H – Uath: Hawthorn

H: Uath: Hawthorn

The Moon-month for Uath runs from 13 May – 9 Jun

The two thorn trees this month, the white and the black. Two aspects of the goddess and of the triple cord – the red, white and black cord that symbolises the 3 worlds and all Life within them, the Celtic Triskele (triplicity). These are also the 3 Cups we spoke of in Fearn, discussing Bran.

Uath: Hawthorn

Hawthorn is the tree testing, through sensuality.

Olwen of the White Track is the testing goddess of this tree. She is so-called because where she treads white petals are found in her foot tracks.

In old Brythonic mythology Hawthorn appears as Yspaddaden Penkawr, the giant, father of Olwen of the White Track. He requires Culhwch to perform the 39 tests before he can marry Olwen – this ensuring his successor is capable of caring for the Land, for the goddess Sovereignty, of whom Olwen is one of the faces.

An underlying part of Celtic lore is that the goddess chooses her Guardian, her king. We see this concept further exemplified in nature in good natural history programmes too. For instance among the antelopes of Africa and the deer of Britain the males fight to find who is supreme amongst them while the females stand around watching, watching for which male is strongest, has the best blood, will be the best protector, father the strongest offspring, have the most evolved genes. The same happens amongst birds, often it is the male who has the flashier plumage, must sing best, have the best feeding territory, dance best in his leck, build the most perfect bower. The feminine chooses, the goddess chooses.

It is only in quite recent times that the male has subjugated the female amongst humankind, in Britain really only since the Norman conquest. Before that, the relationship of god to goddess, queen to king was far better understood. Neither one nor the other was superior, each had/has different jobs and is content to do them. Some of this content – for the shaman and those who are waking up – comes from the knowing of reincarnation. If you know you have been both genders, all orientations, all classes, races, cultures, and that you will be again, then the worry of “missing out” is a non-sequitur. This lifetime you chose to be as you are so you enjoy it.

What is a test?

  • test – examine, investigate, check, assess, put to the test.

Sit-with these words, see what comes to you, note the images you get and take them into your journey.

Olwen, despite the way the Victorian storytellers reduced her somewhat, is the queen. She is not subject to her father Yspaddaden but uses him as her Tester. The story goes that Yspaddaden will die if Olwen marries and so he wants to keep her virgin. This is true in the sense of the king coming to the end of his term of office, often a 7-year or 100 lunations term. The old king always holds the games that will discover the new king, his successor. The Eleusinian rites are perhaps the best known version of these but they also come in the British folksongs John Barelycorn, the Fith Fath song and the Twa Magicians – see my blog. The latter two also show how the goddess tests her potential guardian-mate, not allowing him to have her until he has proved his worth.

This relates to each of us individually. Within us, the queen/goddess is our soul while the king/god is our personality. The testing that Hawthorn brings us is the soul’s testing of the personality once it “comes a-courting” in the merry month of May. This “comes a-courting” aspect is about the awakening of the personality to the fact that it isn’t the only thing in the universe but was actually brought into being by the soul.

When we awaken spiritually we are often very keen – red setter puppyish – to be about the business and get it together with the soul, with the whole of Otherworld overnight! The aspect of the Lover, fresh and new in his passion, serenading the soul at dawn, Romeo below Juliet’s balcony, smitten :-). It’s necessary to have this much drive and OTT-ness to get us going. That hormone-drive of puberty reflects again in the initial drive of the personality seeking the soul and keeps us going until we’re fairly committed in our search and not likely to give up because the path is hard or we we’d rather go and play than get on with the work. This is the big purpose of “desire”, it’s the driver, the engine that gets us going, powers us up, makes us do something. All of us only really do things because we want to .. and want is the expression of desire. The spiritual quest is particularly so. It’s unlikely to pay our mortgage and bills so we’re not blackmailed by that, we have to want it or we won’t do it.

But the path is hard and the two thorn trees provide the tests to see how much we’ve learned, what we know, how we’re doing. The May Tree, hawthorn, Uath, does this through desire, lust, love, wanting, yearning.

In Rome, both the goddesses Cardea and Flora presided over the Hawthorn month. Cardea is the hymen, gatekeeper, grandmother aspect who guards the maidenhead; Flora is the orgiastic testing-maiden aspect who celebrates the maidenhead.

In the older, Celtic tradition Cerdiwen is Cardea in her Hag/Crone form; Gwenhwyfar is Flora, the Spring Maiden in her Flower-Bride form. I find the Cretan Snake Goddess comes to mind too.

In Celtic story, Gwenhwyfar runs away with the Summer King. Arthur, the Winter King, follows and battles with his rival, the Hawk of May (Gwalchmai) who is also Arthur’s Tánaiste Gawain. They finish with the riddle that Gwenhwyfar shall remain with the Summer King while the leaves are on the trees but return to Arthur when they fall. Gwenhwyfar blesses the yew, the holly and the ivy who hold their leaves all through the year. A complex riddle to see what is intended here for, in the story, Gwenhwyfar does return to Arthur in a way but never as before. Arthur slacked in his guardianship and began to take Gwenhwyfar fro granted … as we have taken the Earth for granted, Gwenhwyfar is a face of the Earth. She won’t have us back on the old terms after we’ve let her down.

It is indeed a time of testing.

Elen Sentier
… behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …
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Celtic shaman – Elen Sentier Fferyllt – British Druid-Alchemy

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