The hawthorn tree belongs to the genus Crataegus and means "flowering thorn" in Greek. The thorn-covered tree, also known as May Flower and hagthorn, has white flowers that bloom in the spring and ruby-red berries that ripen during fall. Hawthorn trees have a long association with magic, fairies and folklore in their native Western Europe. Modern witches and pagans incorporate the tree into their rituals and spells that focus on protection, love and blessings.
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According to "Irish Trees: Myths, Legends and Folklore" by Niall Maccoitir, it was customary in Ireland and the British Isles for people to plant hawthorn around their homes to protect it against witches. The tree was also known for its powers to bring about fertility and marriage. In Ireland, girls hoping to marry visited a stone circle called Longstone Rath and hammered pins to the hawthorn tree within the stone circle. Western Europeans associated the magical hawthorn tree with fairies and May Day. People traditionally cut and decorated hawthorn trees with ribbons and flowers to make maypoles.
In "Garden Witch's Herbal: Green Magic, Herbalism and Spirituality," author Ellen Dugan notes how the hawthorn tree is connected to marriage blessings. To bless a marriage bed ancient Romans placed branches of the hawthorn tree in the bedroom. To bless your own marriage, gather a small sprig of blooming hawthorn and place it in a vase in a central location in your bedroom. Leave the branch in your bedroom until the hawthorn flowers begin to fade. The hawthorn will fill the room with its energies of blessing, hope and protection. After it fades, place the sprig in a compost pile.
The hawthorn tree is connected to protection, notes Gerina Dunwich in her book "The Wicca Garden: A Modern Witch's Book of Magickal and Enchanted Herbs and Plants." You can use hawthorn's leaves and blossoms in protection spells to guard yourself against malevolent spirits and the evil eye. A folk belief says that lightning never strikes a hawthorn tree, and that your house will never be struck by lightning if you nail a piece of hawthorn to it on Holy Thursday. You can use the tree's flowers, branches or leaves in protection spells to protect yourself from lightning.
In "Dunwich's Guide to Gemstone Sorcery," author Gerina Dunwich says that hawthorn, along with hazel, elder, willow and rowan, are traditional trees used to make a witch's wand. Witches create their own wands by obtaining a branch from the tree of their choice and affixing a quartz crystal or polished gemstone to the top of it to heighten the branch's magical energies. You can use a hawthorn wand to direct energy, cast magic circles and charge sacred objects.
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- "Garden Witch's Herbal: Green Magic, Herbalism and Spirituality; Ellen Dugan; 2009
- "Irish Trees: Myths, Legends and Folklore"; Niall Maccoitir; 2003
- "The Wicca Garden: A Modern Witch's Book of Magickal and Enchanted Herbs and Plants"; Gerina Dunwich; 1996
- "Dunwich's Guide to Gemstone Sorcery"; Gerina Dunwich; 2003