Friday 19 February 2010

Magical uses for apple wood

I've just had the apple tree in my back garden pruned.

Although it always produces a bumper crop of apples, the branches overshadowed so much of my garden they were making it dingy and keeping the sun away from other plants.

It seems a little sad to cut away healthy wood, but I've been told it won't do the tree any harm. In fact, it might produce larger apples because the tree has fewer to nourish.

However, I'm now left with a large pile of twigs and branches stacked against my fence (pictured) and the problem of what to do with it.

I know could take it to my local recycling centre, but I prefer to reuse or rehome things if possible because it is more environmentally friendly. Someone out there is almost certain to need a pile of logs for a wood-burning stove but, before offering it on Freecycle, I thought I'd find out what magical uses there are for apple wood.

Websites on the subject, including White Dragon, seem to agree that apple wood is good for wands, particularly for love and fertility magic because apples are associated with Venus, goddess of love and gardens, as well as Pomona, goddess of orchards and fruitfulness.

To make an apple wand, carefully pick a piece of wood that feels the right shape, width and length. Some people say you should ask permission of the tree first but, if it had to be pruned anyway, then perhaps a quick thank-you is all that's needed.

Decide if you want to leave the bark on your wand, or if you would like it better stripped. Stripping the wood and carving symbols into it, if you choose, are both best done when the wood is fresh.

You then need to leave the wand to dry - outdoors if it still has bark or indoors in a cool, dry place if you have stripped it. A very slim wand will take a few weeks to dry and a thicker one will take longer.

When it is dry you can sand it for a smooth finish, particularly the ends, and attach decorations such as ribbons if you want to - although there is nothing wrong with using a plain wooden wand.

Apple wands can also be used for fairy magic and to help open doorways to other realms for shamanic journeying.

In Ogham, the early Irish tree alphabet, apple represents the letter Q and is called Quert. Ogham is often used for divination, using a set of sticks taken from each of the trees carved with the appropriate symbol. Quert is about making choices, either mundane or spiritual, and realising that sometimes we have do things that are difficult in the short term in order to work towards a greater goal.

Apple bark has its uses in magic and folk remedies. Ground apple bark can be used when making incense. This will help the incense burn, it might not have a very strong smell and you will need to mix it with more pungent oils, resins and dried ingredients. Apple incense would be suitable to use when casting love spells or at Samhain, the time of the festival of apples.

One old-time remedy suggests that an infusion of apple bark, made by boiling it in water and then leaving it to steep, can be used to help reduce fevers. Don't try this before checking with your GP or a qualified medical herbalist first.

I might choose some of my apple wood to make wands, but none of the above suggestions are going to use much - certainly not a huge pile of branches and twigs.

Perhaps I should consider having a magical balefire? Apple is one of the woods traditionally placed in one, according to the website Actually, the word balefire is an obsolete term for a funeral pyre, but I'm not intending to use one to cremate any corpses I might find in my garden (I leave the odd dead pigeon to be carried away by cats and foxes).

Teenwitch suggests using one in a magical ritual to help overcome bad habits. The idea is you light the balefire, write down on a piece of paper the bad habit that you wish to be rid of, then throw it into the fire to be consumed.

A magical balefire is built from nine different woods, often including birch, oak, rowan, willow, hawthorn, hazel, apple, vine and fir. You can substitute other woods, such as holly, if necessary. Never take wood without permission of the owner and always use branches that have fallen naturally or been cut when the tree is pruned.

Apple wood can, of course, be used for carving and making small wooden items apart from wands and Ogham sticks. The Center for Wood Anatomy Research says that it is hard and difficult to work, but is good for mallet heads, skittle balls, umbrella handles, toys, fruit presses, canes and walking sticks.

Maybe I should look around for an evening class in woodworking - or I could just leave all that wood where it is, to be a nice home for bugs, insects and spiders.



Anonymous said...

Do leave some of it there if you can -- we have such a pile, and it's now home to toads, stag beetles, and all sorts of things.

Faeysh Heart said...

You could make a natural looking faerie house for the garden,it probably wouldn't use much wood though! I have seen some beautiful ones.I would leave a pile for beetles as well like undyingking said.

Anonymous said...

You could smoke your own meat/fish if you knew how to. I frequently purchase apple smoked bacon and on occasions chicken.