Willow: The Witch’s Tree

The water-loving willow tree is associated closely with the moon, intuition, spirituality, emotion, dreams.

…all that belongs to the intangible realm of the water element. There’s a reason Buffy’s Willow Rosenberg is so named! Willow is known as the “witches’ tree,” and is used in all kinds of spells, especially enchantment and binding, and for journeying into the underworld.

Ruled by the moon, willow also help us deepen our connection to our intuition and spirituality. This power is particularly strong in spring, when energy is rising and moving outwards. Here in the UK, spring’s stirrings can be are slow to get going, but it’s impossible to miss the sudden bursting forth of the willows that grow abundantly here, long shoots growing inches each week. These past weeks, the willow’s beautiful flowers — grey, furry little catkins — have appeared all over these wavy branches.

Like a truly magical wand, a fresh-cut branch of willow pushed into the earth will grow roots and shoots and grow into a new tree! You can imagine this sudden flowing of energy, this rising of feeling, as something that can help you clear emotional blockages, get in touch with your feelings, or access your intuition (and weeping willows are especially associated with grieving).

Weeping Willow besides a river in Fairfax Virginia, image via Wikimedia Commons
Weeping Willow Fairfax Virginia, image via Wikimedia Commons

Working with willow:

You could cut yourself a willow wand (greet, ask and thank the tree as you do!) and place it on your altar or sleep with it under your pillow to deepen your connection to your inner wisdom.

Or simply sit under a willow tree and allow yourself a moment of peace and reflection. Have a full-moon gathering (or party of one) beneath a willow-tree.

You can burn willow bark as an incense to aid your creativity, sleep with a willow twig under your pillow for vivid dreams.

Willow is used to make a fine charcoal for drawing…try it!

If you want to “draw down the moon” in a full-moon ceremony, choose a willow wand.

This time last year I spent a lot of time weaving willow fences using the long, fresh green shoots — I found cutting, sorting and weaving the willow incredibly relaxing and meditative. You can make something more fun than a fence, though! Cut a few shoots and try weaving them into any shape you fancy…let your intuition guide you. Use your willow art to decorate your altar, or burn it as a symbolic release or offering.

This post originally appeared as part of Autostraddle’s Witch Hunt series.

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I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.

I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.

3 comments

  1. Roger Sanders says:

    Hi Beth, lovely article. I love willows, Years ago I had a hobby making willow baskets which is great fun. A homemade willow basket , however wobbly,[ my first ones were all over the place] can be a great addition to altars and for ‘containing’. Also, fresh willow bark contains a special natural growth ingredient which will help when making your own cuttings of plants. Just add the bark scrapings to a jar of water and put your cuttings in, it should help the roots develop.
    Have fun! Rog

  2. Jo says:

    Went for an early morning walk by the river this morning. Whilst the sun was shining (i know unbelievable – the sun does shine in the uk!). And was admiring a beautiful weeping willow. I didn’t know these are associated with grieving. But that said whilst i was admiring the tree, the word sad was on my lips. And now i know, it does make sense.
    Will look to get a willow wand to place under my pillow. As i have just started to record my dreams, although i am at present unable to remember them, assuming i am having dreams? Or should i not assume any such thing!??

  3. Anja says:

    … the Alternative Tarot Course brought me here. Otherwise i would probably have missed this inspiring article!
    I grew up in a village and not far away from our house there stood this beautiful weeping willow; my home was indeed a place of sorrow and grief. Now i live in a huge city and in front of my house there is a linden tree. My therapist is located in a backyard with a willow! I will ask her if i can cut some branches for a magic wand 🙂

    PS: Very much enjoying the course! It feels fresh and motivating!

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