in Ireland
Though considered bad luck much of the time, Hawthorns can also bestow good luck and protection. Flowering in May, the Hawthorn has long been associated with May Day and the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane. The month of May is the only time one should take a sprig from a Hawthorn. A flowering branch was traditionally gathered on the eve of May 1st and placed on or above the threshold of the house to banish evil spirits and protect the household from misfortune, or caried by a maiden to attract a husband. Bathing in the May morning dew of hawthorn blossoms is said to bring health, beauty, good fortune, and even wealth.  A Hawthorn planted or growing near the home is said to protect it from lightning, storms, and, of course, witches.  

I’ve seen many a Hawthorn on my travels across Ireland and Great Britain. Almost always, there is one at the entrance to a stone circle and often draped with the offerings of visitors who’ve come before me. The places where the Hawthorns dwell, they do seem to hold a certain energy, a beauty, a clarity, and usually some peculiar weather like a harsh wind, a thick fog, or an eerie stillness. Perhaps it is only the landscape, specifically chosen by ancient peoples for such attributes or maybe, just maybe, it is the faeries.
Faery Hawthorn at Ballynoe Stone Circle - Ireland

Faery Hawthorn at Beaghmore Stone Circle, Ireland

Explore the world of Hawthorns and Folklore more :

Learn more about Faery Wish Trees HERE.

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