This weekend, myself and Jo Dunbar, ran a workshop based around and exploring the relationship between the heart, the Hawthorn tree at this seasonal time of Beltane when the Hawthorn is in flower.

We ran the workshop in the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Hampshire, where we were blessed to be surrounded by tall beech forests, pines and flowering Hawthorns, the Earth alive with wild garlic and bluebells, and butterflies on the wing.

The day began by creating sacred space where we called in the four directions and invited the spirits of the ancient lands upon which we stood, and the ancestors to join us in the day of open hearted celebration. The hall decorated with bowers of Hawthorn – which will later be turned into a Hawthorn tincture to be used in Jo’s apothecaries.

To set the scene, we introduced the group to the magical, spiritual and medical properties of this sacred tree, known by many names such as White Bean, Thorn, Hawthorn. A tree closely associated with The Goddess and the bursting forth of the fertility of the Earth.

We also looked at the mythology of Hawthorn and its association with the faery kingdom; a single Hawthorn on a hill was always associated by our ancestors as a gateway to the faery realm. And in the legends of Merlin, he was trapped forever within a Hawthorn tree by the beautiful Vivienne le Fay, who tricked and used her feminine powers and guile to extract Merlin’s deepest secrets, and then turn them against him.

The word “Haw” comes from the ancient word ‘henge’ or ‘to close in’. Thus giving us the theme of our workshop – How do we build the henges both around our hearts to protect us from the hurts and pains that always come to on this human journey. Using the Hawthorn wand as a talking stick, each of us contributed with great courage and honesty, examples of times when we felt our own hearts had been broken and ripped apart. We shared how we felt and what with hind sight we had learnt from the experience. To recognise and honour the feelings which had been shared, we held hands and sang a song to the heart “Come sweep out the chambers of my heart, make it ready, oh make it ready, to be a dwelling for the beloved. When we are empty, love will enter.”

During the afternoon, we spoke about the electromagnetic field of the heart and how it is intimately connected with that of the Earth. We recognised that by healing our own hearts, we could also heal the world, and we are all capable of this subtle activism. New discoveries have shown that the heart has its own brain cells, and that there are more nerves running towards the brain from the heart, than from the brain toward the heart – this suggesting that our heart plays a far more important role in determining our state of mind than was previously believed in our culture. The Ancients always knew that is was far more than just a pump.

We explored through meditation new choices and ways of relating to the heart by letting go of and healing old wounds and hurts. We tied our wishes to a Hawthorn tree on cotton clooties, (bio-degradable) and chanted Huathe three times in honour of the dryad of the tree.

Our day was rounded off in joy and song, and in recognition between all the participants of the power and the magic, the trusting and risking that had taken place during this day. Several of the participants voicing that they felt they had entered a new phase of their lives as a result of their experience that day.

Both Jo and I felt blessed, held and healed by the spirit and the love of Huathe,, The Hawthorn Tree, which so freely shared its magic and mystery with us that day.

Adrian