Hawthorn and the Crossroads

One of the classes I attended at the Herbal Resurgence was on Hawthorn. Which was hosted by two wonderful teachers (see last blog for more info about them) It was probably the best class I have attended in a while. Not only were medicinal uses talked about, but the magical uses, and how the Hawthorn stands at the center of the crossroads. As many of you know among the billion of things I do, I am a Herbal intern with several lovely ladies under the grand instruction of Melanie Dunlap One thing that she, and the Herbal Resurgence has taught me, is that medicinal herbalism and spirituality are connected, no they are not just connected they are part of each other, there is no separation. So be prepared for future posts to reflect this.

Hawthorn is a Deciduous tree, which boasts beautiful clusters of small white flowers that have five petals much like little pentagrams covering the tree. The berries are incredibly nutritious and when ingested can be relaxing.

Properties: Relaxing nervine, Digestant, astringent, diuretic, antioxidant, reduces inflammation protects the heart from oxidative damage, cardiac, diuretic, blood regulator, reduces anxiety and a heart restorer.

Parts of the plant used: Leaves, Flowers and Berries

Contraindications: Dont ingest if you have low blood pressure. Extended use can lower blood pressure

Spiritual and Magical Use: Shadow work, opening and repairing the "heart", healing from broken hearts. Working through past issues, decision making, balance, and can be used to prick the finger to give blood offerings.

The Hawthorn stands at the Crossroads. It marks the gateway between this world and the other side. Long known as a tree of the Other world, the Hawthorn is considered a "Fairy" tree. There has been many a song about the Faery and the Hawthorn. Some say falling asleep under the tree can induce dreams of Banshee, Faery, and the like. While others say that they are not dreams at all, the experiences are real and the Hawthorn is a portal.  One very famous tale about Thomas the Rhymer can be read here. It speaks of a tale in which Thomas meets the Faery Queen under the Hawthorn tree. He is whisked off to the other world where he receives a gift or maybe a curse! Either way he is never able to tell a lie again. So perhaps the gift is truth.

Not only does the Hawthorn stand at the crossroads and marks the road between this and the other world, but  it shows all of the little crossroads in life. If you closely examine each branch and each thorn, notice where they intersect. It shows each of the crossroads we come to in life, some ending in sharp pricks, some in beautiful blossoms, others in nurturing fruit, and still others in broad branches that reach up into the sky. It reminds us that not every decision we make will be a good one, life isn't about always choosing the right thing. It is about choosing, and moving forwards. It doesn't matter if its right or wrong. Life isn't about standing still at the crossroads. One must choose a direction.
Thorn courtesy of Kayla Wilde

Oftentimes fear is what keeps us at the crossroads. It is safe under the shade of the tree why choose a path and risk hurt. Like the hawthorn's medicinal usage for the heart, so is the hawthorn used for Magical and Spiritual uses in the heart. It speaks to and of the heart. The heart is the thing that becomes torn when we are standing at the crossroads which direction do we choose? Where do we go? Often times our shadow sneaks in and the heart is torn between what it wants, needs, and the fears of the shadow.

"Oh see ye not yon narrow road,
So thick beset wi' thorns and briers?
That is the Path of Righteousness,

Though after it but few inquires.

"And see ye not yon braid, braid road,
That lies across the lily leven?
That is the Path of Wickedness,

Though some call it the Road to Heaven.
"And see ye not yon bonny road
That winds about the fernie brae?

That is the Road to fair Elfland Where thou and I this night maun gae.

These are the words from the poem "Thomas the Rhymer and the Queen of Elfland" It speaks of three different paths. When doing your shadow work or when you find yourself at the crossroads it is helpful to split the decisions or problems into different roads. Then spend time analyzing each of the paths. Are they straight roads? Or set with Briers,  or even yet will they take you on a grand adventure? Consider each road carefully, will they end in thorns, beautiful blossoms, or grow into strong branches?

When standing at the crossroads beneath the hawthorn tree it is helpful to have magical tools to which decisions can be made. Below are a few goodies I have made, feel free to make your own, or purchase them below. Good luck in your travels

Ease Anxiety and Decision making tea

Lemon balm

Divination at the Crossroads Tea



Crossroads Divination Incense 

Hawthorn Berry and Leaf
Wild Lettuce

Where the light is the brightest the Shadow runs wild

Years ago when I first became aware of the path I was on, I did what many pagans do. They find they are on this path and then begin to explore, looking to labels to define them. When one comes from the Christian church they are very hesitant on this path. They find Paganism, Wicca and OH MY! Witchcraft. Immediately years of brain washing and conditioning comes into play. I even remember once that I told a friend I was very much NOT a Witch but in fact was Wiccan. My how the years change you, and how the craft reveals itself in time.

I was solitary for a while like most, then found a circle, then was solitary, then tried to form a coven, gave up and joined one. This was the turning point. Of course at the time I didn't know. All I knew is I wanted to learn, but I was righteous and would NEVER deal in the dark. Years later, how the black and white has faded into just shades of grey. It is nievity and conditioning of the church that sets one up for this black and white thinking. If its not light, then it MUST be bad.

I tell those that want to study with me that we really embrace both sides, the yin and the yang. This is a simple way to explain that we embrace both the dark and light. In reality it is much more complicated than that. In fact true balance is not in the extreme of one or the other, or even the extremes of both together. It is a path of "grey" I call this the crooked path. It is not the right handed path (only light) or the Left (only dark) in fact it is a path that weaves back and forth assessing every situation, every need, every ritual and bringing in the aspects of what we/I need at the time.

Before I go further I want to say that I am in no way trying to tell someone how to walk their path. Only trying to give my personal opinion, and one that I share with many others on this path. I have this opinion because I have seen the destruction of pure light and pure dark. I have seen someone who wants to desperaly change cling so hard to the light, that end up miserable and unable to go to the dark places of the soul to find true healing. 

For many that start on this path, they find  Light workers and think "Light workers seam to have it right" They have found a path that doesn't embrace the dark, it rejects all things bad, dark, negative, baneful and the like. Unfortunately this is so one sided. I remember thinking this and I soon found out how wrong I was. They say that where the light is the lightest the shadow is the darkest. I think where the light is the lightest the shadow runs wild. It is darker, is it concentrated, it is so opposite. If for one moment you were to turn the light off you would be consumed with darkness. This has to be the most tiring path ever!

Then one finds Wicca and thinks "This is great! I can work in the dark and be Witchy, but not work with dark things, and I can never harm anyone! This is great, it is good, this is the right path". After a while though I began to find that Wicca (in general) was no different than the church. So many rules, of what you shouldn't do, how to do them, how to act, and how to behave. Just like the church it has produced a bunch of judgmental practitioners that have no problem throwing the Rede at you all the while "Shaming you" for eating meat, binding someone or stepping on an ant. I was once Wiccan, I find that I no longer fit the mold and now simply go by "Witch" (This is not true for every Wiccan, this is a general sweeping statement don't send me hate mail) 

Those that follow a Baneful path, follow a path that is so dark that there is absolutely NO room for light. This is where fear, anger and hate fester, feed and devour ones soul. This has got go be the most painful path. Everyone is familiar with Newtons cradle. It is the device where balls are hung and one is lifted and let go to strike movement in the others. Unfortunately when one person follows one of the above extream paths they risk the ball being raised, and let go so hard and fast that it causes an equal and opposite reaction. It is a collision course for massive disruption and possibly destruction.

This is why I follow a Crooked or grey path. Sometimes I like to work the light, I love to heal, and work with beautiful colors, energies and things of high vibrations. I also love to work in the dark. I love to necromance, and speak with the spirits. I love to hold death in my hands, and create change through deep and dark shadow work. If one is too afraid to travel through the dark depths of the soul one will never truly be able to reach and face the Shadow.

You might be wondering now, well where does cursing come in, do you curse? Well the answer is not so simple. Lets ask instead, Will I curse? The word "Do" implies that I am actively cursing someone. I am currently not actively cursing anyone. I can promise you though, if you mess with my child, family, or coven mates. You will get a nasty curse. It has to be a really good reason, and I tend to send the "Curse of the fluffy bunnies" before it has to get nasty. The dark hates nothing more than being invaded with glitter and annoying cartoon like light, and it makes me laugh. I consider this a VERY dark grey section. Sometimes it is worth the consequences to protect the ones you love, and YES I will if I have to. For the most part I like to find other ways, Binding, and confusion spells are always a great alternative. If this does occur I tend to naturally and now consciously move into a place that is lighter. I grab some crystals and perform healing rites for myself.

If you look at water in her many forms, she is the bringer and sustainer of life, but with ONE swift movement she can tear a town apart or claim a child's life. She has no mercy, but at the same time she gives so freely, and with so much, she allows us to feed from her, and bath in her, but doesn't hesitate to claim a life in an instant........ So like the water I try to find  balance, and walk in shades of grey. Sometimes I am in the dark and sometimes in in the light, I prefer to be in both at once.