The Secrets of the Trees
We hold our Mystic Magic in the Forest weekend retreats at Rosliston, in Rosliston National Forest, near Burton upon Trent, just south of Derby in the Midlands. Our retreats are themed, but often include an appreciation of nature, walks, the significance of trees in Spiritual and Pagan history, and their myths and legends. This blog charts the story, in instalments, of those trees, and all of those to be found at Rosliston, around forty species. Each tree is to be found at Rosliston, but may also be found more widely around Great Britain, Europe, North America and beyond.
In these blogs I describe each tree, explain where they are found, what their history is and how they have related to our history. I also explore the myths and legends surrounding the rees in different countries and from different traditions as well as how herbalists have used them to treat human conditions and how products from the trees have been used throughout history. I hope that you enjoy reading these tree blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them for you. If you would like to come and see them in their natural habitat why not join us for one of our retreats?
Alder – alnus glutinosa
The alder, established in Britain for at least a thousand years, thrives in wet ground and has little cones all year round and brown catkins which ripen in spring. The leaves are flat rounded and smooth. The bark, fruit and leaves yield a black dye.
It is used to enrich soil, absorbing nitrogen from the air and dispelling it through its roots, and to halt erosion on river banks due to its liking for wet ground. Alder wood is yellow wheb seasoned an favoured for clog making, soles and broom handles.
The tree was said to be evil because its wood, when cut, takes on a blood orange tinge, as if bleeding. In ancient German legend it was said to hold the spirit of Erikonig “The Alder King”. In Ireland it was deemed unlucky to pass an alder tree on your travels, but this may have been because it also signified swampy ground. In Austria its demonic reputation made it a favourite place for sorcerers to gather. Witches were said to use Alder whistles to conjure the North Wind. In Britain a twig of Alder was reputed to offer protection against evil spirits and courage in disputes.