Trees are fundamental to the life of the planet. They are referred to as 'the lungs of the world', for they breathe fresh oxygen into the atmosphere, taking away carbon dioxide waste. Trees have a powerful effect on our climate - as the removal of large tracts of rain forest has shown.
A vital resource
Trees were an important asset in the lives of our ancestors. They provided shelter, firewood, tools, weapons, dyes, and medicines. Even today, with all the other materials that are available, trees are the primary source of paper, and a well-crafted piece of wooden furniture is still much to be admired.
All trees have specific characteristics according to the way they grow. The ancients would use particular trees for the magic inherent in these traits, according to their needs and purposes.
Myths and legends of trees
The Celts and other ancient people had many beliefs and traditions based around the magical lore of trees. Each month dedicated to the particular traits of different trees, can be found here.
When the ancients cut down part of a tree for building, they would forewarn it so the tree could withdraw its life force from that part. If they were using the wood for spells, however, they would ask the dryad (the tree's spirit) to leave some magic energy in the wood.
In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil, the tree of life, is a cosmic map that represents all life. The tree has its roots in the Underworld, is linked to the Earth through its trunk and its branches reach into the air of the Otherworld of spirit.
Spirits of the trees
The best way to harness the magic of trees is outdoors in nature, free and completely unencumbered. Here, you can draw upon a tree's aura, which is created by its dryad, or spirit.
You can create a ritual of making friends with the dryad of a particular tree by visiting it regularly and sitting quietly under it, or even inside it. Take a gift each time you visit your special tree. The dryad will impart its wisdom to you subtly and through experience, not words. So be sure to listen carefully!
Essence of trees
The essence of tree magic lies in understanding the qualities of each type of tree (for more information see here)
These can be drawn on for such things as healing and magic working. How and where it grows imbues a tree with certain characteristics.
For example, the rowan tree grows high up the sides of mountains, often in inaccessible spots. If you need to develop tenacity in your life, call upon this tree.
Using wood runes
Runes are an ancient writing system. Much wisdom is held in each letter, which is why they are such a good method of divination.
The letters were traditionally carved on wood, the choice of which would depend upon the particular magical content required. Yew was especially popular due to its association with the unconscious.
Runes can also be used for spells.
Choose one or two runic letters that hold the energy you wish to use and carve them into an appropriately chosen piece of wood - one whose qualities you need. Then sing or speak the rune names to empower them. To release their magic, finish by burning the runes.
Trees in your home
When a piece of wood it taken from a tree, it retains the energy from its dryad. This is the philosophy behind wands that are made from a wood chosen for its magical traits.
Notice how much tree magic you have in your home. What kind of wood are you furniture, ornaments, bowls and baskets made of? Are they pine - a tree of purification as well as fertility? Or maybe beech, which brings with it ancient wisdom into your abode? When you're cooking, consider the wood the spoon is made of. The magic of that particular tree is going into making your dinner! Apply magic to your cooking by using utensils made from the tree whose traits you wish to harness.