Everything New is Old Again

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

That title threw you a bit, didn’t it? Just a couple of days ago I had written a dissertation on how new the concept of the Celtic Birth Tree Calendar is; however, it never stops – these “new-isms”. Mind, I am probably preaching to the vicar here but I thought as I’m on the subject…We all know “Oak, Ash, and Thorn”. Or perhaps we think we do.

Where did the concept of the Oak, Ash, and Thorn become a “Faery Triad”? I know as far back as the early 1960’s when I was a wee girl, my nana used to say if I sat under her Hawthorn tree I would see the Fae. Truthfully, I never saw a one, although I think I may have heard them laughing occasionally. Probably at the silly little girl who would believe so willingly the things adults told her would happen if she sat quietly.  Much in the same way of when my Aunty would tell me to poke a stick into a hole in the ground and watch til it wiggled and when it did, I would catch a worm. Waiting for faeries, fishing for worms…it was all a means to an end: keeping the child out of their hair whilst they worked.

Oak Ash and Thorn

Oak, Ash, and Thorn talisman

Here I have established – for myself, anyway – that a Hawthorn tree is a faery tree. As my nana was born in 1884 and she claimed it to be true, I believed her. Just bear with me here. So, what of the Oak and the Ash? All of Pagan-dom knows an Oak is a protective tree. Most will also know that the Oak is a tree sacred to the Druids. Ah, but that can be said of any tree. Still, the Druids would not hold meeting unless an Oak tree is present.  The Oak symbolises healing and protection along with prosperity and luck. But what about the Fae? Just be patient.

Then, we have the Ash tree. By all accounts, the Irish Celts held the Ash most sacred. There are several recorded instances in Irish history in which the people refused to cut an Ash, even when wood was scarce, for fear of having their own cabins consumed with flame. The Ash tree represents prophecy, prosperity, and protection, and is also recognised as The World Tree for the Celts. I have read around a bit and have found people saying Ash is used for Druid’s wands. Ahem…I’ve known a few Druids in my life, my father for one, and have never heard tell of this before and would think they would have a laugh about that one, but hey ho…perhaps the neo-Druidic tradition which is forming do use wands.

Everything must be new at some point in time. Even “the old ways” were brand-new once upon a time. Everything evolves over time and changes. Lore changes, mythos changes. The Druids did not write books about what they knew, they passed on their knowledge by telling and teaching others. Witches did not always write Books of Shadows/grimoires either. Paganism has always given rise to evolving practises. We hold to tradition loosely, but keep it close at the same time. It is as one farmer may find a better way to grow a cabbage and he passes on the knowledge to another farmer, and before you know, all farmers are growing 50-pound cabbages.

What I’m saying is, there is not a speck of evidence that there has been an ancient time-honoured “Faery Triad” consisting of Oak, Ash, and Thorn, although my nana and I used to tie bundles of the Oak and Ash together along with the Hawthorn spines, bound in red thread to hang around for protections or to leave for the Fae’s “firewood”. Perhaps again, it was just another clever way to keep the child busy. Or, my nana was quite old, so there may have been some old logic in there somewhere. Who knows?

The Faery Triad…well, there really isn’t one apart from the new-ish idea of one. But the logic, if you know your trees, is sound. So, why not?

I tend to believe that Rudyard Kipling’s book Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) may have set off the magickal notion of Oak, Ash, and Thorn. The elf, Puck who was self-described as the “oldest Old Thing in England” explained to the two children in the story, Dan and Una, “I came into England with Oak, Ash, and Thorn, and when Oak, Ash, and Thorn are gone, I shall go, too”

A Tree Song – Rudyard Kipling

Of all the trees that grow so fair,

Old Engerland to adorn,

Greater are none beneath the Sun,

Than Oak and Ash and Thorn.

Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, good Sirs

(All of a Midsummer’s morn)!

Surely we sing of no little thing,

In Oak and Ash and Thorn!

 

Oak of the Clay lived many a day,

Or ever Aeneas began;

Ash of the Loam was a lady at home,

When Brut was an outlaw man;

Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town

(From which was London born);

Witness hereby the ancientry

Of Oak and Ash and Thorn!

 

Yew that is old in churchyard mould,

He breedeth a mighty bow;

Alder for shoes do wise men choose,

And beech for cups also.

But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,

Your shoes are clean outworn,

Back ye must speed for all that ye need,

To Oak and Ash and Thorn!

 

Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth

Till every gust be laid,

To drop a limb on the head of him

That anyway trusts her shade:

But whether a lad be sober or sad,

Or mellow with ale from the horn,

He’ll take no wrong when he lieth along

‘Neath Oak and Ash and Thorn!

 

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,

Or he would call it a sin;

But—we have been out in the woods all night,

A-conjuring Summer in!

And we bring you news by word of mouth—

Good news for cattle and corn—

Now is the Sun come up from the South,

With Oak and Ash and Thorn!

 

Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, good Sirs

(All of a Midsummer’s morn)!

England shall bide till Judgement Tide,

By Oak and Ash and Thorn!

We still find not one Fae. But, that is alright because we have this wonderful, magickal, evolution of folklore which has room for the Faery Triad of Ash, Oak, and Thorn. Just believe!

With gratitude to:

Druid Tree Lore – http://www.druidry.org/

Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) by Rudyard Kipling

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org

and my Nana 

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This entry was posted in Ash Tree, Business, Magickal, magickal trees, Oak Tree, protection, Talismans, The World Tree, Wands and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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