Woods: Their Types & Uses
The ancient Celtic tree alphabet was used by the followers of the
Old Religion to construct a language of the trees that could be used
in conjunction with the occult symbolism of each of the trees. When
translated from the ancient tongue we find the following trees
referenced often: Elm, Birch, Hazel, Oak, Aspen, Alder, Ivy, Yew,
Rowan, Ash, Pine, Willow, Elder, and Spindle. These trees, along
with others, will be covered.
From early times, there have been the sacred groves and the
sacred tree. Individual trees of particular species have been
revered, the kind varying with the divine force represented. Oak
and Cedar are obvious examples of father emblems as Willow and Hazel
are mother emblems. The androgynous Pine and the world bearing Ash
also have their place in our folklore.
The symbolism of the woods are very important in the
construction of any magical tool. A complete description of the
various woods and their uses is impossible in a limited space but we
will cover as much as possible.
OAK - The oak tree is the tree of Zeus, Jupiter, Hercules, The Dagda
(The Chief of the Elder Irish gods), Thor and all other Thunder
Gods. The royalty of the Oak needs no enlarging upon. The Oak is
the tree of endurance and triumph, and like the Ash, is said to
count the lightings' flash. The Oak is a male wood which is ideal
for the construction of any tool that needs the male influence such
as Athames, certain wands and staffs. The midsummer fire is always
Oak and the need fire is always kindled in an Oak log.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Endurance, triumph, strength, power, dominion,
prosperity, sacrifice, guardian, liberator.
BIRCH - With the exception of the mysterious elder, the Birch is the
earliest of the forest trees. The Birch is used extensively in
cleansing rituals. Throughout Europe, Birch twigs are used to expel
evil spirits. Birch rods are also used in rustic rituals to drive
out the spirits of the old year.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Controlled by the Lunar influences. Birth,
healing, Lunar workings, and protection.
HAZEL - The Hazel is a tree of wisdom. In England, all the
knowledge of the arts and sciences were bound to the eating of Hazel
nuts. Until the seventeenth century, a forked Hazelstick was used
to divine the guilt of persons in cases of murder and theft. We
have retained the practice of divining for water and buried treasure.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Wisdom, intelligence, inspiration, wrath.
ALDER - The Alder is the tree of fire. In the battle of the trees,
the Alder fought in the very front line. It is described as the
very "battle witch" of all woods, the tree that is hottest in the
fight. from the alder, you can make three different dyes, red from
its bark, green from its flowers, and brown from its twigs; this
symbolizes the elements of fire, water and earth. The Alder wood is
the wood of the witches. Whistles may be made of this wood tosummon
and control the four winds. It is also the ideal wood for making
the magical pipes and flutes. To prepare the wood for use, beat the
bark away with a willow stick while projecting your wishes into it.
The Alder is a token of resurrection.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Controlling the four winds, banishing and
controlling elementals, resurrection. Making magical dyes.
IVY / VINE - The Ivy was sacred to Osiris as well as to Dionysus.
Vine and Ivy come next to each other at the turn of the year, and
are jointly dedicated to resurrection. Presumably, this is because
they are the only two trees that grow spirally. The Vine also
symbolizes resurrection because its strength is preserved in the
OCCULT ASPECTS: (VINE) Faerie work, Joy, Exhilaration, Wrath,
Rebirth. (IVY) Fidelity, Constancy, Love, Intoxication.
YEW - The Yew is known as the death tree in all European countries.
Sacred to Hecate in Greece and Italy. Yew wood makes excellent
bows, as the Romans learned from the Greeks.
This strengthened the belief that Yew was connected with death. Its
use in England is recalled in Macbeth where Hecate's cauldron
contained:"... Slips of Yew, slivered in the moon eclipse. "The
Silver Fir of birth and the Yew of death are sisters. They stand
next to each other in the circle of the year and their foliage is
OCCULT ASPECTS: Destructive workings concerning death. Not
recommended for magical tools "...for I am the tomb to every hope.
ROWAN - The Rowan is seen as the tree of life. It is also known as
Mountain Ash, Quickbeam, The Witch or Witch Wand. In the British
Isles, Rowan is used as a protection against lightning and magical
charms of all sorts. In ancient Ireland, the Druids of opposing
forces would kindle a fire of rowan and say an incantation over it
to summon spirits to take part in the battle. The Rowan is also
used for many healing purposes. The "Quickbeam" is the tree of
quickening. Another use was in metal divining. In Ireland, a Rowan
stake was hammered through a corpse to immobilize the spirit.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Divination, healing, astral work, protection.
ASH - The Ash is sacred to Poseidon and Woden. The Ash is
considered to be the father of trees. The Ash is the tree of sea
power, or of the power resident in water. Special guardian spirits
reside in the Ash; This makes it excellent for absorbing sickness.
The spirally carved druidical wand was made of Ash for this purpose.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Sea power, karmic laws, magical potency, healing,
protection from drowning.
PINE - External symbol of life and immortality. It is one of the
few trees that are androgynous. It was also worshiped by the
ancients as a symbol of fire because of its resemblance to a spiral
of flame. It is regarded as a very soothing tree to be near.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Strength, life and immortality, rejuvenation
WILLOW - The Willow was sacred to Hecate, Circe, Hera, and
Persephone, all death aspects of the Triple Moon Goddess, and was
often used by the Witches in Greece. The moon owns it.
Female symbol. It is the tree that loves water most and is sacred
to the Moon Goddess who is the giver of dew and moisture,
generally. The Willow is the tree of enchantment. Can be made into
a tool to make wishes come true.
OCCULT PURPOSES: Moon magic, psychic energy, healing, inspiration,
ELDER - A waterside tree, the Elder has white flowers that bloom to
their peak in midsummer (as is also true for the Rowan) thus making
the Elder another aspect of the White Goddess. The Elder is also
said to be the crucifixion tree. The inner bark and the flowers have
long been famous for their therapeutic qualities.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Witchcraft, banishment, magical art, waters of
HAWTHORN - The Whitethorn or Hawthorn or May Witch takes its name
from the May. It is a generally unlucky tree and its name,
translated from the Irish Brehon Laws, had the meaning "harm". The
Goddess, under the name Cardea, cast spells with the Hawthorn. In
many cultures, the month of the Hawthorn (May) is a month of bad
luck for marriages. The Hawthorn blossom, for many men, has the
strong scent of female sexuality and was used by the Turks as an
erotic symbol. The monks of Glastonbury perpetuated it and
sanctified it with an approving tale that the staff of Joseph and
the Crown of thorns were made of Hawthorn.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Purification, enforced chastity, male potency,
HOLLY - Holly means "holy". The identification of the pacific Christ
with the Holly is poetically inept as it is the Oak king, not the
Holly king that is crucified on a T shaped cross. The Holly has many
uses form making a dye from its berries to being used as an
OCCULT ASPECTS: Holiness, consecration, material gain, physical
WHITE POPULAR - The tree of the Autumn Equinox and of old age, is
the shifting leaved White Popular, or Aspen, The shield makers
tree. Heracles bound his head in triumph with popular after killing
the giant Cacus (the evil one). The Black popular was a funeral
tree sacred to the Mother Earth. Plato makes a reference to the use
of Black popular and Silver Fir as an aid in divination. The
Silver Fir standing for hope assured and the Black Popular for loss
of hope. In ancient Ireland, the coffin makers measuring rod was
made of Aspen, apparently to remind the dead that this was not the
OCCULT ASPECTS: Hope, rebirth, divinations.
ALMOND - Almond has a very sweet natural being. Aids in self
OCCULT ASPECTS: Fruitfulness, virginity
APPLE - It is an old English custom to drink to the health of the
Apple tree with a good glass of cider all in hopes of encouraging
the tree to produce a good crop next year.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Fertility
COCONUT - The Coconut is feminine and very fertile. The shell
represents the womb, and the milk, fertility.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Protection from negative psychic forces.
FIG - The Fig is androgynous. The fruit representing the feminine
and the triple lobed leaves suggest the masculine force.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Balance
MISTLETOE - The mistletoe was sacred to the Druids and to the Norse.
It was considered to be the great healer and has both male and
female qualities. It was so well regarded by the Norse (because it
was sacred to Freya) that they refused to fight in the vicinity of
Mistletoe. The custom of hanging Mistletoe in the house to promote
peace comes from this. Generally regarded today as a symbol of love
OCCULT ASPECTS: Love, fertility, sexual potency.
PALM - Is regarded as particularly powerful because of its
incredible durability and because it is self renewing, never
changing its leaves. Aids in rejuvenation.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Resurrection, and the cycle and matrix of life
PEACH - The Peach is an emblem of marriage.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Abundance, fruitfulness, happiness