Its May again in Ireland and despite COVID 19, the spring-time surge has remained a comforting constant. The morning bird chorus is in full swing and the meadows and back gardens are bursting with unfurling springtime blossoms and a kaleidoscope of rich greens.
One of my favourite May blossoms has also just burst into bloom- the glorious ‘Hawthorn Tree’ Crataegus oxyacantha. Hawthorn is entrenched with folklore on the isle of Eire. Regarded as a popular hangout for our fairy friends and guardians of the land and the underworld.
Fondly known as ‘bread and butter’ as children would supplement their diet on the way to school by chomping on the young fresh leaves which indeed still make a delicious spring salad addition or sandwich filler! Rich in chlorophyll and Vitamin C- , you should try a leaf once you next pass one of these glorious trees.
It is indeed one of my favourite plant medicines of all time.
Which is why we choose to have our ‘hand fasting’ ceremony as part of our Marriage vows under a Hawthorn tree in the beautiful Brigit Gardens in Rosscahill Galway 9 years ago on this very day ☺️💓
Hawthorn very much reigns the domain of unity and the heart.
Purifying all who pass through and offering powerful protection.
A symbol of fertility and unity it embodies all the elements of the sacred alchemical marriage where true partnership and love can become abundant.
A fusion of the feminine and masculine (the flowers are bi-sexual) principles it allows for core elements of a committed and stable relationship to expand. Loving attention, empathy and gentleness; nourishment and sustenance.
At the same time, Hawthorn is resilient to the elements, a true pioneer and embodies much strength.
From a herbalists’ perspective, Hawthorn is our ally for all things related to the heart and circulation. Both the flower and berry are used traditionally.
Rich in flavonoids, phenolic acids and tannins; Hawthorn berries help to increase blood flow through the heart. It is what we call an adaptogen which means it is balancing and helps us to adjust to more strain on our system. It tones and strengthens the heart muscle without increasing the heartbeat or blood pressure making it both useful in high and low blood pressure. It also has an amazing ability to optimise the uptake of oxygen available in the blood which makes it very valuable for athletes to enhance exercise duration.
The flowers are wonderful for treating anxiety, stress and mental tension having a very positive down regulatory effect on the parasympathetic nervous system (which we spoke about in our first newsletter). This is also very useful during bereavement and when experiencing a ‘broken heart’.
It strikes me that these phenomenal characteristics of the Hawthorn are all qualities that we have been required to embody in these last weeks.
We have been asked to develop resilience in very challenging times. We have had to develop compassion and unity in the trickiest of circumstances. We have chosen to adapt and use our inner and outer resources to get them to where they needed most.
Most of all we have been asked to open our hearts and reach out and truly reflect on the richness of our diversity.
So pause a moment and take a deep breath when you are close to a Hawthorn tree today. Or visualise one in your mind's eye.
Take a moment to reflect and absorb its incredible beauty. Pick a few leaves. Make a Hawthorn blossom tea.
Remember all that you need is within you and we will get through this.
With a little help from our friends!