By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – I recently added dried Hawthorn leaves and berries (the berries are also called Pixie Pears) to our smudge which we sell, because there are a few trees on the land and in the local area. I thought I would write up the great benefits that are positive medicinal properties, not only in smudge but other uses and share some folklore.
Hawthorn is one of the many sacred Trees, she is not very big and some are even more like shrubs. She has been honored for thousands of years because of her many benefits as natural medicine. Its considered a Goddess tree because she is very healing to our hearts, both the accumulative and the karmic principles. We humans all experience when love hurts, bringing sorrow or pain to the heart chakra area and if prolonged without emotional healing, it begins to cause physical damage. Hawthorn is an excellent herb for our heart.
When i have a client that has an emotional heart issues but it begins to appear on a physical level, I know the underlying sorrows are mainly about the long journey of love, love that was a loss, or a betrayal and heart related emotional issues that has accumulated over decades and begun to eat away at the actual physical body.
Long ago, body & soul were equally important, but over the last 2,000 years the mental body and physical body have become “over” dominant, and body and soul (which includes the emotional release body) as a working interdependent relationship has been severed. Our proof is so much physical sickness in the world today and not enough emotional healing in direct relief of physical ailments. As a soul healer, dreaming soul folk healer, its been most of my work this lifetime, not only on myself but my clients, students and especially apprentices. The core or root body is the eternal soul as both the human body and the deer body lay in the ground after we leave. Its wise to love our physical body and life because its a gift, but our soul is what allows this gift to even be experienced at reincarnation. Without a soul, there is no rebirth.
Hawthorn, white and odorous
with blossom, framing the quiet
fields and swaying flowers and
grasses and the hum of Bees.
– F. S. Flint, 1885-1960
Hawthorn for the reluctant Dream
Hawthorn has been proven to help with insomnia and allows one to see the dreams that are more intense by falling asleep. We fall asleep sometimes to do this work which is brought forth from out karmic issues. Everyone including doctors calls these nightmares, and insomnia can be the result (of avoidance). Average insomnia is natural and the soul tells us when “not to sleep” for the dreaming will be too difficult and you need some time off so you stay awake. That is a good sign, and should be honored.
When insomnia becomes a major issue four or five times a week and over a few years, and then sleep apnia sets in, that is not healthy and then, one is completely avoiding the difficulty of their emotional body which can be avoided here, but in dreams the soul comes in and says you cannot avoid it. Thus the creation of medications to sleep then over rides everything and you soul is torn and fragmented more and more each year. This is when nightmares come as a last ditch effort with a double negative dreaming life. I do not recommend Hawthorn for that, but for the occasional insomnia person, whose dreamer is not avoiding their emotional life and dream life.
Hawthorn essence encourages forgiveness even in the most stubborn and prideful persons who wears the heaviest of heart in the waking life, and thus the dreaming life will reflect this. We learn to be vulnerable, to forgive, to slay our own mind and its belief systems when it prevents us from growing emotionally (mature). The mind convinces we are right, when we might be wrong… that is the shadow side of the ego my friend, if its continuing beyond reason or causes arguments or only triggers anger.
Herbal Medicine for the Physical Body
A medicinal flower, fruit, leaves and berries, all which are all astringent and useful. They are very helpful in curing that Winter sore throat to bring relief. In more serious ailments its a good dilate for the blood stream improving oxygenation and re-energy metabolism in the heart and decreasing lactic acid, basically any physical ailment connected with the heart. Hawthorn berries used in combination with motherwort will also strengthen the heart.
Medicinal Uses for Hawthorn:
Parts used: Flowers, leaves, berries.
Cardiovascular Heart Issues, Stress, Hypertension
Properties: Cordial, Hypotensive. Constituents: tannins,
flavonoids, essential oils, triterpene-carbonic acids
and purine derivatives.
Hawthorn is used for diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as congestive heart failure, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. It is also used to treat both low blood pressure and high blood pressure, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), and high cholesterol. So far, research suggests that hawthorn might be effective in treating congestive heart failure. Some people use hawthorn for digestive system complaints such as indigestion, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
It is also used to reduce anxiety, as a sedative, to increase urine output, and for menstrual problems. Hawthorn is also used to treat tapeworm and other intestinal infections. Some people apply hawthorn to the skin for boils, sores, and ulcers. Hawthorn preparations are used as a wash for sores, itching, and frostbite. Before taking hawthorn, talk with your a professional and seasoned herbalist, for she or he would want to know if you take any medications. It has major interactions with many prescription medications.
Folk Rites & Protection – Magic, Magick, Magik
When using Hawthorn in magical rites or healing, add a little hawthorn leaves to your smudge which allows a statement that you are trying to release some emotional pain and release is always done on a full moon. Hawthorn has magical powers to ward off evil as well, so as long as you are ‘aware or conscious’ enough of your evil, then it will work. It you avoid your own shadow “as in dark and shadow is neither good nor positive” and working on your shadow to heal it, then Hawthorn can assist you.
Hawthorn can be woven into a growing fence called a Hedgerow and protect spiritually the entrances of any entrances or gates to your home. These thorny barriers are very effective and have saved many villages from thieves and highwaymen. This twiggy thorny tree, with its white-stalked flowers and red anthers, also advises caution to passerbyers w ho know that a sacred person lives there and uses Hawthorn to deter the unconscious sides of people. So make a stick and wrap it with the intention to hand it around your driveway or gate.
Hawthorn is what some pagans call a Tree of Enchantment and many feel that the Insect Clans (faeries including butterfly) along with the nessie, dwarfs, domovoi and gnomes souls – are all Hawthorn’s smallest and most dedicated Guardians in the middle worlds behind the scenes. They protect the wells and springs located nearby where hawthorn grow. In a smudge, its beautiful flowers and new leaves dried, mixed together with your white sage, and used with intention or prayers reaches the upper-worlds (heaven) for good fortune and answers to your intention or spell, in any situation, if you also do the karmic work (personal healing work) as well for the yin types who must do that type of work. For yang type of people that is not really required.
If you sit under a Hawthorn on May 1st, the Celtic legends of the Goddess says that you are liable to be whisked away to the faerie worlds in your dreams at night or for the lucky few, a visit to you during the day if you can be still of mind enough. Also at dusk candles are lit on the Hawthorn (May Tree) as it is also known, to welcome Summer although May is technically still the third moon of Spring until the Summer Solstice happens on the equinox, so use common sense today regardless of tradition and their timelines to align with mother earth.
The blooms of the Hawthorn are used for fertility, happiness and good luck in fishing. Wands which are made of the sacred Hawthorn have great power and allow the person some boundary power. Witches and Magical people use Hawthorn for protection, love and marriage in ceremony. As an Omen, its said that if you take a blossoming branch of Hawthorn inside one’s house it will bring illness to one’s mother, but that is a religious backfiring from the church fathers who no longer wanted any of the old healing rites in community.
Hawthorn for Protection
Hawthorn is for the protection of your soul, for she is not manifested in physical matter and therefor for many who are not seers, unseen, espcially unseen soul shadows of living people. Hawthorn protects your soul from the unseen forces. Try carefully gathering a few thorns from the Hawthorn tree and on a piece of paper, write the name of the person or situation from which you seek protection from. Then wrap it around the thorns and bury this in the ground – if possible near the tree from which the thorns were collected and do it out of love and forgiveness to that person (Sandra Kynes). You can carry a few berries in your pocket or even string them like a beaded necklace and wear them during ceremony or for protection or anytime you feel you need protection from shadows.
There’s also the eventual corruption of the Goddess Tree. Mara Freeman (from druidry.org) writes in her Tree Lore: Hawthorn…
“The hawthorn, was once known simply as ‘May’, is naturally enough the tree most associated with this month in many parts of the British Isles. When we read of medieval knights and ladies riding out ‘a-maying’ on the first morning of May, this refers to the flowering hawthorn boughs they gathered to decorate the halls rather than the month itself. For on this day, according to the Old Style calendar that was in use until the 18th century, the woods and hedges were alight with its glistening white blossoms.
This and similar customs to welcome in the summer flourished in rural places until quite recently. In some villages, mayers would leave a hawthorn branch at every house, singing traditional songs as they went. The seventeenth-century English poet Robert Herrick wrote:
There’s not a budding boy or girl this day,
But is got up and gone to bring in May;
A deal of youth ere this is come
Back, with whitethorn laden home.
The young girls rose at dawn to bathe in dew gathered from hawthorn flowers to ensure their beauty in the coming year, as the old rhyme goes:
The fair maid who, the first of May,
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the Hawthorn tree,
Will ever after handsome be.
May was the month of courtship and love-making after the winter’s cold; and so the Hawthorn is often found linked with love and sacred sex. In ancient Greece the wood was used for the marriage torch; and girls wore Hawthorn crowns at weddings in full bloom. One writer has even gone so far as to suggest that the ‘stale, sweet scent from the trimethylamine the flowers contain, makes them suggestive of sex.’ (Geoffrey Grigson: The Englishman’s Flora, Phoenix House, 1956)
But while hawthorn was a propitious tree, when the church got a hold of it, circumstances changed and the church fathers demanded that it be unlucky.
Hawthorn blooms and elder-flowers will fill a house with evil powers.
Even today many people will not allow the branches inside the house; for, as one might expect from its association with Beltane, a time when the two worlds meet. The threshold of the Otherworld became feared. The Fairies are a part of the tradition of Hawthorns, and as he sits beneath an ancient thorn known as the Eildon tree. In another old rhyme, the Ballad of Sir Cawline, a lady dares the hero to go to Eldridge Hill where a Hawthorn grows, to await there the faery king.”
Many are now able to honor openly with strength our healing ways and practice them again as the Goddess (nature) returns to help us heal during this last cycle of the patriarchal gods. When the Pagan witches healing teachings were forbidden so the new medicines of the Greeks and Romans could dominate, around the 4th century the long and beloved Hawthorn tree was then under science’s control. Even though in small villages and smaller clans, the women still did their teaching, healing and magical healing work with Hawthorn, by the 11th century it was renamed and called the God of War’s Tree (Mars) and thus was followed by the plague in the 13th century.
The seeds were then less for healing, and put more into alcoholic drinks, as the berries were in widespread use and the middle ages phrase “what ails you, drink your troubles away” was then acceptance, but alcohol even with hawthorn berries was not enough to stop the development of broken hearts and with so many heart issues and diseases today, 8 centuries later, the soul has turned dull as the magic of the goddess was gone.
Nicholas Culpeper, in 1653 believed that there was nothing left of the Goddess in the Hawthorn flowers because they still bear the smell and experience of the Plague of London and all over the world, from a thousand years of war. The tree then was regarded as the Crown of Thorns and was crowned in English royalty having won the battle over the old ways, the Oglives, chosen by Henry VII.
Yes we can be 100% physical fit as a sign of health, but the soul isn’t in the physical world, a part of her is within us (the energy body, chakra body or whatever teaching your familiar with, they are all the same, your well spring or life force). The majority of our soul is spread out in the graves of your karmic lifetimes sedimentary past lives. Or what we shamans call, the dreaming tree, which for most has died. Its time to replant them!
Sources: http://www.thegoddesstree.com/trees/Hawthorn.htm ; anniesremedy.com, webmd.com, thegoddesstree.com, Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes ; The Old Woman in the Wood, from The Grimm’s Fairy Tales, illustration by Arthur Rackham ; Hawthorn Tree Vintage Botanical; druidry.org.