Monday, May 15, 2017

Hawthorn - 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.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Happy May Day! A Wee Bit Late

Ox Eye Daisy, Wild Hyacinth, Blooms from Rose Verbena, Leaves from Wild Bergamot.

With all the rain and storms that have washed over the Midwest of late, it didn't surprise me that I lost my internet for some time. That was the extent of damage from the storms that we faced. I'm quite fortunate that my hearth and home stayed dry unlike so many unfortunate folks who've faced recent flooding. So I've got some catching up to do here.

A week back was the 1st of May, May Day, or Beltane. On the old Celtic Calendar, which is wheel shaped rather than linear and based on the cycles and rhythms of the earth and plants, May 1st is the beginning of summer. It is a day to celebrate sunshine and blossoms, the return of the green, fertile earth. There are many folk traditions, such as bonfires, the May Pole and Jack in the Green, that still persist across Celtic lands, many are remnants from much older traditions. Below are a few sites that provide a lovely peak into the persistence of the old world in the modern day.

May Day Post from Traveling Chariot a few years ago HERE

You can read more about the old calendar wheel here:
Irish Central
Living Myths

Friday, May 5, 2017

April Emerald Post

The April Issue of Emerald Post (apologies for late arrival - I squeezed in a mini vacation to the Rockies in there) features some inquisitive natives. Pictured above is a 5x7 notecard and envelope featuring lambs at Walltown Crags which is the site of Hadrian's Wall near the border of Scotland and England. Around 122 AD, Roman Emperor Hadrian set to building a fortified wall along the Scottish border for patrol and defense from what he considered the barbarian, and unconquerable, tribes of the Highlands, such as the native Pict tribe. The Wall stretched from the east coast to the west, with several strategic manned forts along the way. You can read more of my visit there HERE. The April issue contained a mini notecard and envelope as well, featuring a sheep scrambling up to the base of Carreg Cennen Castle in Wales. Also included was a 4x6 postcard of the arched threshold between Cong Abbey ruins and the Cong Woodland in Ireland. Can you spot a Green Man left by the master mason?