(Hawthorn tree, May, Rome, Italy)
Blackthorn and Hawthorn are considered thresholds to the Otherworld, fiercely guarded by fairies. Their thorny nature reveals the gifts of these sister plants, inviting us to use respect when working with them while acknowledging the spirits residing within them.
Blackthorn, flowering first, symbolizes Imbolc and the murmurings of spring. It is associated with the Celtic crone Goddess, the Cailleach. Her regenerative staff is made of blackthorn wood. Blackthorn is known for helping one overcome obstacles that cannot be avoided but must be faced and dealt with. But beware of the Lunantisidhe, or moon fairies who live in the plant. If you are not respectful, they will curse you!
(Beautiful Blackthorn tree, early spring, Sardinia, Italy)
Hawthorn blooms several weeks later, closer to Beltane. Its blooms are associated with the Goddess Brigid. In Celtic lore, it was said to be guarded by fairies and have the power to mend broken hearts. As part of the same family as roses, Hawthorn has many of the same properties as roses. Plants in this family are all about giving and receiving love while maintaining firm boundaries.
(Hawthorn blossoms, April, Sardinia, Italy)
Blackthorn and Hawthorn are both plants you commonly find in a traditional hedge. Hedges have been used since neolithic times to enclose land for growing grain or keeping livestock. The hedgerow has another purpose, acting as a plant-kin protector meant to keep what lies within its borders from harm.
A Hedge is both a physical place while simultaneously acting as a portal to the Otherworld. Those who walk the hedge path are said to have one foot in each world. They easily travel between and work with the spirits of each place.
Hedge witches are skilled at channeling, meditation, and trance journeys. They act as an intermediary between the spirit realms and the material realm. So, although Hedge witches are familiar with herbs and plants, the true meaning behind the name comes from the symbology of the hedge in the past – a liminal place for those who dare to tread seeking answers.
Sister Thorns in Fairy Tales
Blackthorn and Hawthorn figure prominently in European folktales and fables. Often associated with fairies or witches, one must go to or beyond the hedge to seek their magic. This solitary, liminal, not entirely human figure, residing right on the border of the hedge with one foot in the human world and one in the Otherworld, is often there to guide the way.
Therefore, many taboos are associated with cutting branches from either plant, especially at Beltane and Samhain.
You can read my full article Thorn Folklore (which is actually an excerpt from my upcoming book, Witches’ Brews—Teas, Sauces & Other Potions: Old World Lore & Recipes from Hearth & Hedge), in the Spring 2023 edition of Botanical Anthology.
I am excited to join 40+ herbalists, kitchen witches, homesteaders, and matriarchs who have contributed their incredible plant knowledge to the Spring 2023 edition of Botanical Anthology created by the Plant Wonder Collective. (Available March 20, 2023)
What is Botanical Anthology?
It’s a plant lover’s dream. A seasonal, plant centered digital quarterly publication bringing you over 55 articles to incorporate herbs in your kitchen, apothecary, spring foraging and gardening, crafts, and celebrations.
Botanical Anthology is the brainchild of Plant Wonder Collective. It’s a self-published publication that directly supports creators (like me!) writing about what they know and love.
I’ve written for both independent and corporate publications and I love writing for Botanical Anthology because contributors are involved in much of the process, and we benefit directly from its success. The more copies sold, the more we make!
What’s Inside Botanical Anthology?
In the Spring 2023 edition you’ll find 20+ recipes both for your kitchen and home apothecary. You’ll also find foraging guides for some of your favorite springtime plants. Plus, folklore, crafts and ways to celebrate spring, inspired by the seasonal plants.
Until March 29, 2023 you will also receive a FREE 35-page booklet All About Nettles with your purchase!
If you are one of my Patreon members or Newsletter subscribers, look out for a coupon code coming your way sometime between March 20 & March 22, 2023!
The Earth is Our Mother: (Earth, Arbor & Yggdrasil Day)
Blessed Beltane! Happy May Day! Feast of Sant’ Efisio!
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