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The Hazel was considered to be the Tree of Wisdom and to fell one was once a crime punishable by death. It was believed that magickal skills and knowledge could be gained from eating Hazel nuts, which are the emblems of concentrated wisdom. In Irish folklore, the Hazel tree was the home of Bile Ratha, the poetic fairy. The Hazel is also strongly associated with mediation and meditation. The Druids were the inheritors of the knowledge of measurement and calculation, skills of the earlier "dodmen" who were the prehistoric surveyors of the key lines and trackways portrayed in the ancient chalk-cut figure of the Long Man of Wilmington who is shown holding staves or rods. Also skilled in the law, the Druids were often called upon to mediate in disputes concerning property and land boundaries, in much the same way as the surveyors of modern times. Twigs of Hazel are favored by water-diviners and for other methods of divination due to the sensitive nature of the tree and its close affinity with the element of water. It was once believed that the Mushrooms which grow on a Hazel could provide an individual with the ability to relocate what he or she may have lost.
The Hazel was a favored tree of the Druids, some of whom preferred its wood over that of the Oak for their staffs, given its conductive nature. This was, however, purely a matter of preference. Staffs made of Hazel were once considered as a sign of authority among the Druids. Pins made of Hazel were once used to protect houses from fire and the trees planted as shade from the Sun. Ground Hazel nuts were often employed in the curing of coughs, the soothing of sore throats and the relief of head cold symptoms. The dry skin covering the nut was once ground into a powder and used to relieve heavy menstrual flows. The Hazel was said to be a reminder to trust and listen to intuition which, in essence, is trust in the self. It was believed to promote thought processes and the flow of inspiration while accepting responsibility for actions.
Ancient legend tells that after the banishment from Eden, God gave Adam the power to create any animal he wanted. In order to do this, Adam had to strike the sea with a rod made of Hazel. The first animal Adam created in this fashion was the Sheep, but Eve saw this and created a Wolf, which immediately attacked the Sheep. Thus, in order to control the Wolf, Adam created the Dog. The Dog overcame the Wolf and harmony was thereby restored.
A member of the Birch family, the Hazel is a small deciduous tree, hardy, moderately shade-tolerant and grows best on heavy but well-drained soil. It forms a shrub which can grow to be 20 feet tall. Native to almost all of Europe, the Hazel is found everywhere in the British Isles, inhabiting open woodlands, scrubs, hedgerows and the edges of forests. Both male and female flowers grow on the same tree, the male catkins opening with the first warm day of Spring forming bright yellow, drooping "lamb tails." The female flowers on the same branch appear as tiny pink tufts on plump buds. The flowers develop into the well-known clusters of nuts which turn brown around the month of October. The tree's Latin name, Corylus avellana comes from the Greek word korys which means "helmet" (a reference to the calyx which covers the nut) and avellana which commemorates the town of Avella in Italy where the nuts were cultivated. "Hazel" is probably derived from the Anglo-Saxon haesel or "bonnet," which itself came from the Greek korys. Poles of Hazel were once woven into panels called "wattles" which were used to construct the walls of houses and used to build hurdles with which to pen sheep. The nuts (also known as Filberts) are a particular favorite of the Dormouse and Grey Squirrel and were once burned by priests in order to enhance clairvoyance.
There are two distinct types of Hazel 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" Hazel individual is more inclined to seek out knowledge than his or her "full moon" counterpart. These people possess an inquisitive nature which can, at times, become prying or underhand. The "full moon" Hazel individual is more outgoing in nature and temperament. These people are also more inclined to become public figures who seek to educate or instruct people in the arts. The "full moon" Hazel sets a high regard on honesty and has well-defined principles. Such people can, however, be very critical in attitude...usually stemming from an inbuilt hypersensitivity. Hazel individuals need to express their creativity or they could easily become morbid and introspective.
In general, Hazel individuals are perceptive and clever people, endowed with good reasoning powers. This sharpness of intellect makes for excellent debaters and writers. They are also wonderful planners and organizers...even down to the smallest detail. The desire to acquire knowledge often leads to Hazel individuals becoming adept scholars and they are frequently experts in their chosen fields. They have lively and analytical minds, possess a great deal of imagination and are radical and idealistic thinkers. Their artistic abilities often lead them to create beautiful things which have very practical uses. Sometimes known as the mediators of society, Hazels are keen observers of the truth around them and able to judge an entire situation in a very short period of time. There is, however, a tendency for Hazel people to sometimes become paranoid and lack self-worth. Their abundance of nervous energy (more mental and emotional rather than physical) needs to be constantly channeled or they may become prone to sudden headaches and migraines. Hazel individuals dislike pretense, false values and waste of any kind. They are probably the most rational of all the Celtic signs and always appear to be cool and reserved, which enables them to remain outside of life's emotional sphere. Such personal emotional surface control, however, may simply be a cover for a highly sensitive nature and they are prone to suffer from nervous tension.
Physicially, the Hazel is not necessarily robust, but is possessed with a strong mental stamina. Hazels individuals are blessed with agile minds able to cope with any extremes, but they have a tendency to be most critical of their own shortcomings and may suffer from low self-esteem. At times, Hazels have been known to become argumentative or even cynical and may resort to underhanded means (such as prying) in order to attain the knowledge they are always constantly seeking. As mates, Hazel individuals are honest and caring, but may be inclined to overindulge their children and spouses. Though not particuarly demonstrative people, they are sincere and inspire great loyalty from others.