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By Witchipedia, Herbs

Hawthorn: Folklore, Spiritual & Magickal Uses

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

This tree will grow to a height of 30-40 feet. The fruit is a bright red to dark purple that is enjoyed by many birds. The white clumps of flowers give off a faint smell of rotting meat and it is fertilized mainly by carrion insects. The leaves are oval-shaped, sharply toothed and alternate.

Other Names Whitethorn, Hazels, Gazels, Halves, Quickset, Bread-and-Cheese Tree, Albesyne, L’Epine Noble, Hagedorn, Hedgethorn, Fairy Bush, May blossom, May Bush, May Flower, Quick, Thorn, Haw, Hag Thorn, Ladies Meat, Tree of Chastity, May Tree

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Hawthorn, steeped in ancient lore and revered for its mystical properties, holds profound significance in folklore, spirituality, and magick:

Folklore: Hawthorn is deeply woven into folklore and myth, often associated with protection, love, and transformation. In Celtic traditions, it was considered a sacred tree, believed to guard against evil spirits and offer blessings of fertility and abundance. Hawthorn blooms were used in May Day celebrations, symbolizing the arrival of spring and the renewal of life.

Spirituality: In spiritual practices, hawthorn is esteemed for its connection to the faerie realm and the element of air. It is believed to enhance intuition, psychic abilities, and spiritual clarity, making it a favored herb for divination and meditation. Hawthorn is also associated with the heart chakra, promoting emotional healing, compassion, and unconditional love.

Magickal Uses: Hawthorn is valued in magickal traditions for its protective and transformative energies. It is often used in spells or rituals aimed at warding off negative influences, attracting love, and fostering spiritual growth. Hawthorn branches, leaves, or berries may be incorporated into charm bags, potions, or ritual tools to amplify their magickal potency and invoke the blessings of the hawthorn tree.

Hawthorn’s folklore, spiritual, and magickal uses illuminate its sacred essence and timeless wisdom, offering practitioners a gateway to the mysteries of nature and the realms beyond, while providing protection, healing, and spiritual guidance along their journey.

History and Folklore

The botanical name Crataegus oxyacantha comes from the Greek kratos, “hardness”, oxcux, “sharp” and akantha “thorn”.

In Teutonic lore, hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) symbolized death and was used in funeral pyres.

In ancient Greece, married couples were crowned with hawthorn blossoms and the wedding party carried torches of hawthorn. The tree was also associated with Cardea, the Roman Goddess of marriage and Childbirth.

During springtime festivals in England, large Hawthorn boughs were cut and stood up in the ground outside houses. They were called May Bushes and decorated with wildflowers. Although it was permissible to decorate outside with hawthorn blossoms, bringing them into the home would surely bring illness and death.

This tree was considered beloved by fairies who lived within. Cutting down a Hawthorn tree is very bad luck!

Folklore or SymbolDescription
Tree of MayHawthorn is associated with the month of May and often used in May Day celebrations. It symbolizes rebirth and fertility.
Fairy LoreIn folklore, hawthorn is believed to be a gateway to the fairy realm and is considered a protective plant against evil spirits.
Love and MarriageHawthorn is associated with love and marriage. In some traditions, hawthorn branches were used in wedding ceremonies or placed near the bed to enhance fertility and love.
ProtectionHawthorn is seen as a protective tree, believed to ward off negative energies and evil influences. It is often planted near homes or used in talismans for protection.
Healing and DivinationThe blossoms and berries of hawthorn have been used in herbal remedies for heart health and as a symbol of psychic abilities and divination.
Table 1: Folklore and Symbolism

Magical Attributes

Gods associated with this tree are Belenus, Cardea, the White Goddess, Hymen, Maia, and Flora.

It is considered masculine, associated with Mars and fire.

Hawthorn is a sacred tree in many Pagan religions. The blossoms, called May Flowers, are used in spring celebrations. The May Pole is traditionally made of hawthorn or decorated with hawthorn flowers. As the tree is sacred to fairies, one must ask permission before taking the blooms or sprigs and must certainly leave an offering when cutting down a whole tree.

Placed around doors and windows, hawthorn will prevent people from entering your home in an astral state. It will also prevent spirits from entering a place. Planting hawthorn around other trees, or near your home is said to protect them from lightning strikes. Planting it as a hedge around your home will keep out unfriendly spirits. Adding hawthorn to an amulet will protect you from spirits and harmful magic.

Thorns can be used to mark wax, to write with magical ink, or to fix something for magical purposes.

The phrase “by Oak, Ash and Thorn” referred to Hawthorn (the Thorn part) used in blessing and ritual. These three trees were considered portals to the realm of the fae.

Hawthorn is associated with love, marriage, health, fertility, chastity, protection and death.

Healing or Magickal UseDescription
Heart HealthHawthorn is known for its cardiovascular benefits and is used in herbal remedies to support heart health and circulation.
Emotional Well-beingThe blossoms and leaves of hawthorn are used in herbal teas or tinctures to ease emotional distress and promote calmness.
Protection SpellsHawthorn is used in protection spells, charms, or amulets to ward off negative energies, evil spirits, and hexes.
Love and AttractionHawthorn can be incorporated into love spells or rituals to attract love, enhance romantic relationships, or foster harmonious connections.
DivinationHawthorn branches, berries, or leaves are sometimes used in divination practices, such as scrying or dream interpretation.
Table 2: Healing and Magickal Uses

Healing Attributes

The bark of the hawthorn tree can be used as a sedative, antispasmodic, diuretic and to help regulate blood pressure. It is used as a heart tonic and for kidney troubles.

The flowers and berries are astringent and can be used for sort throats.

Use a decoction of flowers and leaves to stabilize blood pressure.

Propagation

Hawthorn is a deciduous tree that can grow in most temperate climates. It is tolerant of most soils but prefers moist, alkaline soils.

StrictlyMedicinalSeeds.com carries hawthorn seedlings.

Harvesting & Storage

Harvest the fruit in early autumn and spread out to dry or make into wine or jam.

Flowers can be harvested in May and dried in the sun. Leaves can be harvested at any time. Be sure to ask permission and leave an offering.

Collect fallen limbs after storms to use for carving or making wands.

Household Use

The wood of the hawthorn tree has a fine grain and takes polish well. It can be used for carving and making wands. It produces a very hot fire when burned.

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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