Plant Magic: Wisdom from the Green World

Whether you live in a city or the countryside, the magic of plants can be found everywhere and sometimes where you least expect it. Be open and explore the magic that surrounds you.

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We Are Entering the Magical Month of Hazel

Following the wheel of the year through the Celtic tree calendar, August 5th begins the time of the hazel tree and its ogham character Coll. 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.

This marks a period (from August 5 to September 1) that is associated with creativity, inspiration, and divination. The energy invested in creative projects and developing skills is doubled during this period. This is also a time when esoteric knowledge and great wisdom are more readily accessible.

Young catkin-bearing hazel branches were commonly called wands, and according to legend, Mercury’s winged wand was made of hazel. When hazel is found growing with apple and hawthorn, it is said that these trees mark the boundary of a magical place.

Hazelnuts were associated with the mystic rites of Mercury and Apollo. Hazel branches used for divining rods were said to be particularly potent if cut on Midsummer’s Eve. In Celtic mythology, hazelnuts were closely associated with salmon and water. Although the details of legends differ, the hazelnut was considered a repository of great wisdom. This wisdom was passed along to the salmon that ate the nuts as well as anyone who ate the salmon.

Place a circle of hazel leaves on your altar to aid you in all forms of magic. During divination sessions, place a forked hazel branch on your altar or table for guidance. Hang a hazel stick above your altar or over a doorway to provide protection and defense. Use a hazel stick to draw a magic circle for extra protection. In place of a stick, use a brown candle into which you have carved its ogham character.

Place a handful of dried leaves in your workspace to stimulate inspiration for creative projects. The leaves are also an aid when initiating changes, plus they provide support for all forms of communication. Hold a couple of hazelnuts or a small twig during meditation will help you connect with inner wisdom.

The common hazel (Corylus avellana) and American hazelnut (C. americana) are shrubby, multi-trunked trees. The common hazel reaches fifteen to twenty feet tall and produces prominent yellow catkins in late winter. The American hazelnut grows to about fifteen feet tall and twelve feet wide. It produces yellow-brown male catkins up to three inches long. Both trees have pointed leaves that are heavily veined and toothed.

The genus name for hazelnut comes from the Greek korys, meaning “hood,” which refers to the shape of the husk that covers the nut. Likewise, the name hazel, from the Anglo-Saxon haesel, meaning “bonnet,” also refers to the husk. (Frederic Rosengarten, Jr., The Book of Edible Nuts, 95). Small, round nuts are called cobs or hazelnuts, and the larger ones are called filberts. That said, the names hazelnut and filbert are often used interchangeably.

 

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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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