In the Celtic Tree Calendar, this is the month of the Ash Tree, one of the holy trinity of the Oak, Ash and Thorn trees. The Ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) is often referred to in verse by the phase “by oak, ash, and thorn,” which is used as a blessing during ritual or to affirm a charge of power in spellcraft. It was believed that the Good People could be seen and conversed with by mortals wherever the three trees grew together. The ancient Irish called the ash tree “nin” or “nion,” and its name was given to the letter “N” in the ogham alphabet.
The ash tree is associated with divination, prophecy and inspiration. Odin is said to have hung from an ash tree in order to gain enlightenment before reading the runes, and it is an ash tree from which the Hanged Man of the Tarot hangs, in his transcendent surrender.
In Norse mythology and to the ancient Teutons the ash tree represented Yggdrasil, also known as the World Tree. This was their concept of the universe and revered as the tree of Time and of Life. In Scandinavian myth the first man was formed from the ash and the first woman from rowan.
Wands of ash are favored because of its straight grain. Ash makes a very good all-purpose wand, and is especially powerful for healing and solar magic. It is also favored for the shaft of the witch’s besom, as well as the very large wands used by professional baseball players, called “bats.”
As is the case with most trees, one of the main properties and uses of the ash tree is that of protection. Many of our ancestors would hang a staff of ash over the door frames to ward off malevolent influences, or scatter ash leaves in the four directions to protect a house or area. A garter made from its green bark could be worn as protection against sorcerers and psychic attacks. Ash was also used as protection from snakebites; snakes have an innate fear of the ash tree and will not crawl over its wood.
The ash tree was especially important to the Druids. In synchronicity with the Greco-Roman belief that ash was sacred to Poseidon, God of the Seas, the Druids also attributed ash to having special powers over water. They used its wood to make it rain or to ward off water’s destructive power. Thus, the ash is the tree of sea power, or of the power resident in water.
The Greek goddess Nemesis carried an ash branch as the symbol the divine instrument of the justice of the Gods, the scourge. She is also depicted with an eight-spoke wheel symbolic of the solar year, a symbol of the Fates who dispensed justice under and through the ash tree. If anyone hoards the favors She has given, or doesn’t sacrifice to the Gods, or will not work to alleviate the poverty and misery of our fellow humans, Nemesis steps in and will withdraw Her gifts, while dispensing justice through humiliation with a scourge made of ash.
Thus, the month of ash is a good time for inner evaluation and meditation. Ash wood can aid in strength and focus, meditation, and can be used when we attempt to contact someone in the spirit realm. The ash takes us from the yin of the Winter Solstice to the balance of the Spring Equinox. Begin to reach for that balance, but don’t be impatient; you should never force a birth before its time.