The ash tree has always been revered for its mystical powers, and is frequently associated with healing and enchantment. In addition to being the World Tree Yggdrasil in Norse traditions, in Celtic literature, there are many references to the ash tree, particularly as associated with the Welsh hero of the Mabinogion, Gwyddion. He bears an ash staff (or wand), which empowers him to overcome and transform the challenges of his destiny.
Ash leaves placed under the pillow will induce prophetic dreams, and carrying an ash leaf will attract the love of the opposite sex. The ash is considered to be the Unicorn Tree, because unicorns are fond of it. To catch a glimpse of a unicorn, carry ash wood or leaves.
Of the five legendary guardian trees of Ireland, three were ash. Ash is also the second most popular tree growing beside Irish holy wells, and on the Isle of Man, ash trees are said to protect the purity of the springs.
In British folklore, the ash was credited with a range of protective and healing properties, most frequently related to children’s health. Newborn babies were popularly given a teaspoon of ash sap. Ailing children, especially those suffering with rupture or weak limbs, would be passed naked through a cleft in an ash tree or ash sapling, to cure them.
The cleft was often specifically made for this purpose and then bound together again after the ceremony, with the intention that it would heal as the child also healed. Some folklore points to an intimate lifetime bond between the tree and child, with harm to the tree being reflected in the healed person’s life, leading people to become understandably protective of ‘their’ ash tree.
In addition, placing ash berries in a cradle will prevent the child from being traded for a changeling by the faeries. And ash talismans can be worn as protective amulets. Ash is known to keep away serpents and to protect against their bite. Special guardian spirits reside in the ash, making it excellent for absorbing sickness. The spiral carved Druidic wand was made of ash for this healing purpose.
The Celts believed that the ash originated in the Great Deep or the Undersea Land of Tethys. Most of the ancient European cultures agreed that ash has associations with the power of water. It can be used to summon rain, it calls lightning (beware if it is too close to your house) and is very useful for working any kind of water magic, including protection against drowning.
The ash is tall, straight, and well grounded in earth. It speaks of an inner calm and stillness, yet like the oak, it tempts the lightning flash of change. The challenge of the ash is to learn leadership, and to connect and balance your inner, outer, and higher self.
The Ash Month is a time of passion, motion, and impatience. With the quickening of the transition of Spring yet to come, we yearn for release. Like the urge to rush out and start planting our garden on the first days when warm weather flirts with us, we must remember it is not yet time for the emergence from Winter’s womb. If this restlessness becomes too disturbing, you might try the Bach Flower remedies of Impatiens and Vervain. Peacefulness and meditation are also very important at this time. While the life and light is stirring within, it still must grow and mature. From the ash tree, we learn patience and control over our unconscious urgings.