Fraxinus excelsior or F. americana
It may surprise you to know the ash is a member of the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae!
The ash is associated with wisdom, knowledge, protection and prophecy.
Fraxinus, the Latin word for ash, comes from spear which may refer to its spear shaped leaves or because its wood was used to make weapons.
The ash has been revered for centuries and is associated with magic and good fortune. Ash trees are loved and celebrated in North America, Europe and Asia. This immense tree , known to reach over 130 feet tall, was said to be the backbone of the universe.
Norse mythology defined the ash as the world tree, tree of life, or Yggdrasil, representing the universe. Odin hung from the tree for nine days and nine nights to be granted knowledge and wisdom. The tree was said to be a friend of the sky, with its crown so high it rose above the clouds and roots that stretched so deep they reached the underworld. The tree was continually watered from a mysterious well that never ran dry and it has strong association with the oceans.
Neptune, the Roman god of the sea (his Greek counterpart is Poseidon) is associated with the ash tree. Anything made from ash will offer protection from drowning. Ships were once built of ash, sailors carried solar crosses made of its twigs, and witches’ broom handles are still made of ash to enable them to travel across large bodies of water and keep their feet dry!
If snakes are a concern, carrying an ash staff will come in handy! St. Patrick carried an ash wood staff to aid in driving the snakes from Ireland. Snakes are said to refuse to crawl over its roots, and one strike from a branch would kill one instantly. Pliny, Roman naturalist, author and philosopher, declared that simply circling a serpent with a branch from the tree would cause it to die immediately.
Ash has also been used to cure snake bites by tying a circle of ash twigs around the sufferer’s neck. Scott Cunningham, a life long herbal healing advocate, strongly suggested if one was bitten, it would be best to get the snake bite kit and call a doctor. I agree!
Vampires were also susceptible to the powers of the ash. It was one of five woods, ash, aspen, willow, juniper and the hawthorn most commonly used, to make the stake to drive through his heart.
A cure for warts recommends sticking a pin into the bark of an ash tree and then into the wart. As the wart diminishes on the body, it will be transferred and grow on the tree’s bark.
New born babies have been influenced and protected by the ash. The first time a baby’s fingernails are trimmed, if they are buried under an ash tree, the child will be gifted with a beautiful singing voice! Hanging ash over a baby’s cradle was said to protect it from mischievous fairies. A teaspoon of ash sap was given to newborn babies to protect them from disease and infant death.
Another attribute of the ash is prophecy.
“The even ash leaf in my hand, the first I meet shall be my man.”
“The even ash tree in my glove, the first I meet shall be my love.”
In addition to carrying the leaves to find your special someone, you can put them under your pillow and they will bring prophetic dreams.
There are common names for the ash tree, such as Nion, from the Celtic word Nionon which means heaven. Another is Kingswood or KIng’s Tree, from the tree’s spring arrival and fall departure. The ash is the last tree to awaken in the spring and the first tree to shed its leaves in the fall. Like the king, it was “The last to arrive and the first to leave.”
The majestic ash tree has been the source of legend and lore, spanning centuries and continents. It has inspired myths, and folklore, and it continues to provide us with protection, prophecy and inspiration.
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Welcome!! I’m Mikell (pronounced Michael). If you love spicing up your life with herbs, recipes, decorating and crafts, symbolism and rituals like I do, I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter and free Enhancing Your Life with Herbs e-book!
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!