Willow - On the Calendar - April

Plant Magic: A Year of Green Wisdom for Pagans & Wiccans - Sandra Kynes 2017

Willow
On the Calendar
April

As the weather warms and flowers blossom, it should be no surprise that the name of this month comes from the Latin word aprilis, which means “to open.” 28 April is the month when life seems to burst forth as the earth turns many shades of lush green. Each rain shower seems to bring more plants to life, and flowers of every hue open to the sun. This rigorous life-force energy feeds our bodies and spirits and awaits our magical direction.

On the Calendar

April 15: The Celtic Month of Willow Begins

Usually found near water, willows are linked with sacred and mysterious powers, enchantment, and death. They are associated with in-between times, which is why they are used at both Beltane and Samhain.

Willow

American Willow (Salix discolor)

*Also known as pussy willow

Weeping Willow (S. babylonica)

Both of these trees have narrow, lance-shaped leaves that are finely toothed. The American willow is nicknamed pussy willow due to its fuzzy, gray catkins that resemble the soft pads of cat’s feet. It is a shrubby, multi-stemmed tree that grows from six to fifteen feet tall with leaves that are dull, green above and lighter underneath. The weeping willow is widely loved for its long, graceful branches that sweep down to the ground. It can grow thirty to fifty feet tall with a crown that can be just as wide. Its catkins are silvery green, and its leaves are light green above, gray-green beneath.

Although a Christian tradition in England, Russia, and Eastern Europe, it would not surprise me if this custom had its roots in Pagan practice. Palm Sunday was often referred to as Pussy Willow Sunday because instead of importing palm fronds, local pussy willow branches were taken to church on the Sunday before Easter. In fact, in England the plant itself was sometimes called the English palm. After the branches were blessed, they were taken home and placed with religious icons or hung in the house. Branches from the previous year were then burned. As an early-blooming plant, pussy willows were believed to have “special productive and protective powers.” 29 Place a vase of pussy willows on your altar or hang a silver-tufted branch in your home to call on this plant’s powers of protection and fertility.

These water-loving trees are also associated with the moon. Make a circle with pussy willow catkins and/or willow leaves on your April esbat altar to aid in raising lunar energy. Willow is allied with all moon goddesses as well as Danu and the Morrigan.

To empower love spells and divination sessions, take a thin weeping willow branch, strip off the leaves, and wind it into a circle. Tie short pieces of yarn in several places to keep the circle intact, and then set it on your altar. Draw the willow ogham or rune on a pink or red candle for love spells, or draw them on a white candle for divination. Place the candle in the middle of the willow circle, and as you light the candle, say:

Willow, willow, tree of enchantment; graceful branch now circled and round. Bestow your power and your wisdom; in this endeavor, willow knowledge abound.

Once you befriend this tree, it is very generous and will provide you with many wands and other gifts. Willow dryads tend to be curious, sometimes shy, but always welcoming. They can aid you in contacting fairies and other nature spirits.

Willow is associated with fire and water. Its astrological influence comes from the moon and Venus. This tree is also associated with fairies, and the following deities: Artemis, Athena, Belenus, Brigid, Ceres, Cerridwen, Danu, Diana, Hecate, Hera, Hermes, Ishtar, Loki, Luna, Mercury, the Morrigan, Osiris, Persephone, Poseidon, Rhiannon, and Zeus.

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Figure 9. Willow is associated with the ogham Saille (left) and the rune Laguz (right).

April 28: Floralia

The Roman celebration of Floralia was named for Flora, the goddess of spring and flowers. It was a festival of fertility that was usually expressed through sexual practices. Place flowers or sprinkle petals on your altar. This is a good day for working spells of love, lust, and fertility. Crabapple flowers, daisies, primrose, geraniums, and violets are especially effective.

April 30: May Eve/Walpurgis Night

Like Floralia and Beltane, Walpurgis Night was a celebration of spring and fertility, and a night of lusty revelry. Like Samhain, May Eve is one of those special nights of the year when the veil between the worlds is especially thin. According to folklore of the British Isles, this is when the fairy folk come out of their mounds and return to our world. In addition, because the hawthorn provided good branches for broomsticks and witches were said to congregate under these trees, people were warned to stay away from hawthorns on this night. Decorate your altar with hawthorn or any type of flower.

April 30: National Arbor Day

This day focuses on revitalizing forestland and planting more trees in cities and towns. It is a good day to send out magical energy to support the green world. It is also a good time to visit your favorite tree or woods.