03 Fearn – The Alder
Fearn (pronounced ‘FAIR-n’)
Represents letter(s): F
Divinatory meaning: Endurance, perseverance, adaptability
Associated Tree/Plant: Alder
Healing Properties: Tea made from alder bark can be used to treat coughs, toothaches and diarrhea. Boil crushed alder bark and use the juice to relieve itching from poison ivy. A poultice of alder bark relieves swellings and sprains.
John Gerrard’s Herball published in 1597 tells us that: “…the leaves and bark are much used against hot swellings, ulcers and all inward inflammations, especially of the Almonds and kernels of the throat. The bark is much used of poor country dyers, for the dyeing of course cloth, caps, hose and such like into a black color, whereunto it serveth very well.”
Crushing alder leaves into a paste may be spread onto burns to help them heal, and a cloth bag filled with alder leaves and heated can relieve arthritis pain. The cones of the alder may be steeped in a tea to ease the pain of gout. Native Americans used juice from the inner bark, mixed with goose grease, as a salve to be spread on the chest to cure colds. Bark from the roots can be made into an infusion to use as an emetic and a purge.
Magical Uses: The alder usually grows near riverbeds, lakes and streams. Its roots reach for the water, its trunk dwells on the earth, and its branches reach into the heavens, therefore it has the magical power of existing in three realms at once and uniting them all.
The alder is sacred to the Faeries because it unites the three realms and gives them a gateway to enter our world. Its name comes from the word “elder,” and is derived from the Elder Kings; i.e., kings of the Fey. Since the alder is sacred to them, Faeries are said to protect it, and they may often be seen in the form of ravens in its treetops. Gateways to the Faerie realm are rumored to exist in the trunks of alders. Bran the Blessed’s staff was said to be made of alder wood. The alder is the tree of Ostara. Some traditions decorate alder trees with ribbons and flowers for this holiday.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Bran (BRON), Ostara