For thousands of years people have had a spiritual connection with nature, and trees in particular have been given high respect. There are many sacred trees in history and mythology, including the Bodhi Tree under which The Buddha gained enlightenment, the Tree of Life featured in the Christian Bible, Yggdrasil upon which Woden gained wisdom and powers, and the World Tree which traverses the lower, middle and upper spiritual realms.Trees have long been used to craft spiritual and ritual objects such as totemic poles, May poles, staffs and wands; while many people continue to ‘touch wood’ to bring good fortune.
Different species of tree are associated with different qualities, be they physical, healing or spiritual, and these properties may influence your choice when selecting a staff, wand, etc from GaiaCraft, another craftsperson, or directly from Nature. The following is a very brief summary; please see the links page for further reading.
The Hazel represents wisdom and is a good conductor of spiritual energies, making it an ideal wood for staffs and wands. The Celts regarded Hazel as the tree of knowledge and its nuts were the holders of great wisdom – the food of the gods. Hazel is a popular source of divining rods for finding water and minerals. A hazel staff entwined by two snakes forms the caduceus symbol used by doctors and other healers today. Hazel wands also feature in folk history; the Celtic god of love (Aengus) carried a hazel wand.
The Birch represents renewal, rebirth and transformation, and is well suited to ritual tools for those who are discovering a path new to them. It was one of the first trees to colonise Britain after the last ice age, and today is one of the first trees in succession woodland (e.g. if farmland is left unmanaged and allowed to ‘go wild’). Birch twigs are used to make besom brooms, the legendary spiritual vehicles of European witches. The goddess Eostre is associated with the Birch and springtime rebirth; and today her festival is still celebrated in an evolved form as Easter.
The holly tree is known for it defensive qualities, but grows more open and less prickly when unthreatened (compare the tight prickly leaves in a holly hedge with those higher up in a woodland holly tree). Holly has been thought of as providing a protective place for good faeryfolk and a defence against malevolent spirits. Holly wood was known for its ability to control animals and is powerful for spiritual tools with a strong compulsion quality (and so should be used with extra care, consideration and constraint). Unless the user has a great amount of spiritual experience and pure compassionate intent; I would recommend that holly is only used for passive or defensive tools, for which it is ideally suited.