Willow Lore

  • 5th Moon of the Celtic Year – (April 15 – May 12)
  • Latin name: Weeping Willow: salix babylonica; black Willow: salix nigra
  • Celtic name: Saille (Sahl’ yeh)
  • Folk or Common names: Willow, Witch’s Tree, Pussy Willow, Salicyn Willow, Saille, Sally, Withe, Withy, Witches’ Aspirin, Tree of Enchantment, Osier, Tarvos Tree, and Sough Tree. The Anglo-Saxon ‘welig’ from where the name ‘willow’ is derived, means ‘pliancy’.
  • Parts Used: Bark, sap, twigs, branches, wood.
  • Herbal usage: The bark of the Willow has been used as a pain killer… the bark contains a glusoside called salicin that forms salicylylous acid which is the ‘active ingredient’ in aspirin. The bark has astringic qualities and can be used for rheumatic conditions, heartburn and as a diuretic. The sap gathered from the tree when it is flowering can be used to treat facial blemishes and dandruff.
  • Magical History & Associations: The bird associated with this month is the hawk, the color is haze, and the gemstone is blood-red carbuncle. The Willow, a Feminine herb, is associated with water, and is an herb of the moon. The bird associated with this month is the hawk, the color is haze, and the gemstone is blood-red carbuncle. The Willow is associated with water, and is an herb of the moon. Willow wood is one of the nine traditional firewoods to be added to the Belfire that is burned at Beltane – as the tree of death that is Sacred to Hecate, Willow is added to the fire as a celebration of death. The Willow is sacred to Minerva who invented numbers and also to Artemis, Ceres, Persephone, Brigid, Hera, Helice, Mercury, Belili, and Circe. The Sumerian goddess Belili was a goddess of trees, and Willows in particular. The Willow is also associated with Orpheus, regarded by the Creeks as the most celebrated of poets. It is said that Orpheus received his gifts of eloquence and communication by carrying Willow branches on his journey through the Underworld. A bas-relief in a temple at Delphi portrays Orpheus leaning against a Willow tree, touching its branches. Pagan associations with the Willow have always been strong, for they are often revered as trees of the MoonGoddess, she who reflects her moon magic upon the waters of Earth. Willow was often the tree most sought by the village wise-woman, since it has so many medicinal properties, and eventually the Willow’s healing and religious qualities became one and the tree became called ‘witch’s tree’. The Willow is also associated with the fey. The wind in the Willows is the whisperings of a fairy in the ear of a poet. It is also said that Willow trees can uproot themselves and stalk travelers at night, muttering at them.
  • Magickal usage: The Willow has applications in magick done for enchantment, wishing, romantic love, healing, protection, fertility, magick for women, death, femininity, love, divination, friendship, joy, love, and peace. Placed in homes, Willow branches protect against evil and malign sorcery. Carried, Willow wood will give bravery, dexterity, and help one overcome the fear of death. If you knock on a Willow tree (knock on wood) this will avert evil. A Willow tree growing near a home will protect it from danger (I know this to be true. When the tornado hit our farm, the only reason we only lost part of the roof, rather than the whole house, was because the grove of Willows around the house protected us. Our poor Willows got pretty battered by the storm, lost most of their leaves and quite a few branches, but have recovered fully now!). Willows are also a good tree to plant around cemeteries and also for lining burial graves for its symbolism of death and protection. Willows can be used in rituals for intuition, knowledge, gentle nurturing, and will elucidate the feminine qualities of both men and women. If a person needs to get something off their chest or to share a secret, if they confess to a Willow, their secret will be trapped. Also, wishes are granted by a Willow tree if they are asked for in the correct manner. Willow leaves, bark and wood add energy to healing magick, and burning a mix of Willow bark and sandalwood during the waning moon can help to conjure spirits. Uses of Willow in love talismans include using the leaves to attract love. Willow leaves or twigs can also be used in spells to create loyalty, make friendship pacts, treaties, or alliances. A rejected lover can wear Willow as a charm to win back the love. To determine if you will be married in the new year:”Throw your shoe high up
    into the branches of a Willow tree;
    If the branches catch and hold the shoe,
    you soon will married be.” 

    Willows have many uses to Witches, the most common is that the wood is used to make wands for moon magick. Willow wands can also be used to dowse for water (underground), earth energies, and buried objects. (The Witch should be careful to ask for the tree’s blessings before taking a branch to make a wand.) The supple long ending branches of the Willow make good weaving materials to use to weave circlets and wreaths. Willow wood is good for making magical harps.

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