Tuesday, 15 June 2010


We are just passing through the Celtic month of Hawthorn, known also as 'May'. This lovely bush has delightfully scented flowers which evoke many memories in me as I used to play near it when I was small. In England we separate our fields with hedges and there is a history attached to that, but I'll keep that for another post. It is possible to tell the age of a hedge by the number of species of tree and shrub that grow amongst it. Some are hundreds of years old.

Many legends are attached to the hawthorn.

" The most famous Christian legend concerning hawthorn is that of the Glastonbury Thorn. This sixteenth century story tells us that as Christianity entered Britatin, the Celtic spirit was moved by the spirituality it expressed and that this was emphasized when Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury. On Wearyall Hill he rested, leaning upon his staff, which during the night rooted into the ground and became a blossoming hawthorn tree. This was taken as a sign that the new religion of Christ was to be founded at Glastonbury and Joseph and his 12 disciples built the first Christian chapel there.

Joseph's staff became known as the Glastonbury Thorn, which ever after blossomed on Christmas Day in honour of the divine birth of Christ.

Hawthorn radiates qualities of growth and health. People have always approached it for healing, especially those trees that grow near wells and springs."

From 'Tree Wisdom' by Jacqueline Memory Paterson.

I like the hawthorn mostly because it reminds me of childhood. I remember looking for birds nests in it when I was barely tall enough to reach the branches. It is very good for keeping animals out and children in and when in the late 1970's I was living in the cathedral city of Ely in Cambridgeshire, we had a large back garden surrounded by the beloved hawthorn.

Because it usually flowers in May, it is a favourite for making the crowns that go atop Maypoles, these representing the female, where the pole itself represents the male in the rituals.

Does the hawthorn play a significant part in your life?

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Why not sit down with me beneath a tree and discuss this interesting religion. I'm listening...