On the Calendar
American Holly (Ilex opaca)
English Holly (I. aquifolium)
*Also known as common holly
English holly is a dense, pyramid-shaped tree that reaches thirty to fifty feet tall and half as wide. Its glossy, dark green leaves have wavy margins and sharp spines. American holly reaches twenty-five to fifty feet tall. Its leaves are matte green instead of glossy. Both species produce small white flowers that grow in clusters at the base of the leaf stems. The flowers are inconspicuous and easy to overlook. Holly produces male and female flowers on separate trees, making holly reliant on pollinators such as bees and insects. This means that you need to have one of each tree if you want holly berries, which occur only on the female tree.
With sharp spines, holly leaves are the epitome of protection. To enhance the defense of your home, place three leaves under the front door mat. The leaves can also be used for protection against hostile magic. Tuck a leaf into your purse or wallet to carry for good luck. Dry several clusters of flowers and then sew them into a sachet. Place it under your pillow to enhance dream work, especially divination through dreams. Put fresh holly flowers on your altar for spiritual guidance.
Holly is associated with the elements air, earth, and fire. Its astrological influence comes from Mars and Saturn. This tree is also associated with the following deities: Ares, Cailleach Bheur, Cernunnos, the Dagda, Danu, Freyr, Gaia, Holle, Lugh, and Saturn.
Figure 20. Holly is associated with the ogham Tinne (left) and the rune Mannaz (right).