Blackthorn ( Sloe) - Prunus spinosa
Ruling planet: Saturn and Mars Sign: Scorpio Element: Fire Gender: Masculine
Magical Properties: Protection, exorcism, divination, healing
Blackthorn is the first tree of the year to blossom in Britian, it's commonly found in hedgerows, thickets and waste ground and is native to Europe, Britian and parts of Asia. It's branches are covered by very long sharp, inpenertrable black thorns which if your unlucky enough to be scratched by one will often turn the wound septic.
The Blackthorns beautiful clouds of white blossom are a sign of hope during this time of year and bring the promise of warmer weather to come. If the Spring is particularly cold it is known as a Blackthorn winter.
Blackthorn has a reputation as a tree of black magic. It represents the dark half of the year, while it's sister tree the Hawthorn represents the light half.
It was believed in the past that Witches used blackthorn wood as a walking stick known as a black rod which would cause a pregnant woman to miscarry if one was pointed at her.
Another old belief was that the devil would pierce the finger of his initiates with the thorns, and finding such a mark on someone was often sufficient reason for execution as a witch.
The thorns have been used to prick poppets and wax images for cursing.
In the Ogham, blackthorn is known as 'Straif' a Gaelic word that translates as 'strife'. The lesson to be learnt from the blackthorn is that you don't always have to fight against what fate brings you, sometimes it's best to go with it and use your spiritual strength to look for a positive outcome.
Use blackthorn in protection and exorcism spells, pouches and incenses.
The Shillelagh or Irish club is made from blackthorn wood.
The wood of the blackthorn can be used for healing and the berries can be used for a magical ink or red dye, and of course make a very good Sloe Gin. They are best picked after the first frost which sweetens them.
Wash and prick 1 pint of sloes with a clean sharp needle and put them in a wide- necked sterilized jar. Add 2 oz of sugar and pour in a bottle of gin or vodka. Seal and give it a good shake. Store in a cool dark cupboard and shake daily for 3 months. Strain the fruit without squeezing it and enjoy.
The leaves and fruits contain Vitimin C, tannins, organic acids and sugars. An infusion of the flowers has mild diuretic, tonic and laxative properties. The dried fruits can be used to treat bladder, kidney and stomach disorders.
The liquid from boiled blackthorn leaves can be used as a mouthwash and to soothe sore throats, tonsilitis and laryngitis.
A Kitchen Witch world of magical plants and herbs - Rachel Patterson Cunninghams Encyclopedia of magical herbs - Scott Cunningham Herbcraft - Anna Franklin and Susan Lavender The Celtic Wisdom of Trees - Jane Gifford projectbritain.com The Tree Ogham - Glennie Kindred