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The Magical Month of Hawthorn

Following the wheel of the year through the Celtic tree calendar, May 13th begins the time of the hawthorn tree and its ogham character Huath. 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 May 13 to June 9) holds the energy of enchantment that began at Beltane and continues to Midsummer’s Eve. Hawthorn brings a time of healing and hope; of dealing with obstacles, and stoking spiritual energy. 

The ancient Romans considered this tree a symbol of marriage, and both Roman and Greek brides often wore crowns of hawthorn. Like many plants, there is differing folklore about taking the flowers indoors. However, in Ireland on May Day blossoms were taken indoors to protect a house from evil. Another belief was that a broomstick made of hawthorn should not be taken into the home because it would foreshadow a death in the family.

Closely associated with Beltane, hawthorn was believed to have a surge of power when it blooms. While a belief persisted that it protected against lightning and evil spirits, hawthorn is effective to dispel any form of negativity. Use a leaf or flower for protection spells or carry one in your pocket or purse. Sprinkle petals on the ground just before ritual to cleanse and sanctify the area. The flowers can be used in charms for attracting love, and they add strength to a relationship when included in a hand-fasting bouquet.

Because this is an important fairy tree, be sure to leave a gift when taking anything from it, even any parts that you find on the ground. Wear a sprig of hawthorn flowers and/or leaves to contact fairies as well as other nature spirits.

Commonly known as haws, the oval, red hawthorn berries ripen in the autumn. The ancient Greeks used them medicinally, but hawthorn berries fell out of favor with herbalists until the nineteenth century in England. Of course, haws have magical uses. Place a white candle on your altar and surround the base of it with a ring of haws to aid in fertility spells. Also called pixie paws, haws are instrumental in attracting pixies, fairies, and other nature spirits to a garden. Place a few on your outdoor altar along with a trinket for them. Line a kitchen windowsill with haws to attract prosperity. Haws can be used in spells for defensive magic and to repel negativity.

Common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and English hawthorn (C. laevigata syn. C. oxyacantha) usually reach less than twenty feet tall. They have shiny, somewhat oval leaves and thorns that grow along the branches. Five-petaled flowers grow in clusters. The flowers of the common hawthorn are white, often with a pinkish blush; the English hawthorn’s have a slight purplish tint. Hawthorn was commonly called May for the month in which it blooms, and whitethorn, because of its grayish-colored bark.

 

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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.  

Comments

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Thursday, 16 May 2019

    I love Hawthorn, and the one in my backyard is a good 30 feet tall. This year I harvested blossoms and leaves that I'm busy tincturing; I'll go back in the fall to harvest haws and add them to the tincture. Here in Oregon, hawthorn is so abundant that it's considered a nuisance tree; dozens of saplings come up every spring!

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