• Katy Swift

Hawthorn Folklore

Nicola and I gathered these Hawthorn berries on a trip to Merlindale, close to the spot where Merlin was said to have died. We hadn't spotted any Hawthorn bushes or trees with any fruit left along any of our walks, until we reached this spot... and there she was.

Gnarled, ancient and majestic, a large Hawthorn lady stood. She was so laden with the dark red berries that her branches were bowed.

Of course... we asked her permission before taking a small amount.

Hawthorn is marked by the sacred colours of the Goddess, as the white May blossom turns into bright red fruit in autumn around the time of Samhuinn festival. I feel strongly a connection to the Crone aspect of the Goddess, who with her sharp thorns marks the boundary between cultivated land and the wilderness beyond.

Not surprisingly, it is associated with the fairy realm. Travellers who fall asleep under its branches, might find themselves waking in their enchanting world - only to realise upon their return home that years instead of hours passed while they were dreaming under the tree.

One such hapless traveller was Thomas the Rhymer, the thirteenth century Scottish mystic and poet is said to have met the Faery Queen whilst he was napping underneath a Hawthorn tree near Melrose in the Scottish Borders. But that's another story... which I'll save for another time.

Humans have a slightly nervous relationship with the fairy folk and so trees that are connected with Supernatural realms are often thought to be 'unlucky' - at least if brought inside the house. However hanging Hawthorn branches above the front door protects the home against misfortune - or evil spirits.

An Irish friend of ours told us that in Ireland, Hawthorn trees are never cut down or damaged for fear of upsetting the faerie folk. I absolutely love this thought, and really think we should bring that tradition over to Scotland!

Anyway, I'm so delighted with how my Hawthorn tincture has turned out this year.

I made this one with Apple cider vinegar instead of alchohol, because I already take ACV in the mornings so it is just combined into one wee super-powered shot a day now! You'll need to gather a big handful of berries, and remove them from the stems. Place them in a large bowl and mash them up a little with the end of a rolling pin.

Next, take a jar large enough for your berries and twice as much liquid, and thoroughly clean and sanitize it.

Then place the mashed up berries in the jar and add the liquid base. The ratio for alcohol and ACV tinctures when using fresh berries is 1:2.

Seal the jar and shake vigorously. Store it in a cool, dark place for at least 4 weeks. Shake it every day (or...when you remember like me... seemed to work fine still!)

I strained it with a reusable coffee filter but you could use a muslin cloth or bag.

It’s a powerful wee infusion, so a little goes a long way. I use just a teaspoon a day. If you don't like the taste you could try it in a glass of fruit juice.

If you take any medications or have health conditions, it's important to check with your doctor before starting to take any plant remedies. Hawthorn interacts with some drugs, including heart medications!

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