Today’s card is the Alder, also known as Alnus glutinosa in scientific terms. Among the Celts, the Alder is especially revered for its magickal properties. Irish myth tells us that man was born under the alder while woman was born under the rowan. Thus, the alder (masculine) is seen as a defender just as the rowan is seen as a protector (feminine)The alder is also associated with the God, Bran the Blessed. His chief job was defense and, in the 10th century Welsh poem, the followers of Bran wore an alder branch as a sign of their loyalty. When wounded by a poisoned spear, he bade his followers to cut off his head and steal it away to a secret island, where for 80 years it continued to address them. He sang songs and told stories that kept his followers from remembering their troubles, and their past. When the spell was finally broken, they took his head to the city of London and buried it facing the English Channel. It was believed that as long as the head remained, no enemy would ever be able to conquer the land. King Arthur eventually had the head destroyed, saying that only he could properly defend the land.
The alder was also sacred the god Cronos, the Greek God of time. One of his many names was Fearinus, similar the Ogam letter used for the alder, Fearn. Cronos was described as sleeping on a golden rock at the bottom of the ocean, not in Greece but in England, and the God of the Sea, Poseidon, may have also derived from this origin as he was also associated with the alder. When cut, the sap of an alder tree assumes a rusty color, which gave rise to the rumor that the tree ‘bleeds’. In ancient times, this was seen as the tree giving of itself to help or defend the land. They grow most often next to a water source and thus enrich the soil that lies under their boughs. This sap was also used by spinners and weavers to dye cloth, thus allowing the wearer to wrap themselves in protection.
The Green Man wisdom for this card states: ‘Defense Keeps Clear The Territory’. As alder is strongly associated with defense, the appearance of this card in a reading suggests a need to defend our position or territory. It can also suggest that we need to clear the way before us by defending our space. While the palisades of old were made of alder and often featured human skulls as a gruesome topper, we need not resort to such a grisly solution. However, if necessary we can be fearsome in our own defense, for to be less than that would dishonor ourselves and take away our power. We also know that not deciding is still a choice. You will know deep inside whether this need to defend applies to you. If so, take action and do what is necessary to honor yourself.
May you hold yourself in a place of sacred respect as you walk your path and ‘Harm ye none, but take no shit’!