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The Willow symbolizes the female and rhythms of the circle. This tree was sacred to the Moon and, in Celtic lore, the Universe was hatched from two crimson serpent eggs (which contained the Sun and the Earth) hidden among the boughs of the Willow. Hens' eggs were later substituted for those of the serpent and symbolically eaten as part of the Beltane feasting. This ritual was eventually transferred to the celebration of Easter in the Christian calendar with the eggs becoming Easter eggs. Staves cut from this tree were often used for fencing, roofing house and lunar wands. Along with Sandalwood, Willow bark aided in the conjuring of spirits forth from the Otherword. It was also said to help soothe those who felt bitter or jealous and proved to be an effective medicine in the cure of worms and dysentery. Both Willow bark (containing Salicin) and the Primrose (the plant associated with the Willow) were once used as analgesics, particularly in the treatment of arthritic diseases. Pregnant women would lay cloths beneath the tree in order to catch the leaves, which were believed to assure an easy birthing process. Always known as a "tree of enchantment," the Willow is reported to have bestowed the mystic gift of eloquence upon Orpheus when he visited the sacred grove of Persephone at the Temple of Delphi in Greece. The Celts associated the Willow with poets and young suitors would commonly wear a sprig of Willow to acknowledge the power and status of the old "wise one" (the Cailleach of Celtic myth who was the Crone aspect of the triple goddess and to whom this tree was sacred). The words "Witchcraft" and "Wicca" are both derived from the word "Willow." The Willow was also host to the sacred Mistletoe of the Druids, which was often more commonly found growing on the Willow and the Poplar than it was on even the mighty Oak. This tree was once referred to as "Witches Aspirin," probably not only for its reputation in resolving dilemmas, but also for its headache-relieving properties. In the past, some cultures have been known to "Wear the Green Willow" in order that others might be aware they were going through a period of mourning and Druidical sacrifices were customarily offered in Willow-wicker baskets. It was once said that if someone felt an overwhelming need to confess, the secret could be shared with a Willow and be forever trapped. Its wood was often used for planing and lining burial graves due to its associated symbolism with death and protection.
There are at least 500 species of Willow...from tall trees to Arctic plants barely two inches tall. The European Willow, found in central and Southern Europe, is also known as the White Willow because of its greyish bark. The American variety is called the Black Willow due to its black-colored bark. Together with Poplars and Alders, this tree is usually found growing beside streams and lowland rivers, with a preference for damp and boggy areas. Its spreading branches, which reach toward the source of water, create a full shape and its leaves are long and slender, covered with silver hairs that give the entire tree a "shimmering" appearance. Willows can reach 80 feet in height and sprout vigorously from stumps. Its flowers are tiny and bear no petals. It is an imposing tree with a thick trunk and heavily-ridged bark. The Willow's catkins, which appear in early Spring prior to the appearance of leaves, attracts bees to begin the cycle of pollination.
There are two distinct types of Willow individuals (a division which relates to all Celtic Tree Signs). The "new moon" character is associated with the first two weeks of a sign and the "full moon" character is associated with the last two weeks.
The "new moon" Willow individual tends to more inclined to sudden mood changes and displays more unreliable character traits. These people are however receptive to change and quick to take advantage of any opportunity which presents itself. The "full moon" Willow individual tends to disregard advice, even though his or her own reasoning power often lacks credibility. The "full moon" Willow is, however, the most resourceful of the two types and is blessed with an even more exceptional memory than his or her "new moon" counterpart.
In general, Willow individuals are basically articulate, strong-willed, resourceful and possessed with excellent memories. They touch upon all aspects of nature and its association with the Moon. Emotional and enigmatic, Willow people respond quickly to situations but are prone to sudden mood changes, which can make them difficult to get to know. Being shrewd and practical, they can be brilliant inventors but are also drawn to the unexplained mysteries of life. As a friend, the Willow individual can be a powerful ally...on the other hand, he or she can make for a formidable enemy. Willows have a type of passive tenacity and can be extraordinarily wise counselors and extremely nurturing parents who are protective of loved ones. The Willow person is often reluctant to forgive and forget, which can lead to permanent rifts with friends and family. In the work force, Willows are usually employed in very responsible positions but find it hard to settle upon a definitive career. If the career choice should be in the field of education, however, they are counted among the best teachers. Willow individuals seldom express a controversial opinion in public (which makes them appear very amiable) but privately, their views are usually strong one way or the other. They are possessed with an overactive imagination and tend to fret needlessly about health matters. The Willow has a deep interest in family loyalty and history and usually becomes the family genealogist. The figure of the mother tends to dominate and influence the Willow throughout his or her life but once, married, there is no more devoted individual when it comes to the spouse and children.
The lunar energy of Willow people can be positively channeled into the arts, but it can also suddenly activate latent creative skills that may appear to change the personality. For the most part, Willows are incredibly difficult to get to know due to the type of "veil" over their personalities which hides a great deal. Their sense of humor is not always easy to define and tends to "come and go" depending upon the occasion. Blessed with a potential wisdom that makes them wise advisors, they are usually valued members of society. Willow individuals usually marry at a young age and close personal relationships are of the utmost importance. With the correct partner, Willow individuals create a powerful bond that tends to strike an affinity between the sexes. Willows must learn how to trust their inner voice or they can become moody and chronically indecisive. Since the Moon has always been associated with those who can influence the public with the force of their personality...either good or bad...the Willow individual is usually one to be reckoned with.
There will be some Willow individuals who fail to fit the character pictures described above. These are, in every sense, the great magicians of the world. Appearing on the surface to be the most conventional of human beings, he or she will be experiencing an incredible inner life or imagination. However, there will be a time when this hidden potential suddenly bursts forth. It may take the form of writing to public figures or perhaps adopting a personal political role to address the rights and wrongs of a particular issue. Then again, there will be periods when such personal motiviation ceases as suddenly as it began and the intuitive nature of such a Willow individual appears to crave a complete break from the routine rigors of daily life.