4/15 – 5/12: The Willow symbolizes the female and rhythms of the circle. This tree was sacred to the Moon and, in Celtic lore, the Universe was hatched from two crimson serpent eggs (which contained the Sun and the Earth) hidden among the boughs of the Willow. Hens’ eggs were later substituted for those of the serpent and symbolically eaten as part of the Beltane feasting. This ritual was eventually transferred to the celebration of Easter in the Christian calendar with the eggs becoming Easter eggs. Staves cut from this tree were often used for fencing, roofing house, and lunar wands. Along with Sandalwood, Willow bark aided in the conjuring of spirits forth from the Otherworld. It was also said to help soothe those who felt bitter or jealous and proved to be an effective medicine in the cure of worms and dysentery. Both Willow bark (containing Salicin) and the Primrose (the plant associated with the Willow) were once used as analgesics, particularly in the treatment of arthritic diseases. Pregnant women would lay cloths beneath the tree in order to catch the leaves, which were believed to assure an easy birthing process. Always known as a “tree of enchantment,” the Willow is reported to have bestowed the mystic gift of eloquence upon Orpheus when he visited the sacred grove of Persephone at the Temple of Delphi in Greece. The Celts associated the Willow with poets and young suitors would commonly wear a sprig of Willow to acknowledge the power and status of the old “wise one” (the Cailleach of Celtic myth who was the Crone aspect of the triple goddess and to whom this tree was sacred). The words “Witchcraft” and “Wicca” are both derived from the word “Willow.” The Willow was also hosted to the sacred Mistletoe of the Druids, which was often more commonly found growing on the Willow and the Poplar than it was on even the mighty Oak. This tree was once referred to as “Witches Aspirin,” probably not only for its reputation in resolving dilemmas but also for its headache-relieving properties. In the past, some cultures have been known to “Wear the Green Willow” in order that others might be aware they were going through a period of mourning and Druidical sacrifices were customarily offered in Willow-wicker baskets. It was once said that if someone felt an overwhelming need to confess, the secret could be shared with a Willow and be forever trapped. Its wood was often used for planning and lining burial graves due to its associated symbolism with death and protection.
There are at least 500 species of Willow…from tall trees to Arctic plants barely two inches tall. The European Willow, found in central and Southern Europe, is also known as the White Willow because of its grayish bark. The American variety is called the Black Willow due to its black-colored bark. Together with Poplars and Alders, this tree is usually found growing beside streams and lowland rivers, with a preference for damp and boggy areas. Its spreading branches, which reach toward the source of water, create a full shape and its leaves are long and slender, covered with silver hairs that give the entire tree a “shimmering” appearance. Willows can reach 80 feet in height and sprout vigorously from stumps. Its flowers are tiny and bear no petals. It is an imposing tree with a thick trunk and heavily-ridged bark. The Willow’s catkins, which appear in early Spring prior to the appearance of leaves, attracts bees to begin the cycle of pollination.
There are two distinct types of Willow individuals (a division which relates to all Celtic Tree Signs). The “new moon” character is associated with the first two weeks of a sign and the “full moon” character is associated with the last two weeks.
The “new moon” Willow individual tends to more inclined to sudden mood changes and displays more unreliable character traits. These people are however receptive to change and quick to take advantage of any opportunity which presents itself. The “full moon” Willow individual tends to disregard advice, even though his or her own reasoning power often lacks credibility. The “full moon” Willow is, however, the most resourceful of the two types and is blessed with an even more exceptional memory than his or her “new moon” counterpart.
In general, Willow individuals are basically articulate, strong-willed, resourceful and possessed with excellent memories. They touch upon all aspects of nature and its association with the Moon. Emotional and enigmatic, Willow people respond quickly to situations but are prone to sudden mood changes, which can make them difficult to get to know. Being shrewd and practical, they can be brilliant inventors but are also drawn to the unexplained mysteries of life. As a friend, the Willow individual can be a powerful ally…on the other hand, he or she can make for a formidable enemy. Willows have a type of passive tenacity and can be extraordinarily wise counselors and extremely nurturing parents who are protective of loved ones. The Willow person is often reluctant to forgive and forget, which can lead to permanent rifts with friends and family. In the workforce, Willows are usually employed in very responsible positions but find it hard to settle upon a definitive career. If the career choice should be in the field of education, however, they are counted among the best teachers. Willow individuals seldom express a controversial opinion in public (which makes them appear very amiable) but privately, their views are usually strong one way or the other. They are possessed with an overactive imagination and tend to fret needlessly about health matters. The Willow has a deep interest in family loyalty and history and usually becomes the family genealogist. The figure of the mother tends to dominate and influence the Willow throughout his or her life but once, married, there is no more devoted individual when it comes to the spouse and children.
The lunar energy of Willow people can be positively channeled into the arts, but it can also suddenly activate latent creative skills that may appear to change the personality. For the most part, Willows are incredibly difficult to get to know due to the type of “veil” over their personalities which hides a great deal. Their sense of humor is not always easy to define and tends to “come and go” depending on the occasion. Blessed with a potential wisdom that makes them wise advisors, they have usually valued members of society. Willow individuals usually marry at a young age and close personal relationships are of the utmost importance. With the correct partner, Willow individuals create a powerful bond that tends to strike an affinity between the sexes. Willows must learn how to trust their inner voice or they can become moody and chronically indecisive. Since the Moon has always been associated with those who can influence the public with the force of their personality…either good or bad…the Willow individual is usually one to be reckoned with.
There will be some Willow individuals who fail to fit the character pictures described above. These are, in every sense, the great magicians of the world. Appearing on the surface to be the most conventional of human beings, he or she will be experiencing an incredible inner life or imagination. However, there will be a time when this hidden potential suddenly bursts forth. It may take the form of writing to public figures or perhaps adopting a personal political role in addressing the rights and wrongs of a particular issue. Then again, there will be periods when such personal motivation ceases as suddenly as it began and the intuitive nature of such a Willow individual appears to crave a complete break from the routine rigors of daily life.
Willows which by water stand
Ease us to the Summerland.
Tree of Enchantment, Tree of Witcheries
The fifth month of the Celtic Tree calendar,
April 15th – May 12th
Fifth consonant of the Ogham alphabet – Saille
Symbolism: Resonance and Harmony
Birds: Hawk, Snowy Owl
Deity: Persephone, Hecate, Cerridwen,
Artemis, Selene, Luna, Diana, Brigit
“I am a willow of the wilderness,
Loving the wind that bent me.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Folk names: Osier, Pussy Willow, Saille, Salicyn Willow, Saugh Tree, White Willow,
Witches Aspirin, Withe, Withy
Willow bark contains salicin, or Salicylic acid, used to make aspirin.
Infusions from the bark have long been used as a remedy for cholls, rheumatism, and fevers.
Willow sap applied to the skin can remedy acne and a strong decoction of boiling
the bark and leaves in water can be rubbed into the scalp for dandruff.
New Moon magick, creativity, fertility, female rights of passage, inspiration, emotion, binding. Love, Love divination, protection, healing.
Also known as the tree of immortality because of its ability to
regrow from a fallen branch in moist ground.
A wand made from Willow wood has many uses:
sleep with it and have more vivid dreams, use it to draw down the moon,
protection for underworld journeying
Magickal Brooms, witch’s brooms are traditionally bound with a willow’s branch.
There once was a Willow, and he was very old,
And all his leaves fell off from him and left him in the cold;
But ere the rude winter could buffet him with snow,
There grew upon his hoary head a crop of mistletoe.
All wrinkled and furrowed was this old Willow’s skin,
His taper finger trembled, and his arms were very thin;
Two round eyes and hollow, that stared but did not see;
And sprawling feet that never walked, had this most ancient tree.
~Julianna Horatia Ewing, “The Willow Man”
The Faces of WomanSpirit
A Celtic Oracle of Avalon
by Katherine Torres, Ph.D.
Trust All is here and now.
Connect with the Hand of Goddess.
Let Divine Mother Transform you.
Be an Example in the World.
Willow asks you to bend with her into the path of retrieval.
Follow the labyrinth trail, connect with the power of wisdom and the rhythm of your soul, and return to your ordinary world strengthened. You will find that your awareness of your purpose is stronger and your intent cannot be broken by the spell of someone else’s desire.
Alone with myself
Spell for Love:
Take three long supple branches of willow, braid them together and then fasten it into a circle with pink, red or white ribbon. Place a picture or the name of the person you love in the center and then put it next to your bed.
THE CELTIC TREE ORACLE
by Liz and Colin Murray
The Willow in the tree alphabet stands for the female and lunar rhythms of life. She is water-seeking, thriving from preference on the damp margins of lakes and streams or across the low-lying water meadows. Water and the tidal movements of the sea are governed by the pull of the moon. The moon in its monthly rhythms is female, contrasting with the male sun’s daily and yearly turnings. In several ways, the Celts held women in higher regard than we do today. On the material level, women were property owners, and whoever controlled the property controlled the marriage. Women of all types and appeared in the Celtic pantheon, the spiritual strength and life-giving qualities gave by both female and male recognized equally. There were many colleges of Druidesses – learned women and teachers – respected especially for their gifts of seer-ship, often expressed through dreams, or night visions.
Heitaro loved the willow tree that grew close to his hut. As the world judged riches he had none,
but the tree was treasure and temple and company enough for him, and each new season of the year seemed more beautiful than the last. When the wind blew through its branches, no music was finer.
One day the villagers came with their choppers, claiming they needed the wood to build a bridge. Heitaro offered to find them some other wood if they promised not to touch the Willow. He scoured the land and returned with some wood, and the villagers left, leaving the Willow unharmed.
That night as the moonlight shimmered on its leaves he stood beneath the willow branches and gave his thanks to the gods that the tree had been spared. As he prayed, he saw something move in the shadows. He turned for a closer look and saw a beautiful young woman standing there. He bowed and apologized for disturbing her, backing away,
believing she was there waiting for her lover.
Each night after she was there, waiting for her lover, and Heitaro, at last, realized that is was he himself she came to be with. They were married, and a child soon followed. Every night they prayed together by the willow tree.
One day, the emperor To-Ba ordered that a temple to Kwannon, the goddess of mercy, be built for the villagers.
They wanted the wood of the willow tree, and this time they would not be convinced otherwise. This made Heitaro very sad, however, he realized how blessed he was with his wife and daughter, that he believed he could endure the loss of his willow tree. The villagers began to cut down the willow tree.
The willow wife cried out “Husband, the room is growing dark!” She fell to the ground and covered her face with her hands. Heitaro saw her limbs twisting and turning as though to avoid blows. He found he could do nothing to help her. He and his daughter watched as the willow wife lay dying. When the last blow on the tree was struck, he was alone with his daughter.
Adapted from “Myths of the Sacred Tree” by Moyra Caldecott.
Based on a Japanese folktale, retold by Iyanaga Mitsuyo,
and quoted in Meinrad Craighead, The Sign of the Tree: Meditations in Images and Words.
by Gillian Kemp
Your fertile inner strength, like that of the Willow, is your inexhaustible flexibility to bend around obstacles. Your desires can be woven into shape, as the Willow’s pliable shoots are used to make baskets. Magic wands are made from Willow, so what you have in mind has all the magical ingredients for success. You can tell your secret to a Willow and make wishes. The male and female catkins, which grow on separate trees, signify a lovers’ meeting for you. The bright-green leaves of Spring forecast celebrations, fresh opportunities, and speedy growth. The honey-bearing catkins symbolize the wisdom of spiritual self-improvement and sweet things for you.
Cicely Mary Barker
The Fairy Bible by Teresa Moorey
The willow fairy can be grumpy and tricky. The Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings were lulled to sleep and almost killed by Old Man Willow, and while fairies are rarely so ill- intentioned, the willow fairy is not always kindly.
The willow fairy may leave the tree at night and follow travelers, muttering, and mumbling, which can be rather frightening to those who do not understand.
Willow has the profound wisdom to offer, which humans rarely appreciate. It is deeply mystical and in tune with the music of the waters, all around the globe. Salicylic acid, which is used to make aspirin, comes from the willow, and the willow elves are associated with knowledge of medicinal herbs and healing.
Approached with respect, willow is a wonderful teacher and will whisper to us if we listen. It is important to be still and to understand that human perceptions are shallow. Imagine the questing roots of willow, seeking the underground streams that flow to and from the earth-girdling oceans. Nighttime is best to commune with this spirit in meaningful dreams.
The Leaf on the Water
by Ouan Tsi (1007-1072)
The wind tears a leaf from the willow tree;
it falls lightly upon the water,
and the waves carry it away.
Time has gradually effaced a memory from my heart,
and I watch the willow leaf drifting away on the waves.
Since I have forgotten her whom I loved,
I dream the day through in sadness,
lying at the water’s edge.
But the willow leaf floated back
under the tree,
and it seemed to me
that the memory could never be effaced
from my heart.
Willow Knot Spell
from Herb Magic for Beginners by Ellen Dugan
To have your spell wish granted, you are to stand under the graceful branches of the willow on the night of a full moon. Blow a kiss to the moon and state your wish out loud, as you gently tie a loose knot in one of the supple branches. Then, while gazing up at the rising moon, repeat this verse:
Under the Lady’s moon, shining so bright,
Willow tree, hear my request on this night.
In this willow tree, I now leave a marker,
Grant me love and happiness, and bring much laughter.
Close the spell with these standard Craft lines:
By all the power of three times three,
And as I will it, so mote it be.
The Great Goddess
Her name means “plant life” because of her connection to the plants,
especially blossoming flowers in Spring,
which are also symbolic of the human spirit that respects and appreciates beauty itself.
Fair Flora! Now attend thy sportful feast,
the pleasure we can evoke in one another, and the love that we can kindle.
The Goddess blesses all forms of love, all the different modes of attraction and deep connection – sexual love of all persuasions, friendship, the love of parent and child, love of trees and flowers
and flowing water, love of truth, beauty and justice.
The twining ribbons of many colors remind us of the many aspects of love.
The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
Sing all a green willow.
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
Sing willow, willow, willow.
~William Shakespeare, Othello
LESSON OF THE WILLOW
from The Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford
The watery willow encourages the expression of deeply buried feelings, easing sadness through tears and grieving, and teaching the consequences of love and loss in matters of the heart. The willow reminds us of the
Celtic Moon sign – Willow Moon
The willow seeks out water and is often found near streams or above natural underground wells. Like no other, this tree is associated with the Moon, in all her phases – and so symbolizes the change of our feelings and “moods” as time passes.
Born under the sign of the willow, you are an instinctive creature – in fact, you often react primarily from your “gut response” rather than on intellectual information. Watch the rhythm of your moods carefully and pay attention to your dreams. Their symbolism will help you navigate throughout life.
Written by Kim Rogers-Gallagher, and Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2000
Weeping Willow, The Melancholy
Little breezes dusk and shiver.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Lady of Shalott
I release that which no longer serves me. I am at one with my environment.
I honor the energy of willow for the lunar rhythms within me as a woman.
I will recognize and heed my own body’s cycles.