May Blossom is the flower of the Hawthorn Tree (Crataegus monogyna) or y Ddraenen Wen in Welsh. Hawthorn trees were, and still are, known as fairy trees. Traditionally they protect the wearer from the effects of the otherworld and give the ability to see the fairies. But that is not the whole story....
They were thought to have magical properties and were often left uncut, even if hedges were being removed or other farm ‘improvement’ practices were being carried out. In Ireland, they had to divert a road because they couldn’t cut down a hawthorn tree and they also had to divert a new sewer they were putting in, because there was a hawthorn in the way. When I was a child we used to eat young hawthorn leaves, we called them bread-and-cheese and tossed the stalks for the fairies. Thomas the Rhymer, the famous thirteenth century Scottish mystic and poet, once met the Fairy Queen by a hawthorn bush from which a cuckoo was calling. She led him into the Fairy Underworld for a while, but when he returned he found he had been absent for seven years.
The old saying ‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be out’ was always referring to the May Blossom. Many think it means the month of May, but you could start to shed your winter woollies as soon as you spotted some May blossom locally.
The blossoms were used for garlands, and large leafy branches were cut, set in the ground outside houses as so-called May bushes and decorated with local wildflowers. However, hawthorn must not be brought into the house, regardless of how beautiful the blossom because you would give entry to witches.
"Hawthorn bloom and elder-flowers
Will fill a house with evil powers."
Across Britain there was the belief that bringing hawthorn blossom into the house would be followed by illness and death. Country folk asserted that the smell of hawthorn blossom was just like the smell of death. Botanists later discovered that the chemical trimethylamine present in hawthorn blossom is also one of the first chemicals formed in decaying animal tissue.
Another old tradition surrounding the May Blossom is held in the following small verse. The dew from the May Blossom was said to open your eyes to the fairies and receive their blessings of glamour.
The fair maid who, the first of May,
Goes to the fields at break of day,
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree,
Will ever after handsome be.
So no wonder a confusion of meanings is attached to the May! While some believed witches rode on hawthorn brooms, others were placing sprigs of it above cottage and stable door to keep witches out. In some places, to sit beneath a hawthorn tree meant to meet with the denizens of the Otherworld; while in others the tree afforded protection from the same (‘Creep under the thorn,/It will save you from harm.’)!
It is certainly true to say that each must master the May themselves and in their own way. Such a tricksy plant requires plenty of time to learn its ways.... and wearing it lets you experience its abilities for yourself.
Britain's most famous hawthorn is the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury. Legend tells of how Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of the Virgin Mary, arrived at a hill overlooking Glastonbury Tor with a few disciples and two sacred vessels containing the blood and sweat of Jesus. Where he thrust his staff into the ground it sprouted and grew into a thorn tree. Though the original is obviously not there any more, one of its supposed descendants does still stand on the hill, and other offspring grown from cuttings and perpetuated over the centuries can be found around Glastonbury and indeed further afield in England. This particular hawthorn blooms twice a year, once in May and again around Christmas. A sprig of one of these Glastonbury thorns from outside St Johns Church is traditionally sent to the Queen, who is said to decorate her breakfast table with it on Christmas morning.
I gather most herbs and flowers locally and dry them on the farm. Care is taken to ensure that the herbs and flowers are at their strongest and most powerful when they are gathered. None are collected from areas close to a road. They are placed in this lovely miniature glass flask and added to a real silver chain so that you can carry them at all times.
|Uses||Charms are used for protection and safety.They can also be used to enhance the wearer's abilities and senses. Increase fertility, good hunting, protection against depression, sadness and family troubles. Sacred to the fairies and bestowing the gift of awareness of them|
|Properties||Gender - masculine Planet - Mars Element - fire (hawthorn burns hottest out of all the woods) Deities - Flora|