Sunday, November 24, 2013

ash tree identification and lore

Fraxinus is a genus of flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae.  It contains 45–65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen.  The tree's common English name, ash, goes back to the Old English, while the generic name originated in Latin.  Both words also meant "spear" in their respective language.  The leaves are opposite (rarely in whorls of three), and mostly pinnately compound, simple in a few species.  The seeds, popularly known as keys or helicopter seeds, are a type of fruit known as a samara.  Most Fraxinus species are dioecious, having male and female flowers on separate plants; grown as an ornamental and both sexes are present, ashes can cause a considerable litter problem with their seeds.  Rowans or Mountain Ashes are unrelated to true ashes and belong to the Genus Sorbus though the leaves and buds are superficially similar.

In Greek mythology, the Meliae were nymphs of the ash, perhaps specifically of the Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus), as dryads were nymphs of the oak.  They appear in Hesiod's Theogony.
The ash exudes a sugary substance that, it has been suggested, was fermented to create the Norse Mead of Inspiration.  In Norse mythology, the World Tree Yggdrasil is commonly held to be an ash tree, and the first man, Ask, was formed from an ash tree.  Elsewhere in Europe, snakes were said to be repelled by ash leaves or a circle drawn by an ash branch.  Irish folklore claims that shadows from an ash tree would damage crops.  In Cheshire, it was said that ash could be used to cure warts or rickets.  In Sussex the ash and elm tree were known as the Widow Maker because the large boughs would often drop without warning.
cited from Wikipedia

following points were found with Ash Tree Magic
  • Some traditions of magic hold that the leaf of an Ash tree will bring you good fortune.  Carry one in your pocket - those with an even number of leaflets on it are especially lucky.
  • In some folk magic traditions, the ash leaf could be used to remove skin disorders such as warts or boils.  As an alternate practice, one could wear a needle in their clothing or carry a pin in their pocket for three days, and then drive the pin into the bark of an ash tree - the skin disorder will appear as a knob on the tree and disappear from the person who had it.
  • The spear of Odin was made from an Ash tree, according to the Norse poetic eddas.
  • Newborn babies in the British Isles were sometimes given a spoonful of Ash sap before leaving their mother's bed for the first time.  It was believed this would prevent disease and infant mortality.
  • Five trees stood guard over Ireland, in mythology, and three were Ash.  The Ash is often found growing near holy wells and sacred springs.   Interestingly, it was also believed that crops that grew in the shadow of an Ash tree would be of an inferior quality.
  • In some European folklore, the Ash tree is seen as protective but at the same time malevolent.  Anyone who does harm to an Ash can find themselves the victim of unpleasant supernatural circumstances.
  • In northern England, it was believed that if a maiden placed ash leaves under her pillow, she would have prophetic dreams of her future lover.
  • In some Druidic traditions, it is customary to use a branch of Ash to make a magical staff.  The staff becomes, in essence, a portable version of a World Tree, connecting the user to the realms of earth and sky.
  • If you place Ash berries in a cradle, it protects the child from being taken away as a changeling by mischievous Fae.
  • The Celtic tree month of Ash, or Nion, falls from February 18 to March 17.  It's a good time for magical workings related to the inner self.