It is well known that plants have healing properties, being very beneficial in preventing and even curing different health problems. But plants also have a spiritual use, and many of them are given magical powers or properties by different cultures. Let’s learn more about ash tree symbolism, spiritual meaning, and uses.
- Ash Tree Symbolism in Different Cultures
- Magical Uses of the Ash Tree
- Dawn’s Thoughts on The Ash Tree
- A Few Ash Species
At the beginning of January 2023, Magickal Spot partnered with and acquired an incredible website Witchipedia.com, founded by Dawn Black. Dawn created Witchipedia in 2006 as an online reference and collection of magical and spiritual information and resources for Witches, Pagans, Heathens, and anyone on a magical spiritual path.
Since our websites merged, some of our articles also had to merge.
Below you’ll find Dawn’s thoughts on this topic as well.
The case of ash is distinct since Celtic mythology considers it a sacred tree to which supernatural powers are attributed. Meanwhile, in Christianity ash is a pagan tree, known as a dwelling place of demons.
It is a tree that has been worshiped by different cultures such as Romans, Greeks, Celts, and Vikings. Spiritual cleansings are made with its leaves and protective amulets are manufactured from its wood.
Today we will know a little more of all the magical properties that this tree offers, according to the different beliefs and cultural traditions.
Ash Tree Symbolism in Different Cultures
It has large roots that sink deep into the ground. For the Celts, this symbolized the people’s ability to dig inside themselves to find nourishment and inner stability. It is also a great symbol of stability and security. Those belonging to the sign of this tree do not tolerate those who are not concrete or those who rely solely on spirituality, forgetting the more concrete side of life.
Also according to the Celts, it was a kind of connection between the sky and the earth that allowed a flow of energy between these two different spheres. Therefore, spectacular things happened inside. Children, for example, were cured of certain diseases (such as hernias) thanks to the bark of this tree.
It was commonly used in ceremonies for protection rituals because it was believed that great energies were contained within it. Specifically, it was thought to be excellent for guarding children by protecting them from evil.
In fact, it was often used as a healing agent for childhood diseases through herbal teas and preparations. Its association with children may recall many Nordic myths within the Celtic tradition.
Ash was considered the cradle of life in some legends, the gentle giant and a protector of youth.
In many ancient traditions, it symbolizes fertility. A Scandinavian legend presents this tree as the original support of the world, associating it with the myth of creation since it gives rise to both the upper and lower worlds.
As a symbol of rebirth, transformation, and initiation, it was often used by Druid populations during various rituals and ceremonies.
The tree was associated with young warriors and for this reason, they were given an ash lance with which they would pass a series of tests.
It was also highly regarded for its magical and miraculous gifts. In an Irish legend, it is said that the druid Fintan Mac Bochra arrived on the island during the first mythical invasion. Turning into salmon, Fintan was the only one to survive the Flood.
Fintan, therefore, planted five magical trees (three of which were ash trees) to mark the borders of the provinces of Leinster, Munster, Connaught, Ulster, and Meath.
As mentioned, the old and great solitary trees have always been the symbol of mediation between heaven and earth for the central European people; they allowed the two parties to exchange energies and souls.
The tree is often used to represent Yggdrasil, the sacred Celtic-Druid tree upon which we climb to reach the camp of the Gods, where every day we drink mead, fight wars between gods and then return whole, without a touch of death.
Legend tells of four deer grazing its sprouts, endangering the entire Universe. The three Norms (which in the German-Scandinavian mythology embody wisdom) live in the Yggdrasill ash and have the task of protecting it by watering it every day, so the tree can continue to grow.
The first root of the tree reaches the land of Ases, the heavenly gods, a second one to the land of the frost giants and finally, the third root reaches up to the sky. Below it there is a very sacred place: the court of the gods.
Yggdrasil survives their twilight. Once this terrible ordeal is overcome, the Earth emerges from the sea and becomes green and lush.
A new sun appears in a sky populated by divinities, daughters of those deaths, while Baldr, the good god – whose murderer had caused the catastrophe – resurrects.
Enclosed in the ash wood, a man and a woman, Lif and Lifthrasir, will survive, who will feed exclusively on the morning dew. They will be new progenitors of humanity.
In addition to the importance given to him by the legend of Yggdrasil, it has had very different symbolic powers and meaning over time:
- Its wood was used in ancient popular rituals to ignite the propitiatory fire of the new year and to favor the arrival of spring rains to awaken other plants, still numbed by winter sleep.
- The plant dear to Poseidon, God of earthquakes, shook the earth and attracted the heavenly fire and fertilizing rains.
- In the past, its wood was an effective talisman against drowning and endowed with healing powers against hernia, rickets, bone fractures, and articular rheumatism. Those who had benefited from his medicinal power had to monitor the tree scrupulously and forbid it to be touched by anyone because their life depended on it; if the tree had been felled, the illness would have struck the healed person again until he/she died.
- According to ancient traditions, it has an exceptional power over snakes that even flee its shadow. Pliny said that a snake trapped between fire and a circle of its leaves would rather throw itself into the flames than stay in the circle of leaves. This unusual action of snakes is continued in the sixteenth century, so much so that in the countryside it was customary to use its leaves against bites of reptiles even up to the early 1900s.
- Among the Celts, they were considered symbols of rebirth and capable of performing miraculous healings.
- In the Celtic tree alphabet, it was the third tree in the series and indicated the month preceding the spring equinox. For this reason, until a century ago, it was customary in France to light a new fire with its wood, asking it to bring the first spring rains down so that they could revive vegetation after a long winter.
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Magical Uses of the Ash Tree
Its symbolism is linked to the Sun and to elements of Fire and Air. Its planetary link to healing practices is associated with Venus, but it is to be remembered that it is also associated with the God Poseidon (and Neptune).
Magical use: Both sorcery and magic, in general, make use of this plant, and it indicates it as effective for breaking spells, and spells and for expelling malign presences (astral larvae, adverse thought forms).
Fumigations of this plant defend from attacks of occult and malefic influences. According to the tradition of witchcraft, it is considered the best wood for making healing sticks and talismans.
Being a wood rich in liquids, it tends to deform during the drying phase, therefore, the best thing to do is to mitigate the risk by frequently anointing the wood with seed oil, and cooked linseed oil.
Popular belief holds that some of its leaves placed under or near the ear can promote prophetic dreams.
Being tied to Odin, it is certainly appreciated on the occasion of the feast dedicated to him that falls on January 17th.
The plant is used in many traditions, two of which are Wicca and witchcraft.
Dawn’s Thoughts on The Ash Tree
The Ash (Fraxinus spp) or Fraxinus genus of 45-65 species of mostly medium to large deciduous trees. There are Ash tree species native to Europe, Asia and North America. North American species of Ash are under severe threat by the invasion of the emerald ash borer beetle.
Ash leaves are usually pinnately compound and appear opposite on the stem. Ash fruit are flat, ovular samaras (“helicopter seeds” or “keys”).
Ash wood is valued as a sturdy, flexible, shock-resis
tant wood with an attractive grain and color. It is used for sports equipment, tool handles, furniture and flooring.
A Few Ash Species
Fraxinus excelsior – aka Common Ash is native to much of Europe where it is widely used for timber and woodworking. Hurleys are (for the Irish sport of hurling) are made from this wood.
White Ash or American Ash
Fraxinus americana – Is the largest ash species native to North America and an economically important species though it is not often seen in cultivation. It’s strong, straight grained, white wood is highly prized for many uses and it is especially prized for making baseball bats.
Fraxinus pennsylvanica is an economically important native American tree and has been widely planted as an ornamental as it is very tolerant of urban conditions. It is highly prized for making electric guitars. Unfortunately, green ash appears to be the favorite food of the emerald ash borer and its extensive use made the trees easy targets. Some estimates put the death toll at 99%.
Fraxinus quadrangulata – Is native to the Midwestern United States. It is unique in that its twigs have four corky ridges, giving them a square appearance. A blue dye can be derived from the inner bark of the tree. Approximately 35% of the blue ash trees in the US have been destroyed by the emerald ash borer beetle, making it one of the more successful species.
Fraxinus ornus – Also called Manna Ash, Flowering ash is native to Southern Europe and Southwest Asia and is a popular ornamental throughout Europe. It has smooth gray bark, attractive four-petaled white flowers and its autumn color could be yellow to purplish. Sap extracted from the tree is called manna.
Also of interest, Rowan or Mountain Ash is an unrelated tree often confused with Ash. I have found many spells that speak of “ash berries”. Since ash does not produce berries, I suspect the berries spoken of are in fact Mountain Ash or Rowan berries.
Ash in the Garden
Because of the emerald ash borer epidemic, planting ash trees is generally discouraged in the U.S. The result is that specimens can be difficult to find and expensive when you do find them. When choosing an ash tree species to grow, I suggest selecting one that isn’t already very popular in cultivation. Stay away from green ash. If you have room, white ash is stunning, especially in autumn.
Ash trees generally prefer full sun but will tolerate some shade. Newly planted trees must be kept moist until they are well established, then they can tolerate occasional dry conditions.
Many butterfly and moth species enjoy the presence of an ash tree.
History and Folklore
The name Ash comes from the Old English æsc, meaning “spear”. The Latin name Fraxinus means the same thing.
Some Folk Names for Ash Common Ash, Guardian Tree, Unicorn Tree, Nion
Yggdrasil, the sacred tree of Norse lore, is believed by some to be an ash tree, by others to be a yew tree. Still others suspect it is an oak.
The first humans of Norse Lore were Ask and Embla. Ask from the old Norse askr “ash tree”. (Embla may perhaps mean “vine”.)
In Celtic lore, the Ash tree is the World Tree.
According to Hellenic lore, the Meliae were ash tree nymphs. The trees and their nymphs appeared from drops of blood when Cronus castrated Uranus. Later, they acted as nurses to the infant Zeus.
Several traditions mention ash for making wands and staves and it is mentioned in some sources as a traditional wood for making besoms.
The sweet sap of the ash tree was gathered by the ancients and used like (in some cases referred to as) honey and fermented it to make mead.
An interesting healing tradition is that of the shrew-ash. A hole was bored into an ash tree and a shrew trapped inside, the hold plugged up. Thereafter, branches would be cut from the ash tree and used to asperge both people and cattle to heal them off aches and pains, mysterious swellings and other maladies. Alternatively, the patient might be passed through a split trunk or under overhanging leaves.
Ash for Healing
An infusion of ash bark has astringent properties and has been used to treat a variety of issues, including parasites and gastrointestinal complaints and as a gargle for sore throats.
Ash Around the House
The inner bark of Blue Ash yields a blue dye.
Branches of ash trees make good forage for livestock and can be stored for winter fodder.
Ash wood is wonderful tinder, even if it’s not fully seasoned.
Ash makes great broom handles and handles for other tools and is popular with woodcarvers.
Ash for Magick
Ash is feminine in nature and corresponds to the element of fire (some say air and some few say water).
Ash is a good wood to use for wands, staves and besom handles. It has a nice grain, it’s sturdy and its reputation as a lightening magnet demonstrates that it is a good attractor and conductor of energy.
Sleep with ash leaves under your pillow to receive prophetic dreams.
Carry a leaf of ash in your pocket for good luck. Ensure that there are an even number of leaves for best results.
Notes and Additional Information
The Emerald Ash Borer beetle has devastated Ash tree populations in the United States.
Read More Online
- Ash Tree Lore At Druidry.org
- The Ash Tree in Indo-European Culture From Musaios.com