Healing and spiritual properties of trees
The ancient Celtic people had a sound practical knowledge of (and respect for) the properties, powers and energies of trees – they even had a alphabet based on them called the Ogham, which in modern times has also been used to create a tree calendar. I absolutely adore trees and the deep, steady wisdom they carry, and when you’re feeling confused, weak or sad there really is nothing better than sitting on the earth or cradled in roots with your back against a supportive trunk.
Many magical and spiritual tools are traditionally made of wood, imbuing the tool with the special energies of that tree, such as wands, staffs, runes, ogham sticks, ritual bowls and cups. It’s a beautiful practice to go walking, calling for an offering from your chosen tree that you can fashion into a personal power object (never cut the wood, it must have already fallen and so been given willingly). I have a precious hazel wand that I made myself in this way.
Here are just some of the healing and magical properties associated with different types of wood from one of the earth’s most majestic inhabitants (and the Celtic tree calendar month where appropriate).
September 2nd to 29th. The apple symbolises healing, love and beauty. It is excellent for detoxification, eliminating toxins on all levels and bringing in spiritual energies. It can also transform negative emotions.
February 18th to March 18th. Ash symbolises strength and a deep understanding of how all things are linked and connected. It unites the past, present and future and the continual cycle of birth and rebirth. It enables harmony with surroundings, feeling in tune, and promotes flexibility and security.
Cedar reduces turmoil by physically cleansing and bringing a fresh breath of air to anyone resisting a necessary change. It clarifies messages from the higher self and the universe and promotes a peaceful flow.
Bay retains, and can pass on, strong vitality and energy. It helps to release blocked and suppressed emotions and brings the spiritual into the physical.
The whole year round. Beech helps to free the mind from limitations and to reconnect with a higher purpose. It gives confidence and hope and promotes clear self-expression. It also helps relaxation and releases held-in trauma.
Samhain. This powerful, dense tree is also known as Sloe and La Mere du Bois (meaning “the mother of the woods”). Its vicious black thorns make it protective and impenetrable and wands or staffs made of this wood possess great power. Blackthorn can return evil to the sender, so should be used carefully with integrity and love.
Chestnut harmonises the flow of energy and helps to ease anxiety caused by contrast and difference. Very grounding, it helps to promote clarity of mind and intuition and encourages inner peace.
November 25th to December 21st. Elder symbolises regeneration and was used medicinally by ancient Britons, Celts and Romans who believed it to be a ‘cure all’. Elder brings stability, love and forgiveness, and enhances feelings of self-worth. Good for calming aggression, it is also beneficial during times of transformation and change.
Elm can bring purification and cleansing. It is excellent for re-energising the tired mind and balancing the drained or over-emotional heart. It gives the desire to move on and alleviates feelings of failure, despondency and inadequacy.
Field maple balances the heart, especially when reaching for love. It aligns the heart chakra and attunes it to higher love. Field maple brings understanding and contentment to those who are overwhelmed with responsibility or remorse for past mistakes or accidents.
August 5th to September 1st. Hazel is a tree of immortality and wisdom and makes an excellent all-purpose wand or staff or meditation and study tool. It can help to unfold creativity as well as direct towards inspiration and inner guidance. It gives the ability to receive and communicate wisdom and brings stability and focus to facilitate the integration of useful information.
Hawthorn is the very protective and feminine sister to Blackthorn. It stimulates the healing power of love, encourages trust and forgiveness and helps to cleanse the heart chakra. Hawthorn also helps with relationships, personal growth and spiritual awareness.
July 15th to August 4th. A tree of warrior magic and spiritual strength, Holly contains potent life force and calls us to recognise inner strengths. With protective qualities, Holly balances the mind and helps to alleviate agitation and aggression.
Lilac activates all the chakras, and eases tension throughout the body – especially the spine. The Lilac is closely connected with nature spirits.
Magnolia helps learning from past experiences and clarifies true identity. It eases restlessness and confusion and helps to maintain balance during difficult changes. Magnolia promotes a sense of freedom and relaxation.
June 10th to July 17th. The Oak is, perhaps, the most honoured of trees and was once considered to be the father of mankind. The king of the forest, the roots of the Oak are said to extend as far underground as its branches do above, making it a symbol of the law “as above, so below”. The Oak represents stability, strength and protection, and teaches persistence and endurance.
January 20th to February 17th. The Rowan is associated with protection and its berries are marked at the base with a pentagram – the universal sign of protection. Rowan helps attune to the energies of nature and the cosmic perspective, allowing a deep understanding of the universe.
December 24th to January 20th. Birch symbolises new starts and beginnings. It is very healing and gives the ability to experience beauty and tranquillity. It helps with tolerance of others and self, and is excellent for difficulties with self-expression.
Spindle wood energises the soul. It promotes understanding of the self’s true nature and needs, accessing shadow-self energies in an integrated and positive way. Spindle increases security and reduces the need for comparison with others.
Sycamore raises energy levels and is excellent for treating lethargy. Sycamore brings harmony and relaxation, an increased awareness of the sweet and beautiful things in life, and is good for lifting heavy moods.
Willow is a tree of immortality, and teaches about taking control of destiny. It is particularly good for clearing discontentment, both with the self and others. Strongly associated with water, it strengthens intuition and gives inspiration.
Winter solstice. The Yew represents everlasting life, continual rebirth, direct contact with the past and the wise woman/sage wisdom deep within. It also speaks of new growth springing from the death of the old self, or old ways of thinking. The Yew protects from harm by activating the highest spiritual values of survival and protection.