I recently went on a lovely day workshop with Susan Hall of Earth Wisdom entitled ‘The Magical Language of Trees’. Sue was speaking mostly about the symbolism and meanings of the Tree Ogham which includes a series of twenty trees and plants used as an alphabet and system of divination by the Celts. It was really enjoyable learning about the meanings given to each tree in the morning and then spending some time outdoors connecting with the trees themselves in the afternoon. As well as the twenty main trees of the Ogham, Sue explained that there were also an additional five, one of which is the beautiful hedgerow shrub, Spindle, Euonymus europaeus. Of all the trees we discussed spindle was the one I knew least about but, as is so often the way, since that day I’ve been spotting it everywhere I go!
A lovely small tree or shrub, it is really in the autumn that Spindle begins to shine due to the incredible hues of the leaves and the berries which are bright pink with an orange seed inside that hangs down and becomes visible later in the season. Many species of the genus Euonymus are poisonous and unfortunately the beautiful berries themselves are toxic however there are a couple of types that are used medicinally such as E. americanus, and the E. atropurpureus, also known as burning bush. Both these grow predominantly in the U.S. however, where they are commonly known as Wahoo, so we English folk must derive our Spindle healing from her beauty alone.
As the name implies, it was used for making spindles and, possibly because of this, it has become associated with crafts and creative endeavours. For the Celts it is thought to have symbolised completing lessons in order to move forward, as well as sweetness and delight.
Whilst in Westonbirt Arboretum a few weeks ago we saw a beautiful winged spindle which had the most fabulous bright pink leaves.
I would love to make a tree essence from this wonderful plant, especially at this time of year when she is looking so vibrant. I feel it would be useful for accessing deeper aspects of our conscious and being able to express them creatively. Any plant with such a wonderful colour palette has to inspire artistic expression! Though Spindle is so showy right now, the rest of the year she is not very noticeable at all so perhaps it might also be of use in helping people access their own inner beauty at different times of life.
The berries are often the most noticeable, varying from bright to paler pink and containing a vibrant orange seed.
I feel lucky to have attended such a lovely workshop and been inspired to meet this new friend and begin to explore the gifts she has to offer.
Isn’t the beauty and variety of nature amazing?