Today my neighbour and I went into the woods looking to harvest grasses for weaving Bride’s crosses. As we were walking along the dirt path, among the cedars, hemlocks and sleeping cottonwoods, I remembered where I’d seen honeysuckle before. I’d seen two ravens flying over that spot and it’s also where I saw the golden cicada the first time. I thought it was just a scraggly vine of honeysuckle, but we were able to get really close as the blackberry vines had died down for the winter.
The honeysuckle was massive! It was twisted all over itself and all around a crooked hazel tree. I squealed. There were hazel branches that had honeysuckle growing twisted around them for years resulting in the wood spiraling naturally like the horn of a unicorn. Folk magicians around the world try to do this on purpose for magical wands and staffs (to mimic the serpent around the tree of life) and here it had happened naturally in a spot in the forest where the rare Western Trumpet Honeysuckle coincidentally grew at the roots of a Beaked Hazelnut tree –equally rare on the West Coast.
Hazel is a key to wisdom, knowledge, soothsaying (truth-speaking), the future and Fate. It is the white wand of the old priestesses and of the druids. It has been distaff and wizard’s staff. The Coast Salish call honeysuckle “ghost’s swing” or “owl’s swing”. Here the owl was the guardian of the crossroads of the underworld. It’s vines were used for ropes and basketry as well as weaving and binding (both mundane and magical). It fits well with the white hazel wands of the priestesses of the old religion, the völva, who were weavers of fate, raisers of the dead, and seers of the future.
Hazel and honeysuckle are also symbols of Tristan and Isolde, characters of a 12th century tragic French romance tale. A tale of fated lovers whose love for each other only harms themselves and those around them; suffocating each other with love as the honeysuckle strangles the life out of the hazel tree while embracing it.
We turned back and collected a saw as well as tobacco and mead offerings and harvested some of the hazel branches and some of the honeysuckle vines leaving our offerings as well as blessings of health and fecundity. Then my lovely neighbour showed me three different ways to make Bride’s crosses as well as how to weave double-sided god’s eyes (which I continued to practice when I went home with my twisted hazel wood). What a perfectly witchy and crafty day!