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The Hawthorn

5/13 - 6/9: The Hawthorn was a symbol of psychic protection due to its sharp thorns. It was also generally seen as a tree which brought good luck to the owner and prosperity to the land upon which it stood. It belongs to the trilogy of sacred Irish trees (the other two being the Oak and the Ash). Faery spirits were believed to dwell in Hawthorn hedges, which were planted as protective shrubs around fields, houses and churchyards. The Hawthorn was once thought to offer psychic protection to the traveler. The twigs would frequently be used as a curative for depression and the powdered seeds used to cure gallstones. Often used for walking sticks and to make fires, the Hawthorn also formed the Maypole around which the Celts would dance at Beltrane...the onset of Summer. The Hawthorn was associated with both the sacred and the unlucky (some holding the belief that it was from the Hawthorn that the crown of thorns used at the Crucifixion of Christ was made, for example). To destroy this tree was to incur great peril to the individual who was responsble for such an act. The Hawthorn was embodied in the character of the chief giant Yspaddaden in a Welsh romance of Kulhwch and Olwen. As a guardian figure who attempts to protect the virginity of Olwen, he is felled and the blooms of Summer soon open. Thus, the Hawthorn symbolized the advance of Summer and the defeat of Winter. In ancient times, young girls would rise at dawn in order to bathe in dew gathered from Hawthorn flowers, thus ensuring their beauty for the coming year. The blossoms, especially the white variety, were also used to decorate halls and worn as crowns by maidens in wedding ceremonies. The Celts believed the Hawthorn could assist in releasing negative and/or blocked energy held within.

According to some Arthurian sources, Nimue trapped the besotted Merlin in a Hawthorn tree, where his voice may be heard to this very day, but perhaps the most famous Thorn tree was at Glastonbury (the site of Glastonbury Abbey), which is said to have sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea and reputed to have blossomed only on Christmas Day. The original tree is believed to have been felled during the English Civil War...although Hawthorn Trees may still be found around the Abbey, which are said to be the cuttings of the ancient original.

Associated with the Goddess Brighid, the Hawthorn is connected to the Festival of Beltrane...a time when the branches of the tree are pruned or blossoms removed to symbolize the beauty of the journey and make way for new growth. Thus, a synmbolic representation of shedding the old in order to give ground to the new. It is considered unlucky to take the tree, branches or blossoms into the home for fear that a member of the Fae may be residing therein. The Hawthorn is one tree which has managed to breach the divide between Paganism and Christianity...the thorns worn by Jesus Christ being one example of this transition.

The wood from the Hawthorn provides the hottest known fire. Its leaves and blossoms are often used to create a tea which aids in relieving anxiety, loss of appetite and poor circulation. The Hawthorn is a small tree that grows with a dense, many-branched and twisted habit. Due to its impenetrable growth, it is used chiefly for hedging. The origin of the word derives from the Anglo-Saxon "haegthorn," which means "hedge-thorn." It is also known as Whitehorn and May. Whitehorn originates from the contrast of the smooth, grey bark with the powdery black bark of the Blackthorn. May is derived from the month of the tree's flowering when the blossoms are used to form garlands on houses and maypoles for Mayday. The thickets of the Hawthorn bear prickles which provide it with an excellent defense system. Hawthorns have many species throughout Europe and not always easy to differentiate. All are thorny shrubs of the Rose family which usually bear white or pink flowers. The Hawthorn is common in abandoned fields and along the edges of forests.

There are two distinct types of Hawthorn 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" Hawthorn is more impulsive than his or her "full moon" counterpart and bears a stronger sensual nature. On the other hand, the positive traits of these individuals are extremely consolidating once they have decided upon a course of action. The "full moon" Hawthorn has a distinctly different approach to all things and is much more difficult to "pin down" regarding personal relationships or any type of committment. The positive traits of the "full moon" Hawthorn is linked to a wider vision which can open the "locked doors" of the mind.

In general, Hawthorn individuals are charismatic, creative and full of innovative ideas. Being multi-talented people, they possess an ability to adapt easily to any change in circumstances. They have personal qualities which are akin to those of the ancient Celtic Bards and Druids, often excelling in the performing arts. They also have a gift for influencing others while still remaining sympathetic. Lively and spontaneous with good communication skills, the Hawthorn individual has an abundance of self-confidence and makes for a great leader. They are honest and sincere as friends, given their natural sympathy and ability to be good listeners. There is a tendency, however, toward a volatile temper and bursts of anger. The Hawthorn person is adept at devising the most brilliant of plans and schemes. Generally, the great strength of the Hawthorn comes from knowledge regarding the weaknesses of adversaries or any opposing force. However, the Hawthorn individual is not a ruthless character, merely a clever strategist.

Hawthorn individuals often participate in a variety of sporting activities. They possess a sharp sense of humor which is brimming with innuendo...a talent which frequently attracts them to writing and journalism. Due to the Hawthorns low bordeom threshold, they frequently have trouble forging a permanent relationship. However, they do make wonderful parents who cannot be fooled by their "clever" offspring and often lead a colorful and exciting lifestyle. Easily bored, they crave mental stimulation and challenges. With a desire to try a "little bit of everything," the Hawthorn person often seems to be almost ageless in appearance and character.

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