This week the Pagan Blog Project focuses on the letter W.
So, let’s talk about Willows, my favorite tree. Throughout my childhood we moved quite a bit. There were a couple of years, however, when we lived in one house with a large Willow tree in the backyard. I was six when we first moved in and instantly felt drawn to that tree. I spent most of my time outside and a lot of it under that tree pretending I was a witch.
Now, I’m not sure where this desire to be a witch came from because in the early 1980′s the only witches I had heard of were evil. My concept of a witch was a woman who gathered plants and herbs and had a favorite tree. Where did I learn this? I wish I knew, but it must have come from somewhere.
It was while playing under this Willow tree that I got the idea to scoop up leaves and twigs and place them in the huge metal mailbox that hung on the side of our rental house. This mailbox was off to the side of our front door and to reach it you had to lean over from the front stoop. So, under the mailbox was a good four foot drop off. My little brother and one of his friends were playing with me. I ran out from the long curtain of gentle Willow leaves and charged toward the front of the house. Jumping up on the stoop, I opened the mailbox and stretched up to the throw the leaves and twigs inside. This was quite a reach for my small body and tragically I slipped with my hand still over the sharp metal edge of the mailbox. I held on for a moment, in searing pain and then fell into the yew bushes beneath me. My hand was shredded. Today, my palm and the underside of my fingers still bear the white scar marks from that experience. One of the scars is shaped like a tiny horned bull skull, white and mysterious.
Did this deter me from the Willow and my love of playing Witch? No. It didn’t. When we moved I continued to search for Willow trees, only feeling at home when I could find one nearby. Over the years I had a habit of always photographing a Willow tree when I had a camera.
Willows offer me a point of connection. I feel a kinship to them that I cannot explain. It’s a recognition. I recognized that tree in the backyard. I knew it.
Now, where I currently live there are very few Willow trees. However, over the last two weeks I’ve had the pleasure of walking under a Willow at one of my jobs.
This tree is off to the side of a short path that connects the two parts of campus I have to walk in between. One each side of the path is a garden arbor with vines growing through it that I have to pass under. It feels like being ushered into a magical realm, where this Willow waits for you. Through the second arbor, which you can see on the right side of the picture, you pass under some of the leaves from the tree. So, I felt the gentle touch of the tree, several times a day.