About the Willow

 

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LESSON OF THE WILLOW

from
The Wisdom of Trees
by Jane Gifford

The watery willow encourages the expression of deeply buried feelings,
easing sadness through tears and grieving,
and teaching the consequences of love and loss in matters of the heart.

The willow reminds us of the need to let go sometimes,
to surrender completely to the watery world of the emotions
and the subconscious, so that we may be carried toward a deeper understanding
of our inner-most feelings, toward a better appreciation
of our hidden motives and secret fears and desires.
Any suppressed and unacknowledged emotions can be a major cause of stress and illness.
Through emotional expression, and through the sharing of feelings of ecstasy and pain,
our ancestors believed they could help heal the human spirit.

The willow enables us to realize
that within every loss
lies the potential
for something new.

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willow-fairy

The Fairy Bible
by Teresa Moorey

The willow fairy can be grumpy and tricky. The Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings were lulled to sleep and almost killed by Old Man Willow, and while fairies are rarely so ill-intentioned, the willow fairy is not always kindly.

The willow fairy may leave the tree at night and follow travelers, muttering and mumbling, which can be rather frightening to those who do not understand.

Willow has profound wisdom to offer, which humans rarely appreciate. It is deeply mystical and in tune with the music of the waters, all around the globe. Salicylic acid, which is used to make aspirin, comes from the willow, and the willow elves are associated with knowledge of medicinal herbs and healing.

Approached with respect, willow is a wonderful teacher and will whisper to us if we listen. It is important to be still, and to understand that human perceptions are shallow. Imagine the questing roots of willow, seeking the underground streams that flow to and from the earth-girdling oceans. Nighttime is best to commune with this spirit in meaningful dreams.

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William Shakespeare:
Othello

The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
Sing all a green willow.

Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
Sing willow, willow, willow.

The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
Sing all a green willow.

Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
Sing willow, willow, willow.

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water

The Leaf on the Water
by Ouan Tsi (1007-1072)
The wind tears a leaf from the willow tree;
it falls lightly upon the water,
and the waves carry it away.

Time has gradually effaced a memory from my heart,
and I watch the willow leaf drifting away on the waves.

Since I have forgotten her whom I loved,
I dream the day through in sadness,
lying at the water’s edge.

But the willow leaf floated back
under the tree,
and it seemed to me
that the memory could never be effaced from my heart.

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Adapted from
“Myths of the Sacred Tree”
by Moyra Caldecott.

Based on a Japanese folktale,
retold by Iyanaga Mitsuyo

Willow Wife

Heitaro loved the willow tree that grew close to his hut. As the world judged riches he had none,
but the tree was treasure and temple and company enough for him, and each new season of the year seemed more beautiful than the last. When the wind blew through its branches, no music was finer.

One day the villagers came with their choppers, claiming they needed the wood to build a bridge. Heitaro offered to find them some other wood, if they promised not to touch the Willow. He scoured the land and returned with some wood, and the villagers left, leaving the Willow unharmed.
That night as the moonlight shimmered on its leaves he stood beneath the willow branches and gave his thanks to the gods that the tree had been spared. As he prayed, he saw something move in the shadows. He turned for a closer look and saw a beautiful young woman standing there. He bowed and apologized for disturbing her, backing away,
believing she was there waiting for her lover.

Each night after she was there, waiting for her lover, and Heitaro at last realized that is was he himself she came to be with. They were married, and a child soon followed. Every night they prayed together by the willow tree.

One day, the emperor To-Ba ordered that a temple to Kwannon, the goddess of mercy, be built for the villagers.
They wanted the wood of the willow tree, and this time they would not be convinced otherwise. This made Heitaro very sad, however he realized how blessed he was with his wife and daughter, that he believed he could endure the loss of his willow tree. The villagers began to cut down the willow tree.

The willow wife cried out “Husband, the room is growing dark!” She fell to the ground and covered her face with her hands. Heitaro saw her limbs twisting and turning as though to avoid blows. He found he could do nothing to help her. He and his daughter watched as the willow wife lay dying. When the last blow on the tree was struck, he was alone with his daughter.

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For Fun……Spell for Love

Take three long supple branches of willow, braid them together and then fasten it into a circle with pink, red or white ribbon. Place a picture or the name of the person you love in the center and then put it next to your bed.