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. February's totems are Cat, Willow, and Owl.
The totemic associations are as follows:
Cat – (Cath) mystery, magic, secrecy, independence, sensuality
Willow – (Saille) divination, lunar magic, healing, night
Owl – (Comhachag) wisdom, magic, night, inner visions, change
Anglo-Saxon welig (willow) means pliancy, and withy branches (or
osiers) are cut from the willow to weave baskets, mend fences, and form
frames for coracles. A coracle is a small keeless boat fashioned from a
basket of willow withies and made waterproof by the addition of a
tightly stretched hide. No nails are used in the construction of a
coracle, rather the entire boat is bound by weaving and plaiting.
The willow is thought to have healing properties over diseases of a
damp nature. It is considered as a symbol of fertility and the female
cycle. A chemical called salicin is extracted from the bark of the
willow and used for the treatment of pain and fever. It is similar in
chemical construct to asprin.
The willow can bring
an awareness of your feminine side and is often associated with the
Goddess Brighid because her festival of Imbolc falls within the
influence of the willow tree. In our tradition the willow, also known
by its folk name "the tree of enchantment", is sacred to the Black
As trees of enchantment, willow groves were
used by poets, artists, musicians, priest and priestesses as places on
meditation and inspiration.
Wands cut from willow are known as "willie wains" and are said to contain the powers of water and the moon.
make a wish, tie a loose knot in a willow branch on a living tree, and
state your wish, charging the knot. When your wish comes true return to
the willow, untie the knot, and make an offering of thanks for its aid.
brooms are bound with willow, usually with birch twigs serving as the
brush, and ash as the stave. These three trees are the trees sacred to
and surrounding the month of March, sacred to Hulda, mistress of the
Magic mists are raised in folk tales by aid of
the willow, and many stories tell of willows that uproot themselves at
night to stalk unwary travellers.