Today’s card is the Willow, also known as Salix alba in scientific terms. One of the oldest trees in Europe, the willow has a set of ancient and well known traditions that surround it. Another plant that loves water, willows most often grow next to or near a river or stream. This is reflected in its Celtic name, the Ogam letter Saille which, when translated means ‘near water’. The willow is also associated with the Moon, the emotions, and the powers of inspiration. The element of water has always been known as a means of traveling to the Otherworld, or crossing between worlds while in the physical or dream state. One genus of this tree, the Sallow, has boat shaped leaves which may explain this association. A number of European gods and goddesses were therefore associated with this tree in legend including Demeter (Greek), Ceridwen (Celtic) , Apollo (Greek), Orpheus (Greek), and Belinus (Celtic). An altar to the Gaulish god Tarvortigaranos depicts a priest taking slips from a willow and taking inspiration from the way they fell to the ground. This same relief also shows 3 sacred cranes which represents the sacred flight of the soul in quest of otherworldly knowledge as well.
Folklore states that wizards and Druids often carried wands or staves carved from willow; dowsing sticks, another form of divination, are also often made from this lightweight wood. The presence of the Green Man is also strongly linked to the willow. In Romania, the festival of Green George is still held to this day. On April 23rd, a young and leafy willow is felled, erected, and decorated with streamers and ribbons. The pregnant women in the village gathered around the tree, each laying a piece of swaddling fabric on the ground underneath its branches. If, during the overnight hours a leaf from the tree were to fall on the cloth, this would ensure a less painful delivery and a gifted child. Then someone dressed as the ‘Green Man’ would drove three nails into the willow, them pulled them out to exorcise the evil spirits. The tree would then be taken to a nearby stream where its branches would be dipped into the water; livestock would then be blessed with this ‘ho’y water’ as they were driven past the stream.
The Green Man Wisdom for this cards reads, ‘From Harmony Comes Inspiration’. This card reminds us that everyone needs harmony in their lives in order to keep from being fragmented by the many things that can go wrong on a daily basis. Harmony directs us toward flow and this, in turn, guides us toward a greater vitality and deeper connectivity with the world around you. From this interconnection comes inspiration, the Awen of the Druids and Bards, a source of human joy and fulfillment. Whether you seek inspiration for some work of art or poetry, a new and more harmonious way of living, or a more global vision of how to run your business, this card reminds us that these things are always available to you if you widen your perspective and allow your vision to be transformed.
May you be in a harmonious state, and may your inner peace become inspiration and happiness!