Ash - 'The Guardian'

Monday, February 06, 2017

This is the first of three posts about specific trees in the Acadian Forest.  The first is about Ash and is particularly  special to me because the matriarch of our forest -- ‘Momma Ash’  pictured above filling the space between the barn and our house -- looked over this land for over 150 years.  She was magnificent.  Many, many thanks to Sally York from the Forestry Commission Scotland for giving me permission to reprint the following from Tree Stories - A Learning Resource written by Claire Hewitt .  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

You call me Ash but humans have given me many names: 

  • The Tree of Life and Creation
  • The World Ash Tree
  • Tree of Mimir
  • The Sun Tree
  • The Guardian
  • The Tree of Harmony

You can recognize me by my fine feathery paired leaves. 

I am tall, slender, strong and elegant. 

I like to stand with my feet in moist wet earth and my arms reaching up to the sun.

You will know me in the winter by my sooty black leaf buds on the end of my branches. 

I flower in May to June long before my leaves appear and in the summer my lime green seed or keys wing their way to the earth. Children love to play with them and call them spinners.

I am one of the last trees to come into leaf – “Oak before Ash in for a splash. Ash before Oak in
for a soak” they say.

The inside of my bark was used as a remedy to heal bleeding wounds, and my fresh sap can be used as a disinfectant. 

Travellers would place some of my leaves in their shoes to refresh their tired feet. 

Newborn babies were given a teaspoon of ash sap as were frail children as I represent great strength. To get this sap one end of my branches was put in the fire whilst the sap was caught on a spoon as it bubbled out. 

Humans crafted me into spears, furniture, oars and poles, wagons and fencing rails. 

It is also said that witches made their broomsticks from my wood. 

I also make good fire wood.

Many ancient cultures believed that humans originated from me. In Viking Mythology I am called Yggdrasil, The World Tree, and the God Odin hung himself from my branches for 9 days and nights so that he might be granted wisdom.

I am a protector and known fondly as the Guardian Tree. 

Humans used me as the Yule log and magical wands were made from my wood. 

A cross made from me was carried by sailors to protect them at sea and incorporated into the building of the boat to prevent them from sinking. 

In Sweden, regular offerings of milk were given to the Ash Woman who was guardian to the farm. 

In North American Indian lore, the Algonquin legend tells of a Giant called Glooscap who never grew old or ill. He came from the sky near the rising sun and travelled across the sea where he anchored his canoe. There, Glooscap made the little people from rocks and then humans by shooting arrows into forests of ash, from which stepped women and men.

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  1. One of my strongest memories of Momma Ash ...

    In the fall of I think was 2000, we were outside putting things away, getting ready for the change in weather. There hadn't been any hurricanes or high winds so many of the trees had completely changed colour but still retained all their leaves.

    It was a perfectly calm morning and all of a sudden ... Momma Ash released one leaf, then another ... and then she let them all go.

    Thousands (millions?) of leaves came raining down in what seemed like slow motion.

    It lasted about 5 minutes and then she was bare.

    It was magic!