Danu's Cauldron: Wisewoman's Ways, and Wild Fey Magic

Living in a sacred landscape, walking between the worlds in the veil of Avalon Glastonbury. Where the old gods roam the hills, and the sidhe dance beneath the moon...wander into the mists with me and let us see what we may find...

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The Faery thorns...Hawthorn folklore and magic.

May in Britain sees the hawthorn      ( Crataegus Monogyna) in flower, frothing down the lanes in clouds of white tinged with the deepest pink. So important is the hawthorn that in our indigenous traditions, the festival of Beltane cannot happen until the full moon after it blossoms, highlighting its significance to the goddess of Beltane the lady of sovereignty who goes by many names in British and Irish lore. At Beltane the goddess marries the sun god Bel, or sometimes oak king, or jack in the green, to bring fertility to the earth, and this is a highly erotic tree, associated with female sexuality and life force.  Known as the May tree, and the goddess tree, it is also the original Faery Thorn, marking places sacred to our Otherworldly kin. In Britain and Ireland there are many 'faery thorns' which are honoured as sacred magical places, and are protected even from roads and other development by their local villagers even to this day. Hawthorn blossom should never be taken inside the house lest the faeries wreak havoc on your home. However, the hawthorn is a powerfully magical tree to have as an ally and friend.

One of the greatest Celtic seers, Thomas the Rhymer, who lived in the early 13th century met the Queen of Elfland beneath a hawthorn tree, growing near his home in the Eildon hills in Scotland,  revealing its nature as a marker between the worlds and a tree beloved to the faery queens, preserving its place in our traditional sacred faery lore.

True Thomas lay on Huntlie Bank:
A ferlie he spied wi' his ee;
And there he saw a lady bright,
Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.

Her shirt was o' the grass green silk,
Her mantle o' the velvet fyne;
At ilka tett of her horse's mane,
Hang fifty siller bells and nine.

True Thomas, he pull'd aff his cap,
And louted low down to his knee-
- "All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heav'n!
For thy peer on earth I never did see"-

- "O no, O no, Thomas," she said;
"That name does not belang to me;
I am but the Queen of fair Elfland,
That am hither come to visit thee."

Hawthorns are often found growing beside Holy wells and sacred springs, which have been honoured for thousands of years across the Celtic lands as places of the life giving goddesses and entrances to the Otherworld. Traditionally cloths called clooties were dipped into the sacred waters and used to wash wounds or lave the heads of those in sorrow or distress, then the cloth was hung upon the tree so that it would take away the illness bad luck or disease. This practice has been often misunderstood and now people hang all sorts of things upon sacred hawthorn trees as offerings, which can badly effect the tree overtime by constricting its growth as well as generally littering an area. I prefer to wind a strand or two of my hair as thanks or as a prayer for healing, or give the tree a gift of song so it leaves no trace.   

In the Irish ogham alphabet, the hawthorn is known as Huath, and magically it teaches all about the wisdom of the heart and knowing our inner selves as a way to learn about the compassion of the goddess. Its thorns can be called upon to protect all those who are vulnerable or suffering loss as well as mothers and children, and those lovers who are 'true of heart'.   A fallen hawthorn twig, ( never cut) or a pouch of hawthorn berries are good charms to protect children and pregnant women, or those suffering from anxiety, while hawthorn berry tea or tincture are excellent herbal remedies for anxiety or heart palpitations. 

If you would be a faery friend, or contact the goddess of the land, honour the hawthorns in your area. Leave them offerings of cream at their roots, and gifts of song and poetry. In time you may discover your connection with our Otherworldly cousins has grown stronger than you'd ever imagined, and like Thomas you may find you have been granted the gift of prophecy, the wisdom of the heart and 'the tongue that cannot lie'.

Faery blessings to you!  

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©danuforest2015 www.danuforest.co.uk

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Danu Forest is a wisewoman in the Celtic Bean Feasa tradition of her ancestors. You could call her many things- witch, seer, walker between the worlds, healer, druid, priestess, teacher, writer, gardener, herbwife, stargazer, faery friend, tree planter, poet, and wild woman. Danu lives in a cottage near Glastonbury Tor in the midst of the Avalon lakes, in the southwest of England. Exploring the Celtic mysteries for over 25 years, and noted for her quality research, practical experience, as well as her deep love of the land, Danu writes for numerous national and international magazines and is the author of several books including Nature Spirits, The Druid Shaman, Celtic Tree Magic, Gwyn ap Nudd and The Magical Year'. She teaches regular workshops and online courses and is available for consultations, including healings readings and other ceremonies.


  • Helena
    http:// ​Helena Thursday, 28 May 2015

    I loved this entry! Thank you for the information about clooties - I did not know the real purpose behind them. From now on, I will just use a bit of hair!

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