by Danu Forest
Springtime is the perfect opportunity to clear your energy field and refresh your body and soul. Traditional spring tonics, such as birch sap and nettle tea have been used for centuries to give our bodies a quick boost clearing our livers and topping up our vitamins after winter. They also add a little refreshing spring magic to our systems!
Birch and other spring tonics
Birch (betula alba) has a long and important history in the British Isles, and is always magically considered to be a tree of new beginnings and spring cleansing. Birch twigs were used by rural clergy to ‘beat the bounds’ in times past to drive out demons from their villages, and bundles of birch twigs are part of the traditional witches broom or besom. Folklore tells us that the tree holds a magical light within its wood and is sacred to elves and faeries who will help to clear away all unwanted energies if asked, and this power was thought to contribute to the fabled witches power of flight. A traditional besom takes time and skill to produce and the twigs are usually seasoned for a full three years before use but a simple handheld broom can be made quite easily by tying a bunch of birch twigs together with string and can be used to sweep away dust and cobwebs as well as any tired or negative energies that have accumulated in the house over winter. Birch twigs dipped in cooled birch leaf tea and swished through the aura is also a simple way to clear your head and energy field and encourage a fresh start within yourself, and the cooled tea can also be used in a spray around the home or out and about to keep atmospheres clear and bright.
Drinking birch sap or birch leaf tea is a wonderful start to the spring and both are filled with vitamins and detoxifying agents. As a good diuretic birch clears the skin, and helps urinary kidney or liver troubles as well as easing arthritis and general aches and pains. Tapping the tree for birch sap is best left to experienced woodsmen and bush crafters but these days it is easily bought online or in health food stores. Birch leaf tea can be made by collecting the fresh leaves- be sure to correctly identify the tree first- and steeping in freshly boiled water for five to ten minutes.
Other spring tonics are also useful for keeping our bodies in tip top condition at this time of year, and these usually have a corresponding magical or spiritual dimension as well. Try to seek out nettle tea or eat fresh wilted nettle tops to take care of your skin, liver and kidneys, as well as dandelion leaves and root, fresh thyme for your lungs, and cleavers for your lymphatic system. Look out for fresh hawthorn leaves too which like nettle, birch leaves, and dandelion can all be added to soups or made into tea as well as eaten as a salad. Hawthorn leaves can help with your circulation and work as a general heart tonic, as well as traditionally being used to ease emotional pain and helping you be lucky in love. Always be sure you’ve correctly identified what you are picking and have permission, never forage to excess and always seek medical advice with regards to existing health conditions, but a little something fresh and wild goes a long way.
So this spring, make the most of the returning green, and bring yourself into blossom with the leaves on the trees…
Danu Forest has been a practising druid witch and Celtic shaman for over twenty years, has been teaching Celtic shamanism and witchcraft for over a decade, and runs a shamanic consultation and healing practice. She is the author of Nature Spirits: wyrd lore and wild fey magic (Wooden Books), The Druid Shaman (Moon Books) and Celtic Tree Magic (Llewellyn), creates and teaches email correspondence courses, writes a "Danu's Cauldron" blog for witchesandpagans.com, and has been published in magazines such as Kindred Spirit, Soul and Spirit, and Pagan Dawn. She is also an Ard BanDrui in the Irish Druid Clan of Dana, an ordained priestess, a druid grade member of OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates (healers/seers) and Druids) and a member of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners.
The Magical Year
£9.99, available from Watkins Publishing
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