In the Garden
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis × intermedia)
*Also known as spotted alder, and winterbloom
There are several types of witch hazel; some bloom in the autumn, but the ones that flower in winter are the most dramatic. This particular species ranges from a large shrub to a small tree. It is a hybrid of the Chinese (H. mollis) and Japanese (H. japonica) witch hazels. The quintessential color of witch hazel flowers is yellow; however, some of these hybrids are orange or red. Resembling crinkled ribbons, these spidery flowers on bare branches brighten a dull landscape and are stunning in the snow.
Witch hazel’s genus name comes from the Greek hama, meaning “together,” and mela, “fruit.” 9 Witch hazel seeds take a year to mature, which is why they appear at the same time as flowers. The “witch” in its common name comes from an Old English word that meant “to bend,” in reference to its pliant branches.10
Collect a few witch hazel flowers and tuck them into a sachet for love divination, or place them in your work area when you seek inspiration. Let the flowers dry and then burn them for protection spells or banishing rituals. Place a couple of small witch hazel twigs on your altar or table during divination sessions to help focus your mind and open psychic channels. Hold a branch to aid in communicating with deities. Hanging a branch over the front door provides protection to your home. Burn dried flowers, bark, or a twig to aid in recovering from loss. After a relationship breakup, waft smoke of the bark in each room of the house to remove the presence of the person who left. Burn a few flowers for a healing circle or ritual to strengthen the energy you send out.
Witch hazel is associated with the elements earth, fire, and water. Its astrological influence comes from Saturn and the sun.
Figure 3. Witch hazel is associated with the ogham Emancoll.