Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig
sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance
climbed up through my conscious mind
as if suddenly the roots I had left behind
cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood—
and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.
~ Pablo Neruda
Today I noticed that the hazel nuts are ripening and that this year, for the first in many years, it looks like there will be a heavy crop. Seeing them got me thinking.
I was walking near Log na Sionnaine, the Source of the Shannon, when I saw the Hazel trees and myth tells that once upon a time Nine magical trees surrounded this deep pool, and dropped hazel nuts into it, which were eaten by the Salmon of Knowledge.
These nuts contained all the wisdom and poetic inspiration in the world. The sage Finegas caught the Salmon with the hopes of getting that knowledge and he set the young boy, Fionn Mac Cumhaill, to watch over the Salmon as it cooked, but he warned him not to taste it.
As it cooked a blister rose on its skin and without thinking young Fionn pressed his thumb on it to burst it. Because his thumb got burned he put it into his mouth. All the wisdom of the aeons went to the boy Fionn.
Fionn means Bright Seer.
Hazel twigs are the traditionally the best wood for divining rods.
The Hazel tree is known as the Tree of Knowledge. It is sacred to Thor in Scandinavia, and the Greek god Apollo. Hermes carried a hazel staff. The Caduceus given by Apollo to Hermes was said to have been carved from Hazel.
Hazel people are said to be those born in the month of August.
Hazelnut necklaces were sometimes worn for fertility and to ward off evil. Hazel nuts are said to induce vsions.
Julian of Norwich saw a Hazel nut in one of her visions…
And in this he showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand….
In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loves it, the third is that God preserves it.
In early Kabbalistic writings, Shekinah, or feminine divine wisdom, God’s presence, was associated with the hazel nut.
Under Brehon law the felling of a Hazel tree was punishable by death. The wood of the Hazel was used in pyres, upon the death of wise persons.
Hazel nuts were a staple food substance for many tribes about 10,000 years ago.
My favourite poem by Yeats ~ The Song of Wandering Aengus.
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
”The Hazel encourages us to seek out information and inspiration in all things and emphasizes the value of the enquiring mind and of learning of all kinds. Just as the hazel concentrates all its goodness and its continued existence in the kernel of its fruit, so we attain wisdom by reducing knowledge down to its purest form and passing it on down the ages.”
From The Wisdom of Trees
~ Jane Gifford