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 trees 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?
Holly – Ilex aquifolium
Appearing widely throughout Britain with its distinctive prickly evergreen leaves and red berries, the latter of which only grow on female trees, and only then when a male tree is nearby. Slow growing, they grow in many soil types, its wood is hard and heavy, commonly used for Chessmen and other turned objects.
Its healing properties are legendary, small numbers of berries act as a purgative, large numbers as an emetic, leaves to cure fever and improve circulation. It was originally used in Pagan rituals to stop demons from entering homes, and churches. It is amongst several which are claimed to be the tree from which Christ’s cross was hacked.
It spines represent the crown of thorns, the white flowers purity, and the red berries, Christ’s blood. A good crop of berries is said to signify a hard-forthcoming winter. Herdsmen used holly sticks for cattle and the old word for holly “holm” is part of traditional English place names.