The old English for Hawthorn was Haggathorn meaning hedge or encompassing fence thorn. Hawthorn has been utilised as a boundary marker by many farmers and country folk alike all over the globe, since the iron age at least.
It provides a multitude of benefits as a hedgerow herb including protection with its impenetrable thorns, a windbreak to protect crops (we have recently just transferred some hawthorn whips into our plot, to do just this), and offers a home for pollinators, birds and other animals to thrive. And let’s not forget the wonderful, nutritious and medicinal benefit of leaves, flowers and berries of this resilient, gnarly and generous tree.
The May Tree is currently blossoming all over our lanes and in the hedgerows here in the UK, lining the fields – a delicate dotting of creamy white petals adorn the land. Our kids know this tree by one of its common names ‘bread and cheese’, and are used to nibbling on the tasty young leaves and buds which are flavourful, slightly drying in the mouth. This drying quality denotes the tannins so prevalent in the Rosacea or rose family. The rose family contains all of those almond scented blossoms – the apple, plum, sloe, dog rose.
This abundant hedgerow boundary, tree under the domain of the warrior planet Mars brings a directive energy. It helps to carry your will. However, the Hawthorn energy counsels us to “first be still and feel into any given situation waiting for the perfect time to move, so that the undertaking can be done with the greatest efficiency.”
The hawthorn supports us to truly believe in ourselves and whatever it is we want to create. Through the Hawthorn we can explore the idea of not pushing through but instead waiting and watching for the right time and then utilising the fiery nature of hawthorn to help drive ideas into reality. Hawthorn is about passion and having the courage see your desires and make them real.
Folk often ask about the emotional links we make with herbs or the energetic qualities. These are often reflected in the physical medicine a herb offers. The body or the herbs inter-actions with the processes of the body, are like a map to the spiritual or emotional indications of a given herb. Hawthorn medicine supports the blood vessels especially those that feed the muscle of the heart, it gives us heart courage where we need it most.
Hawthorn and the Heart
Hawthorn supports blood vessels generally, but it has a particular affinity with the blood vessels of the heart… that means those blood vessels, the coronary blood vessels that particularly nourish the muscle of the heart. It relaxes the muscle these blood vessels enabling the supply of oxygen and nutrients directly to the heart muscle. Hawthorn has therefore shown to increase the strength of contractions of the heart. Whilst doing this, it also has the ability to relax the blood vessels of the body generally reducing resistance on good flow. This creates a balancing effect on blood pressure in the body. In doing this it takes a physical pressure of the heart and can also take the emotional pressure away too, creating less fear and more courage for those that work with its medicine.
Beltane Fire Festival – May Day
Beltane, long associated with hawthorn (also known as May flower) is the time of fertility, the year in all its rising fire energy. Hawthorn offers us the chance to throw ourselves fully into life, to penetrate our dreams and bring them forth.
This blossoming tree in the month of May is linked to celebration. Dancing round the May Pole is about observing the ritual joining of masculine and feminine to create new life.
Hawthorn is surrounded by mythology/. Olwen is the Welsh goddess who is said to have walked through an empty universe and where her feet stepped she left a trail of hawthorn petals that became the Milky Way.
The month of May is named after the Greek Godess Maia – the hawthorn branches (the May Tree) were her preferred wood for use in spell casting.
In the blossoming phase the putrid scent led hawthorn flowers to get a reputation for bringing death into the home if they were brought indoors. It was bad luck to do so. The smell of death would have been much more commonly recognised in days of old where folk were exposed to family and animal death as part of life. The truth is that the compound that gives of the scent from the blossoms is chemically identical to a chemical formed in the decomposition of flesh, i.e. the smell of rotting flesh. The tree utilises this scent to attract carrion–loving insects to pollinate the flowers, both male and female flowers on the same tree.
The death scent (some smell it as sexual) released by the flower represents the circle of life; fertility, passion, sex, birth, growth and death. The flower contains heart supporting compounds, improving the strength of the heart and the movement of blood through the body. Blood representative of life and, the heart the last thing to cease before we go at the end of life.
The hawthorn flower said to have the most proanthocyanadins (flavonoids) of all the parts of the hawthorn tree. These compounds have been linked for use in raised blood pressure, normalising it through improving the force of the contraction of the heart but relaxing the blood vessels, allowing the free flow of blood.
Hawthorn Blossom Tea
Whilst you can create a simple and delcious hawthorn blossom tea by steeping a sprig of blossoms, in boiled water for 5 minutes, with a dollop of honey if you’d like, we love to combine the hawthorn blossoms with lemon balm leaves, rose buds and lime flowers to create a delicious calming tea.
Our delicious old favourite the Heart and Soul- this truly is a ‘ Hug in a Mug‘ , the strengthening heart centred, medicine of the Rosaceae family cousins, hawthorn blooms and rosa petals, intermingled with the honey uplifting vibes of the soothing lime blossom and opened up and given a citrus zing with the gentle lemon balm makes for the perfect infusion of Peace and Tranquility – a gift of calm.
You can turn a larger batch of fresh blossoms into a cordial. We like to get creative with our cordials, adding additional flavours. We tend to use good quality organic sugar or apple concentrate for our cordials.
Here’s a link to this delicious Kitchen Remedy Cordial
You may want to experiment with tincture making… and we have written a blog about tinctures here
here is a preparation that takes time and patience over two stages of the hawthorns development, the flowers and the berries. We make this as an ingredient in our Energy Drops but its a lovely addition to the odd hot chocolate.
Hawthorn Blossom and Berry Brandy Recipe
We make a delicious health and heart expanding tincture we name Hawthorn Heart Brandy. On the odd occasion have noticed profound effects of their incredible conscious shifting abilities, with its opening powers, the gnarly ol’ hawthorn tree, the guardian of the gateway.
This tincture recipe is over two growing seasons and incorporates both the flowers and fruits of the Hawthorn tree.
1. Take a basket and some thin gloves out to the fields
2. Find a tree laden with blooms – preferably at a full moon, midday, and before the blossoms have been pollinated.
3. Speak to the tree about your intended harvest – check out our video on the opening of harvesting rituals here – LINK – Harvesting youtube video
4. Observe the individual flowers
What colours to you see?
Have the blossoms been pollenated yet? Once pollinated the petals start to fall from the blossoms and harvesting becomes more of a challenge.
5. The hawthorn flowers are packed with the energy of Spring bursting to Summer thus virility is the word we associate and bring into our potion – we hold the concept of virility and power as we harvest.
6. Collect the blossoming bunches (sometimes with a few leaves)
7. Fill a large jar with blossom
8. Cover with good quality Brandy
9. Tie your intention into the potion with some ribbon & knot magic – Hawthorn blossoms are potent and virile so we tie the intention of power and virility into this Spring Heart centered potion
10. Leave for 3 lunar cycles
Autumn harvest time
11. Go and observe the same trees and watch how the flowers have transformed into berries – on a full moon again go out and speak to the tree about your intention for the harvest -The berries we associate with the rhythms of the heart and all of life so this is the word we bring into our potion.
12. Fill a jar with the berries and cover with the hawthorn blossom infused brandy.
13. Leave for a lunar cycle
14. Strain through a muslin, don’t worry if there’s a little jelly, this is from the pectin in the berries.
15. Label HAWTHORN HEART BRANDY
This is completely delicious as a shot in a hot chocolate, especially with a few drops of chilli tincture too. Mind blowing magic.
for our article about good quality magical chocolate click here
We use this directive forceful, yet opening herb in our Energy Drops. We use just the hawthorn blossom brandy in this instance.
The energy drops combination can be used at any time where extra focus and drive is needed, for when times of weakness can hold us back. Great for moving us through procrastination.
Delicate Hawthorn Blossoms are gently warming bring a receptive side to the directive action, drive and focus of the hawthorn. We have chosen the flowers here to bring that temperate energy to the mix.
As a circulatory stimulant, warming us from the inside to out, Ginger moves things to the surface allowing us to face them with increased awareness and greater confidence.
Nettle warrior of Mars, full force of action and protection, supporting the kidneys and the emotion of fear, helping us to face uncertainties with strength.
Contains: Ginger (exchange), Hawthorn flowers (virility), nettle syrup (fortification)