While we are in the strange limbo, just waiting for one year to properly end and the next to begin, and we have finished the first five ogham trees but not yet started the second, let me deviate from the traditional order and (re)introduce you to the beautiful Beech tree.
Golden Queen of ancient word, your decree is wholly heard, strong your shelter, far your reach, sensitive, shining, bright, is Beech. ~ by Haloquin
There is a spirit in the Beech on campus. Into her pale bark is carved a heart and the names of lovers long moved on to other lands together, or so she likes to dream. They stopped visiting cycles ago. Most move on swiftly from this university town, coming for knowledge, sheltering from the hot sun under her densely packed summer leaves, and then, just as suddenly, disappearing again carrying what they’ve learned far away.
Backs against her bark they sit, light on the pages of their texts softened by her green, and she reads over their shoulder. Poetry, philosophy, business. Geographic tales speak of far off places, historical texts remind her of other times. She learns pieces of the world as the students bring their treasures on printed page and she whispers back to them, sharing her long memory in return.
They love to sit in her care, this pale queen beside the library who makes the bright sun soothing and tips the rain away from their seat. And those that accept her soveriegn care find themselves leaving more inspired by her stories that weave together words gathered over many, many years of delighting in the thoughts that have been gifted to her by her subjects.
A Beech Meditation;
Sit at the base of a beech tree (either physically or in your imagination) and notice the space she holds. Lean your back up against her trunk and feel the smoothness of her bark.
Notice the thickness of her canopy. In the spring her leaves are bright, lime green. In the summer they deepen, like a cathedral canopy of emeralds, in the autumn they dry and become russet brown, rustling in the wind.
Notice the space beneath the canopy. She holds court and keeps her boundaries, taking up the space she needs in the world, providing shelter for visitors.
Feel the pulse of life from her roots, through her trunk at your back, up to the tips of her branches.
Feel the flow of sunlight filtered through the leaves and back down to earth.
Allow yourself to be aware of the strength that flows through the Beech tree against which you rest your spine.
Imagine you are becoming part of the tree and feel that strength, that life, that light, flowing up and down your spine.
Spend some time being aware of what the Beech tree knows about holding space. About maintaining boundaries and accepting what is right for you. About living. What does the Beech tree know?
After a little while, allow yourself to separate from the tree, allow the sense of that flow to fade, and send a little gratitude to the Beech for the experience. Listen for a moment. What does the Beech tree want you to know?
When you are ready, leave the space, or allow it to fade from your mind, and pay attention to your body again, returning you to where you began.
Latin Name: Fagus sylvatica (European)
Edible Components: Beechnuts/mast, nut oil (best cooked, not for horses)
Herbal Properties: Leaves are antibacterial, can be made into a poultice for burns. Brings on menses.*
Contraindications: Abortificant, avoid during pregnancy.
Magical Properties: knowledge, queenship, awareness, sensitivity, divination (for gaining information/shedding light on a situation), shelter from harshness, the ability to moderate boundaries.
Historical Notes: Name comes from Teutonic word for “book”. Wood once used for carving runes. Beech was once known as the Queen of the Forest, though she was usurped by the Oak King… Beechmast was often food for pigs in the autumn.
Practical Properties: Mostly used for small items as wood is brittle, or as firewood as it heats well. Makes good charcoal. Good for the soil (air circulation and adding potash?) and leaves stay on during winter so good at sheltering other plants. The smooth, pale bark of the Beech is more sensitive to sunlight than for other trees so the thick foliage protects the trunk.
* Please check with a qualified herbalist before self medicating with plants, they can be very powerful. This information is just to give inspiration for magical workings. I am not a qualified herbalist!
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Over to you in the comments. What stories do you have of Beech? What have you found the trees know?
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