Written and Compiled by George Knowles
Ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) is one of the sacred trees of
Wicca/Witchcraft revered by contemporaries and ancients alike.
It is often referred to in verse by the phase “by oak, ash, and
thorn,” which is used as a blessing during ritual or to affirm a charge of
power in spellcraft. The Druids
believed that oak possessed masculine energy and the thorn feminine energy, the
polarities of which were balanced and focused by ash allowing the energies to be
readily tapped and directed. In
folklore it was believed that the fairies could be seen and conversed with by
mortals wherever the three trees grew together.
The ancient Irish called the ash tree “nin” and its name was given to
the letter “N” in the ogham alphabet.
There are about fifty species of the
genus Fraxinus, and cultivation has produced and perpetuated a large
number of distinct varieties of which the Weeping Ash and the Curl-leaved Ash
are the best known. The Common Ash
and the Privet are the only representatives in England of the Olive tribe Oleaceae.
The Common Ash is a tall handsome tree readily distinguished by its
light-grey bark, which is smooth in younger trees and rough and scaly in older
ones. It has large compound leaves
divided into four to eight pairs of lance-shaped leaflets, an arrangement that
imparts a light feathery arrangement to the foliage.
The leaflets have sharply-toothed margins and are about 3 inches long.
In April or May according to season and
before the appearance of the leaves, the black flower-buds of the previous
year's shoots expand into small dense clusters of a greenish white or purplish
colour, some of the minute flowers having purple stamens, others pistil only,
and some both, but all being devoid of petals and sepals, which owing to the
pollen being wind-borne, are not needed as protection or to attract insect
visitors. After fertilization the
oblong ovary develops into a thick seed-chamber with a long strap-shaped wing,
which is known as an Ash-key (samara).
Bunches of keys hang from twigs in great clusters, at first green and
then brown as the seeds ripen. They
remain attached to the tree until the succeeding spring when they are blown off
and carried away by the wind to considerable distances from the parent tree.
They germinate vigorously and grow in almost any soil.
The wood of the ash is a valuable
commodity, due to the quickness of its growth and the toughness and elasticity
of its timber, in which quality it surpasses most other trees.
The wood is heavy, strong, stiff and hard, and takes a high polish.
It shrinks only moderately in seasoning and bends well after. It is the toughest and most elastic of our timbers and was
used in the old days, and still is today, for spears, bows and arrows.
Ash wood is used for more practical purposes than that of any other tree,
being so elastic that a joist of it will bear more pressure before it breaks,
than one made of other wood. Ash
wood always fetches a good price being next in value to the Oak and surpassing
it for some cases, for it matures more rapidly than Oak and is just as valuable
as a sapling wood.
Before synthetic materials became
available, ash wood was in endless demand by railways and other works for
building carriages, coaches and wagons. It
was also used for axe-handles and spade-handles, ladders and carts, walking
sticks, hoops, hurdles and crates, and a whole multitude of uses in the
countryside for agricultural purposes. It
also makes the best oars and the toughest of shafts for carriages.
In its younger stages it is called Ground Ash, which is much used for hop
poles, for which it was extensively grown.
Ash wood also makes excellent logs for burning; giving out no smoke and
the ashes of the wood makes very good potash.
The bark of the ash is a grey or
greenish-grey colour externally and has numerous small grey or brownish-white
warts. The inner surface is
yellowish or yellowish brown is fibrous and nearly smooth. Of old, ash bark was used to make quills and was
employed for tanning nets. The bark
is astringent and together with its leaves has medicinal uses, which fetch
prices worthy of the labour it takes to collect it.
The bark is collected from the trunk and the root with the latter being
preferred. It contains the bitter
glucoside Fraxin, the bitter substance Fraxetin, tannin, quercetin, mannite, a
little volatile oil, gum and malic acid.
Folklore and Myths:
folklore and mythology the ash tree has many associations with the gods, such
as: Uranus, Poseidon, Thor, Odin,
Oceanus, Nemesis, Mars, and Gwydion. The
Greek goddess Nemesis carried an ash branch as the symbol the divine instrument
of the justice of the gods, the scourge. In iconology she is also depicted with an eight-spoke wheel
symbolic of the solar year. The
wheel is also a symbol of the Fates who dispensed her justice under and through
the ash tree, metering out happiness or misery and ensuring that fortune was
shared and not cosseted by the few. If
anyone hoarded the favours she had given or didn’t sacrifice some or part of
it to the gods, or didn’t try to alleviate the poverty and misery of fellow
man. Nemesis would step in and
withdraw what was given dispensing justice through humiliation with a scourge
made of ash.
later Greek myths Nemesis was identified as Andrasteia, daughter of the sea god
Oceanus and goddess of the “rain making ash tree”. In this aspect her scourge was used for ritual flogging to
bring fruitfulness and productivity to the trees and crops. This association with Oceanus the god of the sea through his
daughter Andrasteia, connects the ash tree with thunderstorms, which waters the
earth and fertilizes the land. The
ash tree is said to attract lightening. As
well as the ash branch, wheel and scourge Nemesis also carried an apple branch
as a reward for heroes.
ash tree is also associated with Divination, Prophecy and Inspiration.
Odin is said to have hung from an ash tree in order to gain enlightenment
before reading the runes. In Norse
mythology and to the ancient Teutons the ash tree represented Yggdrasill, also
known as the World Tree. This was
their concept of the universe and revered as the tree of Time and of Life.
In Scandinavian myth the first man was formed from the ash and the first
woman from rowan.
of the ritual tools of a Witch is the Broom, which traditionally was made by
tying the twigs of a Birch tree around a handle made of Ash with strips of
folklore it was thought that the Ash with its association with water had command
over the four elements. The Birch
with its connection to the spirits of the dead drew those spirits into one’s
service and the Willow through its connection with Hecate allowed communication
with the Goddess. The handle, brush
and binding of the broom are also symbolic of the triformis aspects of the
ash tree is known by several folk names: Nion,
Asktroed, Jasen Bell and Freixo. It
is associated with such deities as: Uranus,
Poseidon, Thor, Odin, Neptune, Nemesis, Mars, and Gwydion.
Its gender type is Masculine, its planet ruler is the Sun, and its
associated element is Fire. Ash is used to attract the powers needed for Protection,
Prosperity, Prophecy, Health, and Sea and Water rituals.
is the case with most trees, one of the main properties and uses of the ash tree
is that of protection. Of old, a
staff of ash was hung over doorframes to ward off malign influences, or ash
leaves were scattered in the four directions to protect a house or area, or a
garter made from its green bark was worn as protection against sorcerers and
physic attacks. Ash was also used
as protection from snakebites; snakes have an innate fear of the ash tree and
will not crawl over its wood.
The Ash had the reputation of magically
curing warts, this was done by sticking a new pin in an ash tree then removing
it, prick the wart you wish to remove and then replace the pin back in the tree,
repeat the following rune: “Ashen
tree, ashen tree, Pray take this wart of me.”
(Use a new pin for each wart.)
a piece of ash wood into the shape of a solar cross (an equal-armed cross) and
carry it with you when traveling across sea or water for protection against
drowning. Healing wands are also
carved out of ash wood and healing poppets can be carved from its roots.
some ash leaves in a bowl of water and place it under a bed over night to
prevent and heal illness. The next
morning the water and leaves should be discarded outside on open ground then
repeat the procedure each evening until well.
Leaves can also be sewn into small sachets and worn as health or
protection charms. To gain the love
of the opposite sex, carry some loose ash leaves in your pockets.
burning ash wood at Christmas time (Yule) you will receive prosperity and if you
want your newborn child to be a good singer bury its first nail parings under an
ash tree. However, given duality in
all things not all the ash tree merits are good.
The ash tree has a particular affinity with lightning, which it attracts.
Under an ash tree is not the place to be during an electrical storm.
The bark of the ash was used as a bitter
tonic and astringent, and is said to have been valuable as an anti-periodic.
On account of its astringency it was used as a decoction, and extensively
in the treatment of intermittent fever and ague, it was also used as a
substitute for Peruvian bark. The
decoction is odourless though its taste is fairly bitter.
It was considered useful for removing obstructions of the liver and
spleen, as well as aiding rheumatism of an arthritic nature.
The leaves have diuretic, diaphoretic
and purgative properties and are employed in modern herbal medicine for their
laxative action, especially in the treatment of gouty and rheumatic complaints
proving a useful substitute for Sienna, having a less griping effect.
The infusion of the leaves (1 oz to the pint of water) may be given in
frequent doses during any 24-hour period.
The distilled water of the leaves can be taken every
morning and was considered good for dropsy and obesity, and a decoction of the
leaves in white wine had the reputation of dissolving stones and curing
jaundice. The leaves should be gathered in June, well dried and powdered
and kept in well-corked bottles. In
some parts of the country the leave were used to feed cattle when grass was
scarce in autumn, but when cows eat the leaves or shoots, their butter becomes
The fruits of the different species of
Ash are regarded as somewhat more active than the bark and leaves.
The ancient physicians had a high regard for ash keys and used them as a
remedy for flatulence. In more recent times ash key were said to have the “virtue
of capers” and were often substituted for them in sauces and salads, or
preserved with salt and vinegar and sent to table as a pickle.
Astrologically ash people (i.e. whose who are born in the month of January) are uncommonly attractive, vivacious, impulsive and demanding. They do not care for criticism, are ambitious, intelligent, and talented and like to play with fate. They can be egoistical but are very reliable and trustworthy. They are faithful and prudent lovers though sometimes their heads rule over the heart but they take their partnerships very seriously. Ash people are also very ambitious in love and business and whatever they be, they wish to be the best.
Cunningham's Encyclopedia Of Magical Herbs - By Scott Cunningham.
Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft - By Raven Grimassi.
The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft - By Rosemary Ellen Guiley.
Tree Wisdom (The difinitive guidebook to the myth, folklore and healing power of Trees) - By Jacqueline Memory Paterson.
AA Book of Britain's Countryside.
The Penguin Hutchinson Reference Library (CD cassette).
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia (CD cassette).
Plus many websites to numerous to mention.
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Wicca & Witchcraft
Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
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Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek
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Full Moons / Links
to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft
Resources / What's a spell? /
Circle Casting and
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Power / The Witches Hat
esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism
Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1
/ Part 2 / Part
3 / A
history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope
Innocent VIII /
papal Bull /
Malleus Maleficarum /
An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum
/ The letter of approbation
Nider’s Formicarius /
Heinrich Kramer /
/ Montague Summers /
/ The Albigenses
The Hussites / The
/ Shielding (Occult
and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Rituals:
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder. Also see: The Willow Tree (Folk Music)
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin: / Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murder by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders and Elders)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A. Kelly / Albertus Magnus “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary / Carl Llewellyn Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Dorothy Morrison / Doreen Valiente / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gerald B. Gardner / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater "Horrible Herman" / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell / Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) / John Michael Greer / John Score / Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata / Monique Wilson the “Queen of the Witches” / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellers / Mrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /Rudolf Steiner / Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids / Sabrina - The Ink Witch / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor Henry Anderson / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest
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