Plant Magic: Wisdom from the Green World

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The Magical Month of Alder

Following the wheel of the year through the Celtic tree calendar, March 18th begins the time of the alder tree and its ogham character Fearn. While the tree calendar is a modern construct, it holds meaning because of the concepts it has come to symbolize and the significance it has for twenty-first century magic, ritual, and everyday life.

The energy of this period (from March 18 to April 14) helps to keep energy grounded for mundane issues while fine-tuning intuition and magical skills. This is also a time to enjoy your uniqueness and focus on the spiritual aspects of life. It is an opportune time for seeking spiritual guidance.

Although the alder has served a wide range of domestic uses, it has also been regarded as highly magical. It is also a healing tree for its forest companions in the wake of disasters.
Young, green alder branches are easily turned into whistles by cutting both ends and pushing out the pith with a smaller stick. These hollow branches can be cut to various lengths and tied together to create panpipes, which were named for the Greek god Pan. Whistles made from this wood are said to be magical and have the ability to summon the four winds.

If you have an alder on your property, leave an offering for fairies beneath it as they are said to be attracted to this tree. Collect a handful of catkins for magic work. Burn them in banishing rituals and spells or crumble them onto your altar for water, wind, and general weather magic. A leaf under your pillow will invite prophetic dreams. Hold three leaves between your palms before a divination session to bring clarity. Holding a branch of alder helps to connect with spirit guides. Use a small twig as a protective charm by keeping it in a small decorative bag that you can carry with you or keep it in your car.

Common alder (Alnus glutinosa), also known as European alder, grows about sixty-five feet tall and often has multiple trunks. Slender, drooping male catkins (clusters of tiny flowers) and small, pinecone-like female catkins appear before the leaves develop. The glossy, green leaves are rounded, heavily veined, and notched at the end.

 

 

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  The author of over a dozen books, Sandra describes herself as an explorer of history, myth, and magic. Her writing has been featured in SageWoman, The Magical Times, The Portal, and Circle magazines, Utne Reader and Magical Buffet websites, and various Llewellyn almanacs. Although she is a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, she travels a solitary Goddess-centered path through the Druidic woods. She has lived in New York City, Europe, England, and now coastal New England where she lives in a Victorian-era house with her family, cats, and a couple of ghosts.  

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