Tree lore is an olden concept that is identified with many cultures and traditions. Commonly associated with nourishment, sustenance, spiritual growth, health, and fertility, trees, since time immemorial, have been worshiped for their supposed powers. We bring to you one such special tree from legend and lore, the ash tree.
A New Threat
An invasive beetle species called emerald ash borer is posing a threat to millions of ash trees in North American cities.
Found mostly in parts of Europe, Asia, and locales of North America, ash is a deciduous tree that gives flowers and fruits. The ash tree is also used in sporting equipment, and those who love the sport of baseball will swear by its lightness and toughness. Ash trees are a popular choice of ornamental trees and are planted in cities to afford greenery. For eons, this tree has been revered for its strength and magical powers.
Not just that, many poets and writers in the past have made references about the tree’s grandeur and suggested its symbolic significance in their works.
The ash tree is also known for its health benefits and is used in diuretics, laxatives, and tonics; it also helps to cure gout, obesity and rheumatism.
Let us now get down to understanding the different symbolism that are identified with an ash tree.
Ash Tree Symbolism
The ash tree symbolizes the World Tree―a tree that joined the three worlds: the underworld, the middle earth, and the spiritual realm. The ash tree is also linked with the blending of the past, present, and future.
The ash tree stands for strength, which it gets from its strong roots. Its strength represents the intrinsic ability every individual possesses to protect his land and people. It also exhibits endurance and the spirit to fight for what belongs to one.
Strength invariably corresponds to growth. The spiritual being that dwells within each of us needs to be fed with wisdom for it to grow. The ash tree reminds us that unless we stay connected to our roots and nourish it, we will not derive the necessary strength to keep going on.
According to Norse mythology, the ash tree encompasses the universe, has its roots in hell, and its branches reach up to the heavens, with the Earth at its center. Symbolically, an ash tree can be interpreted as the backbone of the universe that is yoked with death and rebirth.
Likewise, ash also represents microcosm and macrocosm, which is the little world and the great world. In another way, the earthly world in which we live can be construed as a reflection of the heaven―the one that is inhabited by the divine.
According to Celtic mythology, the ash tree acts as a symbol representing health, potency, and magical powers.
The fabled Norse World Tree known as Yggdrasil, on which Odin scarified himself to gain wisdom of the Futhark runes is believed to be the source of esoteric knowledge. This association also finds its mention in Teutonic myth, where the Teutonic gods would assemble under the great ash tree and discuss how the worlds were linked together.
Ash being one of the sacred three (Ash-Thorn-Oak) is also associated with fairy lore. The ash fairy serves as an inspiration for poetry, a communicative endowment that eludes the conscious mind.
Traditional English and American folklore deemed ash as a snake-deterrent. People carried ash twigs in pockets or placed its leaves under the hat as a protection against snakes. Ash sap was also drunk as a cure for snakebites.
The Druids made their magical wands out of ash owing to its straight grain as well as because of its association with perspicuity, wisdom, and intuition.
The English folklore swore by ash tree’s magical properties. It was believed that a child suffering from warts could be cured by way of the ash tree. A pin would be jabbed into the wart and then thrust into the ash tree for the tree to take the warts away from the child’s body. Likewise, rickets and cleft were also believed to be healed by the tree’s magical ability. Many even believed that burying a toenail clipping or fingernail under an ash tree would relieve those who suffered from toothache or fever.
The staff used by the fabled Welsh god Gwyddion was fashioned out of ash for its powers of transformation and healing. We wonder if this association inspired the makers of the Lord of the Rings as Gandalf, the popular wizard from the series is shown carrying a staff made from ash.