Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Willow

Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Willow

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David Lewis Baker

Witches Wheel

Willow, Saille, Willow,
Oh silver drenched tree!
Long leaves fall on water
Rippling in moonlight
Ladies who bend
On the threshold of February.

Saille ( Sahl-yeh)


Charles Krebs

Moonlight on willow is a mysterious sight, especially on the threshold between Winter and Spring when the bare trunks cast crooked shadows over the frosted grass like spirits coming through the mists of the Otherworld.  The voices of the Faeries can be heard in the rustling of the willow branches, breathing, into the ear of the poet, their songs.

The willow is a remarkably feminine tree. It thrives near rives and streams, lakes and ponds, it shimmers in the moonlight, and provides shelter under its umbrella of graceful branches. Uniquely beautiful and mysterious, the willow invites entry into another world within the compass of its branches. If you have ever been inside a large weeping willow then you know how instantly the outside world ceases to exist as silence and diffused light encompass you. It is this quality of the willow that makes it one of the first trees of Faery.

Pagans have always  associated the willow with the Triple Goddess of the Moon. Sacred to Hekate, Goddess of the Dark Moon, the willow stands as the gateway to the Realm of Shades or Death. The weeping of the willow mirrors the grief of those left behind, as was the Greek poet Orpheus who, armed with willow branches, entered Hades and returned, not alas with his beloved wife, Euridyce, but with the gift of poetry.

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Tree of Poetry

As the “witch’s tree” tree of poetry, transformation and healing, willow is connected with the Bright Brighid whose Day of Initiation is February 2, Candlemas, a Festival of Lights. In the Pagan mind, death is also an initiation, a transformation not to be feared any more than the peace found under the branches of the willow tree under the full moon when one feels transported to a strange and beautiful place.

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The willow tree reflected in the waters brings moon magic to earth, creating a numinous, visually confusing, liminal effect. This may be why it the tree of romantic love, for what can be more difficult to interpret than the varying faces of love in the throes of deep attachment? Valentine’s day is also in February, suggesting that Love is the fulfillment of the Light celebrated at Candlemas.

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In some traditions, willow is the thirteenth tree. This may fit it in at the leap year, the liminal 29 day of February, that was the modern concession to the natural rhythmic sequence of the lunar year.

Willow Working

Spell

Throw your shoe up high
into the branches of a willow tree;

If he branches catch and hold your shoe,
You soon will married be.

The Witch’s Tree

The magical properties of willow are as numerous as its medicines. Faery magics of enchantment, wishing, romance, and divination under the moon are enhanced by the presence of willow. Its powers are beneficial, protective, nurturing, inspirational, joyful, and peaceful. This throws a provocative light on its role as tree of mourning, for how can death be evil when couched among so many life giving powers? Rather, willow traditionally inspires courage, and helps one overcome the fear of death. Willow is flexible, fluid, resilient, and strong. It focuses intuition, induces trance states, attracts Faeries and other spirits. It eases transitions, especially into the unknown.

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Because of the many medicines dispensed by the willow, it was much sought after by Cunning people for healing purposes. As a feminine tree connected to the moon, willow bark provides pain relief for menstrual cramps and child bearing. The gemstone for willow is the blood-red carbuncle. This is another image that evokes women’s mysteries of bleeding and fertility. Burning willow lends energy to healing magic.

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Willow wands are excellent for moon magic, and its wood is good for making magical harps, accompaniment for for poets for ancient times.

Divination by Willow:

Willow increases psychic vision into the watery Otherworld Realms under the waves. Dreams, and premonitions are stirred by willow’s influence on the deep subconscious mind. Just being near a willow tree can induce trance states in which prophetic oracles can be mediated from Faery into our reality. Divination by smoke from a willow fire while passing a willow wand through it to disturb its shapings, is a powerful divination technique for those with the second sight. Scrying into water where willow is reflected on nights of the full moon, is venerable tradition.

Awakening of dormant powers and emotions, pay attention to dreams. Love is n the way. Positive transformation from one way of life to another, The need to be flexible an adaptable. Relief from painful situations. Encounters with Faerie, or  the deceased.

Magical Correspondences

Ogham name: Saille
Letter: Z
Tree: Willow
Deities: Brighid, Fand, Sinend
Bird: Hawk
Animal: Hare, Bull
Color: Haze
Use: Wands, Psychic Divination, Fertility, Pain Relief

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5 thoughts on “Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Willow

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