Sheena Blackhall

Gold Star - 4,859 Points (18/8/1947 / Aberdeen)

The Brotherhood Of Trees - Poem by Sheena Blackhall

I am the ash
Yggdrasil, the World Tree
My three roots linked to wisdom, fate and magic
I am the Yule log, I court the flash of lightning
I am the Dule tree, dead men were my fruit
The gallows reward for crime

I am the alder, the builder of
Crannogs,
Clogs,
Harps

I am the aspen
The ever- trembling tree
Scots call me Old Wives Tongues
Persephone’s my mistress
One side of my leaves is dark from the heat of Hades
Men say Jesus hung from my crossed boughs

I am the beech
The trysting tree for lovers
We beech trees are the Seven Men of Moidart
Planted in praise of Jacobite Charlie’s men

I am the birch
Druid lord of renewal and rebirth
Dedicated of old to the God of the Flame

I avert the evil eye, increase fertility
Within me lives a Ghillie Dhu, tree spirit
Covered by leaves, moss, lichens

Lovers jump over my broom to marry
Criminals bear the sting of my rod on their back
I give arrows, bedding, books and artists’ charcoal
I help make whisky, vodka, wine
Look up and see the witch knots in my hair!

I am the chestnut
My nuts were used as medicine in war
When the World bled, for easing troubled nerves
At Samhain, lovers tossed me in the fire
I’d tell them if their lives would grow together

I am the elder, the Scottish bour tree
Pan made his pipes from me
Men lower me into graves
To protect their dead from evil

I ease the path to the afterlife
I serve the Crone Goddess
And the Celtic tribal mother, Cailleach Beara

Thomas the Rhymer slept beneath my branches
My jelly, which the ancients called Jews Ear
Makes me the greatest healer in the wood

My bark and root cure epilepsy, croup
My flowers treat skin conditions, wounds and sores
My flowers sooth cystitis, womens’ troubles
My berries boost the lungs. Even my leaves
Are useful: ward off flies

I am the elm
I grew in the underworld
Seeded by Orpheus music,
Women draw rain water from my cracks
To smooth their wrinkled skin

I am the hawthorn
The thorn tree, I tore the brow of Christ

I’m used to boost fertility in couples
A cardiac tonic, I lessen palpitations
I am the very cogs and teeth of mill wheels

I am the hazel
Filberts, Hizzle, Crack Nuts
I gave the Druids invisibility
My nuts are the fruits of wisdom
From the salmon’s sacred pool

A baby born in Autumn, fed on Hazel Milk
Would gain the Highland gift of second sight

I am the holly
I stand in Cawdor Castle
I sprang from the earth in 1372
My leaves treat smallpox, broken bones and pleurisy
My wood makes bagpipes, walking sticks and slide rules
Holly whips to make smart horses trot

I am the juniper
My berries were used to purify and cleanse
In Scotland I am the Savin Tree
Used to bring on an abortion

At times of plague, men burned me in the streets
With rosemary and frankincense and oak

My berries went to make Jenever Gin
My wood’s the handle of the sgian dubh
My roots are used for making lobster creels

I am the mistletoe, the Druid’s weed
My Goddess Freya is the Queen of Love
Those meeting underneath my boughs must kiss
My key unlocks the doorway to the dead
Today, I’m used by some in treating cancer

I am the oak
If you fear lightning
Carve in wood my acorn shape, as guardian

Oak doors keep out all evil
The space between two oak trees leads to elfland

My leaves heal gangrene, make a hero’s garland
600 oak trees built the Mary Rose
My bark is rich in tannins, used on leather

Four hundred years, an oak’s stood at Stromferry
Living when the Brahan Seer prophesied

I am the pine
Picts hung a wolf’s head in my branches
To ward off foes: its fur neck red and dripping

Around a bed where childbirth was in process
The women burned my needles, drove off evil

I am the rowan
My sacred beast’s the Dragon
I am a child of Bride
I drive off wickedness
My bark heals adder bites
My wood makes cart wheels,
Long bows, whistles, oars and cromacks

I am the sycamore
In St Machar’s Cathedral, Northwards, Aberdeen
Four of my kind are growing
The daughters of a plane tree planted to praise
The Auld Alliance between Scots and French
My ancestor lives in New Battle Abbey

My flowers open first, like scented almond
Beloved of bees, I feed their colonies
And fiddle makers prize me for my style

I am the willow
Three cricket stumps for Maiden, Goddess, Crone
I am sorrow and lost love
I am saugh, a sacred wood

I am sacred to Hecate, and the Moon
At night, my spirit moves from my tree and sings
I am used in spells for healing, banishing

I am witchhazel
My twigs are used in love charms
I cure bites, stings, and other little hurts

I am the wych elm
I am the Brahan Elm of Easter Ross
A giant with my branches in the clouds

I am the yew of Fortingall, Glen Lyon
I am the oldest tree in all of Europe
5,000 years I’ve seasoned in this place
My symbol’s death. My roots drive into the dead
Letting their spirits free to leave the world
I made the bow that slew the Scots at Flodden
I am a dowsing rod, maker of poison,
Poured into the ears of Hamlet’s father

Topic(s) of this poem: trees


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, October 29, 2015



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