ELDER (Sambucus spp.)
The Latin name sambucus is derived from a Greek word for a wind instrument made from elder. The pith can easily be removed from the small branches to make a flute. Elder regrows damaged branches with ease and can root rapidly from any part. A tea for purifying the blood can be made from the flowers and wine from the fruit, but in general the tree is poisonous. In Norse mythology, the Goddess Freya chose the black elder as her home. In medieval times it was the abode of witches and it was considered dangerous to sleep under its branches or to cut it down. Sticks of Elder were used as magical horses by Witches. Elder indicates the end in the beginning and the beginning in the end. Life in Death and Death in Life.
ELM* (Ulmus spp.)
A slightly fibrous, tan-coloured wood with a slight sheen. Elm is often associated with Mother and Earth Goddesses, and was said to be the abode of faeries, explaining Kipling's injunction; "Ailim be the lady's tree; burn it not or cursed ye'll be". Elm wood is valued for it's resistance to splitting, and the inner bark was used for cordage and chair caning. Elm adds stability and grounding to a spell.
FIR (Abies spp.)
Fir is a very tall slender tree that grows in mountainous regions on the upper slopes. Fir cones respond to rain by closing and the sun by opening. Fir can see over great distance to the far horizon beyond and below. Fir indicates high views and long sights with clear vision of what is beyond and yet to come.
HAWTHORN (Crataegus oxyacantha)
A light, hard, apple-like wood. Hawthorn usually doesn't grow much bigger than a shrub, and is popular in England as a hedge plant. The wood from the Hawthorn provides the hottest fire known. Its leaves and blossoms are used to create a tea to aid with anxiety, appetite loss and poor circulation. The Greeks and Romans saw the hawthorn as symbolic of hope and marriage, but in medieval Europe it was associated with witchcraft and considered to be unlucky. This seeming contradiction is to be expected from a tree with such beautiful blossoms and such deadly-looking thorns. Hawthorn can be used for protection, love and marriage spells.
HAZEL (Corylus avallania)
Hazel is another food tree. In Celtic tradition, the Salmon of Knowledge is said to eat the 9 nuts of poetic wisdom dropped into its sacred pool from the hazel tree growing beside it. Each nut eaten by the salmon becomes a spot on its skin. The Hazel tree provided shade, protection and baskets. In Europe and North America, hazel is commonly used for 'water-witching' - the art of finding water with a forked stick. Magically, hazel wood is used to gain knowledge, wisdom and poetic inspiration.
HOLLY* (Ilex aquifolium)
A beautiful white wood with an almost invisible grain; looks very much like ivory. Holly is associated with the death and rebirth symbolism of winter in both Pagan and Christian lore. In Arthurian legend, Gawain (representing the Oak King of summer) fought the Green Knight, who was armed with a holly club to represent winter. It is one of the three timbers used in the construction of chariot wheel shafts. It was used in spear shafts also. The qualities of a spear shaft are balance and directness, as the spear must be hefted to be thrown the holly indicates directed balance and vigour to fight if the cause is just. Holly may be used in spells having to do with sleep or rest, and to ease the passage of death.
LARCH (Larix europaea)
A light softwood, very similar to spruce. Larch is one of the few conifers which sheds its needles in the winter. It is closely related to the North American tamarack (larix laricina). The larch plays an important role in Sami (Lapp) and Siberian mythology where it takes the place of the ash as the World-tree. Their shamans use larch wood to rim their ceremonial drums. The smoke from burning larch is said to ward off evil spirits. Larch may be used for protection and to induce visions.
MAPLE (Acer spp.)
A very hard, pale, fine-grained wood. Although the sugar maple has the highest sugar content in its sap, all maple species can be tapped to make syrup and sugar, making them a vital resource to early North American settlers. In north-eastern North America, the annual 'sugaring-off' usually coincides with the vernal equinox, making it one of the first signs of spring. Maple can bring success and abundance.
OAK (Quercus spp.)
Red Oak* (Quercus rubra)
A strong, straight-grained, slightly porous wood with a slight reddish hue. Its energy is a bit lighter and more 'firey' than the other oaks.
White Oak* (Quercus alba)
Darker and denser than red oak. It's strength and density have led to its being used in barrel-making and shipbuilding. Useful for spells requiring strength and solidity.