When the Cailleach, the Hag of Winter raises her mighty staff, thrusting it down upon my forest floor, what was a golden wood, transforms into a winter wonderland. Everything is frozen in time, and buried within a blanket of ice and snow.The very first thing I gaze upon is the pines.They take on their own magickal splendor. Once an evergreen, now becomes a hauntingly beautiful gothic seen of black and white. A tree of many magicks, but traditionally used by folks during the winter holidays. Pine is a very beneficial tree, containing loads of vitamin C, vitamin A, antioxidants, and it’s health benefits are many. I do believe if I where to choose only one tree to live amongst, it would be without a doubt the white pine. The scent alone of this fantastic tree’s needles and resin are reason enough to fall for this bewitching tree.
Another fine winter species of conifers is the White Spruce, a definite favorite of mine.This is always the tree of choice in my home at Yule. With it’s beautiful silvery blue branches that are as enchanting as they are medicinal. Spruce essential oil is helpful for memory, mental stress, muscular pain, and prevents stomach inflammation. Not to mention the tips, when new and soft are great used in teas, syrups, and make a healthy addition to stir-fries!
Holly is a winter favorite for many, myself included. There is hardly a Christmas or Yule celebration without it. Christmas folk “decking their halls with boughs of holly,” while pagans are decorating their’s with the Holly King. Holly is also an evergreen, it’s vibrancy and glossy green leaves, with eye catching red berries in the snow, proving that it can survive our deadly winters. Holly also bestows upon us some cool magickal, and health attributes.The leaves of certain holly species, not all, can be used in a tea, European Holly and Yaupon being examples, so know what you are foraging because some holly leaves cannot be consumed. The leaves are used for congestion, hypertension, coughs, and joint pain.The berries are a different story, giving you your first clue to holly’s darker side. The berries being used by some as a purgative, but that can be tricky, causing sickness and even death. So in my humble opinion, find a less risky way to barf! The leaves are what you need, the berries are best not consumed.
Ok…. this is the part I’m into, (a wicked smile beginning to form now) although these fine evergreens of winter celebrations are symbolic to the returning of deities and light…. There are some darker and less known workings as well. So here we go!
Pine has many magickal properties associated with it. Pine is a tree of Mars, right there says a lot! It is a tree of air, so burning of it’s needles rise into the ether with your intent in tact. It’s long slender needles pointing upward symbolizing a flame to shaman and mystics alike.
This tree’s branches have been used in exorcisms and banishments of evil and malevolent spirits for many moons. It can be used to not only break a hex… But return to sender! That’s cool as hell! One can burn the branches to expel the dead, and if you burn both ends of a pine wand it will aid you in your battles, one of the perks of Mars energy!
Pine is also a tree of Cernunnos, the lord of the wood, and a fierce protector, a deity I work intimately with. Pine is a rejuvenator, and healer, which is why folk placed pine branches on the coffins of their dead. Pine is always on my ancestral alter, as it keeps any nasty spirits from attaching to my spirit houses.
Blue Spruce’s don’t possess for me quite as many magickal properties as the pine, but what it does have going for it is wickedly fantastic! Being into necromancy, I just glow in knowing the magick of this gorgeous tree! I envision the moonlit dances I’ve had, and will have. The blue spruce is a true consort to the owl, and the raven, both familiars of mine. This tree helps aid communications with my familiars due to it’s connection with them, and because the blue spruce is a spirit magnet! It is the tree you see traditional witches dancing around deep within the wood, as spirits of the dead are drawn to it. Lore tells the tale of when the dead come to the tree, one can see an eerie “blue glow” around it, and within it… hence the name.
Finally we have holly, which is appropriate because holly traditionally represents the final and darker half of the year. As said the blood red berries can be fatally toxic if consumed, so for just that reason they make the perfect poppet ingredients, to name one of the darker ways they can be used. Holly has been called “bat wings” for it’s spiky leaves resembling bat wings in flight, and it’s branches making great wands for spirits, to do ones bidding, or to dispel unwanted spirits.
Holly for me is a combination of a Mars and a Saturn vibe, so it makes one of the better hexing or cursing hedgerows to work with. In Germanic folklore, the goddess Holle took favor upon the holly tree, so it is used as an incense on a new moon to invoke and appease Holle, and to aid their new moon divinations.
So the next time you gaze upon these winter beauties, know that these evergreens have far more to them then what meets the holiday eye…
Dance with me on a moonlit night,
when the blue spruce is aglow.
Where holly takes to bat winged flight,
and pine branch rejuvenates the soul )0(