Hawthorn/ H

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Spirit tree
Its protective charms against evil, witches vampires and lightning meant that most civilisations placed hawthorn twigs above the door. Its key renown, however, lies in its ability to guard springs and wells. In Ireland and Scotland most sacred springs and ‘clootie wells’ have a hawthorn growing beside them, which are decorated with colourful rags, left in return for the blessings of the hawthorn. May or hawthorn is a spirit tree, that has thorns to catch spirits, which is one reason why cloths (or clooties) are hung on it, hence the saying “Ne’er cast a cloot till May is oot”.
Sleeping beauty
Hawthorn is associated closely with the Keeper of the Four Winds, who lives ‘behind the North Wind’ (the North Star, a turning axis) at the door-hinge of the year, where she can look both forward and backward in time. Other of her names include Blodeuwedd (‘made of blossom’), Flora and Maia (root of ‘May’). However, in Iceland, hawthorn is called svefnthorn (sleep thorn), and Odin used a hawthorn spine to send Brunhilde into a magical sleep, while in Brittany, Vivaine put Merlin to an enchanted sleep under the hawthorn until his reawakening in another age. These stories all hint at the origins of the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, whose original name was Dornroschen (Briar Rose). Hawthorn belongs to the rose family, and the cause of Sleeping Beauty’s long sleep of a hundred years through pricking her finger on a spindle, has reason, since spindles were traditionally made from hawthorn wood.
Thomas the Rhymer
Another herald of spring, the cuckoo, has special affinity with hawthorn in Europe. In the ballad of Thomas the Rhymer, who, playing his harp by the the Eildon Tree, a hawthorn at Ercildoune, was taken away for seven years by the Queen of Elfland. She gave him his geis, the gift of prophecy, on condition that he never lied, which led to his becoming known as ‘True Thomas’. The planetary balance on hawthorn is similarly dual, being described as ‘Venus in Aries’ by herbalists. Aries is controlled by Mars, so the prickly protective thorns can be seen as the Mars influence, while the influence of Venus is evident in the art, sexuality, beauty and flowers of hawthorn.
Calendar: Apr 26—May 23 (contains Beltane) ;
Ogham: first digit of thumb; one upward stroke, second left on lintel; hadaig (night crow); huath (terrible); sapphire (sappur, lapis lazuli, dark blue sky); number: 0 (no value)