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Touch Wood

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Spring will soon be upon us and is traditionally, a time for cleaning the home. In keeping with that theme, why not stimulate your faculties and try your hand at treating your abode to a good luck charm aimed at banishing any negative energy left over from winter?

The Celts had a particular respect for all trees, but seven were considered to be sacred and possessed of magical properties.

  • Oak. This magnificent deciduous tree commands respect for its size and longevity. Home of the mythical Green Man and altar of the Druids, its strength and durability made it a building material par excellence.
  • Birch. Another deciduous tree and a colonist of heath land. Its wood is useful in laminate furniture and as an abundant fuel. Its bark however, is even more versatile for the oil it contains. In many countries, birch sap is collected and drunk as a sweet and popular tonic.
  • Alder. Another deciduous colonist and a member of the birch family. Promotes fertile soil and its bark has medicinal properties.
  • Willow. A deciduous tree for wetlands and water courses. Its bark contains nature’s aspirin and its fronds are still used to make baskets, coracles and wattle fences.
  • Hazel. A nut bearing deciduous shrub, harvested to produce charcoal. Ancient Celts believed that hazelnuts promoted wisdom.
  • Holly. Traditionally associated with winter solstice celebrations because of its evergreen and decorative qualities, Holly is regarded as the tree of truth. Its berries provide food for wild birds and its leaves were once used as fodder for cattle.
  • Apple. The giver of life. This valuable fruit tree is prolific and its value as a provider of both food and drink, not to mention cider has long been exploited by humans.


Collecting a twig from each of these seven trees will be beneficial in exercising both the mind and the body. Be careful to note the differences between each one for later identification. When you’re done, trim them into short lengths and tie one after the other, creating a ladder effect with about an inch between each “rung.” You can use cord or string, but one or two lengths of ribbon, preferably red, orange or yellow to signify the colours of the sun (which banishes darkness) will make it more attractive and give it extra oomph. Display it prominently in the home.

Purists may wish to comply with ancient wisdom by doing all of this on a Monday during a waning moon, but lest you might scoff at that idea; How many of you still “touch wood” for luck? 

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