The Holly and the Ivy
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly wears the crown.
The Holly is a very magickal tree and considering its prevalence in festive decorations it’s surprising how few people actually use it. At one time its potency was so well recognised that the Catholic Church banned its use in decorating the house because it was so Pagan, but here it is, still going strong, and who are we not to take some advantage of the everyday magicks we find in our life. Witches are nothing if a little opportunistic, so we might as well use what we have when we have it.
Here are 3 things you could consider doing with your Holly decorations to add a little bit of household magick to your holiday period.
Smudge with Holly Leaves
We all know that the festive season can bring in some bad juju, Auntie Dot hasn’t spoken to her sister in years, but your mum has insisted on inviting them both. Your Grandma’s already on the Eggnog and you can’t find your other half to try and get the lunch sorted, you suspect they may have absconded to the pub but there is no proof, they’ve vanished like the Fae on a Solstice morn!
Instead of breaking out the Sage which smells decidedly funky anyway and you know someone will ask you if there is something dubious in the house, try this instead. Take a couple of the slightly crispier Holly leaves from one of your wreathes, snip them up and burn over charcoals. If you have a nice little cauldron or thurible of some sort you could do this whilst you are beating your bounds which I mentioned in my previous article. Holly is known to have purgative properties and is great for purification and protection magick as a result. Burning all those prickles, quite literally burns away the prickles.
Place Some Holly Above the Door Lintel
There is a long history of using Holly at this time of year. It is said that the Romans gifted each other Holly branches during Saturnalia to bring good fortune. Evergreens have always been used to decorate homes bringing cheer during the darkest times, and it is also said that some people decorated their doorways with branches in an attempt to encourage beneficent Sylvan spirits (one of the reasons why the Christians eventually got twitchy about the practise).
So if you are at all interested in Fae work this tree is the one for you. Choose a few choice sprigs to place above an external lintel, preferably nice ones that you don’t mind keeping there for the next 12 months because as with most household magicks of this kind, tradition and ritual help build their potency. If you feel moved to say a small prayer or invocation then go for it, but it’s not necessary – there has remained enough energy in the ancient practise that the act and the intent still works just fine.
Sleep With Some Holly Under Your Pillow
The Holly King in modern Pagan mythology is often considered to be a Shadow figure, the darker side of the undying sun. He is often cognate with darker deities and archetypes associated with this time of year, Saturn, Gwyn ap Nudd, The Green Knight to name but a few. Their realms are not ours; they often operate on the psychic and the oneiric making dream magic a great use of this wonderful resource.
Your options here are quite wide, if you feel like trying to find out about a specific problem or issue try writing a keyword or sigil to represent the problem on a leaf before placing it under your pillow or leave it blank and see what prophecies unfold. If you are having problems sleeping then a charm bag with crushed Holly leaves, lavender and hops may well be beneficial. And a little bag filled with the red fertile berries and some icky sticky mistletoe may well help give you some insight into matters of childbirth and reproduction.