The world is full of unexplained phenomenon, and to our ancient ancestors these unseen forces where things of magic and myth. In the past, the May Bush could not be explained in words and therefore was a container of immense magical power.
The magic tree
When Merlin was an old man and none could give a count of all his years, a young girl came to King Arthur’s court. She was beautiful beyond belief, but none could see into her heart.
Her name was Vivien, and she watched the wonders of the court closely, soon becoming envious of Merlin’s great powers. She determined to learn all she could from him and so enchanted him with her flattery and her beauty. Soon he followed her wherever she went and easily gave her the secrets that were best kept hidden…
But Vivien was not satisfied with what she had learned. She claimed that Merlin was holding back some of his teachings. She wanted more and deeper mysteries to be revealed to her. He demurred, saying that she was not ready. Then, afraid he would not be able to withstand her pleas and knowing that some mysteries were too dangerous and powerful to be entrusted to someone so young and unwise, he left the court and went across the sea to the forest of Broceliande in Brittany.
Following him, weeping and telling him her heart was broken because he did not trust her.
At last, with a cunning alternation of the granting and the withholding of sexual favors, she wheedled out of him his last and most closely kept secret: how it was possible to imprison a man within a tree. Within seconds of obtaining knowledge of this spell she implemented it. The mighty Merlin, the wisest of all men, was confined forever within a cage of bark – a hawthorn tree.
The Celtic meaning of the hawthorn tree deals with the balance of duality.
In May, the hawthorn is in full glory with strikingly beautiful white blossoms, nestled tightly among the hawthorn’s large and lethal looking thorns. The ancient Celts understood the dual nature of this plant and it’s power of balance. The hawthorn has undeniable healing powers, but the Celts could not attribute it to any specific outcomes. This was an indicator of a great source of magic.
To the Celts, that which cannot be explained contains immense power.
The best-known herb for the heart in western herbalism is hawthorn, the extract of hawthorn can increase blood flow to the heart muscle itself, helping to counteract one of the most common modern causes of death in industrial countries—heart attack due to lack of blood flow to the heart.
In Europe, thousands of doctors prescribe hawthorn to prevent cardiovascular disease or to help alleviate symptoms of mild to moderate problems. It is considered so safe that it is sometimes prescribed alongside other heart medications. Hawthorn is also considered a mildly calming herb for the nervous system—an appropriate bonus considering that stress and nervousness often accompany cardiovascular problems.
With long-term use, hawthorn can safely help to strengthen and nourish the heart. Here is a summary of the important clinical effects of hawthorn:
- It dilates the arteries supplying more blood, oxygen, and fuel to the heart muscle itself.
- Protects the heart against the harmful effects of lessened oxygen; such as atherosclerosis.
- It can help steady the heartbeat, if it is irregular and does not lead to dependence.
- It has mild sedative activity, which may be useful where mild heart disease is combined with nervousness, hypochondria, etc.
Find It // Use It
The common names for Crataegus are “Maybush” due to it’s beautiful white blossums in may and “hawthorne”, which comes from haw, which is an old English word for “hedge.” The tree’s name simply means “thorny hedge, and this is precisely how you will find it.
In all seasons it can be identified by its large lethal thorns, so watch out when handling this plant. It is one of the first trees to blossom, in early May you can see its cluster of white flowers from far away. Upon closer inspection you will notice it’s resemblance to the rose, which makes sense, since they are both from the family Rosaceae.
It’s fruit are very similar to the rose as well, Red (sometimes black) hips that are more fleshy than they are juicy. These ripe berries are sometimes made into jams and enjoyed as food as well as medicine. The cluster of berries sometimes can stay on even during the winter months, after the tree has lost all it’s foliage.
The berries, leaves, and flowers of the hawthorn plant have been used for medicinal purposes; They contain many substances that may benefit the heart. These antioxidant flavonoids — including OPCs — help dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and protect the blood vessels from damage.
Simply boil the berries, leaves or flowers into a tea and enjoy.
If you are looking to take hawthorn over an extended period of time and do not wish to continuously harvest, then place the organic matter of the hawthorn into a bottle of clear liquor for 6 weeks, the resulting tincture will last much longer, and will require smaller doses to be effective.