With the blooming of new daffs and bluebells trying valiantly to peek through patches of snow in some parts; Ostara having just brought us the hope of Spring and sunnier days, it makes me wonder why I would want to write about Elm. Because Elm’s and Yew’s mythology are twinly bound to Death and the Underworld…Elm has been used for many years to build coffins and Yew is a staple tree in most graveyards. It was found in the Underworld and at the crossroads leading to the faery world. Elm is very popular with the Elves. So, why would I bring such a downer into the Spring forecast? Well…
Elm is carried to bring love. Isn’t Spring about love? Right you are! Elm energises and balances the mind and heart. It not only attracts love, it protects love and all. Elm is also used in fertility spells and rebirth. You can use the wood and flowers in love spells. The wood is best used ground up finely and used in your loose incense for love. The flowers are used in poppets or sachets.
A wood of femininity, Elm draws from the element of earth and is a strong, neutral wood that can be used for protection or hexes. It seeks a companion of strength and is excellent for destructive spells, protection, and defensive magick.
“Because of its rich foliage and sap, the Elm is sacred to Saturn, Roman god of agriculture. Representing fertility, it foretells that your wish will meet with success. Its other meaning is their need to give way and let nature run its course, to sacrifice what you have for what could be. Elm wood is flexible and durable and does not rot when wet. You probably know in your heart that your wish will be granted. A hopeful sign is that Elm twigs are used as divining rods. The Elm tree stands at the entrance to the underworld as a living connection between the living and the dead. What comes to you is blessed by heaven. It may be that all you need do is wait and have faith in nature.” By Gillian Kemp, Tree Magick
Other spell work to use Elm: Dark Moon and initiation rituals, grounding after ritual, seeking comfort.
Elm’s legendary associations are of death and the Underworld, but funnily enough, people looked to Elm for medicinal cures. The inner bark was particularly effective when chewed or boiled into a syrupy liquor to treat colds and sore throats, coughs, diarrhoea, internal bleeding, and fever whilst the boiled bark was also used to treat burns. Can be applied to external wounds for healing or drink to ease menstrual problems.
A medical manuscript from 1509 [in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin] mentions cures that included hitting an afflicted person with a rod marked with the Ogham. It was believed that this action would release the illness from the person’s body. The type of wood depended on the cure needed, for example, Elm for impotence. The Ogham inscription on the rod consisted of the person’s name or, according to sources, a spell.
Here is where I might mention that Elm is a secondary Ogham tree, associated with the Ogham “ailm” and Fir is the first and mainly used. I suppose if you can’t have Fir, Elm will suit. It is not a Celtic Birth Tree.
Planet: Mercury, Saturn
Element: Air, Water, Earth
Powers: Compassion, Empathy, Intuition, and Love
Symbolism: Communication and Relationships
Gemstone: Moss Agate
Birds: Lapwing, Ruffled Grouse
Deity: Dionysus, Odin, Loki, Hecate, Cerridwen, Danu, Gaia, Hel / Holle, Ran
Folk Names: Sweet Elm, Elven, English Elm, European Elm
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Warmest blessings x
Tree Magick, by Gillian Kemp
Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes