Willow is the fifth month of the Celtic tree calendar, April 15th – May 12th and is the fifth consonant of the Ogham alphabet.
White Willow (Salix Alba) is the tree most associated with enchantment and Moon magic because of its propensity to grow near water and on water-logged ground; it is also closely allied to immortality and is known as the Tree of Immortality because of the ease with which it can regenerate itself from a twig stuck in the ground or from a fallen branch.
It is believed that two streams run beneath the Hollow Hills of Elphame; one rises from the Hazel tree and the other from the Willow tree. The stream from the Hazel is the stream of remembrance and is called the “Stream of Wisdom”, the one that flows from the Willow is known as the “Stream of Forgetfulness”.
The ancient Celts thought of the Willow as the Tree of Enchantment and Mysteries. It is ruled over by the Moon and therefore has a great influence over the subconscious and its vision-producing abilities. Because of this, seers would sit and meditate within Willow groves to enhance their psychic abilities and increase their intuitive powers. Meditating with the Willow increases the vividness of dreams and so allows for clearer interpretation. Willow groves were considered to be so magical and potent that musicians, poets and artists would sit within them to gain inspiration and clarity of mind. Even today, the Willow is loved by artists for its fine hard charcoal that it produces.
Orpheus, the most celebrated poet of the ancient Greeks, received his gift of eloquence by carrying Willow branches on his journey through the Underworld. The Druids used branches of the Willow as charms of protection.
Willow was also revered by healers, along with Elder, because of its ability to ease illnesses either caused or aggravated by the cold and damp. A wonder for easing aching joints is Willow balm and because of its healing qualities, Willow is also known as Witches Aspirin.
Willow has been used in love magic for a very long time and it is used to divine a future spouse. It used to be the custom for rejected and abandoned lovers to “wear the Willow” in either their hats or lapels to show how they had been treated but wearing the Willow was also an open display of grief. Because of its association with grief and grieving, it is always advised to never burn Willow as a fuel or else strife and sadness will fall upon the house. Willow was once used as a funeral garland and a Willow would be planted on the grave to ease the passage of the soul at death; the soul of the deceased would rise from the body into the Willow and the tree would retain the essence of the person for as long as it stood.
Persephone, Queen of the Underworld had a sacred Willow grove, Circe, the Greek sorceress had a riverside cemetery planted with Willows which she dedicated to Hecate and Moon magic. Hecate, the most powerful goddess of Willow and water, presided over the magic of the dark side of the Moon.
So it is that Willow is used to increase psychic abilities, magic and witchcraft.
Know ye the willow-tree
Whose gray leaves quiver,
To yon pale river;
Lady, at even-tide
Wander not near it,
They say its branches hide
A sad, lost spirit.