The mighty Aspen
The Aspen is frequently known as the “trembling Aspen” because of the way the leaves seem to constantly quiver. One of the many beliefs about this tree is that it was the wood used for Christ’s cross. Another story relating to Jesus that attempts to explain the quivering action of the leaves is that the Aspen was the only tree in the forest that did not bow down to the holy family. Jesus is said to have put a curse on it, which cause the tree to tremble in fear.
According to Cormack’s glossary1, a rod of Aspen, called a fe, was used to measure a fresh grave to ensure its occupant would fit. This is said to have given rise to Aspen’s association with death. In the Tain Bo Cuailnge, Aspen was cut for the charioteers of the sons of Garach for spears to slay the Ulster hero Chulainn.
Medicinally, Aspen has been used to alleviate fevers. The black poplar is used for skin abrasions and to relieve pain and inflammation. The buds, bark, and leaves contain salicin, which is similar to aspirin. It has also been used for earaches, asthma and coughs.
During time of famine, Native Americans used the inner bark of the Aspen as food. This was preferable over some other available food because of its sweetness. It was also used to feed animals.
Aspens have soft white wood that is prone to breaking in storms. They are one of the early trees to repopulate a forest after a fire or other disaster, their shade providing a gentle “nursery” for other trees. Aspens stabilise a damaged ecosystem, and like Alders, they are healers.
Latin Name: Populis tremuloids (quaking aspen), P. Alba (White poplar), P. Nigra (Black poplar), P. canescens (Grey poplar)
Seasonal Details: long clustered catkins that often release “Cottony” seeds March – May; small oval/heart-shaped leaves that turn vibrant yellow in autumn
Powers/Attributes: ancestry, astral projection, communication, courage, eloquence, endurance, harmony, healing, money, peace, protection, rebirth, rejuvenation, success
Elements: air, water
Letters: EA, CH, K
Feng Shui Sectors: Centre, east, south east, south
Goddesses: Calypso, Frigg, Hecate, Morrigan, Persephone
Gods: Apollo, Achilles, Tyr, Zeus
Other Names for Tree: trembling Aspen, shivering tree, poplar
Zodiac: Capricorn, Libra
Celestial Bodies: Mercury, Saturn, Venus
Gemstone: grey topaz
Wildlife: butterflies, mourning dove, swan
Other Tree: Willow
Colours: grey, silvery white
Energy: masculine (White poplar cop), feminine (black poplar)
Bach Flower Remedy: fear of unknown things
Other Associations: death; dates: February 4 – eight, May 1 – 14, and August 5 – 13;
West; Sabbats: Mabon/Autumn equinox; sources disagree whether this is a Celtic peasant/common tree or shrub tree
Spellwork and Ritual: protection spell (especially against theft); travelling to or communicating with other realms; spells to help you through difficult times, as well as when you just need a boost in specific aspects of life
Glossary 1: this is an Irish/Latin dictionary compiled by Cormac Mac Cuilemmain of Cashel circa 900 CE. Ellis, the Druids, 150
Source: whispers from the woods by Sandra kynes