The Hawthorn - A Sacred and Magical Tree
The Hawthorn is also known as the May Tree
Photograph of The Hawthorn
The Hawthorn - A Tree of Sacred Magic
Photograph of Hawthorn Blossom and Hawthorn Berries
Another tree strongly associated with fairies and evil spirits. Like the Elder, Hawthorns will be full of white blossom at the time of the ancient May Day (Beltane) and abundant with dark red berries at the time of the old New Year (Samhain, November 1st). The Hawthorn has an extra characteristic; it is extremely thorny! Traditionally, thorny trees are used as a shield against evil, probably because of their physically impenetrable nature, and there is nothing more impenetrable than a Hawthorn hedge!
In common with Elder, Hawthorn was used outside of the house to protect milk from turning sour (this was obviously a bit of worry to our ancestors!), as well as giving protection from witches and lightning strikes. A piece of Hawthorn in a hat will protect the wearer from lightning. Before it was realised that lightning tends to strike the tallest object, it was no doubt noticed that of all trees, Hawthorns were unlikely to be hit by lightning, simply because they are smaller than most other trees.
Also in common with Elder, cutting down Hawthorn is unlucky and if a tree has to be felled, it should only be for medicinal purposes, and a prayer should be said first. Until fairly recently, many superstitious farmers would cultivate round a Hawthorn, rather than cutting it down.
Hawthorn is the tree mostly likely to be inhabited by fairies, and a Hawthorn twig, with a twig of Oak and Ash, tied together with a red ribbon is protection from malevolent fairies. Up until the beginning of the last century, (and to the present day in some places), Hawthorns were tied with ribbons and rags on May Day as gifts to the fairies.
Hawthorn is strongly associated with May Day festivals, especially the fertility aspect! Every home and person would be decked out in Hawthorn blossom, and it was traditional for young men to plant Hawthorn trees outside young ladies' homes. It wasn't known as the "merry month of May" for nothing! Going back even earlier; the May King and Queen were killed as a pagan sacrifice at the end of the Hawthorn's growing season.
Presumably the arrival of Christianity put a stop to that, and it is likely the Church also disapproved of the element of debauchery associated with May Day (many a babe was born the following January!) and the folklore of the Hawthorn went through a complete change. No longer the symbol of new life, love and fertility, it became a symbol of bad luck and chastity! No marriages were permitted from the end of April to mid-June; which was just as well, as sex was not permitted during May. (Though how the Church would know ... ??!!) The May Queen, once dressed entirely in green as a mark of fertility, now had to be a certified virgin, and clothed in white, as a symbol of purity.
At the same time, bringing Hawthorn into the house became known a harbinger of death. This was especially true during the Middle Ages; dying Hawthorn blossom apparently reminding the people of the smells of the Great Plague, and in fact there is a chemical in Hawthorn blossom which is also found in decaying flesh.
Druids used a Hawthorn "tea" to keep the body strong in old age. They were spot on with that; the leaves, flowers and berries act to either stimulate or depress heart activity, whichever is required; normalising high blood pressure, angina and palpitations.
There is a special Hawthorn tree called the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury. It is said that Joseph of Arimathea stuck his staff on the ground at Wearyall Hill and a Hawthorn grew on the very spot, blossoming every year on Christmas Day. A sprig from this tree is sent to the Queen each Christmas. Not the original; though Hawthorns can live for several hundred years, the original was cut down by Cromwell! Luckily, several locals had propagated cuttings from the tree (with which they were doing a great trade selling the cuttings to tourists).
"Ne'er cast a clout till May is out"; a well known saying, supposed to mean that it's not sensible to stop wearing winter clothes until the end of May. As there are similar sayings in parts of world that don't need winter clothes, it is more likely that this saying is associated with the sex-free month of May and literally means ... Keep your clothes on!
Reference started by - mercury
Perception9 Paranormal Team
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