Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ash Trees

I love ash trees and have a few here on my wee farm. There is a massive one that stands by my driveway and I call it the mama as I think it has produced most of the other ash trees growing on our property. The four young ash trees below I call the four sisters and they stand at the upper side of our horse paddock. I have several ash walking sticks I have made and often use when hiking.

The Ash tree has always been given mystical import and character, frequently being associated with healing and enchantment. In Celtic literature, there are many references to the Ash tree, but in particular as associated with the Welsh Magician-God Gwyddion, who bears an Ash staff/wand, a symbol of healing and especially transformation and empowerment in matters of destiny. As such in the Mabinogion the magic of Gwydion is concerned with tricking Arianhrod to give the young Llew his arms which she had previous sworn never to do, having placed a Geis ( or conditional curse or fate ) upon him. Gwydion used his powers of enchantment and transformation, to create a Phantom army fleet of ships which then tricks Arianhrod into giving Llew his arms, and thus removing the Geis upon his destiny. Llew is later said in the myth to rest as an Eagle in an Ash Tree.

Ash was often used for spear shafts or handles for weapons and hence also Ash can be also seen to be Checking the powers of peace as above in the Word Ogams of Morann Mac Main. In this sense, application of force to destiny may bring peace through resolution of a conflict - which would be seen as healing. The English name Ash may have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Asec which is the name for a ritualistic spear. The name Nuin or Nin, literally means letters in the Celtic languages.

Ash trees are trees of the family Oleaceae (Olive-tree like). They are medium-height to large trees. Some of them are evergreen, but most are deciduous. The seeds are commonly known as keys in English. They are a type of fruit known as samara. Ash wood is used to make various tools, handles, bows. It also makes very good firewood. Ash trees are also perfect material for old fashion shafts for bow and arrows.

In Norse Mythology, the World tree Yggdrasil is commonly thought to be an ash tree. The first man, Askr, was formed from an ash. The first woman was made from an alder.

The Ash Grove

The ash grove, how graceful, how plainly to speaking
The harp through it playing has language for me;
Whenever the light through its branches is breaking,
A host of kind faces is gazing on me,
The friends of my childhood again are before me.
Each step wakes a memory as freely I roam.
With soft whispers laden its leaves rustle o'er me,
The ash grove, the ash grove alone is my home.

My lips smile no more; my heart loses its lightness,
No dream of the future my spirit can cheer.
I only can brood on the past and its brightness.
The dead I have mourned are again living here.
From every dark nook they press forward to meet me;
I lift up my eyes to the broad leafy dome,
And others are there, looking downward to greet me.
The ash grove, the ash grove alone is my home.

The Ash Grove (Welsh: Llwyn Onn) is a traditional Welsh folk song whose melody has been set to numerous sets of lyrics.

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