This is the sixth post in the Celtic Tree Calendar series. The modern Celtic Tree Calendar is based on the idea that each of the letters in the ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet corresponds to a tree. The calendar consists of 13 lunar divisions with a different tree representing each 28 day period.
I am celebrating Lughnasadh (August 1) and the Celtic month of Hazel (August 5 – September 1).
Lughnasadh celebrates the beginning of the harvest and marks the end of summer. It is the last of the four key festivals in the ancient Celtic calendar.
The Celtic festival year begins in October with Samhain, which focuses on preparing for winter and the end of the harvest.
In February, the festival of Imbolc commemorates the end of winter.
The most important festival, Beltane, is about the arrival of summer and is celebrated in May.
During each festival season, various moon months are also acknowledged and celebrated. During the time of Lughnasadh, we welcome the month of Hazel. Hazel (Corylus) or Coll is the 9th month of the Celtic year and represents the letter C in the Ogham alphabet.
Hazelnuts or Filberts are found throughout Maine. Two of our native species are Corylus cornuta (Beaked Hazelnut) and Corylus americana (American Hazelnut). Both plants are multi-stemmed shrubs. Cornuta reaches heights of 4-8’, and americana can grow between 9-12’ tall.
Corylus blooms in mid spring. The male flowers are catkins and the female flowers are tiny clusters of fine magenta hairs. Hazels are a valuable plant for wildlife, including serving as a host plant for the Luna moth caterpillar.
The edible nuts ripen in late summer and are consumed by a variety of animals and birds including woodpeckers, squirrels, chipmunks and foxes.
The nuts have many benefits — they are rich in protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and are used to make Frangelico liqueur.
They are also a symbol of good luck. In fact, if you find two hazelnuts in the same shell, you can eat one and throw the other over your left shoulder to make a recent wish come true.
In the fall, Hazels show off with beautiful foliage displays in orange, rose, purple, and yellow.
A member of the Birch family, Hazel is sacred in a number of cultures. In fact, it was so sacred to Irish cultures that cutting one down was punishable by death.
In the Celtic tradition, Hazel is associated with sacred wells, springs, and salmon. They are considered powerful symbols and receptacles of wisdom.
One legend tells the story of the Salmon of Knowledge, a fish who could live despite being eaten. This salmon was a regular mortal salmon until he ate 9 hazelnuts from trees that grew around the Well of Wisdom where he lived. After eating the nuts, the salmon held all the wisdom of the world and became the most prized catch of all the animals, gifted with shape-shifting powers and infinite insight.
As a tree of knowledge and carrier of wisdom, hazel teaches us that all we need is already within us. She symbolizes play and enchantment, and radiates energy for stimulating artistic and poetic skills.
Hazel is also very sensitive to the electric magnetic fields of the earth. The wood is flexible and is immediately responsive to subtle energy vibrations and environmental changes. Because of these traits, Hazel is the traditional choice for “Y” rods used to dowse for water and buried treasure.
Hazel’s medicinal properties include improving blood sugar levels, regulating blood pressure, and reducing inflammation. She also has a biochemical called Paclitaxel, which is used in treating cancer.
Next time you are walking or hiking in the woods, carry some hazelnuts in your pockets so she can connect you to the wisdom of the Nature spirits.