Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Nuts, Hazel Nuts

Autumn Equinox is not just a time of plenty for humans.
     We have a large hazel tree in our back garden. It wasn't meant to be a large hazel tree, it was meant to be a small, ornamental corkscrew hazel. But the small ornamental corkscrew hazel was grafted onto a normal hazel rootstock, and suddenly - ta da! - there is a large hazel tree with a small twisty bit near its base.
     Anyway, our hazel tree is a prolific and bountiful tree and at this time of year it drops hazel nuts all over the garden. We try and gather up as many as we can, as otherwise they root and we have small hazel trees coming up all over the place.
     Actually, a little while ago, Graham went round the garden finding these hazel seedlings and potting them up for some friends of ours. They have a large hilly paddock with a wild corner in it, where they want to create a hazel grove. I think Graham found around fifty or so small seedlings, without any difficulty.
     On Saturday, which was a lovely day, mild and warm, we had the back door wide open as we like to do whenever we can, and through the back door, Graham spotted a squirrel on the back lawn. It was stuffing the fallen hazel nuts into its cheek pouches, which looked to be full to bursting, and yet in went another hazel nut, and another.
     We were glad to know that the nuts are not going to waste.
     The hazel tree is known as the Tree of Knowledge in Celtic myth, and there is a story of an otherworldly pool overlooked by a hazel tree. In the branches of the tree slither serpents, the guardians of the tree and its special fruit.
     In the pool beneath the tree swim speckled fish and as they feed on the hazel nuts which fall into the waters, the fish have become wise, and anyone who eats one of them will also gain wisdom and magical knowledge.
     In some Witch traditions, a symbolic journey to this otherworld place is a part of the initiation ceremony. You must brave the serpent guardians and ask for the right to learn the magic and wisdom the tree and its fruits have to offer.

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