"The ancient origins of the festival show clearly in the green boughs gathered so early
and carried about...and in the never-omitted luck-bringing visits. If any pre-Christian ancestor of
today's dancers could return on Furry Day now, he would probably have little difficulty in
recognizing the descendants of those rites by which he, too, once brought the Summer home, and
carried luck and fertility to every homestead."45
"It was my hap of late, by chance,
To meet a Country Morris Dance,
When, cheefest of them all, the Foole
Plaied with a ladle and a toole;
When every younger shak't his bells
Till sweating feet gave fothing smells;
And fine Maide Marian with her smoile,
Shew'd how a rascall plaid the roile:
But, when the Hobby-horse did wihy,
Then all the wenches gave a tihy:
But when they gan to shake their boxe,
And not a goose could catch a foxe,
The piper then put up his pipes,
And all the woodcocks look't like snipes,
And therewith fell a show'ry
1 Douglas, George William.
The American Book of Days. 1948. The H.W. Wilson Co., New York, NY, pg.
2 Bonwick, James. Irish
Druids and Old Irish Religions. 1986. (Originally published in 1894). Dorset Press,
England, pg. 206.
3 Whitlock, Ralph. A
Calendar of Country Customs. 1978. B.T. Batsford Ltd., London, pg. 73, quoting
Margaret Killip, Folklore of the Isle of
4 Bonwick, pg. 207-208.
5 Whitlock, pg. 73-74.
6 Douglas, pg. 252.
7 Scullard, H.H. Festivals
and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic. 1981. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New
8 Douglas, pg. 252.
9 Hazlitt, W. Carew.
Faiths and Folklore of the British Isles. Vol. II. 1965. Benjamin Blom, Inc., New
York, NY, pg.
10 Kightly, Charles. The
Customs and Ceremonies of Britain. 1986. Thames and Hudson, London, pg. 160.
11 Scullard, pg. 201.
12 Hole, Christina. British
Folk Customs. 1976. Hutchinson and Co. Ltd., London, pg. 113.
13 Ibid, pg. 79.
14 Kightly, pg. 139.
15 Whitlock, pg. 65.
16 Hole, pg. 133.
17 Ibid, pg. 134.
18 Whitlock, pg. 66.
19 Kightly, pg. 168.
20 Ibid, pg. 170.
21 Ibid, pg. 170, 215.
22 Ibid, pg. 168.
23 Douglas, pg. 252; Walker,
Barbara G. The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. 1983. Harper &
Row, San Francisco, CA, pg. 625.
24 Walker, pg. 625.
25 Hole, pg. 137. In Hazlitt,
pg. 402, a black and yellow painted May-pole is described.
26 Hazlitt, pg. 402.
27 Ibid, pg. 402, quoting
Stuckely, "Itinerarium," 1724, pg. 29.
28 Hole, pg. 136.
29 Hazlitt, pg. 402.
30 Hole, pg. 137.
31 Ibid, pg. 137.
32 Douglas, pg. 253.
33 Hazlitt, pg. 398, quoting
Stubbes' "Anatomy of Abuses," 1583.
34 Hazlitt, pg. 400.
35 Ibid, pg. 400.
36 Hole, pg. 128.
37 Ibid, pg. 128.
38 Hole, pg. 135; Hazlitt, pg. 397.
39 Kightly, pg. 160.
40 Ibid, pg. 121.
41 Hole, pg. 75.
42 Ibid, pg. 75.
43 Kightly, pg. 122-123.
44 Hole, pg. 75.
45 Ibid, pg. 76.
46 From Cobbe's Prophicies,
his Signes and Tokens, his Madrigall, Questions, and Answers (1614).
Also see: Frazer, James. The
Golden Bough, and McNeill, Marian. The Silver Bough, Vol. 2.
- by Rebecca Haack
Twigs crack as the fire is lit.
Worshippers grow quiet.
The ceremony begins.
Slowly they approach,
those who keep the faith.
The chant rises, growing in rhythm.
Bodies undulate with the calling --
bells tinkle in the moonlight.
The circle -- pure energy exploding into night.
Dancers weave the story
of life and death and life.
Fires dismissed --
All is silent.
Demeter, Kali, Inanna...
by Muirghein uí Dhún Aonghasa (Linda
Salix alba L. - White Willow, European Willow. Native to north Africa, central Asia, and
Europe, naturalized in S.E. Canada and eastern U.S.
S. nigra Marsh. - Black Willow. New Brunswick to northern Florida, west to Texas,
north to Minnesota; also scattered from western Texas to northern California.
S. nigra Linn., var. vallicola Dudley - Valley Willow. Northern California, south
Nevadas, throughout Arizona, and along Rio Grande in western Texas and southern New
S. discolor Muhl. - Pussy Willow. Southern Canada and northern U.S., from Maine to
S. babylonica L. - Weeping Willow. Native of China, naturalized from Quebec and
south to Georgia and west to Missouri, planted in western states.
Description and UsesThe willow is part of the family Salicaceae, which also includes poplars. Willows
small shrubs only a few inches tall, or trees of 140 feet. Most will be found near an abundant
water supply; in fact, the willow's scientific name, Salix, "comes from the Celtic words
meaning near, and lis, meaning water, and refers to the tree's fondness for the borders of
ponds, marshes, and other watercourses."1
The willow has slender, flexible twigs which are tender and brittle, and are easily broken
off by the wind. If the tree is growing near moving water, these twigs will drop into the stream
and be swept along by the current until they find a lodging on wet ground, where they will take
root. "Thus the borders of many streams and marshes are actually self-planted."2
If no stream is
nearby, a twig lying flat on moist ground can push out rootlets from below, and start shoots from
its buds. Even branches, large limbs, or firewood pieces, if driven into the ground, may take root
and grow.3 "A willow once was propagated by tossing a willow basket into a pit
in the yard of a
house in Philadelphia. Eventually someone noticed that the basket was growing into a
A willow is easily enough distinguished from other types of trees by its location,
lance-shaped leaves, and slender branches. But it can be much more difficult to tell what species
willow you're looking at. There are about 160 species, and they vary and interbreed until they are
quite confusing, even to well-trained botanists.5
The black willow is the only large native willow in North America. In the lower
Mississippi valley, it can grow up to 140 feet high, although it is usually only 30-40' tall. The
black willow takes its name from its bark, which is very dark, almost black. A high grade
charcoal for making gunpowder is made from the wood; other uses include millwork, furniture,
doors, cabinetwork, boxes, barrels, toys, and pulpwood.6
The white willow is native to Europe and England, but has been naturalized in America.
Early colonists are said to have brought cuttings of it with them to America, and it is very
wide-spread now. The white willow is rather large, growing 60 to 80 feet high, and sometimes
reaching 100 feet. Like the black willow, the wood has been used for making charcoal, and is
very elastic, so was used for lining barges and carts. The tree takes its name from its hairy leaves,
which give it a white appearance.7
In the desert, willows, along with cottonwoods, are signs of water, and "all the old
accounts of early exploration, railway surveying, and Indian campaigning in the Southwest are
full of grateful references to the Willow."8 This was a valuable tree in other
ways: the valley
willow is still used by the Papago Indians to weave baskets to hold water. As soon as the wood is
wetted, it swells up and closes even the tiniest openings in the weave, so no caulking is
MedicinalWillow has been used for at least 2,000 years to alleviate pain and reduce
fever.10 It was
prescribed by Dioscorides in the 1st century A.D. for pain and infla-mmation, used by the
Hottentots for rheumatic fever,11 and taken by the American Indians for
fevers.12 In England,
because they grew in wet areas, willows were considered good for diseases common to such
places, such as malaria and ague, a fever similar to malaria, with chills and sweating. Gerard
wrote that "the greene boughes with the leaves may very well be brought into chambers, and set
about the beds of those that be sicke of agues: for they do mightily coole the heate of the aire,
which thing is a woonderfull refreshing to the sicke patients."13 The country
people took this
further by drinking willow tea to relieve their symptoms.
Around the 18th century, Europeans were searching for an economical substitute for
quinine to fight malaria, and willow was thought to be that substitute.14
According to Hutchens,
in 1763 the Rev. Edward Stone, perhaps curious about the willow's reputation as a fever and pain
reducing agent, applied "an old-fashioned theory" to it. Because it grew in low, marshy regions
where rheumatism was common, he tried a decoction of willow bark on sufferers of rheumatic
complaints and "thus rediscovered the effectiveness of salicylic acid."15
Salicin is one of willow's active ingredients; it is very similar in action to quinine, and is
believed to be far more valuable for fevers.16 Willow shares this active principle
with a number
of other plants. It was from one of these -- queen of the meadow -- that salicin was first isolated
in the 1820's. European chemists fiddled with salicin for about 30 years; and finally salicylic acid
was synthesized from common coal tar and petroleum derivatives.17
"It was then put on the shelf and forgotten until the late 1890's, when Felix Hoffman, a
chemist at Fredrich Bayer & Company in Germany, embarked on a search for a drug to
his father's rheumatoid arthritis."18 He prepared the acetylsalicylic acid, and his
father loved it,
but the executives at Bayer hated it. Later they relented and marketed the drug under the name
aspirin, derived from Spiraea, the genus that the queen of the meadow, the original plant,
part of at the time (it is now Filipendula ulmaria).19
Willow bark tea is still used by herbalists today for the same reasons as aspirin:
headaches, neuralgia, hay fever, fever, and pain and inflammation of the joints. To use, decoct a
teaspoon of white willow bark slowly in 1½ pints of water, covered, for 30
At one time, black willow bark was used for gonorrhoea and ovarian pain, and also for
treating nocturnal emissions. A liquid extract was prepared and used in a mixture with other
sedatives. White willow was used for stomach ailments and to get rid of worms. Grieves says
black willow is an aphrodisiac, sedative, and tonic, and that white willow is tonic, antiperiodic
Willow bark tea can be taken for internal bleeding, because of its astringency, heartburn,
and stomach ailments. For inflamed gums and tonsils, gargle with a decoction of the bark. As an
antiseptic, the tea makes a good wash for skin sores, burns, and wounds. Try a footbath of willow
tea for tired, sore feet. An environmentally safe washing liquid can be made from a solution of
willow bark mixed with borax -- it's deodorizing and antiseptic.22
FolkloreThe willow has been associated with gloom and sorrow for centuries, though just why is
a mystery. In Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry, a willow garland used to be worn by those who
had been jilted or disappointed in love. Grigson says that because of the bitter taste of willows,
they symbolized the bitterness of grief; this bitter taste is ascribed to the willow being used to
whip the child Jesus by his mother when he misbehaved.23 Brimble tells us that
in the Scriptures,
the willow was usually an emblem of woe and sadness, and that these qualities have stuck ever
According to Grigson, the goat willow, Salix caprea L., is the tree which gives
Palm Sunday, as the brilliant yellow catkins appear before any leaves. The branches cut down
and strewed before Jesus in his procession into Jerusalem were taken to be palm, and the goat
willow is a substitute for that tree.25
While not the same as the palm, the willow was a part of Biblical festivals: "And ye shall
take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of
thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven
In Ireland, the goat willow, also known as the Sally, was used against enchantment. It
was lucky to carry a willow rod on a journey, and butter will churn better if a rod of willow is
placed around the churn.27
Know ye the willow-tree
Whose grey leaves quiver,
To yon pale river?
Lady, at even-tide
Wander not near it:
They say its branches hide
A sad lost spirit.
The Willow-Tree: Thackeray28
1 Green, Charlotte Hilton. Trees of the South. 1939. The University
of North Carolina Press,
Chapel Hill, NC, pg. 38.
2 Ibid, pg. 39.
3 Ibid, pg. 39.
4 Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Edited by Claire
Kowalchik and William H.
Hylton. 1987. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA, pg. 505.
5 Green, pg. 38.
6 Little, Elbert L. The Audobon Society Field Guide to North
American Trees - Eastern Region.
1980. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, NY, pg. 336.
7 Brimble, L.J.F. Trees in Britain. 1946. MacMillan and Co. Ltd.,
London, pg. 211-212.
8 Peattie, Donald Culross. A Natural History of Western Trees. 1950.
Bonanza Books, New
York, NY, pg. 344.
9 Ibid, pg. 345.
10 Lust, John. The Herb Book. 1974. Bantam Books, New York, NY,
11 Rodale's, pg. 503.
12 Hutchens, Alma R. Indian Herbology of North America. 1973.
Merco, Ontario, Canada.
Published in London, England, pg. 303.
13 Grigson, Geoffrey. The Englishman's Flora. 1955. Phoenix House
LTD, London, England, pg.
14 Rodale's, pg. 503.
15 Hutchens, pg. 303.
16 Ibid, pg. 303.
17 Rodale's, pg. 503.
18 Ibid, pg. 504.
19 Ibid, pg. 503-504.
20 Ibid, pg. 504.
21 Grieve, Mrs. M. A Modern Herbal (2 volumes). 1931. Dover
Publications, Inc., New York,
NY, pg. 845, 847.
22 Lust, pg. 402.
23 Grigson, pg. 256-257.
24 Brimble, pg. 209.
25 Grigson, pg. 258.
26 Leviticus, 23, 40, from Brimble, pg. 209.
27 Grigson, pg. 258.
28 Brimble, pg. 208.
LUNAR ENERGIES &
by Imré K. Rainey
At this point in the Wheel of the Year, we have experienced the rejuvenation and rebirth
of Birch, the rise of energy and the sowing of seeds and goals in Rowan, the premature urgings
for movement in Ash, and the burst of life in Alder. Now, we stand before our kindred, the
Willow, which has long been associated with the Crone, or death, aspect of the Triple
The time of protected learning ended in Alder. Willow symbolizes the virtues of learning
through experience. In order to fully assimilate the experiences to come in the moons ahead, it is
necessary to release burdens from the past which will hinder our growth in the future. The rules
and opinions which governed the past may no longer hold for the future: past convictions often
become obstacles impeding progress. In this way, the Willow represents the death, or release, of
the past in order to wholly integrate experiences and lessons in the future. This does not mean,
however, that the fruits of past achievements should be forgotten. Those achievements got you
here and will provide the foundation for the experiences to come.
Willow also brings with it the desire to abandon the past and the present in search of new
beginnings. Look carefully at where you are standing physically, emotionally, and experientially.
Survey your environment and the people whom you affect. The glyph for this moon is, "I am a
hawk on a cliff." If the time is right and the possible outcomes have been sufficiently examined,
spread your wings and fly off into new horizons of experience.
Be aware, however, that this may not be the right time for flight. If so, sit back and wait;
do not act hastily. The lessons needed for growth may lie within your reach now, and later, as the
Wheel of the Year turns, you will know the appropriate time to move. In the meantime, you may
want use the energies of this moon for rebirth, or rededication to your goals.
Willow's "stay or go," "do or don't" energies can lead to indecision and confusion. Also,
if our desire for flight is not satisfied, we may begin to resent others whom we perceive are doing
things we can't. Yet, most often during this month, resentment surfaces without reason or
provocation. The Willow itself can be a remedy for these feelings.
Allow yourself to quietly sit with a Willow. Listen to the voice of the wind as it rustles
through the Willow's leaves. Watch the images that form within your mind. Talk to the Willow
and accept her guidance. Allow the energies of the Willow to guide you through the movements
of the moons to come.
by Muirghein uí Dhún Aonghasa (Linda
Crataegus oxyacantha - English Hawthorn. Found in England and continental
C. spathulata Michx. - Littlehip Hawthorn. Virginia south to northern Florida, west to
eastern Texas, north to Missouri.
C. Douglasii Lindley - Douglas Hawthorn. British Columbia, south to northern
California, through the northern U.S. Rockies, east to Ontario.
Note: This is an updated version of the Hawthorn article which appeared in the first issue of
THE HAZEL NUT.
Description and UsesThe hawthorn is a member of the rose, or Rosaceae, family, along with crabapples,
rowans, plums, and numerous other trees and plants. There are between 800 and 900 species of
hawthorn recognized in North America alone1, more than in any other part of the
world, but all
share certain characteristics. All are small trees or shrubs, rarely growing over 30 feet high. Most
have white flowers and scarlet fruits; but in some species the fruits are orange, in a very few
yellow, and in one species (blueberry hawthorn, C. brachy-acantha Sarg. &
Engelm.), they are
blue.2 But by far its most notable feature are its zig-zag branches and its long,
which are really modified branches, and are sometimes so large that they bear
In England and the northern U.S., the small, five-petaled flowers bloom in May, earning
the hawthorn the additional name of May or Mayblossom (the ship Mayflower was named after
the hawthorn), although in the southern U.S. it usually blooms in April. The scent of the flowers
is definitely open to opinion: Green claims bees are attracted to their "almond-like
while Grieve says "the flowers are mostly fertilized by carrion insects, the suggestion of
decomposition in the perfume attracts those insects that lay their eggs and hatch out their larvae
in decaying animal matter."5
Hawthorn's generic name, Crataegus oxyacantha, is derived from the Greek word
meaning hardness (of the wood), oxus, meaning sharp, and akantha, meaning
thorn.6 The wood
of the hawthorn is so hard and tough that in Ireland a certain species, the black thorn, is often
used to make the famous Irish cudgel, the "shillelagh."7
The wood was also used for making small objects, and the root wood was used for
making boxes and combs. Hawthorn wood is an excellent fuel, making the hottest wood fire
known, and in the past was more desirable than oak for oven-heating.8
The tree was commonly grown as a hedge to divide land; the old German name for the tree,
Hagedorn, means Hedge-thorn; the word haw is also an old
word for hedge.9
MedicinalHawthorn berries are cardiac, diuretic, astringent, and tonic. According to Grieve, the
berries were mainly used as a cardiac tonic in organic and functional heart
research has since shown that hawthorn dilates blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more
freely, lowering blood pressure. It also regulates heart action, acting directly on the heart muscle
to help a damaged or age-weakened heart work more efficiently.11 A decoction
of the berries is
good for inflammation of the heart muscle, arteriosclerosis, and nervous heart
Hawthorn works slowly and seems to be toxic only in large doses, making it a relatively safe,
mild tonic. However, Rodale's still recommends against self-medication, and Lust says a
hawthorn tincture should only be used with medical supervision.13
Hawthorn berry tea is useful at home for mild stress and insomnia.14 The
berries are both astringent and can be decocted and drunk for a sore throat. They are also helpful
in kidney trouble, acting as a diuretic.15
An excellent liqueur can be made from the berries or flowers. This recipe using the
flowers dates back to about 1775. May Blossom Liqueur: Try to gather the may blossom on a
dry, calm day when there is no dust flying about. Pick as much as a preserving (quart) jar will
hold. Fill it up with brandy or vodka. Close the jar and shake it 3 times a week for 3 months.
Filter and if necessary add sugar to taste. The resulting liqueur is excellent in custards and
FolkloreIn the Scottish clan system, hawthorn is the badge of the Ogilvies. In England, Henry VII
chose a hawthorn bush as his device after a small crown from the helmet of Richard III was
discovered hanging on it after the battle of Bosworth; hence the saying, 'Cleve to thy Crown
though it hangs on a bush.'17
To the ancient Greeks and Romans, the hawthorn was a symbol of hope and happiness,
and was linked with marriage and babies. Hawthorn was dedicated to Hymen, god of marriages.
The torches carried in the wedding procession were made of hawthorn. People would put a sprig
of hawthorn in their corsages, while the bride carried an entire bough.18 In
England, May was
considered a lucky month for engagements, though not for marriages.19
Later, in Medieval Europe, it was thought to be an evil and unlucky tree, and foretold a
death in the house if brought inside.20 The hawthorn was considered one of the
trees, and on Walpurgis (Beltane) night, witches turned themselves into hawthorns. Lust says
"With a little superstitious imagination, the hawthorn's writhing, thorny branches at night
probably do look enough like a witch to have instilled fear in medieval folk,"21
and according to
Brimble, "when very old its trunk becomes gnarled and, if in an exposed position, the branches
are twisted, giving the whole tree a sinister appearance."22
In Ireland lone hawthorns belong to the fairies, who meet at and live inside them. Many
dire things are predicted if a such a thorn were disturbed in any way, among them illness and
death. The Irish believed the fairies spread their washing across the thorn to dry. Ireland also has
sacred hawthorns at holy wells, on which rag offerings are left.23
Although many plants were associated with May Day, the hawthorn had more
significance than others, as the May-tree, and it symbolized the change from spring into summer.
On most May Days the hawthorn was already in full bloom, before the British at last changed the
calendar in 1752 and adopted the New Style. May 1 now comes thirteen days earlier than
On May Day, fairies and witches were abroad, and just as excited as humans by the
beginning of summer. Milk and butter were likely to be stolen or bewitched. From such antics, a
powerfully magical tree was needed as protection. In England and France, hawthorn was the
surest of protectors on May Day, while in Ireland, the favored plant was the rowan. The Irish also
collectively called the plants they gathered 'Summer,' or an Samhradh, as opposed to the
custom of calling them 'May,' i.e., 'bringing in the May.' "In fact, reverence for the Hawthorn is
part of our French, not of our Teutonic, inheritance."25
Hawthorn was gathered on May Day morning, interwoven, and placed on doors or
windows. This interweaving was important, since the power of magical plants was always
increased by weaving them into various shapes. The magic of the hawthorn had already been
increased during the night by the dew, which the country people considered a magic fluid,
especially on May Day morn.26
Sex and fertility, "which needed protection so much at this critical time,"27
much a part of the old May Day celebrations, and were symbolized by the hawthorn. The stale,
sweet scent of the flowers makes them suggestive of sex. This same smell led to the belief that
hawthorn flowers had preserved the stench of the plague. The flowers contain trimethylamine,
which is an ingredient of the smell of putrefaction.28
The most famous hawthorn of all is the Glastonbury Thorn, which puts out leaves and
flowers in winter and again in May. There seems to be some confusion about the species:
Grigson says it is Crataegus monogyna var. praecox,29 while
Brimble claims it is C. oxyacantha
var. praecox. Whatever the species, it is not the only one; there are similar
According to the Glastonbury legend, the famous Thorn blooms on Christmas Day
because the Crown of Thorns was made of hawthorn. Later, it was added that Joseph of
Arimathea stuck his dry hawthorn stick into Weary-All Hill, where it at once grew, and ever after
bloomed on Christmas Day.31
Towards the end of the 16th century, one of the two trunks of the Glastonbury Thorn was
cut down, and the other was later felled during the English Civil Wars. Fortunately, however, the
tree had been widely propagated by cuttings. Brimble tells us that these cuttings still bloom twice
a year, although plants grown from the seeds revert to the ordinary type and bloom only once a
year -- in early summer.32
Thre hawthornes also, that groweth in Werale,
Do burge and bere grene leaves at Christmas
As freshe as other in May.33
1 Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Edited by Claire
Kowalchik and William H.
Hylton. 1987. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA, pg. 275.
2 Green, Charlotte Hilton. Trees of the South. 1939. The University of
North Carolina Press,
Chapel Hill, NC, pg. 289.
3 Brimble, L.J.F. Trees in Britain. 1946. MacMillan and Co. Ltd.,
London, pg. 182.
4 Green, pg. 289.
5 Grieve, Mrs. M. A Modern Herbal (2 volumes). 1931. Dover
Publications, Inc., New York,
NY, pg. 385.
6 Ibid, pg. 385.
7 Green, pg. 290.
8 Grieve, pg. 385.
9 Ibid, pg. 385.
10 Ibid, pg. 385.
11 Rodale's, pg. 275.
12 Lust, John. The Herb Book. 1973. Bantam Books, New York,
NY, pg. 215.
13 Rodale's, pg. 275; Lust, pg. 215.
14 Lust, pg. 215.
15 Grieve, pg. 385.
16 van Doorn, Joyce. Making Your Own Liquers. 1980. Prism Press,
San Leandro, CA, pg. 72.
17 Grieve, pg. 385.
18 Lust, pg. 591.
19 Grigson, Geoffrey. The Englishman's Flora. 1955. Phoenix House
LTD, London, England, pg. 168.
20 Rodale's, pg. 275.
21 Lust, pg. 591.
22 Brimble, pg. 183.
23 Grigson, pg. 169.
24 Ibid, pg. 167-168.
25 Ibid, pg. 167.
26 Ibid, pg. 168.
27 Ibid, pg 167.
28 Ibid, pg. 168.
29 Ibid, pg. 170.
30 Brimble, pg. 184.
31 Grigson, pg. 170.
32 Brimble, pg. 184.
33 The Lyfe of Joseph of Arimathia, 1502, from Grigson, pg. 170.
by Muirghein uí Dhún Aonghasa (Linda Kerr) & Brighid
Hawthorn, the 6th lunar month, presents a seeming paradox: While strongly connected
with May Day, a festival of fertility and sexual license, Hawthorn is a moon of abstinance and
Hawthorn has been called the tree of enforced chastity. It is known as a time of restraint,
a time to clear away both the spiritual and physical deadwood and old habits. A time of clarity in
which you can strengthen your dedication and focus. This was the time for the Romans and
Greeks to clean out and purify their temples in preparation for the mid-summer celebrations. The
British also kept to this time of cleaning. Part of their tradition was the cleaning of the chimney,
and the chimney sweeps held a special place in their May Day festivities.
May is considered an unlucky month for marriages, but fine for engagements. It is
possible that this lovely month was reserved for the gods, leaving the next month, June, the
traditional month for ordinary mortals to marry in.
Children conceived in May are usually born in February. Statistics reveal that there are
more children born at that time who have disabilities or mental difficulties; that is, more
deviance from the norm of the bell curve. So unless you want a defective child or a genius, it
might be best to avoid this possibility.
With all of the evidence and folklore, one might think it obvious that abstinence is
required during Hawthorn. But there are still other things to consider.
May Day is a time of sexual freedom, when marraige bonds were considered dissolved
for the day, and temporary marraiges were made and ended. The goddess Maia is associated with
the Hawthorn, yet she is a goddess of fertility, and is connected to the May Day festival. The
Hawthorn itself is called the May tree, partly because of its role in May Day. The Hawthorn's
flowers have a unique odor, which at one time was thought to be the sweet smell of female
sexuality. A wreath of flowering Hawthorn was placed over the top of the Maypole, as a
representation of the female and male energies combined. And on a more personal level, few of
us can say they haven't felt stirrings of lust at a wild May Day festival!
So yes, there certainly seems to be a paradox in this moon. How can we resolve this? The
symbols of May Day, the wreath and the pole, might give us a clue. The male and female
energies, or the yin and the yang, should be combined and balanced. You cannot have one
without the other. Just as procreation requires both sexes, so does a harmonious inner self. In
Jungian psychology, when the male and female energies are in balance, the two 'halves' can
come together and create a 'psychic child,' the fruit of both; a higher, more evolved
Perhaps these clues also tell us that we should not forgoe the spiritual in favor of the
purely physical, or vice versa, for that in itself is a form of inbalance. We do know from
experience that if women indulge in too much sex in May, it can lead to 'clogged plumbing' by
late June; maybe this is seen in the cleaning of the temples in preparation for the mid-summer
There is no straight and true answer; you must interpret this yourself and do what you
think is best. And if you're still confused or in doubt, remember to ask the Hawthorn tree -- that's
why it's there.
Have you ever tried to identify a plant using a book only to find that about ten of the
pictures look just like the plant that you want to identify? Then you have to read about the
characteristics of the ten different plants to see if one of them is more like your plant than the
other nine. You do this only to find that you can't understand what half the terms mean. Finally
after staring at the ten seemingly identical pictures for an hour, you decide that maybe you don't
need to know what this plant is after all.
This article is meant to clear up some of the confusion by defining some basic terms for
plant parts and leaf characteristics. I will continue in the next issue with an article on flower
One of the plant characteristics that is often referred to, and which is sometimes the only
distinguishing characteristic between two plants, is the way that the leaves are arranged on the
stem. For the purpose of explaining this, you need to know that a node is the place on the stem
where a leaf is attached, and an internode is the part of a stem in between the nodes.
There are three basic leaf arrangements: Opposite (Fig 1), alternate (Fig 2), and whorled
(Fig 3). In the opposite arrangement, each node has two leaves, one on each side of the stem. In
the alternate arrangement, each node has one leaf, and the leaves are on alternating sides of the
stem. In the whorled arrangement, each node had three or more leaves encircling it.
There are two basic types of leaves in the plant kingdom: Simple (Fig 4), and compound
(Figs 5-7). Simple leaves are leaves which have only one part, whereas one compound leaf has
many small leaflets. It is common to mistake one compound leaf for many simple leaves, even
when you know there is a difference. To compensate for this, some identification books group
plants according to whether the leaves are simple or compound. Once you have seen several
compound leaves, the distinction should be clear.
There are many ways in which compound leaves can be arranged. Palmate arrangement
means that the leaflets all come from one central point like fingers from a palm of a hand (Fig 5).
Pinnate means that the leaflets are arranged from a long central axis (Fig 6). If you look at Figure
seven, you will notice that a leaf can be pinnate more than once. This is called bipinnately
One of the most distinguishing characteristics of a plant is the shape of it's leaves. In
looking through identification books I found there to be eight basic shapes that are common.
There can be more than one of these shapes combined in a single leaf. The most simple leaf
shape is called entire (Fig 8). This is a leaf with a smooth edge. Dentate (Fig 9) refers to a leaf
whose edges have bite shaped dents all the way around. Serrate (Fig 10) is often confused with
serrulate (Fig 13). The only difference is the size of the serration. A lobed leaf (Fig 11) is one
with big dents in it. Some plant species have a particular number of lobes. An undulate leaf (Fig
12) has a wavy edge to it but the waves do not wave deep enough for lobes to form. Some leaves
have marginal spines (Fig 15) such as holly. You will notice that Figure 15 is also dentate.
If you look at Figure 14 you will see a bundle of pine needles. Each needle is actually a
leaf. The main thing that you need to know about this is that the bundle itself is called a fascicle.
Pine trees have a certain number of leaves in each fascicle. This is very important in identifying
pine trees (something which is near impossible even if you know all the structures and terms
Another plant characteristic that is handy to know is venation. There are two basic types.
Pinnate (Fig 16) has veins which extend from a central axis. Palmate (Fig 17) has veins which
branch out from one point at the base of a leaf.
Well, that's about it for this article -- I hope I was able to help. As I said before, more
articles will follow. If you have any specific questions, please write me care of THE HAZEL
NUT and I will attempt to answer them in my next article.
Niering, William A. The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American
Wildflowers - Eastern Region. 1979. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, NY.
Davis, Donald E. & Davis, Norman D. Guide and Key to Alabama Trees.
Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., Dubuque, Iowa. This is a very useful book if you live in the
southeast (the authors are faculty of Auburn University).
This path-working wheel is based on the Native American medicine wheel, with
signs replacing the more traditional animals. It offers a fun and simple way to discover what
obstacles lie in your path to enlightenment. However, as no one sun sign out of twelve can
all aspects of a person, this wheel is not the end-all, be-all of spiritual discovery, and should not
taken as such. It can shed some light on your path, though, and suggest ways to overcome certain
The wheel is very easy to use. First, find your astrological sun sign on the wheel; for
example, Leo. This represents the low self; where you are right now. Leo's qualities are
trust, innocence, and love of music. When in the low self position, these qualities translate to one
who is childishly trusting and innocent, overly emotional, and who has a tendency to feel guilty
play "pain tapes" over and over. Leo can break out of this pattern by becoming aware of the
problems and overcoming them.
Now go directly across from your sun sign to its opposite on the wheel; in this case,
Aquarius. This position represents the high self; what you can ultimately achieve. Aquarius's
is that of wisdom. After dealing with the emotions of the low self position, and the other
still to come, Leo will obtain this wisdom and deeper understanding.
To find your main obstacle to reaching this higher self, go one sign to the left of the high
position. Leo's obstacle to overcome will thus be the Capricorn and Sagittarius combination,
law. When in the obstacle position, this means Leo will have problems with ethics, morals, and
personal responsibility, stemming originally from his overly emotional nature. Wisdom is not
all at once, but rather through overcoming a series of obstacles; this last is just the hardest.
Finally, understand that you still have to go completely around the wheel to complete your
spiritual quest. From the low self position, you will move clockwise, through increasingly
positions, until you reach and become your high self. You do not simply hop across the wheel;
have to experience and learn from everything in between. There are no shortcuts.
The colors listed for each position can be used to overcome that particular problem, and
you achieve your goal, the high self, in this lifetime. One way to do this is by finding stones of
color. These 'power stones' can also help you deal with your past karma and gain knowledge by
learning what is needed in this incarnation before going onto the next incarnation.
Going by our example, the first color stone Leo should obtain is a red stone, such as a
ruby, etc. For the high self position, Leo should get a white stone, like a diamond, white quartz,
crystal quartz, herkimer diamond, calcite, fluorite, etc. Next, Leo will need a dark blue stone, like
a blue sapphire, lapis lazuli, blue tiger's eye, etc.
In addition, a purple stone must always be used in combination with the
other three stones
in spiritual path-workings. The purple stone will work as a catalyst, a 'jump-starter,' for the other
three. Suggestions for purple stones are amethyst, sugalite, purple fluorite, etc.
Using Your Power Stones:
Your four stones will be effective if you simply charge them with energy and carry them
around with you; but they can also be used while meditating, singing, chanting, or dancing,
preferably in a power spot or sacred site of your choosing. A power spot is a place you find that
makes you feel better and stronger in your spiritual quest, enabling you to connect with
sacred site is a spirital place of intense power like Niagara Falls, New York or Etowah Mounds
Historic Site in Georgia.2
While beyond the scope of this article, know that grounding and balancing are important
while working with power stones, wherever you are. Before you can reach what most think is
(sky), you must be firmly rooted (grounded) in order to commune with the earth's energies. You
should also be balanced in yourself, as symbolized by the Yin/Yang sign. These energies, which
present in each of us, represent dark/light, female/male, night/ day, moon/sun, anima/animus,
Small power stones can be kept in a medicine bag or pouch made of natural material of
choice and then carried around the neck or waist. Beautiful well-shaped stones can be wrapped
strung on either a cord of velvet, leather or ribbon. Stones can also be purchased as beads,
fetishes, earrings, bracelets and rings. The scope of one's imagination and creativity will allow
to discover ways to use the stones in path-workings and to obtain the ultimate goal of higher
Sources & Notes:
Material for the Path-Working Wheel section of this article was based on information from
Imré Rainey and indirectly from Cynthia Rose Young of Atlanta, Georgia. Imré
is a past editor and
current contributor to the HAZEL NUT, while Cynthia is a Reiki Master,
Medicine Woman, and Kahuna, and is trained in Psychic Surgery.
1 Recommended: Finding Your Personal Power Spots by Jose
Alberta Rosa, M.D. with
Nathaniel Altman, or the first 3 books written by Carlos Casteneda on Don Juan.
2 To discover other sacred sites in your area and throughout the U.S., read
Sacred Sites, A
Traveler's Guide to North America's Most Powerful, Mystical Landmarks by Natasha
all known sacred sites are listed in this book; she simply lists about 3 sites for each of the
northeastern, southeastern, southwestern, and northwestern sections of the U.S.
3 For more detailed information on working with stones, see Love is in
the Earth: A
Kaleidoscope of Crystals, by Melody.
Dear Editor and Readers:
Pagans unite! This reader is here to tell you about an incredible act of religious oppression.
The wonderful people in charge of the Renaissance Festival (at least in Atlanta) have decided
that their advertisers are more important than their patrons. Pentagrams and anything considerd
by non-Pagans to be "Satanic" will not be allowed to be sold. It should be known that this is not
written down per se, but if you do sell these items, your booth may not be 'safe' or
'clean' or whatever it takes to shut you down. Rumor has it that to date at least 16 vendors have
pulled out -- more power to them! So if you have enjoyed buying 'Pagan' items at Renaissance
Festival in the past, don't look for them this year. Better yet, don't go. Show the people at
Renaissance Festival our strength in numbers, or even better, write a letter to let them know how
BUBBLES FROM THE
BOOK REVIEWS, ETC.
Empowerment through Reiki: The Path to Personal and Global Transformation, by
Paula Horan. 1989. Lotus Light Publications, Federal Republic of Germany. Softcover,
$14.95.Paula Horan, Ph.D., is a psychologist, lecturer, and Reiki Master. Having healed herself of
a breast tumor and grand mal epileptic seizures, Dr. Horan teaches healing and health with an
approach of personal responsibility. Empowerment Through Reiki offers an overview
of the Reiki
initiations, the history of Reiki, the combination of healing practices, and much more. I
this book for those considering Reiki treatments, initiations, and even Reiki Masters who are
for a good first and second degree text book.
- Reviewed by Imré K. Rainey
New Product ReviewThis wonderful display showed up in Etc. about a month ago and is already sparking
Even if you are not into stones you may want to check this one out.
Moldavite Power Collection
- Reviewed by Lara Goode, Etc., 128 N. College St., Auburn, AL.
Moldavites are the only tektites (meteorites) suitable for faceting as a gem. Raw moldavite,
however, can be very beautiful in its natural state. Virtually all moldavite in the world is found
Czechoslovakia near the Moldan river; thus the name moldavite.
Moldavite did not exist on this planet before 14.8 million years ago, when it is estimated
it showered to the ground in Czechoslovakia. It has been used by man as tools and talismans for
least 25,000 years. In legends, moldavite is believed to be the green stone in the Holy Grail.
Many people not attracted to stones can sense the energies of moldavite, usually as a hot
tingling sensation, or as a rush of energy through the body. It is a wonderful chakra opener,
especially when used at the 3rd eye, throat, and crown chakras.
If you have even the slightest interest in the metaphysical properties of stones, or if you
want to experiment with a different path in chakra work, I urge you to try moldavite.
Rough B grade moldavite (still very beautiful) can be purchased from $5 and up; the
museum quality or faceted stones run a little higher. Also available from "The Moldavite Power
Collection" is an oil, complete with a small piece of moldavite in the vial, moldavite incense in
stick and cone, moldavite bath salts, and moldavite guided meditation tapes. Warning: moldavite
can be addictive in nature. Go ahead -- get hooked!