NATURE NOTES - Links to our pagan past

I WAS looking at some of the trees in our hedge this week – as it will be autumn before we know it!

Can you believe the summer we have had again!

Two of the many trees I planted into the hedge 25 years ago are birch and rowan.

Both have strong associations with our pagan past.

The Rowan Tree, Mountain Ash or Wiggin Tree to name but a few of its names has had associations with magic and witchcraft that go back to Neolithic times.

The tree itself is a powerful totem to repel evil and return curses to the sender, and this is why you often find that the tree has been planted at gates and pathways for centuries.

A simple charm of Rowan wood wrapped with red wool and hung over a doorway will keep evildoers and evil outside.

Even children’s cradles were made with a piece of Rowan in it, to keep the child from harm.

Rowan trees if found alone in a position are usually attributed with the Fey and are dressed accordingly, people who wish favours will visit such trees and leave a ribbon or piece of fabric behind: a mini prayer flag to keep repeating their needs to the Fey as it blows in the breeze.

The protective spirit in Rowan is known to be vicious and can be unpredictable; wands made from Rowan wood have to be bonded to the person using them.

Magically a wand made from Rowan will attack anyone who tries to use it that is not bonded to it.

The Birch is usually one of the first trees to colonise any area.

And so the Birch is the beginning, the bringer of spring and usually one of the first trees to come into leaf.

Placing a branch of the Birch tree above the front entrance to a property was thought to provide protection from any evil spirits and misfortune.

A female tree it is usually connected with the Mother Goddess.

Birch also has the ability to remove evil spirits, and bad essences from areas; the old practice of ‘Birching’ prisoners was to remove the evil influence from the person who was currently in prison.

The bark of the Birch tree was traditionally used in ancient times for writing, as it is an extremely durable material.

The bark has a smooth texture and had a light satin colour, of which many fossilised examples have been unearthed.

There is also a wine that can be made from Birch sap.

In the first few weeks of spring as the sap rises, the sap is sweet and full of sugars, which was very welcome to folk in the old days.

It was usually taken as a spring tonic.

I tried this wine years ago made by a friend who was into food for free – especially wine for free – to be honest it was awful.

Chablis it is definitely not but it could have been used as a very good drain cleaner!