Common Aspen, Populus tremula, is a species of poplar native to Europe and parts of Asia and closely related to the North American Aspen, Populus tremuloides. Known as the trembling or quivering tree, once you know Aspen it’s impossible not to recognise. It’s forever dancing, forever whispering, forever shimmering with the breeze and glistening in the light.
I first learnt about Aspen and it’s healing properties through the Bach Flower Remedies where it is used for treating fears and anxiety of unknown origin. It is associated with fear in the doctrine of signatures because it appears to be trembling in the wind. Indeed the aspen is hardly ever still, except when there is no wind at all, and you can hear the distinctive rustling of it’s silvery leaves which are associated with the moon and see them glistening in continuous motion whenever you draw near.
The Celts saw the Aspen as the Whispering Tree. Closely associated with the wind, it carries messages from the ancestors offering deep understandings and a gateway into the worlds beyond our own and the realms of faerie. To sit beneath an aspen and listen to its leaves is to hear a thousand thousand voices, all singing the songs of life and its mysteries.
Though the aspen has been associated with fear, to me the shimmering motion of its leaves seems more one of joy and exultation in the present moment and the gift of life. I find sitting with Aspen an experience of blissful connection. To me it’s a tree of light, totally connected to the divine and dancing its marriage to the consciousness that underpins its existence. Its trembling seems to me to demonstrate its exquisite sensitivity, its awareness of its own mortality and the pure joy and exuberance it experiences in the act of living. Perhaps it heals us from fear because it itself knows no fear, it doesn’t look to the future or the past which is the source of all our fears. It just dances it’s joy for this moment and in doing so, teaches us to shed our habitual worries and anxieties too. Sitting beneath an aspen brings me a sense of wonder and reminds me to celebrate this present moment and to laugh with amazement that I am alive right now, in this moment, what a miracle!
Associated with Autumn, it’s good to sit with at this time of year as it helps us to shed our old fears and outworn ideas at the turning of the pagan new year at Samhain (Halloween).
Glennie Kindred writes that Aspen ‘ grows by sending up new suckers which can become new trees. Thus an aspen will create hundreds of interconnecting trees all joined together at the roots, providing us with a clear image of continuity, growth and connection to the source. Linking to the spiritual source, love, is the culmination of a spiritual journey. Everything leads to here and everything follows from here.’
The Celts believed the whispering of the ancestors could lead to visions or messages in answer to our questions. Mostly, I believe the ancestors, through the sweet musical voice of the aspen, are whispering to us to live our lives, live them fully, live them well and live them in joyful celebration of this moment right here and now.
The Tree Ogham – Glennie Kindred
Tree Wisdom – Jaqueline Memory Paterson