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Autumn Magic with Hawthorn

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As leaves begin to fade, hawthorn berries blaze into bright red for autumn. In Ireland and parts of Britain it was believed that ash, oak, and hawthorn growing in the same place made the invisible world of the faeries visible. It was also believed to mark a threshold into the faery realm. For centuries, hawthorn has been an important component of Britain’s hedgerows and the flowers used in Beltane celebrations.

            The name hawthorn evolved from the Old English word, haegthorn, “hedge thorn.” It is also known as haw bush, fairy thorn, Maybush, quickthorn, whitethorn, wishing tree. Usually called haws, its oval, red fruit is also known as pixie pears and has a five-pointed star on the bottom.

            In addition to fairies, witches were said to meet under solitary hawthorns. For this reason, this tree was often avoided on Walpurgis/May Eve. Witches were said to use the thorns for spells and to be able to turn themselves into hawthorn trees. Despite this, hawthorns were also believed to protect against witches and witchcraft.

            The Greeks used the haws medicinally, but they fell out of favor for a number of centuries. Medieval physicians mentioned hawthorn but gave few recommendations. Today, haws are finding wider use in herbal remedies, especially for the heart and circulatory system. They are also used to make tea, jelly, and jam. Haws should be gathered when they have turned red. The taste is tart and slightly sweet.

            While the haws are used medicinally for the heart, magically they aid in dealing with emotions and engendering happiness and love. Hold a handful of haws in front of your heart chakra while meditating on these issues. To welcome pixies and faeries to your garden, place a few haws or a small plate with a spoonful of hawthorn jam on your outdoor altar. Place a handful on your kitchen windowsill with haws to attract prosperity. Dry a few haws to include on your Samhain for aid in communing with ancestors.


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The author of over a dozen books, Sandra is an explorer of history, myth, and magic. Her writing has been featured in SageWoman, The Magical Times, The Portal, and Circle magazines, Utne Reader and Magical Buffet websites, and various Llewellyn almanacs. Although she is a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, she travels a solitary Goddess-centered path through the Druidic woods. She has lived in New York City, Europe, England, and now Maine where she lives in an 1850s farmhouse surrounded by meadows and woods.  


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