Blackthorn


Blackthorn
Blackthorn personifies one of the most important yet most often misinterpreted symbols in the whole tree archetype system. Being among the trees undoubtedly associated with old Nature religions, Blackthorn is, however, rarely included in common versions of tree calendar, said to be a relic of the Druidic tradition. The reasons for such neglect might lay in Blackthorn's supposed connection with Black magic and destructive practices.

Rare tree in Christian lore has less attractive image than Blackthorn, which is thought to be definitely 'evil' and 'wicked'. It was said that the crown of thorns which was put on the head of Jesus at his crucifixion was made of Blackthorn, that the devil used this tree to 'mark' those who had given their souls to him as a sign of initiation, and that the branch of this tree, pointed at a pregnant woman, may cause a miscarriage.

It is clear now that the misfortunes supposedly brought by this tree are exaggerated, but one must admit that from the common point of view Blackthorn is indeed not a lucky wood. Though being associated with healers of the community and used for cleansing and healing (i.e. generally good purposes), Blackthorn didn't promise 'an ultimate cure of all deceases', nor did it provide 'a long happy wealthy life'. Blackthorn's healing implies sudden change and transition; and regeneration, promised by this wood, is inevitably a painful one. It has a compassionate but troubled spirit; and not for nothing the ancient Celtic name for Blackthorn, 'straiff', means 'strife' or 'strive'. In addition to it, due to its ability to break the common life-order, Blackthorn is said to be a 'doomed tree', which represents the strong actions of fate.

Another important aspect of Blackthorn's meaning is connected with its nurturing abilities. This tree is called 'Mother of the Woods', for it is the first tree that grows on waste lands and creates safe nurseries, where other trees later begin to grow. When they grow up into a new forest, Blackthorn slowly dies and this fact adds a rather dark and even 'sacrificial' overtone to its symbolism. This sacrifice, however, is not considered 'a true sacrifice' in Christianity-based culture (for it's not a 'conscious act'), and thus in modern society its significance is reduced or even ignored.

Blackthorn is usually used for cleansing purposes (mainly for soul-cleansing) and for re-establishing the broken connections with nature forces. It can help to change one's life radically, delivering from what is redundant or wrong. It is also favourable for nurturing and guarding the lesser ones; though, it must be used with caution, for Blackthorn's nurturing often implies death for those who nurture.

Keywords: sudden and painful changes, transition, fate, invisible sacrifice, bringing the new life through own death, nurturing, suffering, healing, cleansing, connection with Nature, love, posthumous wish comes true, inevitable course of life, promise of immortality.


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