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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Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Ash

Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Ash




Ash, ash of the long strong twigs
You timber creation!
Branches of ash trees gather new light
In the deep, dark mazes of January snows.

Nion

The ancient Ash, bare branched in winter, is a witchy sight. Its gnarled branches and tangles of twigs seem to be holding secrets, perhaps spells cast up from its roots by the Three Fates who, in the perpetual night of the Underworld, weave the threads of destiny. This is the power of World Tree, Yggdrasil, the Ash.
It was from the branches of the Ash tree that Odin hung himself for nine days and nights to gain the power of the Runes, or magical speech that could harness and transform Fate according to his will. For is it not true that when something is named, and especially when it is written, that it comes within our power to control it?

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As for the Ogham, the Ash, bare in its season of mid winter, is like a great scrawl, signifying that outward life is unformed as yet, that the great energies emerging from below the ground, are not yet set into the patterns of things to come. This leaves them vulnerable to the Magician who can grasp the pliable tangles and move them into the patterns of his or her desire. It is as if the branches can be arranged so that they write one’s spell upon the heavens.
The Ash is a tree that loves the wet ground. Thus it is said to be rooted in the Well of Wyrd, the deepest portal into the Underworld out of which the Runes were born. Around the rim of the Well, the Weavers sit, catching the Runes in their threads to re-create the world.
At the base of the tree is the serpent of wisdom, who winds its way up the trunk of the tree, and into its branches, to peer out of its leaves in search of those who would seize the knowledge of the forces of Creation. Thus Shamans, known in European cultures as Witches, used this tree as a road into the deepest levels of the primal Unseen, and then again, as a ladder rising up the planes into the highest of Celestial realms, where the Moon, Sun, and Stars confer another kind of wisdom.
It is the branches of tall and ancient Ash tree that gather the new light from the Heavens and bring it to Earth in preparation for renewal in Spring

Yggdrasil: The World Tree

Ash Working

When entering and leaving Faery by way of the inverted tree, it would lend potency to your working to know the lore of the Ash, for this detail will lead you deeper into the Underworld, and open more realms to you.
The efficacy of magical work hinges on the build up of certain images in the aethers that surround planet earth in the sub-lunar plane. The older the images, the more power they hold, and that power is made of the thought forms of every person and animal who has projected their intention towards it. An avatar as ancient as the Sacred Ash, the World Tree, Yggdrasil, is a battery of potent imagery that can catapult you through time and space to where the soul imprints of past Magicians  and Witches are still active.

Divination by Ash: New energies are stirring deep inside you. take time to meditate and grasp the messages that your subconscious mind is sending you.

One way to do this would be to cast the magical circle with the ash as its central axis. Let it take you into the Underworld, and then up into the stars. Pay attention to what you see, and what and whom you meet. Keep a  journal, and record of your journey, and by doing so, self knowledge will come to you.
You may begin to have prophetic dreams. Write them down. remember the Scared Letters and their power to influence the Web of Wyrd at this time.
Magical tools made of Ash are said to be most potent as they draw on the strength of the World Tree.

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Magical Correspondences

Ogham name: Nion
Letter: N
Tree: Ash
Deities: Gwydion, Lleu
Bird: Snipe
Animal: Adder
Color: Clear
Use: Wands, spears, lintels

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