On the Calendar
Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
*Also known as black alder and European alder
Alder grows about sixty-five feet tall and often has multiple trunks. Slender, drooping male catkins (clusters of tiny flowers) and small, pinecone-like female catkins appear before the leaves develop. The female catkin produces a small nut. The glossy green leaves are rounded, heavily veined, and notched at the end.
Young, green branches are easily turned into whistles by cutting both ends and pushing out the pith with a smaller stick. These hollow branches can be cut to various lengths and tied together to create panpipes, which were named for the Greek god Pan. Whistles made from this wood are said to be magical and have the ability to summon the four winds.
If you have an alder on your property, leave an offering for fairies beneath it as they are said to be attracted to this tree. Collect a handful of catkins for magic work. Burn them for aid in banishing rituals and spells, or crumble them onto your altar for water, wind, and general weather magic. A leaf under your pillow will invite prophetic dreams. Hold three leaves between your palms before a divination session to bring clarity. Holding a branch of alder helps to connect with spirit guides. Use a small twig as a protective charm by keeping it in a small decorative bag that you can carry with you or keep in your car.
Alder is associated with the elements air, fire, and water. Its astrological influence comes from Mars and Venus. This tree is associated with the following deities: Cailleach Bheur, Freya, Manannan, Minerva, and Venus.
Figure 7. Alder is associated with the ogham Fearn (left) and the rune Isa (right).
March 20/21: Ostara/Spring Equinox
This sabbat celebrates both the sun and the earth. It marks the balance of all things, female and male, the spiritual and the physical. It is a celebration of rebirth, as life seems to burst forth everywhere and the earth turns lush and green. Any type of flower is appropriate for the ritual altar; however, branches of Forsythia are especially apropos. Its four-petaled, cross-shaped flowers represent the elements, the balance of the equinox, and the union of male and female. The bright yellow color is symbolic of the sun and the increasing warmth of the season.