“Neither would they cut withes of hazel or willow for creels and baskets, nor would they cut trees of pine to make a boat, in the black wane of the moon. The sap of wood goes down into the root, and the wood becomes brittle and crumbly, without pith, without good. The old people did all these things at the waxing or at the full of the moon.”
~ F. Marian McNeill, The Silver Bough Vol.I (p.58)
Today is the Full Wolf Moon. In the tradition of my ancestors I chose this day to perform a wood harvest. I left with the rising of the sun and first went to visit Grandmother Yew. I told her (out loud) what I wanted, why, and what I would give in return. “Old Mother give me of thy wood and I will give thee some of mine when I am a tree. Let your spirit continue to flow through the branch though it be separated from your body.” I put my saw to the branch and suddenly hear the croaking of crows. In the Old World it is thought she gives answer in the cackling of geese. Here the Monster Woman of the Woods does through crows, ravens, and the rustling of wind through the leaves of trees. The branch was long. It went on and on, but when I was finished dividing it up it looked like I’d never touched the old Yew, so big it was. After the cut I wipe the stump left behind with spittle on my thumb; “Thank you Grandmother. May you not suffer from disease nor infestation. May you be fertile and long-lived.” I pour out a libation and leave a handful of good tobacco leaves deep in the crook of the Yew’s main trunk.
Then it was off to the opposite end of town to visit the old Blackthorn hedges. I found many suitable branches and collected a goodly amount of sharp thorns. There were holes everywhere amidst the roots. A good hiding place for snakes and rats. I drop my offering of tobacco leaves inside the holes. Fitting for a chthonic tree of winter. My load is heavy so I return home to drop it off. Then I set out again, this time closer to home. I walk down the hill of Forest Grove to the second oldest Holly tree and ask to take one of its many children. It agrees, accepts my offering of cider, and I walk away with a few pieces for a wand and a good strong piece for a Holly staff.
I walk back up the hill and visit my favourite lone Hawthorn tree. I have been visiting it for years. It flowers and fruits every year now when at first it never did. The gas company has a line near it and they hacked at some branches last year. I performed a ceremony of separation and took the branches and re-cut the nasty hack jobs so the tree wouldn’t get infected. I see one suitable branch to take, but it’s been through a lot and I still have a few pieces of Hawthorn at home. I simply say hello, give a blessing, and promise not to collect the branch until Beltuinn.
I walk a bit further up the hill along the dirt path and come to an Elder that was killed last year by a combo-death team of the gas company and invasive Blackberry vines. I cut it down and take the pieces which haven’t rotted. I leave a libation, a blessing for its one surviving offspring, and a curse for the blackberries in that spot. I walk closer to home on the crossroad-ridden path by my house to a middle-aged Rowan tree. I perform the same ceremony as with the other trees, but unlike the others the Rowan receives a libation of my best Pomegranate-Raspberry mead. I chose a tall branch of many widths good for a staff, multiple wands, runestaves, and beads. There are birds and squirrels all around me singing and nattering. The Varied Thrushes sing so beautifully. I was enchanted. I return home with my spoils, label them, and put the wood in an old bucket indoors by a heater to dry and cure. Most of the woods require the bark to stay on for this process or they’ll crack so I leave all the barks on. And now I wait.