This tree is a water lover. The oily water resistant wood has been used extensively for underwater foundations and pilings in Venice and elsewhere. It is used in dairy vessels and the branches in making whistles. It is associated with Bran, as He used His body as a bridge to span dangerous waters. It is used in the construction of bridges. Bran's Head was oracular. Alder indicates protection and oracular powers.
APPLE* (Malus spp.)
A dense, fine-grained, rosy-coloured wood with a slightly sweet smell. The Apple is the earliest cultivated tree. It is associated with choice. At Somerset, an auction was held for single acre plots on two pieces of common land. Plots were marked and matching marks made on the fruit. The apples were then placed in a bag and commoners were allocated land by the distribution of the fruit. All the acres of land were similar, as many times today choices must be made between similar and equally attractive things. Regardless, the choice must be made. In Norse myth, Idunna was the keeper of the 'apples of immortality' which kept the Gods young. The 'fruit-bearing tree' refered to by Tacitus in his description of Norse runic divination may have been the apple. Apple indicates choice, and is useful for love and healing magic.
ASH* (Fraxinus spp.)
A strong, straight-grained wood; sometimes has 'olive' streaks or stripes in the grain. The European variety (fraxinus excelcior) was referred to in the Eddas as the species of Yggdrasil - the 'World-Tree". The first man, named Ask, was created from an ash log. Ash was commonly used to make spears because of its 'springiness' and straight grain. In North America, strips of black ash were split along the grain to make splints for baskets and hoops. It is used in weaver's beams. Women would weave cloth and intermingling threads together in a tight pattern as the microcosm and the macrocosm are united. Ash can be used in spells requiring focus and strength of purpose, and indicates the linking of the inner and outer worlds.
BEECH (Fagus spp.)
Beech wood is closely grained, very easy to work giving a smooth even surface. At one time Beech tablets were used as writing surfaces because of the above mentioned qualities. Beech and book have the same word origins. Beech is concerned with ancient knowledge as revealed in old objects, places and writings. Beech indicates guidance from the past to gain insight which protects and provides a solid base upon which all relies.
BIRCH* (Betula spp.)
A lovely pale, fine-grained wood. Long associated with fertility and healing magic, birch twigs were used to bestow fertility on cattle and newlyweds, and children's cradles were made from its wood. Birch is one of the first trees to grow on bare soil and thus it births the entire forest. Criminals were at one time birched to drive out evil influences on them, to renew them for the new year. Birch was associated with Thor, probably in recognition of his role as an agricultural and fertility deity. Birch is an incredibly useful tree - nearly every part of it is edible, and it's sap was an important source of sugar to Native Americans and early settlers. The inner bark provides a pain reliever and the leaves are used to treat arthritis. It's bark was used for everything from paper to canoe hulls, and axe handles were also made from Birch. Birch is most useful for fertility and healing spells.
BLACKTHORN (Prunus spinosa)
Blackthorn is a winter tree. The sloe, its fruits ripen and sweeten only after the nip of the frost. White flowers are seen even before the leaves in the spring. It is black barked with vicious thorns and grows in dense thickets. The wood is used in the cudgel shillelagh and Blasting Stick. Its thorns are used to pierce waxen images. Blackthorn indicates strong action of fate or outside influences that must be obeyed.