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Wren Wrants A-Z ...

A Letter To My Daughter

A PumkinHead in the White House

A Real Bad Day For Witchcraft

A Real Reason To Vote

A Time for War, a Time for Peace and a Time to Browse the Bookstore

A Wonderful Piece of News

The Aftermath of Columbine High School

Beating A Not-So-Hasty Retreat

Behind Enemy Lines

Breakfast Will Be Served In Fifteen Minutes...

Building a Circle of Trust

But What Will People Think?

By Their Furniture, Ye Shall Know Them

Caution: Restricted Area

Cleaning Out The Junk Drawer

Community Power Who Holds it?

Community Thoughts on Tempest Smith

Compelling without the Yelling

Confessions of a News Junkie

The Consistancy of Change...


Coping with Grief

Cramming It Down Our Throats...

Damned if you do and Damned if you don't

Declaring Your Personal Independence Day

Did Your World Change Too?

Dreaming in The Dark...

There is No Zuul

There's a Rabbit In The Moon...

Excavating the Dinosaur Altar

Fair Use, Copyright and the Pagan Net

Feeding Our Young

The First Day

Gather 'Round The Fire

Getting Back To Nature

Getting Back To Normal

Getting Rid of What Bugs You

Gifts That Keep On Giving...

The Giving Circle

Gods In A China Shop...

Good And Evil: In The Shadow Of Littleton And The Garden Of The Gods.

Good Will Toward Men

The Great Hamster Myth

Happy Beltaine!

Happy Brigid's Day Everyone!

The Heart of A Mechanic

Helping Hands

Helping Our Own

Hidden Hatred Haunts Pagans

Home is Where the Spirit Is

Homosexuality and Public Policy

The Household of Priests and Priestesses

If The Hissy Fits

In A Mirror Darkly...

In Your Dreams

The Internet Reaches beyond Washington

It All Happens Locally

It Is Your Destiny

It's Maypole Week 'Round the World

It's Tribal Time!

January Arrives Wearing A White Coat

Judging Amy -- Wren's Thoughts

Killed a Goat Today

Knot Charming

Learning How To Fly

Life With Mikey

Listening To The Story

Listening To The Woods

Living In A Banana Republic

Living Through A Drought

Logging On and Speaking Out!

The Long and Short Of It

The Love of Ordinary Things

Mabon... a Man for all Seasons

Magick's Arrow

Mamas, Don't let your Babies...

The Media Story Is Often Not The True One

Mercury Has Left the Building

Minding Your News P's and Q's

Mixed Blessings

NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.

Listening To The Woods

Author: Wren
Posted: December 4th. 2000
Times Viewed: 9,523

Greetings everyone!

White Birch has always been our wood of choice for the Yule Log. Throughout the now almost fifty years, Wren can't remember any other tree being given that particular role of honor in her family. Whether it was actually regarded as a magickal 'tradition' in her house or it was simply that the stark white bark offset the cherry red candles and deep green holly so well, we really don't know. Perhaps it was just a New England thing. New Englanders are quite proud of their magnificent white birch trees and rightfully so.

Yule Logs are 'traditionally' of oak, which makes perfect sense as the Log was meant to burn all day and oak is a dense and slow-burning wood. Birch, on the other hand, when thoroughly dry, ignites and goes up the chimney quite quickly. Upon musing before the fire on one Solstice Eve, Wren divined that the birch Yule Log could be perceived as 'igniting the passions' of the other woods now happily crackling in the hearth. As the birch is known as a tree sacred to the various great Goddesses, this revelation proved a quite personally satisfying reason to continue to use birch wood for the Yule Log. It is amazing what one can discover while gazing into a fire. Probably one of the reasons why our Ancestors spent so much time doing so.

"One more reason Birch is nice, the Rune for Birch is Beorc meaning Birth. I usually hand out Birch papers to my Yule guests and encourage them to write what they wish to birth on the Solstice, or what they want to bring into the light. Then we toss them into the Yule fire. It's nice". (from kari 12/4)

Photo credit: This image to your right is of the y2001 Unity calendar (Website:

"Celtic Britain and Gaelic Europe used a large tree or log to fit into their hearths. They anointed it with salt, holly, wine and evergreens. Then it was lit and young girls or a mother kept the remnants to light the next year's log. Some put it to one side of the hearth, burning it for days, even the whole year. The ashes were highly prized - apparent protection against evil and lightning. Birch, oak, willow and holly woods were most often used," according to The History of the Yule Log. Instructions on how to make a Yule Log can give one the general idea for a functional gift to prepare for yourself or as a present. Country Pagans can do their city-dwelling cousins a big favor by sending them a Yule Log as a special treat. The municipal 'powers that be' really do not appreciate urban Pagans cutting limbs off the trees in the city parks and we doubt any 'religious freedom defense' would sway them to look at it any other way!

Each wood has its own voice. Anyone who had the good fortune of growing up in a household where most of the wintertide activities centered about a big cast iron kitchen or parlor stove knows exactly what we mean. The evergreens, such as pine, hemlock and spruce, (Not good for the chimneys, by the way, but a nice treat to be used once in a while for the scent) sputter and spit. They seem prone to over-dramatize each woody sentence with a punctuation mark made up of orange sparks. Maples burn cleanly and seem pretty even-tempered as they crackle softly away. Elms burn hot and long. Anyone who has had the 'opportunity' to split elm wood knows that particular tree is rather perverse and makes you work hard to earn every moment of golden-russet tinged warmth. Birches seem light and merry, even self-sacrificing. The oaks and beeches are filled with warmth just waiting to be released. They give up their secrets in soft whispers and sighs. Cherry and apple are the desert woods with mouth-watering scents and branch-licking flames of blue, green and yellow. Listening to the woods speak, one can hear the spirits of the land talk of the times long gone by and perhaps of things yet to come as well. And why not? The magickal lore surrounding the various trees is well known to Pagans. And as one writer puts it, "He (or she) who delights in tending fire knows that the glow of the hearth also fosters a glow in the heart." (Haydn S. Pearson, Country Flavor Cookbook)

Deck The Halls With Witches' Ladders...

A Witch's Ladder makes a great homemade and inexpensive surprise present for the Pagans on your gift list. Traditionally made with three cords of different colors and braided together, the feathers of nine separate species of birds are then added, each tied on while chanting an appropriate charming rhyme. The completed Ladder is then hung from the highest point in the home for good luck. Instead of feathers (most wild bird feathers are illegal to use in the U.S. except by special permit), modern Pagans often scour the flea markets and antique marts for old charm bracelets. Then nine (or more) charms holding special significance to the maker or recipient are sewn onto the cords. Small bells, seashells, twigs from the nine sacred woods or little herb bags can also be used. It's a fun project for children- played out as a scavenger hunt- as any age child can help the grown-up 'Crafties" to find those special items. The older Pagan teens can make a Ladder (Probably of the "Keep Out!" variety!) for their own rooms. Witches' Ladders make great presents for handfastings, wiccanings and initiation events as well as providing an excellent elementary "Witchcraft 101" lesson for those Teachers guiding newcomers in the elements of magickal practice and spellwork. You can make up a kit with all the ingredients for those who always prefer to do their own magick, thank you very much!

We are always surprised to see many Pagan homes with lots of dreamcatchers and pentacles, but no Witches' Ladders. But then again, while some sources say that the Ladder should be placed in a spot where you can see it every day, others (like us) may be more traditional and keep theirs hidden in a secret spot. House protection magick was very much a part of Folk Magic in Britain and elsewhere. Witches' Ladders can be a nice alternative to some of the more unsavory forms often found in the excavations of old buildings. As with all magickal items, when it comes time to retire or replace them, it is wise to burn them, bury them or throw them into deep running water. Burning the old Witches' Ladder at Yule, Samhain or on a day dedicated to your patron God/Goddess-after making a new one, of course-might make a nice coven or family ritual that can be handed down through the generations. If you like to time your rituals to moon phases and seasonal changes, the new Unity 2001 calendar can certainly help you do so (see stunning image at top right). And it's another beautiful and easy to ship gift item as well! Ask St Nick, Old Nick or Good Old Thor to put one in your stocking. (And are we the only ones threatening to fill the Yule socks of 'bad' little Pagan girls and boys with discarded ballot chads instead of coal this year?)

Article Specs

Article ID: 4492

VoxAcct: 1

Section: wrenwalker

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 6,993

Times Read: 9,523



Location: Tampa, Florida

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