By Isabella @TheWandCarver
A friend on Twitter mentioned Quaking Aspen some months back and I said I should blog about it soon. So, today we’ll consider the magickal side of the Aspen tree, a British native, but far more common in the USA and Scotland. Much smaller in stature than the White Poplar, slender in growth on a tall, slim trunk, they spread easily by means of underground shoots and so are often found growing close together in little groves. The roundish toothed leaves sprout on flattened stalks, each one unusually long and flexible. These are a soft, rusty colour in spring before maturing to a uniform mid-green. Aspens seem continually on the move which gives the tree its nickname of the ‘Quaking Aspen’ or ‘Shivering tree’. The Aspen, being closely related to the White Poplar, often the names of the two trees are used interchangeably.
Now, you know, Darren 😊
Also called the “Whispering Tree”, the Aspen is representative of the Autumn Equinox, 21st September and is the fourth vowel of the Ogham alphabet – Eadhadh, and it is the 19th Ogham of the alphabet. The Aspen is not a Celtic Birth Tree Calendar tree, therefore there isn’t an “Aspen zodiac” reading. However, the Ogham itself has meaning and if you were born on the Autumn Equinox, it would be a special Ogham for you, in addition to your birth tree for your place in that month.
Lore and legend is associated with these quivering Aspen leaves, and it’s no wonder. When you have the first opportunity, observe the aspen leaves in action – loosen your body and mind and really watch these amazing trees. Their stark, white bodies ascending to their shimmery leaves will keep you spellbound. It is, as many trees are, quite sacred to the Druids.
The Aspen is felt to be a tree of rebirth. It is also thought of as a tree of overcoming death. The writer, Nigel Pennick in Magical Alphabets sees the Aspen as a resistor of inhospitable conditions. On the other hand, the Aspen is also seen as dark and evil as per its role in the Bible as the betrayer of Christ. In France, it was a religious belief that the leaves shook with fear because Christ’s cross was made from Aspen wood. In Germany, it was legend that the Aspen was the only tree that refused to acknowledge him, so Jesus had placed a curse on the Aspen – which caused the tree to tremble in fear. Any way you look at Aspen, it has a connection with death.
Early folk healers in England would tell a palsy patient to pin a lock of her hair to an Aspen tree and repeat:
Aspen tree, Aspen tree
I prithee shiver and shake
Instead of me.
They were to walk home in silence from there [or they risk breaking the spell, and the cure would fail]
The bark of the Aspen tree contains an analgesic and early Native American women would brew a tea of the bark and leaves to relieve menstrual cramps, and other pains.
Burn incense made of powdered Aspen bark on charcoal disc at Samhain to protect you from unwanted spirits and to help you release old fears as you move forward into the next new year. Plant an Aspen tree on your property to prevent thieves from robbing your home.
Symbolism: Ascent, Protection, Overcoming fear.
Stone: Black Opal
Birds: Mourning Dove, Swan
Deity: Persephone, Hades
Sabbat: Mabon, Autumn Equinox
Folk Name: European Aspen
“And the wind full of wantonness
Woos like a lover
The young Aspen trees
Till they tremble all over.”
~Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh, Light of the Harem
Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x
Magical Alphabets, by Nigel Pennick