The Thirteen Trees
Ogham Moon Calendar
The Five Trees
The Half Year
The Sacred One
Original artwork © Ruby Clark 2010
There are some good recipes using Hazel & Cob Nuts here on my Hedgerow Cooking page
The Hazel (Corylus avellana) is one of the very oldest British native trees. Traces of hazel nut shells and pollen have been discovered in cave settlements, dating from around 10,000 years ago.
The tree is associated with the Goddess Brighid, goddess of wisdom and divine inspiration
Hazel trees in hedgerows often grow in a bush-like form, especially when they are young. In woodlands they nearly always form multiple trunks, looking as if they might have been coppiced (which they sometimes are!). They form an important understorey of spreading green.
Pliable, straight shoots called 'withies' grow up from the base and these are cut for natural fencing, walking sticks, and pinned into shape for shepherd's crooks while still growing.
They were once widely used to form the wattle in wattle and daub buildings.
The tree's male flowers are beautiful long golden catkins, heralds of the spring and appearing before the leaves as early as February.
The green hazelnuts in their frilly, papery sheaths, begin to ripen at the end of August, and are brown by the end of September.
The hazel tree has long been relied on as a source of food. Here's an extract from 'A Smaller Socail History of Ancient Ireland' by P.W.Joyce 1906
“The hazel-nut was much used for food. This is plainly indicated by the high value set on both tree and fruit, of which we meet with innumerable instances in tales, poems, and other old records, in such expressions as "Cruachan of the fair hazels". Abundance of hazel-nuts was a mark of a prosperous and plenteous season. Among the blessings a good king brought on the land was plenty of hazel-nuts. “
The rare and sadly endangered Hazel Dormice of the south of England thrive on the nuts, running high in the branches and eating them while they are still green.(They have to share them with squirrels!)
We're lucky to have them in Muddypond's Hurst Wood - my picture on the right was taken in early spring - the snoozing creature is with a trained and authorised handler during a count.
from Robert Graves version of 'Cad Goddeu' -'The Battle of the Trees' See my Ogham Intro page.
Hazel Healing and Medicine.
Although hazelnuts were once grown and harvested as a staple food, being ground into a high protein nut flour and used in breads and puddings, and as a source of well-flavoured Vitamin E rich oil, there is little evidence that the hazel tree has particular medicinal properties. (Don't confuse it with Witch Hazel - a different plant altogether! - Hamamelis virginica)
In 1362, The Physicians of Myddfai -in their section on hygiene - recommend that you ' Clean the teeth with the dry bark of the hazel, as they will become all the fairer in consequence. Your speech will be also most distinct, and breath sweeter'
It may be worth trying a tea from the crushed nuts and leaves to relieve a cough or catarrh - as mentioned in Pliny's Natural History.
A warm poultice of the nuts and shells has also been recommended by Culpepper as a remedy for rheumatism.
Failing those - try ' Fra Angelico', an Italian liqueur with a legend of its own, that has been prepared since Medieval times with hazel nuts as its main ingredient! That'll warm you up! (photo from www.proof66.com)
Element: Air Ruling Planets: Sun (also associated with Mercury and Venus) Gender: Masculine (sometimes described as 'Other' meaning it will appear male if you are a female, and visa versa.)
Hazel is the Tree of Wisdom and Knowledge.and one of the 'chieftain' trees of the Irish Celtic tradition. The cutting down of an ancient hazel could once have been punishable by death! (Still should be if you want a magic's opinion!!)
The several legends of the sacred 'Well of Knowledge' surrounded by the 'Nine Hazel Trees of Wisdom' can be found easily in books and serious websites about Celtic mythology, but here it is in brief :
Seven Streams of Wisdom flow out from the Holy Well (said to be Connla's Well or fountain near Tipperary) or The Otherworld Well, found on an island under the sea - as the source of seven Irish rivers.
Nine hazel trees hang over this well and they represent wisdom, inspiration, and poetry.
The leaves, flowers, and nuts all appear together, and fall into the waters of the well. They are eaten by the Salmon of Wisdom who swim in the well and make the long journey down from sea to rivers, returning to the well each year.
For every nut a salmon eats it develops a spot, and any person who eats one of these magical salmon, or drinks the well waters when the hazel nuts fall, will become wise.
On 14th of September, once known as Holy Cross Day or Holy Rood Day, children traditionally went to pick hazel nuts. The day was a school holiday, a custom that only died out after the First World War, around the 1920's.
A wand or staff made from the hazel withy should impart its wisdom to its user and was often the wand chosen by Druid priests.
Because it is powerfully associated with divination, hazel wood is the wood used by legendary sorcerers as well as those who want to dowse for hidden sources of water (or all things lost).
In centuries gone by, the hazel wand, staff or forked twig could find hidden treasure and discover the innocence or otherwise of a person accused of murder.
The Hazel staff is still used today by the wise and traditional Kentish Morris Men!
Hazel nuts feature on this vintage 'superstition' postcard from America
* Hazel nuts given to a bride will bring many babies!
* Make a circlet of pliable hazel twigs and leaves. Wear it in any ritual when you desire a wish to be granted.
* A necklace of nuts (especally in multiples of the number 7 -or in 9's if you are looking for darker magicks) - can be worn to attract the Faery Folk.
Artist - Cicely Mary Barker
* Use hazel nuts powdered into incense when making a love charm.
* Nuts, twigs or bark can be used in an incense to bring concentration and sharpen mental powers.
* Even the smallest twigs or slithers of hazel wood will protect a house from fire and lightning.
* For protection of vegetables, seeds and fruit from magic folk as well as birds and insects, use a Hazel Wand to draw a cross with equal arms, followed by a heart then another cross into the soil.
* Carry a hazelnut in its shell to ward off aches and pains caused by damp, cold weather.
* If you are unfortunate enough to be bitten by an adder, an old folk charm tells us to place a cross formed of hazel-wood on the wound.