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Salix alba

No other tree is as full of vitality and self- regenerating power as the Willow tree. Even cut and seemingly dead branches will come back to life when planted into the soil. This quality of unconstrained growth is exploited in the practice of pollarding. The newly sprouting flexible twigs, also known as 'withies', are regularly harvested and woven into baskets and light furniture. The wood itself is susceptible to rot- Willow loves to grow by the water's edge, but it does not resist its destructive power. Willows are sacred to the Triple Moon Goddess, whose mysteries of regeneration are evident in her abundant vitality. This is why sacrifices to the Great Goddess were always offered in wicker baskets - the regenerative power of the tree was magically transferred to the sacrificial offerings contained therein, which were soon to be reborn in the Underworld. Sacred to the Moon Goddess Hecate, Willow is a tree of magic and enchantment and associated with purification and resurrection. Witches fashioned their brooms with the life-giving withies.

Willows became famous for their salicin content, which is powerfully anti-inflammatory and acts as a pain relief and febrifuge. For a while it was used as a substitute for the expensive Cinchona bark (Quinine) in the treatment of 'ague' (malaria). It also served as the precursor for salicylic acid, the base substance from which Aspirin was derived. Willow bark is not as powerful as aspirin, but gentler on the stomach and thus better tolerated by most. It is a good nerve tonic and strengthening herb that is very helpful in treating inflammatory conditions such as gout, arthritis and rheumatism. It is good for aching muscles and joints, especially where these are tensed from one-sided use and bad posture. It is a also good remedy for stomach and intestinal catarrh and may be helpful in bladder inflammation. It can be a great supporting herb in feverish conditions such as flu and other infectious diseases.

Willow is a tree of witches that has been used in fertility magic to both, increase and decrease fecundity. It is associated with the ebb and flow of the lunar tides, with water and with magic. It is sacred to the Underworld Goddesses and symbolises transformation, regeneration and rebirth. Elves and water spirits often live near Willows and thus, in popular thought, Willows are considered 'spooky trees'. Native Americans included Red Willow Bark as a sacred herb in their Kinnik Kinnik blends.

Not all herbs are suitable in pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children, or if you are unwell, or taking any medication. If in doubt, please ask a medical herbalist or healthcare practitioner.