Magical properties of wood

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This is a brief description of the magical properties of woods, for this subject is vast! All the folklore, Magical uses, Gods & Goddesses, cultures, religions and characteristics of any one tree would fill a small library. Almost all cultures have myths or folklore about a tree or trees, making it clear that these ancient beings have been a friend of man for a very long time. But, I’m not sure that they see us in the same light.

It is my opinion that one should not read too much into the properties of a wood, for any witch or wizard can wield any wood to do her or his bidding, though it might change the  manner in which it is done. For example, if using a wand made of Apple wood – a tree of love – you might want to send forth your magic from your heart to take advantage of the properties of the wood. But if using a wand made of Yew – the tree of death – you might want to send forth your magic as an end or a death of one action and the beginning or rebirth of another.

I’m often asked how to use a wand. My reply is that there is no right or wrong way. Some witches or wizards prefer to have a different wand for different occasions. While some leave theirs on the alter and use it only in ritual, others like to hang theirs  in their home, like a Christian would a cross. It’s all good. Just remember the magical powers of your wand are not as important as the magical powers of YOU! It’s your wand. It’s your magic. It’s your life. So be the God or Goddess that you are and enjoy.

– Traditional Woods -

OAK - Merlin’s favorite tree. This one needs no introduction so I’ll give it none.

Powers - Endurance, Strength, Male Energy, Protection, Fertility, Strong magical booster

ALDER –  Most known for its magical dyes, brown from its twigs, green from its flowers and red from its bark. Said to represent the elements earth, water and fire.

Powers - Controlling the elements, or pulling powers from, and protecting the dead

BIRCH – Very strong feminine ties.

Powers – Love, Expelling evil, and Healing

ROWAN – The Tree of Life and the White Witch.

Powers – Psychic Powers, Protection, Healing and Magical power

HAZEL – The Tree of Wisdom and Wishes. Historically known for its use in making wands and staffs.

Powers – Truth, Wisdom, Dowsing and Wishes

YEW – The Tree of Death. Held highly sacred by the Druids. This tree’s wood has been prized by people where ever it grows. It was used to make tools and artifacts of all kinds, but the one universal use was in the making of bows. All parts of this tree are poisonous except the thin veil around the toxic seed,which is quite sweet and tasty. I find it hard to believe that a tree so comfortable to be around and a producer of such a sweet fruit could be the Tree of Death. But maybe in the end death is a sweet tasting comfort.

Powers – Change, Access to the other world and our ancestors, Immortality,Internal cycle of life and death

WILLOW – The Tree of the Moon Goddess. Used in handfasting and making brooms.

Powers – Moon Magic, Divination, Protection, Healing and dowsing for water

ELDER -  The mysterious Witch Tree. It is said that there is a witch or spirit that lives within the tree and sleeping under it is thought to be dangerous. There are strict rules and rituals in harvesting this tree with due respect. The berries are edible but the rest of the plant is poisonous, especially the fresh plant, due to its cyanide producing glycosides.

Powers – To heal, Protect from evil, and Summons the power of the witch within the tree

HOLLY- The holy tree. Tree of the Sun God. This one goes by many names and is steeped in tradition and folklore. It is the male counter part to ivy and has strong ties with the winter solstice.

Powers – Protection, luck, steadfast strength

- Non Traditional Woods –

ALMONDI don’t know if this tree would be considered traditional or not, but it does  have deep roots in ancient Greek mythology. The Greek myth of Phyllis & Demophoon is a sad love story much like Romeo & Juliet. Upon Phyllis’s suicide she turned into an Almond tree, and when Demophoon visited her she bloomed with white flowers. It seems amongst Wickins that the Almond tree’s powers are money, prosperity and wisdom. I don’t know where this came from but it is quite consistent. It is also known for healing. I’ve found some evidence that Hazel & Almond were once thought to be the best woods for wands and staffs, but some time in the medieval age Hazel won favor.

Powers – True Love, Healing, Prosperity and wisdom

MANZANITA- This tree is native to western America and doesn’t grow in Europe. Therefore it has  no European folklore. It is obvious this wood’s element is fire. With its bright red, white and purple swirling grain, it looks like petrified flames, and anyone who has had the pleasure of working with it will tell you it’s as easy to shape and control as a blazing wild fire. One thing has become very clear having grown up among Manzanita groves. These bushes have a close relationship with deer. While their flowers and fruits provide food, their tough and twisted branches, plus their tightly-packed groves, provide shelter and protection. Deer have an uncanny ability to maneuver through these bushes, where other animals cannot. I once witnessed a dog chasing a deer into a grove of Manzanitas. The deer advanced swiftly and gracefully through the thick bushes, while the dog ran four-feet in and became entangled. It was as if the branches opened up to let the deer through, and then slammed shut behind him.

After taking all of this (and somethings I have not mentioned) into consideration, I think Manzanita lends itself quite nicely to the folklore of Pan.

Powers – A guiding light and, or nurturing and protection, the art of seduction and the ability to create panic in ones enemies.

GRAPE VINE- I was taught as a young wizard that  grape vine was of the Morrighan (the triple goddess) and the Underworld, but this seems to be in contrast with today’s beliefs. I have not been able to find any recent literature backing what I was taught. But in my defense, most of  the recent grape vine properties seem to come from the folklore of wine and not the plant itself. Also, the vine I use is  not the neatly cultivated plant with the sweet juicy fruit that they use to make wine, but the Wild Grape (Vitis californica) that’s native to our area. Wild Grape is a wild and unruly plant that lives in stream estuaries where life is abundant. It is a very hardy and dominant species, yet it’s fairly rare. I’ve seen it smother large patches of Black Berries and consume 50 foot Cottonwood trees. The way this plant climbs to the top of the trees and then sends runners back down to start all over again creates a some what creepy and jungle like atmosphere. As kids we would swing from one runner to the next, like Tarzan, til one broke and sent us screaming into the Black Berries below. Wild Grape is best known for its disease resistant root system. Many a vineyard has been saved by grafting there domestic grapes to the root stock of the wild grape.

Well, I could go on for ever on this one. The bottom line is… you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! I’m sticking with the Morrighan and if you were to give our twisty little friend a try, you might agree.

Powers- Summonsing the power of the Morrighan and unlocking the gates to the Underworld.

SEQUOIA [Redwood] - The king of trees!… I’ve been sitting here staring at my screen wondering how can I do these  trees justice, and have decided I can’t. A grove of these trees is just something you have to experience for yourself. When you enter a forest of Redwoods you shrink, the weather changes, the flora diversifies and time slows down. Things are just different inside an old growth Redwood forest. For example, when it’s pouring rain outside, it’s just sprinkling inside, and when it stops raining, it just keeps sprinkling. Though you can hear the wind howling, you feel nothing but a gentle breeze, and when the sun is scorching the earth, it remains  nice and cool within. Even the fog acts differently when it enters the forest (a very magical time indeed). The larger dominant plants of the neighboring forests can not compete with these giants, and their absence within the old growth forest, along with the protection from the weather, creates an environment where smaller more delicate plants thrive. Many smaller plants that live in neighboring forests grow bigger here, and some plants grow only here and can not be found anywhere else. Standing next to one of these giants you can’t help but feel its grandeur. Even the muggiest of muggles can feel this.

But this is not why you are here. You’re here to discover the magical properties of  the Sequoias wood, and I’m afraid I have to disappoint you, it has little. The wood of the Sequoia is soft, brittle and empty, and dose not represent the tree well at all. Making a magic wand from its wood is like trying to create the Sahara desert with a single grain of sand. By no means am I saying that the Sequoia dose not posses any magical powers, but it’s working with the living tree that produces the best results. So, give one of these magical forests a visit or plant a tree or two in your sacred place. You won’t be disappointed.

Powers – Everything  you would expect from the Elders, wisdom, strength, protection …etc. Unfortunately these are the traits that the Sequoia needs from us. Ninety-five percent  of the old growth Redwoods have been logged and only half of the remaining 5%  has been protected. A very small percent of that protected forest is the old growth dominant forest that I have been referring to. So help save the last 2.5%, don’t buy Redwood  products!