I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine, fir, cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail. I am happy. Hamlin Garland, 1899.
Fir Tree Appreciation Day is June 18th. How did this come about? I’ve collected some thoughts on that.
Firs are part of the part of the Genus Abies (A-bees) and the Family Pinaceae (py-NAY-see-ay). They are fast growing. The number of whorls present determine their age. New ones emerge every year. Cones sit on top of the stems opening to the sun and closing when it rains. Maturing in one season the wind will disperse them in the fall.
Fir Appreciation Day is from an older age and time when nature was part of everyday rituals. When firs grew extensively on this planet, they spoke, cheered, and cried with human and other wildlife populations. A northern forest of firs saw many changes; wars, careless clearcutting, or ignorance of their gifts they provide in sustaining life. Firs were used in every season; lighting spring fires, providing shade for summer where the softest needles made nap taking a must, wood for fall carvings, and leaves, twigs and branches for winter celebrations.
An energetic tree, seek them out when needing a burst of energy. While evergreen all year and celebrated in the 20th and 21st centuries at Christmas, it really is a late spring tree. Symbolic of regeneration and its planetary ruler Pluto. During this time, it grows fast collecting information and messages from other trees. They pass these everyday messages on quickly versus their cousins the sequoias who collect and pass the bigger system messages.
In Siberia, firs are known as The Tree of Woman. Slavic folklore believed these trees to represent the eternity of life and connecting the living and the dead. They offer healing and the ability to protect the household.
Because of their great height firs encourage us, humans to take a long view of ourselves or our questions. Sitting against a fir tree you can feel it dancing. They will heal you sending messages of strength and wisdom. Their triangular shape represents the trinity of the goddess, symbology found in many cultures.
Firs have a long association with Gods and Goddesses. The Greek God Pan was once in love with a nymph called Pity. The North Wind was upset when Pity chose Pan over him. As a result, he killed her. When the north wind blows you can hear her cries. The pitch from the Greek Fir (Abies cephalonica ) are her tears. The Greek Fir became known as Pitys.
From Scandinavian, the Genii of the Forest holds an uprooted Fir. Where firs stand, they create a strong connection with the owner of the land. When struck by lightning and if the fir begins to wither then death is present. The owner will fall and die. When cut down without permission, bad luck will follow.
They will tell you how long you will live. The Silver Fir, Abies alba, is the Birth Tree. Burning the needles at childbirth blesses and protect the mother and baby. One of the gifts of fir trees are to bring knowledge of the present and past lives into daily living. Silver threads help each of us on our spiritual journey and gifts of insight.
Firs are one of the Nine Sacred Woods of the Celts as quoted here Fir does mark the evergreen To represent immortality seen. Tall and slender it represents honesty, truth, and straightforwardness. When found in a group they are a symbol of friendship depicted with through their coloring and lifelong connections to each other.
Grand Firs’ needles are the darkest and shiniest. Abies grandis is well known to the Northwest Native Americans who used its foliage and branches. Branches were used in headdresses and costumes by the Kwakwaka’wakw. Individuals would scrub themselves with branches for purification rites. The Hesquiat (HESS-kwee-at) used branches as incense and decorative clothing for the wolf dancers.
These are some thoughts that might help to understand why Fir Appreciation Day is June 18th. Go visit your local fir tree and introduce yourself. See how it is doing. Ask if you can be of assistance. It may take a couple of visits for it to start sharing. They are a bit shy. Leave an offering if you can or just say thank you for it being present in your life.
A note of clarification and digression the Douglas Fir is not a member of the Genus Abies, while residing in the same Family Pinacea. It a Tree of Strength and carries the symbology of the past and future. This the favorite tree of David Douglas. Botanically called Pseudotsuga menziesii, a member of the Genus Pseudotsuga meaning false hemlock.
Part of this blog comes from the experience of a good friend Flora. Many thanks to her and her knowledge.
David Douglas was a Scottish botanist best known for his exploration of the PNW especially Oregon. He is responsible for the botanical names of many of the native plants found in the PNW.
Whorls occur once a year in the spring resulting in new growth at the tip of the branch. For pruning purposes, cut back to where there is green growth or the last whorl. Firs will not produce latent or dormant buds in the older wood. For more assistant on pruning firs see Plant Amnesty or the University of Idaho Extension Bulletin.
“You might think that after thousands of years of coming up too soon and getting frozen, the crocus family would have had a little sense knocked into it.” Robert Benchley
Croci, plural of crocus, cover the two vibrant and exquisite color seasons of spring and autumn. Spring bloomers are symbols of resurrection and heavenly bliss. Autumn bloomers symbolized the late bloom of nature and its abundant. This small corm originated from many places; Africa, China, Middle East, and southern Europe. Once planted, croci, the plural of crocus, will look after themselves and flower year after year. The leaves look like grass shoots and the entire plant is less than six inches tall. Croci flowers respond to the weather; opening when sensing sunlight and closing when clouds appears. A hardy plant that can withstand icy winds.
For a bit of balance, many of the early word references to crocus are about Crocus savatisu. This is the plant from which saffron is produced. The word crocus is traced to the Hittite azupiru, Aramaic kurkama, kurkum in Arabic and Persian, and karkom in Hebrew. In the Greek language of 14th Century the word is similar to the modern English krokos. In the Latin the word originated from crocatus meaning saffron yellow. Then translated to the British language as croh.
There are three main varieties of croci. The first is the foodie Crocussativus, Family Iridaceae. Cultivated since 500 BCE (6th century), this hand-harvested spice was once used as collateral for gold and jewelry. Blooming in rich purples with brilliant red threads stretching out of its center, the stamens are processed to produce a shade of color called Royal Yellow. The symbols of wealth, status, and royalty. Minoan woman of the Bronze Age used saffron in cosmetics to produce glowing skin. Both Minoan and Roman women decorated their hair with its flowers. The Egyptians documented its use as a medicinal remedy dating back to 1600 BCE. Sometimes called snow crocus, Crocus savatia has a long and documented history. It blooms between September and October.
In smaller botany circles Crocus savatia is known as the autumn crocus but differs from the second group of the true autumn flowers. Colchicum byzantinum, Family Colchicaceae is known by two other names, meadow saffron or naked ladies. Their genus name Colchi reflects their origins of the Black Sea region of Georgia and their native range of Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. All parts of this Autumn Crocus are poisonous containing a toxic called colchicine. Their blooming time is from September to October.
The third group are the spring bloomers whose common name is Dutch Crocus, Crocus vernus, Family Iridaceae. Originally found in Eastern Europe, western Russia and native to the Pyrenees, Alps, and Carpathians Mountains. In 1579 another member, the Yellow Crocus, Crocus flavus discovered in northwestern Turkey and the Balkans. Crocus flavus grows well underneath the Black Walnut tree, Juglans nigra. Dutch Crocus bloom from March to April.
This is the variety that pops up through the snow, cold rains, and explodes forth in sunlight. A herald of spring, they are often referred to as the light bulb flower with the way their petals unfurl as the light filters through them. Each stem bears a single cup-shaped, six-petaled flower with three stamens.
It is this spring bloomer that carry messages of rebirth, youthfulness, and cheerfulness. Their meaning goes on to symbolize nature’s awakening in a show of floral revitalization and heavenly bliss. Croci are about the glee associated with youth. They seek to uplift the spirit and joyfully herald the return of spring.
Croci have been documented in spring celebrations dating back to 2000 BCE. Carved on slabs found in Hattusa (modern Boga Zkale, Turkey) when the Hittite’s ruled the area. The Ottoman Turks celebrated them in the Festival of Hidrellez on May 6th. A time of celebrating spring, the unity of nature and the beginning of summer. Croci corms combined with wheat made a pilaf that was served for the festivals. The Celts celebrated them during Imbolc and the Germanic tribes at the time of the Goddess Ostara.
Spring blooming crocus are in the domain of the Greek Goddesses Venus, Eos, Persephone, and Aphrodite.
Crocus were important to the Ariadne, the Goddess of Vegetation on Crete and Thera (modern day Santorini). She was the daughter of King Minos of Crete and the wife of the God Dionysus. Reborn every year, she is found in mosaics as the Crocus Goddess, carrying a large basket of blooms. She is surrounded by young girls wearing saffron-colored dresses and young boys as they are initiated into adulthood. The blooming crocus represents joy, renewal of life, blossoming of youth, and beauty.
As Greek mythology evolved, the Goddess Hecate oversaw croci and young girls as they transition to adults. She is the Goddess of Witchcraft and the Moon and guardian of the household. The girls gather blooms as an offering to Hecate.
The Greeks tell us the story of the crocus through a young noble named Crocus and Smilax. She was a shepherdess. They fell in love and the gods forbade their marriage. Crocus kills himself from deep sorrow. Smilax learning of his death was heart-broken and despondent. The Goddess Flora understanding their pain turned them into plants; Crocus became the flower and Smilax a vine. They are united again in woven garlands and used in wedding decorations. The golden fiber (stamens) of the saffron crocus are used to weave the two plants together symbolizing love. The red thread (stigma) is the flower of the crocus.
In another story Crocus is a shepherd and Similax a nymph. They anger the Gods on their union and turned Crocus into a flower and Smilax into Bindweed. Yet another adaptation, Crocus is the companion of the God Hermes. He is accidentally killed during a game of discus. In his sorrow, Hermes transforms Crocus to the flower.
Croci plays a role in romance. We can give credit to the Romans incorporating crocus as a symbol of Valentine day. The first written Valentine comes from the story of Valentinus, a Roman physician. Using his skills with natural remedies and prayer, he found himself jailed during the reign of Claudius II. Valentinus was placed in jail where his previous patient was the jailer’s daughter. His last act before his execution was to help the daughter recover her vision. He sent a yellow crocus with a message signed “from your Valentine”. February 14, 270 BCE.
The fragrance of this lovely bloom is thought to inspire love and even believed to bloom at midnight on Valentine’s Day. An aphrodisiac, the Romans devised a mister to apply to guests as they entered banquets. In India petals are lay on the wedding bed signifying the couple will have a good, solid, and loving relationship.
Victorians associated the croci with the sun. In the language of flowers, they used it to mean cheerfulness and mirth. It is a perfect gift for someone who needs a bit of energy and positive energy in their life. The flower is a symbol of happiness and a reminder of walking through forests when young.
Croci is the perfect flower for spring bouquets, a gift between friends or birthdays. The flowers can be found in shades of orange, purple, white and yellow. Purple represents success, pride, and dignity. This color is a symbol of royalty and nobility. It can be a perfect gift for someone who exhibits these traits. White is a symbol of purity, truth, and innocence. Used in wedding decorations. Yellow is cheerfulness and joy.
Some general pieces of information on croci. Squirrels like to eat the corms. They are pollinated by multiple types of insects; bees, moths, and beetles. Ruled by the element water and the planets Mercury and Venus. The crocus is number seven in numerology representing knowledge and awareness. Their bright and playful colors make them perfect flowers for backyards and gardens.
A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different than a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower. Marianne Williamson
Tulips are the symbol of paradise on earth. A simple and graceful design though modern tulips can be quite frilly or have massive blooms. Originally found in the Persia empire near Pamir and Tan Shan mountains (Afghanistan and Kazakhstan) and Turkey. The word tulips are from the Persian word for turban, dulband. It refers to their resemblance to turbans as they bloom. Men wore the fresh blooms in their turbans denoting prosperity or as a charm to fight evil.
The Ottomans Turks were enamored with tulips, cultivating them since the 13th century. Tulips were celebrated in religious and secular poems and art pieces as a reminder of heaven and eternal life. Suleiman the Magnificent through his friendship with the Holy Roman ambassador Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq help the tulip travel to Europe in the 16th Century. The ambassador was visiting Suleiman to aid in the peace process with Austria. Tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils captivated him, and he carried tulips to Augsburg where in 1559, the first tulip bloomed. As with other cultures, the tulip captivated statesmen and scholars.
It was this exchange with the ambassador that found the tulip passing into the Dutch culture where they its cultivation to a new level. In the 17th century the economy became mad with tulips creating its currency on their growth and breeding. Single bulbs would control the fortune of the merchants. They became the symbol of the wealthy and were seen as pots of gold. As values increase land was traded, fortunes lost, and the economy of Holland faltered. Two interesting reads about this time of Dutch history sometimes refers to as Tulip Mania are The Tulip by Anna Pavord and, Tulipmania, Money, Honor and Knowledge by Anne Goldgar.
The Dutch economy recovered, and they are now the number one growers of tulips. The ups and downs of Tulipmania led to another meaning that life can be brief. They are the national flower of the Netherlands. Tulip season begins when the City of Amsterdam celebrates National Tulip Day in January.
The colors and styles of tulips are as vast as their meanings. They are a sweet blossom connected to happiness and peace. A classic flower of love. Being one of the first flowers to bloom they can mean rebirth and have come to mean the heralds of spring. Victorians would use them to send messages of charity and supporting the less fortunate. They are the third’s most known flower after the rose and chrysanthemum.
The blooms are cup shape surrounded by showy petals. Centers can be dark or light, providing a contrast to the petals meaning a broken or light-heart. Larger petals symbolize fame and showiness. The mosaic virus when found in tulips make the petals brighter and more interesting.
In a bouquet, tulips can be used to express to the receiver that they are elegance and graceful. They can mean forgotten or neglected love. Indulgence. Daintiness. Tulips are symbolic of hope and faith, ideas, and the quest for perfection. Another sign of spring indicating a fresh start, new beginnings, or eternal love. Bouquet of bright red tulips speaks to passion and perfect love. Use tulips to celebrate the 11th wedding anniversary expressing devotion and love. Variegated tulips in a bunch mean I think your eyes are beautiful.
If you are wanting to send specific message use the below as a guideline.
Crème tells your partner that love is eternal and expresses commitment.
Orange is a striking color signifying happiness but can mean energy, warmth, enthusiasm, and desire. This color likes to say get on with it.
Pink symbolize happiness and confidence. It is a color of less intensity that speaks of affection and love. This color contains many meanings; pride and love, contentment, inner happiness, or friendship. A great choice for friends and family.
Purple represents royalty and a regal nature. Abundance and prosperity. Loyalty to others or material wealth.
Red is the symbol for perfect love and sign of everlasting love. Or undying passionate love, whether the passion is spurned or returned. Tales from Persian and Turkish legends tell us of the love between Farhad and Shirin. In one story, Farhad was a prince who fell in love with a beautiful girl named Shirin. She is murdered and, in his despair, rides his horse off a cliff. A red tulip grew where his blood touched the ground. In another Shirin is the royal and Farhad is the commoner. She rejects him and he goes to the hills to play music. She hears the music and falls in love with him. Her father creates a challenge for him to build a canal. As he is finishing the canal, her father tells Shirin that Farhad has died. She goes to be with him and together their blood becomes red tulips.
Red tulips with velvety black centers represent a lover’s heart, darkened by the heat of passion. In a myth from medieval times a woman was proposed to by three knights, each one declaring their love. She could not decide whom to choose. Praying to the Goddess of Flowers she transforms into a red tulip.
Yellow means eternal love, a cheery disposition, or cheerful thoughts. A flower with a sweet charm to express simple joy. The color of unrequited or spurned love. Sending a yellow tulip to someone means you love them, but you know they don’t return your feelings.
White conveying forgiveness, spiritual love, or pure intention.
There are over 3000 different varieties of tulips. They are in the Genus Tulip, Family Liliaceae along with lilies and onions. The bulbs are starchy and caloric. These qualities helped in times of starvation and food shortages. It was not unusual for Roman soldiers to eat the bulbs. The tulip crash in the Netherland led once again to it as a food source. World War II saw the bulbs as part of the food stream as the Dutch went through yet another famine. Tulip petals can be used in several dishes.
Carrying tulip petals in your pocket brings good luck. Pixies live in the tulip beds in the Netherlands.
Tulips vibrate to the number six, an expression of charms and lovability. Six represents energy of responsibility, gratitude, and conscientious action. It blends and harmonizes its surroundings. A flower with a big heart vibrating at a level where is part of the picture, not center stage.
Mosaic or broken flowers are a result from aphids or a virus. Once they appear and the pattern can be repeated, they are cultivated. I grow such one. An heirloom one called Insulinde.
Old House Garden describes this broken tulip as sunrise in slow motion, opening with baby-smooth, pale yellow petals feathered with rose, and then day by day transforms itself into a big, ruffled flower of creamy white flamed with purple.
Grow tulips in your sacred space. They bring peace to the home. When you can, wear a boutonniere or give a tussie-mussie for prosperity and protection. The lipsticks of the garden, tulips bring the finishing touch to the spring bloomers as summer approaches.
Oscar Wilde said of Daffodils. “They are like Greek things of the best period.”
Daffodils are an old plant. They are part of the genus Narcissus. The Greeks and Romans saw the wild daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, as part of a death triad. Tulips and asphodel completed the triad. Daffodils and asphodel contain crystals of calcium oxalate. This is the compound that kills other flowers when placed in a vase together. Asphodel roots and tulip bulbs are edible and during times of starvation they became part of the food source.
The Greeks felt the asphodel and wild daffodil blossoms were the same. The popular English names of Daffodowndilly, Daffodily Affodily are a corruption of the word asphodel. Robert Herrick in his poem the Hesperides connected asphodel to death. Planted near Greek tombs, asphodel and daffodils were interpret as portents of death. This association with death led to one meaning, delusive hope.
Narcissus poeticus, is one of the oldest cultivated daffodils with its pheasant’s-eye center. Known as the poet’s daffodil or narcissus. It is the daffodil that tells the story of Narcissus, a young Greek whose vanity and careless heart become his undoing. His exceptional beauty led to many stories. He refused all offers of those interested in him. The Goddess Nemesis caused him to fall in love with his own reflection. His vanity of watching himself every day caused him to waste away. In another ending he drowns after searching in vain for the lover in the pool. Which was his own reflection. Echo the nymph contributes to the tale of love and broken hearts. In all myths Narcissus rejects her. Hera punishes Echo for keeping her distracted while her husband Zeus was with his many lovers. Her punishment was that she could only repeat what others said to her. Narcissus found her after this event. The Roman writer Ovid tells us she is heartbroken after declaring her love to Narcissus. Once rejected, she goes into a cave, waste away, and leaves only her voice. Is this where our modern-day practice of echoing comes from when we step in a cave or on a mountain top?
A completely different story of spring and winter tells us how daffodils drew the Goddess Persephone away from her companions. In the Homeric Hymns written by Ovid, she is in a meadow gathering spring flowers of roses, crocuses, violets, irises, lilies, and larkspur. Enchanted by the bright, yellow flowers produced by Gaia the Earth she wandered over to pick them. The God Hades seized her and carried her to the underworld to be his bride.
The Romans brought daffodils to England and so did new meanings. For a general bouquet include them when you are sending messages of regard, gallantry, or admiration. For the most part daffodils are uplifting, hopeful, and joyful. Always give in bunches. A single is bad luck, but a group ensures happiness. A flower of spring its symbolism is new beginnings, rebirth, and remembrance. When sending with romantic thoughts you are telling the receiver that your love is unequalled, you are the only one, or the sun shines when I am with you.
Daffodils continued their travels and developed more meanings in many cultures. In China, they mean good fortune. A symbol that has become so appreciated for its ability to bring forth positive things. It is one of the official flowers for the Chinese New year. In Japan it is mirth and joyousness. If you are lucky enough to find the first daffodil in Wales, they will blessed you with more gold than silver in the coming year. Arabian countries use the daffodil as an aphrodisiac and cure for baldness. Daffodils are the flowers for March. Place them in bouquets for the 10th wedding anniversary. Or bouquets of creativity and inspiration, renewal and vitality, awareness and reflection.
Mars rules the yellow daffodils. The element Water rules all daffodils.
Today there are countless varieties of daffodils. When designed astutely you can have quite the show with members of the genus Narcissus. Look for early, mid, and late bloomers to enchant your sacred space. They do well in containers, in the ground and some will can be forced for indoor.
Found in Ireland
Rip Van Winkle
This image of the daffodil that helped me write this blog. I was recently gifted several varieties of them.
A double, variety unknown
Sources for bulbs
My local co-op has a great grower with out of the norm varieties
“Blossom by blossom the spring begins.” Algernon Charles Swinburne
Branches and blossoms of trees differ from the Language of Flowers, though some varieties may appear in it. Trees have their own language, blossoms are a great way to start that journey. Often before flowers bloom, branches start the show and can be brought inside for the grand finale. It’s a nice way to say hi to your tree or your neighbor’s tree. Pick branches as they are just displaying their blooms. Always include unopened buds among the blooming ones, as they represent life’s continuous journey. Check for critters before bringing into your home.
Almonds, (Prunus dulcis) when they are just flowering offer hope, giddiness, heedlessness. As the blossoms extend, they promise thoughtfulness, and a lover’s charm. They are a tree of divination, wisdom, abiding love and friendship.
Apple (Malus pumila) blossoms, the second popular of spring bloomers display brilliant shades of white to pink. The blossoms symbolize beauty, love, healing, and immortality. Pink blossoms accentuate all of those emotions. White is a symbol of fertility. Celtic bedchambers were decorated with blossoms for fertility and as a tribute to beauty.
Blossoms produced a constant fragrant adding oxygen to the ozone and attracting pollinators. Use them as incense, perfume, or herb-candles for hand-fasting. Their slight and intense scent is uplifting and a true sign of spring.
Sir James Frazer reports on a folktale where in April a figure of a straw-man is placed in the oldest apple tree. When it finished blooming, he was cast into the water and floated away to honor the natural cycle.
Blossoms and branches are a symbol of May Day baskets or bouquets celebrating spring. In Celtic practices branches were carried by shamans and poets as symbols of their office known as Craobh Ciuil, meaning Branch of Reason. In the English language, the Silver Bough allowed visitations to other realms. Its bare blossoms and fruit were in the shape of bells and made music when shaken. The music lured humans into an enchanted sleep or offered safe passage to the Otherworld before the appointed hour of death. These same boughs opened the doorways into the Fey’s land offering shelter while traveling. The trees themselves represent peace-loving.
Cherries(Prunus avium) are one of the most famous of spring bloomers. Cherry blossoms have a unique cleft at the tip of their petals. Their long stems attach to the branch from a single bud. The blossoms mean power, feminine and spiritual beauty and sexuality. From Japan they mean the transience of life and China feminine beauty. A single blossom is education, endurance, and the celebration of new beginnings. Their short bloom time is a reminder of the fleeting beauty of youth. White can mean deception.
Dogwoods (Genus Cornus) with their wonderful blooms tell another that you admire their personality and social abilities. In general, they mean charm, finesse, and durability.
Hawthorn branches of the English Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) bloom with white flowers. All parts were used in witchcraft and meant caution or hostility. As a tree there are many meanings; hope, love and marriage, protection and overcome harshness. Woven branches made wreaths and flowers for baskets on May Day.
Magnolia (Genus Magnolia) trees are spectacular and remarkable. A planetary tree for its age and ability to adapt through the earth’s climate and geological changes. This tree dates back to 20 million years. It uniquely adapted its flower from pollination by beetles to present day bees. This behavior has led to one of its meanings of endurance, eternity, and long life. Its long relationship with the earth has contributed to many meanings by multiple cultures in Asia and the Americans. The meaning beautiful woman may have originated from the southern states. The Chinese have cultivated the magnolia known as the Jade Orchid, Magnolia denudata, for thousands of years. Meaning certainly when used in the beginning of a sentiment. The flowers are symbols of purity and nobility. Called Hanakotoba in the Japanese system of messaging magnolia flowers represent the sublime, natural, and love for nature.
Fragrant blooms in many colors are describe as follows; white for purity and perfection; pink for youth, innocence, and joy; green or yellow for joy, health, luck, & good fortune and purple that sends out vibrations for achieving wishes of luck and health.
In America, the flower is the messenger of spring’s arrival. Victorians used the flowers to symbolized dignity, nobility, poise, and pride. The strength of its bloom indicates self-respect and self-esteem. Their durability, strength of character, and bearing, make them a desired flower for wedding bouquets. Their long life gave them yet another association of working with the life force and were sent in bouquets to celebrate births.
Quince (Chaenomeles) shrubs are found in Asia and the Americans. Branches means rebirth. Quince blossoms come in wonderful colors of peach to orange or hot pink. he blooms mean temptation, represents a choice or abundance a symbol of love or sincerity.
Peach (Prunus persica) trees represents longevity and are a sacred tree of immortality. In Taoist mythology the sacred peach tree grew in the garden of Hsi wang mu. Peach blossom petals are in shades of pale pink with a deep magenta center. They have short stems with two flowers sprouting from the same branch. The petals are an indication of intense love. The blossoms bring luck, or I am yours or you hold me captive.
Plum (Prunus domestica) trees indicate genius and keeping your promise. The first blooms of snowy white signals the end of winter. Butterflies are associated with plums indicative of beauty and long-life. The blossoms grow out from the branch and is absent of stems. Blossoms mean strong personality and the individual is unafraid of difficulties. Each single blossom means I am yours; you hold me captive.
Say thanks to the tree and the elementals caring for the branches and blossoms you pick or buy.
The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.
– Basho (Japanese poet, 17th century)
As Spring approaches, those in the northern climates actively search for bright, bold, and enchanting colors. Each blooming pop may make you wonder what they mean.
The language of flowers goes as far back as the Assyrians, Chinese, and Egyptians. It includes flowers and tree blossoms and branches. They were used in courting, diplomatic discussions, weddings, and monthly correspondences. Spring was birth, rebirth after winter or life after death. In the autumn as flowers faded quickly death was followed by rebirth or moving to heaven. Planting of flowers on graves, shrines, and churches mimic this message. General meanings of colors spoke of white representing purity and death, while red symbolized passion, energy, and blood. Yellow captured gold or the sun or enlightenment. The Taoist tradition shows a golden flower growing from the top of the head.
The Chinese New year celebrates with the peony. A flower symbolizing good fortune and friendship. At one time they were only available to the emperor or the elite class. Peonies represent wealth, feminine beauty and during the middle ages the Christians used them to mean healing.
It was Cleopatra obsession with roses and her use as love symbolism that prompted growth and popularity around the world. It could be why it is called the Queen of Flowers. When roses are present, it could mean that the corresponding god or goddess was nearby. The variety of shades are used to describe many types of love. White – true love, pink – innocence, yellow – friendship, red – symbol of love, or purple – love at first site.
Many legends exist about the rose. In Greek mythology, Chloris the Goddess of Flowers created roses. She found the lifeless body of a nymph and turned her into a flower. She called upon Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, who gave the flower beauty. And Dionysus, the God of Wine added nectar to give it sweet fragrance. Zephyrus, God of the West Wind, blew the clouds away so Apollo, God of the Sun could shine. The petals opened like the sun’s ray to mimic the center of the universe.
During the time of the Ottomans the artistic messaging was perfected. Süleyman I’s reign contained over two hundred flower shops in the 16th century selling bulbs and cut flowers. Messages of love, good wishes, hatreds, and resentment were passed through flowers. A house with a yellow flower near the window meant a sick person was in the home and please be quiet. A red flower meant a young girl who had reached the age of marriage.
The wife of the English ambassador, Lady Mary Wortley Montague introduced this practice to England in her Turkish Lettersof 1763. It the Victorians who developed an even more detailed list of messaging with flowers. There was such a great interest in this type of communication, several books were written, and the original meanings got a bit diverted. In Kate & Leopold, Hugh Jackman 19th century character explains the messaging of flowers to the young 20th century man.
Where I live in the PNW, tulips are king. The land breathes in their textures, colors, and occasional scents. The crowds come every April and swamp the country roads to see fields of tulips. Did that happen in Turkey where they originated? The name comes from the Persian word for turban due to their resemblances when blooming.
They mean perfect love, told in Turkish and Persian legends about the love between Farhad and Shirin. In one story, Farhad was a prince who fell in love with a beautiful girl named Shirin. She is murdered and, in his despair, rode his horse off a cliff. A red tulip grew where his blood touched the ground – the symbol for perfect love.
Sultan Ahmed III (1703-1730) held a special place for tulips. So much so his reign is called the Tulip Era. Three hundred years before Dutch and British horticulture societies proposed the first classified list of tulip names. The Flourist-in-Chief judged new cultivars of tulips and their names. Fanciful and poetic examples were Those that Burn the Heart, Matchless Pearl, Increaser of Joy,Big Scarlet,Diamond Envy, or Light of the Mind. Only the most flawless cultivars were entered into the official tulip list.
The Turkish florist standards preferred tulips that were tall thin, narrowly contoured and with narrow-pointed tips. The pedals had to be smooth, stiff, of one color, the exact size and length, and with no gaps.
“Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.” Albert Einstein
But trees may be. Trees contribute to finding, protecting and long relationships. They love, love creating a connection to the seen and unseen world – pushing us beyond comfort levels and opening us up. The below list is a sampling of trees that want to help in the area of love and romance.
Almond (Prunus dulcis)
An elegant and romantic tree. The Moorish King al-Mu’tamid planted almond trees for his beloved wife. She missed snow and the blossoms gave her joy every winter at the Court of Cordoba, Spain. Pink almonds are planted near St. Valentine’s grave in the Church of Praxedes in Rome.
Phyllis and Demophon of Greek myth are a story of love taking a few turns. There are many stories of who did whom wrong. Demophon had to leave on their wedding day due to war, father dying or other reasons and promised to return. He did not arrive back home at the appointed time. Phyllis got depressed and died. The gods took pity and turn her into an almond tree. Demophon did returned and overcome with guilt or grief, hugged the tree in which its bare branches blossomed creating the first almond tree. This myth gave almonds the emblem of true love inextinguishable by death and hope.
Almonds come in two groups; sweet almonds that are edible, roasted, or pressed for the oil. And bitter almonds (P. dulcis variety amara) used for food flavorings or in oils. Bitter almonds contain traces of prussic or hydrocyanic acid which can be lethal to animals and humans. Through developed processes the toxic is removed for safe use.
Apple blossoms and trees stand for love. It is always in love – wanting to be loved and providing love. A tree with lots of personality, charm, and the energy of perpetual youth. It is called the Tree of Love or The tree of Avalon. A name that conjures up romance for this feminine sign ruled by the planet Venus.
Venus and Aphrodite, the Roman and Greek Goddesses of Love rule apples and uses them as their symbol. Olwen, the Celtic Goddess of Love walks by apples to set them blooming.
One of the most famous battles of all times was for love, the Greek’s Trojan Wars. Aphrodite suggested a competition between Hera (Goddess of Marriage and Queen of Olympus), Athena (Goddess of War and Wisdom) and herself. Aphrodite gave Paris (the hero) three golden apples to pick the most beautiful woman on earth. Paris went with Helen of Troy instead of the goddesses. Hera and Athena decided a little war was appropriate payback. The innocence apple became known as the Apple of Choice and Beauty and in another vein, the Apple of Discord.
The Feast of St. Thomas in Austria is celebrated on December 21st. This is the night that a maiden cut open an apple and counts the number of seeds. An even number indicated she would marry soon. Cutting one of the seeds meant, she would have a difficult life and end up a widow. When there were several suitors, the seeds were removed and thrown into the fire, reciting the name of each suitor. The seed that popped was the one to marry.
Place dry apple peels in sachets to attract love. Looking for love? Twist the stem of an apple while calling out the letters of the alphabet, the stem will break on the first letter of the name of your future lover. Or peel an apple in one long strip and tossed backwards over the left shoulder. The shape made by the peel shows the initial of the future spouse.
In the name of love Alder offers protection. In Irish legend, Deirdre of the Sorrows fled Ireland to Scotland to escape the marriage with King Conchobar of Ulster. Hiding with her lover Naoise, they found shelter in the alders at Glen Etive.
Alders have three planetary rulers and exhibits masculine and feminine energies. Venus, the goddess, watches over lovers and outlaws who take refuge in the spring groves and need protection. Mars, Roman God of War; helps these two to move rapidly and with the speed of experience warriors. Neptune, Roman God of the Sea, exhibits feminine energy with his ability to balance the compassionate nature of filtering the truth at a slower rate. Physically the alder’s catkins show this balance with male and female growing on the same branch blending strengths to move forward in one’s life. You can see the past, present and future on an alder branch: last year’s empty cones, this year’s cones, and next year’s catkins.
Mystical creatures frolic among alders. The water spirits, white fairy horse and unicorns love this tree.
Alders are unique in that all the elements along with a fifth – charcoal are present. They are integrated through the Goddesses of Spinning. Ask the Goddess Venus to assist in creating the dye and weaving magic into the fabric.
Cupid, the God of Desire, Attraction and Affection. He is Roman. His counterparts in Greek are Eros and in Latin Amor. The first arrows of love were from the wood of ash trees.
Ash’s seeds are used in love divination. If the seeds do not appear the owner is unlucky in love. Venus of the Woods is the name given to the spring-time blooms of ash. The Goddess Venus lends her name to this activity. She oversees many hopes of lovers. In this English verse, the inquirer would soon have the identity of their intended revealed,
“Even-ash, even-ash, I pluck thee, This night my own true love to see, Neither in his bed nor in the bare, But in the clothes he does every day wear.”
Placing ash leaves under a maiden’s pillow encouraged dreams of her future lover. An ash leaf placed in a shoe of a maiden and then recites the following rhyme, will tell her the name of her future husband.
“Even, even, ash
I pluck thee off the tree.
The first young man that I do meet,
My lover he shall be.”
The Greek story of Philemon and Baucis appear again in Norwegian myths of Axel Thordsen and Fair Valdborg. When dying they were buried close to each other with ashes on either side. The trees grew and formed one.
Birches shine bright in the winter sky with the light of the stars and the moon. Lammas, the Celtic festival of harvest catches the sun in the sky. All three; the sun, stars and moon symbolize that summer will always return. Romantic thoughts for sure.
Maypoles were used for this festival. In parts of Germany, young men placed decorated birch trees in front of the home of their love interests on the night of May 1st . Wreaths were given as gifts by lovers. In Wales, men and women would exchange birch garlands to show their interest in each other.
Chestnuts are about honesty, love, and a symbol of longevity. A tree of beauty with its glorious floral display and in the Language of Flowers means grandeur. The wood brings success and love. Zeus had many flings and used his sacred wood to move around. Druids made staffs of chestnuts to draw longevity and gain energy from the earth. Place a piece of wood or carving under a distressed couple’s bed to ease disputes and relationship problems.
Sweet chestnuts are edible and can be confused with the horse chestnut, not edible. The planet Jupiter rules this expansive and large tree.
Hazelnuts are extraordinary charming and very understanding. Full of inspiration, pen your poem under a hazelnut or surround yourself with its branches. Known for wisdom, this tree with help you with understanding, making impressions and dealing with a capricious lover. Hazelnuts bring change and the talent to expression yourself in love.
The fruit of hazelnuts are the power source of this tree providing important nourishment. It is tree with an auspicious sign that love and new projects will have the magical ingredients for success.
September 14th is Nutting Day in the British Isles. Held until WWI, it was a day that the nuts were considered perfect for foraging by children. Out-a-nutting, was a chance to be alone in the woods with a lover.
Spiritually linked to the heart chakra, several goddesses are intertwined with the hazelnut. In Roman and Greek myth, Venus and Aphrodite, Goddesses of Love. For the Elves, the Goddess of the Enchanting Power of Beauty. The Celtic Goddess Arianrhod, (Ardiana by the Elves) works through the hazelnut as The Tree of Wishes.
The flowers tend be male and female on a single tree as its energy. If for some reason the flowers are borne on separate trees, they forecast a lover’s meeting. In the language of flowers, hazelnuts are about reconciliation.
An early bloomer that cleanse the heart of negativity, stimulates love, and forgiveness. Hawthorns helps to heal broken hearts and provide hope once again.
Blodeuwedd, Welsh Goddess of Spring. She protects women who are forced to marry, aiding them to choose their own love. Hawthorn’s flowers mean temporary beauty. Their fleeting presence reminds us of the autumn.
Plant hawthorn at crossroads. Humans, earth spirits, fairies will meet under hawthorns. Travelers and lovers hang bits of clothing as a prayer flag or to make wishes in health, luck, love, and success.
Synonymous with the capital R for Romance and classic charm. Sultan Ahmed III pursued an uncommon passion for flowers. One being lilacs. He is credited with gifting the fragrant lilac to the Europeans.
Syringa was a beautiful wood nymph in Greek mythology. The God Pan spied her one day, lusted for her and took chase. Depending on the version of the story, to get away from him, she either transformed herself into a reed or a lilac bush, both of which make great flutes. Ultimately, Pan won because he made a flute from her disguise and it never left his side from then on.
In the Victorian Language of Flowers, lilacs are a symbol of first love. So many colors, so many meanings. In the theme of love and romance, the lighter shade of purple is associated with one’s first love or the first time one feels love for someone. Pink is associated with love and strong friendship and white symbolized innocence.
The Serbian King, Uroš I Nemanjić, welcome his future queen, Helen of Anjou with lilacs planted along the Ibar River to remind her of Provence. Now called the Valley of Lilacs it still enchants and delights visitors.
Lilacs are long-lived and even in death provide romance. Burning the wood fills the air with its fragrance.
Magnolia ( family Magnoliaceae)
The flowers of magnolias represent a love of nature. One of the first plants to reproduce using flowers pollinated by insects. They are a classic beauty.
Napoleon’s first love Josephine over saw the breeding of the pink Magnolia X soulangiana. Soulangiana was the founder of the National Historical Society in France.
Myrtle (Myrtus) (family Myrtaceae)
Myrtles are evergreen, fragrant, with white, star-shaped flowers. A symbol of love and marriage. Sacred to Hathor, the Egyptian Goddess of Love, Joy, Childbirth, Heaven, Music, and Women. Then to Greek Goddess Aphrodite. Venus wears a crown of myrtle leaves. Myrtle blossoms and leaves were used to create wreaths for Roman brides to wear. Queen Victoria started the tradition of using myrtle flowers in royal family bouquets. Named the Osborne Myrtle, every royal bride has a piece of myrtle since then.
Maples (Acer spp.)
Trees of diversity with their barks, leaf-color, and winter structure. They represent love, longevity, and prosperity to the home and your sacred space. Ruled by Jupiter they bring expansive and happy energy to situations.
Maples are a tree of divination and awakening intuition. Its energy balances the male and female in one’s relationship. Balance that makes the relationship grow stronger and an over-all healthier.
Seeing the seen and unseen world, maple spirits ground individuals psychically and spiritually. The help to find practical ways to form expression. They activate the chakras in the arches of the feet, keeping individuals grounded. A much need ability in matters of love.
Myths tell us that Sugar Maple’s (Acer saccharum ) leaves will bring love and prosperity in spells or create financial abundance. The Gypsies repeat this theme of bringing gold. Eating the seeds draws love.
Oak (Querus spp)
Drop your acorns in the water to see how the relationship will progress. If they float together, the couple will marry. If they drift apart, so will the relationship.
Cybele the Greek Goddess of Love change her unfaithful lover Attis to a pine. Her son, Zeus, saw her sadness and made the pine green throughout the year as a consolation. When the wind blows through the pines, it is speaking of a new future. Roman mythology associated pine cones with Venus, Goddess of Love and Fertility.
Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)
Love runs the gamut of emotions and the willows relay this. In the western world, they are considered unlucky. A traditional folk song from the southern Appalachian Mountains explains:
“Bury me beneath the willow,
‘neath the weepin willow tree,
for when she hears that I am sleepin’
maybe then she’ll think of me.”
Willows the genus of plants (Salix) are indicators of spring and nature’s starting its annual life cycle. In Asia, eternal friendship, patience, perseverance are symbols.
They help us to encourages the expression of deep emotions, including grief and sadness through tears. Willows teach the value and consequences of love and loss. It symbolically tells us that even through great loss; there is the ability to grow. There is the potential for something new.
The colors of willow display great symbolism. Brown symbolizes stability, structure, and support. Green leaves growth, fertility, and life. As a tree it is about balance, learning, and harmony.
Please Plant Responsibility.
*I use many references in my work. This section is only an indication of where I found unique information.
“Trees with Heart Speak Hopefully, Quietly, and Strongly ” – D MacPherson
There is a group of trees with leaves that appear heart-shaped. They span many botanical families, are deciduous, and fill the air with their delectable scents. Many do well in the landscape. Classified as heart-shape, they help with new love, old love, and broken love. Their fruits or nuts are often paired with chocolate.
Bo Tree–Ficus Religosa
The fig leaves of the World Tree share its knowledge and grace with us. The leaves flutter under moonlight and light breezes. Elephants and silk worms enjoy munching on them. Figs are a symbol of fertility, propagation, vegetation, and immortality.
Its energy is very masculine. Under this fig Prince Siddhartha Gautama sat and became enlighten. He became Buddha and created the practice of Buddhism’s. The Greek God Dionysus in his role as a fertility god could be found near a fig tree. Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were nursed under a fig tree. The Hindu God Vishnu was born under Ficus indica and became part of the triad with Brahma and Shiva.
Figs are known by many names. Bodhi means historic events. Tree of Enlightenment or Awakened One. Tree of Knowledge. Tree of Buddha.
Ruled by the element earth and the sun. Both keep the fig grounded and looking to the sky for wisdom and inspiration.
A round and dense tree maturing to 100 feet that provides wonderful shade and beauty. Leaves start as a romantic pink then bloom out to green. Followed by yellow clusters of flowers and black berries. Native to the subtropics of Asia.
Valued in China where all parts are used in healing remedies. Individuals who hurt these trees were put to death. Camphor helps in heart problems, especially with break-ups. You will recognize this tree’s crushed leaves as the scent of moth-balls. A natural repellent for moths giving the tree one of its names – Moth Ball Tree.
Camphor is ruled by the feminine energy of the Moon and Moon Goddesses. Give her a gift on the new moon and ask her to help. A water element, camphor will feel your needs and help you work through them.
There are two types; Northern (Catalpha speciose) and Southern (Catalpha bignoniodes). Native to the Americans. They can reach a height of 40 to 60 feet with short trunks and rounded crowns. The trunks are gray and red, respectively. Fast growers and short-lived. It is an interesting tree in the landscape.
Flowers are white with a touch of rich gold. As the leaves open, they feel velvety and appear paper thin. The green and black caterpillar of the Catalpa Sphinx Moth loves the leaves. Wood is slightly aromatic. The seedpods are its most distinguishing features giving them the names of Indian-bean or Cigar Tree. Children used the seed pods in sword-fighting.
Catalpha is aligned with the realm of Spirit and will help to bring angels, fairies, deities, and ancestors to your sacred space. A tree of masculine energy it is ruled by Uranus.
Cherries – Prunus spp
Native Americans call cherries the Tree of the Heart. Medium growers and short-lived they are a landscape and food-source. Many of the edible cherries are from modern-day cultivars breed from Prunus avium and Prunus cerasu. Black cherries, Prunus serotina is a 60-foot tree with edible black fruit. The bark, leaves and seeds are toxic.
Cherries are celebrated for their spring blooms of white, red, or pink. Reflective of its ruling planet Venus and feminine energy the blossoms are part of the angelic realm of the cherubs. They are sacred to the Japanese emperor. Called sakura blossoms is the national flower of Japan. From Japanese folklore and now spread worldwide; blossoms are the symbol of love and joy. Their short bloom time reminds us that life is short. Do your best to live it well and to the fullest. Burning incense will attract or strengthen love.
The Japanese Goddess Konohanasakuya-hime is the blossom-princess and symbol of its delicate earthly life. She is part of wedding rituals. Every part of her presence with blossoms vibrates love. Cherry trees symbolize the shortness of life and how precious it is.
The Ho-ho bird is one of four types of firebirds in Asian mythology. Firebirds (phoenix) are reflective of the fire element. They are messengers of goodwill from the sun.
Dogwoods are many. Native Americans cherish dogwoods and their white blooms. Their appearance signals the arrival of spring and time to plant crops. The varieties are smaller and don’t match the height of the Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttalli)–a pure delight when you run across them in bloom. Their mass display of white is striking when tucked in with their conifer cousins.
The wonderful flowers called bracts delight many an observer. The true flowers are at the center of this configuration. Its fall foliage lights up the area wherever it stands with the fruit becoming scarlet.
The name dogwood is a discussion point. Cornus sanquinea, the English variety, was an ingredient in washes for dogs and some claim to befriend dogs. The name dagwood is short for daggerwood. Dogwood is hard, durable, and dense – used for weapons and skewers.
The planetary ruler Saturn rules structure and dogwoods. Plant dogwood as a boundary tree. In the language of trees, it means endurance. A tree that helps with broken or sad hearts. A Cherokee story tells of a princess killed because she refused the advances of a warrior. Wounded, she reached for a dogwood flower hoping to stop the bleeding. The pink tips in the flower show her bravery.
In another Cherokee tale, the element of spirit appears. The Dogwood People are elementals that help to teach harmony with the earth and protect the tribe. Dogwoods are masculine energy.
Empress Tree – Paulownia tomentosa
The Empress Tree is known by many names; foxglove tree, princess tree, and royalpaulownia. A native to China and valued for its many uses; medicinal, ornamental, or timber. Reaching a height of 50 feet it provides shade to everything under its canopy. The leaves are large, showy, and velvety enticing its use as a worldwide ornamental. The tube-shaped flowers of white to purple spread their jasmine or vanilla-like fragrance.
This is the time that love is in the air perhaps the influence of its ruling planet Venus. Very much a tree of feminine energy. A fast grower that is planted when a girl is born. When she is ready to marry the tree is cut down, and the wood used to create her dowry chest.
The fruit is egg-shaped forming seed pods that turn brown in winter and stay until the following spring. The bark is rough and gray-brown interlaced with smooth and shiny areas. This tree self-sows and survives by fire, sending out new shoots in the spring. Like the phoenix rising from the flame both are symbolic of the element of fire.
Introduced to the United States by the Dutch East India Company in the 1830s it is invasive. Catalpa and Empress Trees have a similar look. Look to the flowers and seed pods for clear identification.
Hazelwood – Corylus spp.
A small and mighty tree full of magical power. Short trees with leaves that alternate and are toothed. The Turkish filbert, Corylis coluna is the exception growing to heights of 80 feet.
Connected to the heart chakra it is well-suited to magic of wisdom, beauty, charm, love, stars, navigation, and creativity. The Tree of Wishes it will help with fertility, luck, and the power to grant the heart’s desire. Both feminine and masculine energies are present in Hazelwood. It is sacred to Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love and the Norse God Thor for immortality.
Hazelwood is sacred in many cultures; guarding sacred wells, aligning to gods, and providing treasured food. When you dream of hazelnuts, they are telling you of treasure coming your way. Cracking and then eating the nuts mean riches and content after toil.
Tied to the element of spirit and its planetary ruler Mercury the three components provide communication and messages from the other side to share with the mortal world. It is a tree known for knowledge. Knowledge is a way to communicate. In Irish myths, it was the salmon that shared its knowledge with the Celts after eating hazelnuts.
A showy tree described as divine beauty and elegance. A nice addition to a landscape. Leaves are purple in spring turning to green in summer and gold in the fall. It is in the fall that their fragrance of warm caramel or maple scones fills the air.
A good shade tree that likes moist and well-drained soils with full sun to part-shade. Katsura trees are fast growers. Another wonderful benefit of these trees is their lack of any serious pests or diseases. Prone to leaf scorch if planted in areas of drought and full sun.
The planetary bodies Venus (love) and the Moon (mystery) rule over Katsura. Japanese folklore tells us Katsura grew on the moon. Its energy is ethereal and otherworldly. Sit with it under moonlight with a moonstone crystal and think romantic thoughts.
Katsura is a fire element with masculine and feminine energies.
Linden – (Tilla spp.)
A fast-growing tree reaching 60 to 100 feet, forming wonderful crowns. Clusters of highly fragrant flowers appear in early June and the leaves turn yellow in fall. When young they have a smooth and light gray bark. As it matures, the bark becomes bumpy and closer to brown. Native to Europe and the United States.
A joyous tree for dancing around. The Tree of Love or Lovers. Scythia soothsayers twisted the leaves to tell of the prophecies that came from the trees. Lindens are a symbol of martial love and fidelity. Nowhere is this better displayed than in the Greek/Roman story of Baucis and Philemon. Jupiter(Zeus) and his messenger, Mercury(Hermes), were traveling in disguise and this elderly couple were the only ones to show them hospitality. As a turn of thankfulness, the gods turned Baucis into an oak and Philemon a linden tree when they died. The branches of the two trees intertwined and became inseparable.
French folklore repeats this theme and the linden’s property of masculine and feminine energy. If the groom passed under two linden trees that had their treetops woven together, the marriage never fell apart. Napoleon married his second wife Marie Louise under linden trees. He had them planted along the roads to the entrance of Logatec, Slovenia. Lindens are often used in street tree planting. Careful though when in bloom; aphids love this tree and create a honeydew sap that drips down on everything.
Lindens are a water element ruled by the planet Uranus. Together they capture the emotions and high functionality (law, justices, administration) of societies. Lindens were often used as community decision trees.
Quaking Aspen–Populus tremula
Aspens are short-lived as individuals but as a community tree can live for millennial. They can grow to a height of 50 feet. Young bark is narrow, straight, and white. Maturing bark turns black near the bottom of the trunk. Leaves turn shades of gold in the fall. A community tree as they grow in groves and can replace itself within 50 years. A tree that at one time grew everywhere in North America. An important tree in forest succession, they are the first to appear after a fire or a deforested area. They provide the much-needed shade for the next group of trees in succession, the sub-alpine firs.
Its moving leaves are considered magical. Mercury and Jupiter share co-rulership of quaking aspens. A fitting symbol with its leaves in constant motion and its large and expansive nature. Pando is the largest Quaking Aspen community. Meaning Trembling Giant or in Latin, I spread out. Several centuries old, the community is dying.
A tree of masculine energy, called the Tree of Heroes or the Shield Tree. Its leaves give heroes or shamans power to transport back and forth between this world and others. The lightweight wood is pliable for shields that gave magical properties protecting buried treasures. Wreaths made of gold shaped aspen leaves were found in several graves in Mesopotamia. Aspen’s physical strength protected warriors from harm and helped individuals work through physical and spiritual fears.
Redbuds are native to eastern and central North America. The Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) or the Western Redbud (Cercidiphyllum japonicum).
This trees truly have a four-season interest. Flowers liken to the shape of hummingbirds that burst out in intense red color fading to a warm pink. The blossoms adore branches that attract pollinators. Green leaves turn yellow, gold, or red in the fall. The leaves emit a sugar-cookie scent attesting to its name the Caramel Tree. Winter brings symmetrical branching with scaly and shaggy bark.
Redbuds are aligned to the Divine-Feminine. Pallas is the ruling Goddess of Redbuds and the Goddess of Marriage. Plant redbuds to support long-term partnership or enduring romantic relationships. The element of fire rules over redbuds.
Please Plant Responsibly.
Leaves – In Myth, Magic & Medicine. Alice Thomas Vitale, Sweet, Tabori & Chang, NY, 1997
Football is a type of sacred activity. For a bit of fun, I thought I would inspire a perspective from my local team – Seattle Seahawks. They are moving along in the playoffs. Thanks Pete, the team, and the twelves. Go Hawks.
The team colors are chartreuse and blue. My neighborhood has some devoted fans and have taken their support to their yards. I will say they inspired me to create this blog. One of my favorites are the Seahawk Flamingos. These are exquisitely painted and are a nice change from the pink ones.
Another is lighting up the evening sky.
Sacred spaces are best viewed with visuals and here are a few ideas for integrating these colors. Devoted fans probably know of team fonts. There are two for the Seahawks are the flat font and pattern font. I have used them in the below photos.
Here are ideas for building your Seahawk sacred space. Containers can capture the colors when plants are out-of-bloom or not available. Art pieces are a fabulous addition. Furniture, pillows or even painting a piece of your sacred space. All work to bring the team colors in.
A couple of plants types that support year-round enthusiasm and do well in containers or the landscape. The Heucheras of Lime Rickey and Electric Lime contribute to the magical chartreuse color. Heathers of lime green; Erica carnea ‘Aurea’, or Calluna vulgaris Alicia or Athene. One of my favorites – Lime Glade. Sydney for its true chartreuse foliage. The Green Pom Pom Chrysanthemum or Dianthus Green Ball round out this quick overview of selections.
A variety of plants called Gentians are just the best blues ever. Great trumpet shapes that just shout the joy of a Seahawk fan. King’s Scepter Gentian is one variety and these days we have more in the PNW to choose from. The Delphiniums Blue Nile with their white eyes, Diamond Blue, or a smaller version in Planet Blue.
This is a great time for the blue conifers, the Sub-alpine firs, Arizona fir, and the Lawsons Blue Gem. Their texture and shades highlight the many moods we all go through while watching the Seahawks.
Remember that sacred spaces are all about what works for you. Blue can be brought in through containers, glasses, raised beds or other art pieces. Even something as small as my former Seahawk gnome on a stick works.
White appears in the Seahawks’ uniform. This shade can be captured in Delphiniums of Centurion White or Guardian White. White Roses. Dogwoods (Cornus florida) with their spring bloom of white flowers. Another heather Erica carnea ‘Springwood White’ adds that perennial touch of white.
The study of trees for Yuletide and Christmas are remarkable. Modern day Christmas has evolved from many festivities and celebrations. Solstice celebrations represent death, birth, and new beginnings. The original festivals celebrated the natural environment and how the light change. Winter Solstice is the time when The Light begins its return in the northern hemisphere. The sun as a great wheel of fire rolls away from the earth creating darkness. At the solstice it rolls back toward the earth creating more light on its annual journey.
Ra, the Sun God of Egypt recovers from his seasonal illness. His power passes through the blazing disk in his crown. Rushes from the palm (an evergreen tree) filled homes symbolizing the triumph of life over death. Romans marked the solstice by honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. The early festival of Saturnalia used evergreens branches of firs, holm oaks, or hollies brought inside to mimic nature. They wore garlands of greens in the streets passing on wishes of prosperity and good will.
The season of Yule started with the Germanic tribes who celebrated over a two-month period. Christianity in its process of conversion,control and calendars brought Christmas,Twelfth Night, New Year’s, and Winter Solstice together. For example, January 6th was the original Christmas Day in England. A celebration that started on December 24th and ended on the Twelfth night, January 5th. The Julian Calendar (35 BC) transition to the Gregorian Calendar (1582) creating changes to the celebration dates. The Julian Calendar runs 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar and is still in used for winter holiday festivities.
Evergreen trees are those that keep their leaves year-round and flourish during the Winter and Christmas festivities. The varieties are many. In the northern hemisphere, evergreen trees stand for life, rebirth, and stamina. The branches of the Yew, Taxus, when brought inside to represent fertility and immortally. Balder, the Viking Sun God enjoyed the company of evergreens. They offer protection in winter against the coldest day. Some cultures believe evil spirits are at their strongest during this time.
Pines(Pinus) are one of the favorites trees for winter celebrations. Brought inside in Chinese and Western homes, their representation of long-life and prosperity make them cherished additions to the season. The Druids in Scotland used the Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris, to celebrate the winter solstice. Celts expressed what they wished for in the coming year. Fruits for a successful harvest, love charms for happiness, nuts for fertility, and coins for wealth adorn the trees.
Christianity has a special tie to pines. Jesus and his family were fleeing to Egypt. Many plants offer to hide them. Just as Herod’s soldiers passed by an old pine (Pinus pinea, Umbrella Pine ) gave them shelter in its inner trunk and folded its branches around them. Jesus blessed the pine leaving an imprint of his hand within the pine cones. Cut the cone lengthwise to see his print.
Firs (Abies) are a symbol of springtime and immortality. They are the first Christmas trees dating back to 1500 years ago in northern Europe and the first to be displayed inside homes. Their cones grow upright reflecting candle light. Fir branches intertwine make great wreaths or mantle decorations. They are the first trees found hanging upside down from ceilings or chandeliers. Crushing the firs’ leaves gives us that wonderful fragrance associated with the winter season. All parts of fir trees are helpful to humans. The oil creates an antiseptic that kills airborne germs and bacteria and supports respiratory health. The wood is excellent firewood. They reach for the sky while growing. The species used during the winter celebrations are Balsam Fir, Abies balsamea, Fraser Fir, Abies fraseri,Grand Fir, Abies grandis, Noble Fir,Abies procera, and Silver Fir, Abies spp.
Apple trees, in modern day, play an unknown and huge role in yuletide and winter solstice festivals. The round shape of apples represents a turning wheel. The wheel in turn represents earth. At the winter solstice the wheel turns toward the sun. If shining through the branches on December 25th there would be a healthy crop the following summer.
Deciduous trees, those that lose their leaves. The hawthorn tree at Glastonbury Tor in England is famous as a Christmas tree because of Joseph of Arimathea. He arrived at Worral Hill in 597 A.D. carrying two sacred vessels said to contain the blood and sweat of Jesus. Thrusting his staff into the ground, it sprouted and grew into a thorn tree. The Glastonbury Thorn (Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’)flowers twice a year in winter and spring, just around Christmas and Easter.
Blooming about the same time and a cousin of the hawthorn is the Blackthorn tree, Prunus spinosa. Folklore tells us this tree will bloom when cold is coming. Blackthorn symbolizes the body and spirit and how death follows rebirth. One of the guardians of winter in the druid practices. Villagers burned crowns woven with mistletoe in the New Year’s fire. The ashes bring luck in the coming year and providing nutrients for next year’s crop. Sloe berries of the blackthorn are the main ingredient in the Sloe Gin drink.
Use these guidelines when harvesting apples. Leave three apples on each tree for the fairies. The Hesperides Nymphs in Greek mythology will bless you by managing good pollination for the next year’s crop. When eating apples stored through the winter always keep enough to make an apple pie for the sheep shearers in May.
Hanging apples from the orchard transition to an indoor ritual. Local practices hung apples as ornaments on trees. Christianity used this practice to help convert pagans. The English started the custom of adding apples and evergreens to the bough along with ribbons,baubles, and mistletoe. The bough is hung under doorways and became the present-day custom of kissing under the mistletoe.
Twelfth Night ended with Wassailing, an older festival celebrating apples. Wassail itself is a hard cider warmed with spices over a small fire. Whole apples would burst and produce a white foam over the liquid. The celebration started in Wales and then spread throughout Britain and Ireland. The tree-spirit known as The Apple Tree Man needed to wake from his sleep. He protected the local people against bad health, misfortune and ensured a good harvest the following year. Villagers serenaded him with chants, rhymes, or speeches that praised his gifts of the current year and fruitfulness from earlier years. They struck the trunk and any branches with sticks until the sap flowed, signaling he was awake. Toasted bread soaked in Wassail were tossed or place in the forks of the branches or hollows of the tree. This offering frightens away evil spirits lurking in the branches. Any remaining liquid spread over the roots and trunks to honor its blessings.
After the Wassailing, villagers returned to their homes to enjoy all things apple. They layered cakes and baked apples with sugar in a special wassail bowl with twelve handles. Warm spiced beer covered the mixture. On New Year’s Day the bowl traveled to neighbors wishing them good health and prosperity for the upcoming year. Stories,songs, and dances were part of the festivities.
The history of the Yule log goes back to the Iron Age in Europe. A tree was picked to stand for the solstice and the end of the winter season. When lit the yule log cleanses last year’s energy and ushers in spring. Folklore tells us that each variety of yule log has its own magic. Yule logs represent the god and goddess being reunited. The traditional trees, oak (masculine)brought healing, strength and wisdom or the ash (masculine) brought protection,prosperity, and health. To honor the log, decorations of holly, mistletoe, pine-cones, ivy, and evergreens covered its length.
Other trees represented yule logs. Aspen (masculine) invoked understanding of the grand design of life; birch (feminine) brings new beginnings; holly(masculine) inspired visions and revealed past lives; pine signified prosperity and growth and the willow (feminine) invoked the Goddess to achieve desires. Each tree produced a great fire creating ashes that were spread on the soil reinvigorating it for the next year’s growing season. Spreading them after Christmas Day brought luck your way. Ashes protected against evil and lighting. Wearing a touch from the yule log when in a storm.
Hazelnuts are a favorite food during the holidays. Found in chocolate and hazelnut butter and a Christmas delicacy made by Ferrero Rocher. (side note – Palm Oil is used in the making of this holiday chocolate. The company is engaged in responsible sustainability for its product. Which makes Palm trees a Winter Holiday Tree.)
Other practices of the season included carrying hawthorn or cherry branches inside to flower. Cherries celebrated The Feast of St. Barbara December 4th. She was the daughter of a wealthy Greek merchant who converted to Christianity against her father’s wishes.
A long history of use in the winter celebrations, holly branches and Ivy provide the green and red in many homes. Represented in the well-known song, The Holly & The Ivy. Holly is masculine and provides protection. Ivy is feminine and represent fidelity and love. Together holly and ivy are another representation of the god and goddess uniting during this time of year.
The first recorded display of a decorated Christmas Tree was in 1510, Riga, Latvia. By the 1700’s, the tradition of celebrating the holidays with a decorated tree spread throughout Europe. On Greek islands villagers would create wreaths of myrtle, olive, and orange leaves. Or carry poles of young pears,cheese and candles to households sharing its bounty.
Hessian(German) mercenaries brought the tradition to the United States during the Revolutionary War. In 1804, soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn, Michigan used evergreen trees in their barracks. From North Dakota is the story of the cedar tree. One tree is planted next to the medicine lodge and decorated with moccasins, shawls, or other treasures to celebrate the season. Members of the tribes would share the during summer to fall. President Franklin Pierce in 1856 brought the Christmas Tree tradition to the White House.