Botanical name: Crataegus monogyna
Folk Names: May tree, Hagthorn, Whitethorn, Quickthorn, Thornapple
Ruling Planet: Mars
Associated Deities: Olwen, Blodeuwedd, Flora, Hymen, Cardea.
Magical Properties: Happiness, fertility, love, protection, forgiveness, faeries, hope.
The hawthorn tree has strong connections with the Month of May and for pagans, Beltane. There is a huge amount of myth and folklore surrounding it which I find fascinating, so I thought I'd do a bit of research. I'm sure I will miss out a few tales about this enchanting tree though, so if you know anymore I would love it if you could add them to the comments below.
Hawthorn is a common small tree that grows throughout Europe, North America and Asia, it is often used for hedging or as a shrub, although left alone, it will grow into a small tree of up to 45ft. They can live for over 400 years, but often appear older as the trunk becomes gnarled with age. There are about 1,000 species world-wide, but in Britain the two main species are the common and English hawthorn.
The flowers are usually white, but occasionally pink, they have five petals, and underneath each flower are five green sepals in the shape of a star. The berries, known as haws, bear a pentagram in the centre, opposite the stalk.
Hawthorn leaves, berries and flowers are used medicinally to treat a variety of heart and circulatory conditions. Magically, I think they would work well to ease a broken heart and to bring love into your life.
The flowers and leaves appear together in May and heralds the arrival of the festival of Beltane. Before the change to the Gregorian calendar in the 18th century, it is said that the hawthorn did blossom on May 1st and there were many traditions associating hawthorn with May day, however these days it rarely blossoms before mid-May in the UK.
Going 'a Maying' referred to the old practise of gathering flowering branches of hawthorn on May 1st to decorate homes with. It was considered unlucky to bring it indoors at any other time of the year, the belief is still held by many today.