Sunday Legends-The (Not So) Secret Lore of Trees



I’ve been on a minor spontanous blogging vacation because I’ve had the overwhelming desire to both knit and clean, and I’m indulging myself on both points.

I was reading about the history of the word hoodoo recently, and one of the theories that came up is that it’s a derivitive from uath dubh (pronounced, roughly, hoo doo)-which is a term coming from the Gaelic meaning dark spirit; it’s also related to the adjective spikey because of its relation to the hawthorne tree.

Someone asked me what the hawthorne tree had to do with anything, and honestly I didn’t know. If I had to guess at that point, it would have had to be some relation to the afterlife if the ghost is spikey because of the tree [I was about a quarter right].

Trees do carry deep meaning in a great many traditions. Here’s a  very short list. A number of these originate out of Kentucky

Hawthorne-connected to the fae, also a sign of luck and fertility throughout several cultures. Hawthorne could be used to keep out ghosts and minor dark spirits like bogarts. It’s claimed that Thor created the hawthorne from lightening and the tree could protect against thunderstorms.

Weeping Willows-The weeping willow is sacred to Hecate. In western culture the weeping willow was used as a traditional symbol for grief, thus being used as decorative accents on headstones. Women shouldn’t plant a willow or she’ll never marry.

Locusts-Heavy blooms on a locust means a heavy grain year. Locusts are hit by lightening more often than other trees.

(General) Be careful planting a tree near a grave; if the tree dies, so does the person that plants it.

Cedar-plant a cedar tree in your yard for luck. But don’t let it sit near your house, or it will bring death. And don’t transplant it, because you’ll be dead by the time the lowest limbs are as long as a person’s coffin. Don’t burn it on your property if it dies as well, because it’ll bring death to your family. [Cedars seem to be bad news along the Eastern Seaboard of the US].

Dogwoods-don’t mess with dogwood branches or it’ll bring bad luck.

Peach-a peach tree blooming early is a sign of a forthcoming death.

Pine-The number of pine trees in your yard is the number of people who will die in your family. In some variations, it’s just the act of planting them that will cause trouble [but then, planting trees in general seems to be a bad idea, so.] However, in germanic superstitions helpful spirits live in pines and firs so it’s a good idea to have them around. It’s a bad idea to sell a pine tree but giving one away will bring good luck.

Apple-Don’t use applewood for firewood. Apple trees that have apples on until the spring heralds a death in the family.

Yew-both connected to witchcraft and believed to protect people from evil.

Elder- Carries connotations of life, death, and compassion. The connection between the elder and death may be so strong that some superstitions claim the tree will only grow where blood has been shed.


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