Friday, October 21, 2016

April Totems: Ash

In our tradition we divide the year not only by eight solar and agricultural holidays, but also by the Kalends. We celebrate twelve months of the year by the common calendar, plus a special thirteenth month for Samhain.  These month cycles are associated with different totemic spirits. Each month is assigned an animal, a bird (or other flying creature), and a tree. April's totems are Serpent, Ash, and Moth.

The totemic associations are as follows:

Serpent (Nathair) – resurrection, rebirth, initiation, wisdom, transformation
Ash (Nuin) – connections of past to present, spirit to earth, high and low
Moth (Lèomann) – transformation, seeking illumination, initiation


The Ash tree is the traditional Celtic and Norse World Tree. In Norse mythology, Odin hung from the great Ash tree Yggdrasil and endured an initiatory experience in which he discovered system of meaning in the roots of the great tree.  These were the Elder Futhark, or the runes. Ygddrasil’s branches were in the heavens, roots were in Hell, and Earth was around its center.

The Ash symbolizes connections – past & present, spiritual & earthly, lowest & highest, self & cosmos. It links you to all your pathways. It also represents divination, healing, inner conflicts, and general magic.

Ash wood is often used for healing and protection. Besom staffs, stang shafts and certain wands are examples of the protective qualities of the tree. In Greece, Nemesis, who represents the Fates, carried an Ash wand (a scourge) and dispensed justice with it when needed.

Ash's roots, which are human in shape, are excellent for healing.

The Ash attracts lightning and brings balance. It also brings light into the hearth at the winter solstice when used as a Yule log. The wassailing bowl used to toast trees at Yule is also made of Ash.

This tree can help us to understand itself and the other tress. It also helps us assimilate the knowledge gained into the Grove back into practicality.

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