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The Magic of Leaves and Thorns


Mother Nature provides a dizzying array of leaf colours and shapes which change throughout the year in some cases.

I only pick leaves from plants if they are herbs or the plant is in my garden and needs trimming or cutting back other than that I only collect leaves if they have fallen from the plant. If you are stuck, then you could pick a leaf from the plant or tree but please ask permission first.

If a leaf is big enough it can be used to write wishes and petitions on that can be sent away on the winds, buried in the earth, dropped into running water or burnt in the fire.

If you don’t want to write on a leaf or you are out and about and don’t have a pen with you, select a leaf and hold it in both hands then lift it up to your face and whisper your wish into it, fold it over and then allow the wind to take it away.

Bigger leaves make excellent wrappings for charms or spells that need to be buried or burnt adding in the magical properties of the tree or plant to your spell work.

Leaves can also be melted onto candles not only to make them look pretty but also to bring their magic.

Look at a leaf, each one has a map, the thread of veins reaching out from the stem to the ends of the leaf and these pathways can be used as a guide for meditation, taking you on a journey.

And each leaf carries the magic of the tree and each tree has specific properties, either ask the tree what energy it can lend to you or look up tree correspondences.

There is plenty of folklore, myths and magic linked to trees and some that are ‘leaf specific’ such as:

Make a circlet from fresh hazel leaves and wear to bring good luck, protection and to grant wishes.

On a Friday after midnight in complete silence gather together nine holly leaves. Wrap the leaves up on a piece of white cloth using nine knots and tie the ends together. Place this under your pillow and your dreams will come true.

The oracle at Delphi were said to chew on bay (laurel) leaves and inhale the smoke to help them receive visions.

Laurel wreaths were worn for protection against the sky gods, doctors also wore laurel leaves to protect against illness.

Ancient kings wore crowns made from oak leaves as a symbol of the god they represented on earth.

Rowan leaves and berries were carried to protect against witchcraft…and to keep the cows from being enchanted.

Holly has a Christian connection in that it was said the leaves represented the thorns from Jesus’ crown and the berries his drops of blood however it seems that this goes further back in time when a boy was selected from the village to wear a suit of holly leaves and a girl who wore a suit of ivy, they were then paraded around the village to bring nature and fertility to the dark part of the year.

Holly leaves were also brought into the house to protect against evil spirits and mischievous fairies.

Hawthorn branches were cut for May Day but only to decorate the outside of the house, to bring them inside was thought to bring illness and bad luck.

Hawthorn leaves can be eaten and are often referred to as ‘bread and cheese’.

A sprig cut from the Hawthorn that grows outside the St Johns Church in Glastonbury is sent each year to the Queen.

Burn hazel leaves for love and prosperity.

Put ash leaves under your pillow to bring psychic dreams and visions.

Put a bowl of water next to your bed and float some ash leaves in it to prevent illness.

Place blackberry leaves around your home to return evil and bad luck to the person that sent it to you, it will also remove any unwanted spirits.


Lots of plants have thorns on them; roses, brambles and blackthorn spring to mind and these thorns can be used for magic. Think about what a thorn does, they are protection for the plant, they guard it against predators and they are sharp and defensive. They can pierce, they can cut, and they can draw blood.

Folk lore says that blackthorn thorns were always used to curse but folklore says a lot of things that we have since twisted around to our advantage but if that is the choice you make…thorns (any type) are very good for cursing and hexing spell work, rose thorns work especially well in affairs of a broken heart.

A blackthorn wand with the thorns on is sometimes referred to as a ‘black rod’ and used in darker magic to cause harm to others. In medieval times it was believed that the Devil pricked the fingers of his followers with thorns from the blackthorn tree.

But thorns also have a positive side and can be used in spell workings for protection and to dispel negative energy.

Long thorns such as those of the blackthorn can be used instead of pins to stick into poppets and also used to carve symbols into candles. Don’t forget poppets can be used for all kinds of intent not just hexing they can also be used for healing, love, friendship, protection or whatever use you want really.

Use thorns dipped in ink to write magical petitions or ‘fix’ magical workings.

Use thorns in magic to ‘pierce’ negative bubbles and break bad cycles that you have gotten into.

Thorn protection:

Gather together 3, 6 or 9 thorns (be guided by your intuition) from the plant of your choice (blackthorn works well for this as it already carries the energy of protection in the tree itself) then write the name of the person you need protection from or the feeling such as ‘jealousy’ on a small piece of paper then wrap it around the thorns. Bury the ‘working’ under the tree itself if that is possible, if not bury it in the ground (at a crossroads works well too) or failing that burn it.

Return to sender thorn spell:

If you are getting grief from someone and have just about had enough this spell will work to send the negative energy back to the original source. This isn’t meant to cause harm to the person in question, just deflecting what they have sent out to you back towards them. Be careful with this one though, think it through first and do not work this magic whilst angry otherwise it could go horribly wrong…

Using a candle or a poppet (this can be as simple as a potato) to represent the person you will also need three long thorns (black thorn works best) push each thorn into the poppet/candle, one at the top, one in the heart position and one in the middle (head, heart, stomach). Light the candle and then visualise a protective barrier around yourself that looks like mirrors and see the negative energy and ill wishes reflecting back to the person that sent them. You might like to create a chant to say as well. Allow the candle to burn completely and when it is done visualise cutting yourself off from the person, remove all ties and connections. Bury the left-over candle stub.

Thorn healing:

You can work a similar poppet or candle spell as above but use it for healing. Stick the thorn into the poppet or candle in the position on the 'body' that the person needs healing. So, for instance if the person has a headache you stick the thorn in the top of the candle or the head of the poppet. Visualise healing energy coming from Mother Earth/the Universe and being directed through the point of the thorn into the body.

To watch a replay of my talk, click on the link

Taken from Witchcraft into the Wilds by Rachel Patterson


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