I feel very lucky to have received some wonderful books for my birthday this year, one being ‘Walking with Trees’ by Glennie Kindred (one of my favourite authors and nature connectors).
It has inspired me to form an even deeper connection with some of our lovely native and naturalised trees in Britain and I thought it might be nice to share some of my journeying here, starting with Willow a beloved tree all year round, but particularly special in Spring.
Willows are one of the first trees to grow in Spring, symbolising regeneration, new beginnings and letting go of the old.
There are over 400 species of willow worldwide but the most common to Britain are White Willow, Goat Willow, Crack Willow and Common Osiers or basket willow.
The trees are dioecious meaning they are either male or female, with the striking ‘Pussy Willow’ catkins growing on male Goat willows before the leaves grow. The female flowers develop with the leaves later in the Spring. Both the flowers and leaves are very important nectar and food source for many insects throughout the year.
It is thought that the the words ‘Wicca’ and ‘Witch’ were derived from the word ‘Willow’ and the tree has many ancient associations with healing, rituals and magic.
Traditionally Willow has been used as a pain relief, with the bark containing salicin, from which Aspirin was derived in 1899.
I love using Willow in any rituals connected with the Moon, releasing stuck emotions, old energy, welcoming the new, connecting with our intuition, welcoming Spring, emotional healing and lifting the spirits.
I burn both the bark and leaves, hang up bunches of Willow leaves and collect a few stems in early Spring to put in water and watch the catkins open.
Traditionally willow leaf infusions have been used for sore throats, toothe ache and helping to eliminate toxins from the body. The bark is used in treatments for rheumatism, muscle aches and stiffness and indigestion.
Willow is a wonderful tree to get to know more, growing near water she always offers a seat of peace beneath her branches to soften and watch the world go by. I look forward to walking beside her during the months ahead and sharing some more about her magic!