Someone looking at hawthorn’s thorns recognizes a very powerful and protective tree, a tree that tells you to “keep away” due to her thorns. But these thorns are not the thorns of blackberry or multiflora rose, thorns that catch and snag and won’t let you go. Hawthorn’s thorns are protective—to get out of them, you simply step away. This, indeed, is one of the primary divination meanings for the hawthorn tree: she offers us a protected space where we can heal.
Hawthorn, both physically and energetically, offers strong medicine to the heart. For those who have suffered from any kind of trauma, the fear of more suffering and the pain of that suffering often forces us to close our hearts and turn away from those who would offer us love. Hawthorn helps establish safe and protective space so that we may open our hearts again again, slowly, allowing us to heal and emerge whole. But all of this healing depends on our own approach: carefully navigating our own thorns, being mindful of them, and working with them as a source of strength.
Hawthorn also serves as a “gateway” tree between worlds, places, and transitions—which is clearly depicted in the painting of the spirit of hawthorn. In ancient celtic lore, she was said to serve as a gateway between the human world and the otherworld. Those who would fall asleep under hawthorn trees (either of their own will or because the hawthorns put them to sleep) would be transported to the otheworld and often never seen again. Observations of hawthorn’s blooming and ripening times also offers us insights about her role as a gateway in the physical world. Hawthorn blooms in May at the height of spring, near Beltane (a festival of fertility). Hawthorn’s haws ripening and dropping between the Fall Equinox and Samhuin. Thus, she holds the spaces between the dark and light halves of the year.
Hawthorn helps our inner lights, the lights of our hearts and spirits, shine forth.
Divination Keywords: Protection from darkness, healing from past trauma, protection of the heart, power, gateways, balance of light and dark, transformation