The Willow tree has this history of symbolism in spirituality and cultural traditions. Celtic and Christian traditions have referenced the willow tree in their activities and lore. The willow tree is special and famously known for its flexibility.
It has this trait where it bends in various angles and poses without snapping. This trait has been commonly used as a metaphor by people who are seeking recovery or following unusual spiritual paths.
It is commonly used when advice is given to a person who needs to adjust to life and fully surrender to the change process rather than fighting the inevitable.
The Willow Tree History
This tree has been quite popular with various cultures for many centuries. There are actually more than 400 species of the willow tree around the world and this is why they have this massive impact on gardens, medicine and mythology, and folklore.
This tree is a survivor and can be easily rooted from cuttings and can grow from a simple branch stuck on the ground. This is why it is a common tree around the world.
Myths and Superstitions
The weeping willow is common in Asian culture and this is why it prominently features in their folk tales and art.
The ancient Chinese believed that the willow branches would ward off the evil spirits which why they were always placed over doorways to keep those evils spirits at bay.
It is believed that the first weeping willow actually grew in Babylon of the Bible where the Israelites were taken into slavery.
According to the bible in the book of Psalm 137: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.”
As we can read, they indeed did hang their harps on the willow tree whose branches were hanging downwards and to this day they “weep” and grow downwards and the fact that they wept under these trees, maybe that is where the “Weeping willow” name came about.
It is, however, the Native American and Celtic legends that are rife with the willow tree. This is why many famous sayings and practices have come about around the willow.
In some of these legends, it is believed that knocking on a willow sends away bad luck. This is where the custom of ‘touch wood’ and ‘knock on wood’ came about.
The people, especially from parts of Europe, actually believed that the wind in the willow leaves were the elves who whispered and talked among themselves.
People also planted willows near their homes in order to prevent bad luck from happening while others believed that confessing your deepest secrets to a willow tree will ensure that the secrets remain trapped inside the wood forever.
The Native Americans, on the other hand, tied the willow branches to their boats as protection from storms and to their lodges for protection of the Great Spirit.
There are various symbolism of the willow tree in various cultures and in various aspects of life and they are as follows.
Symbol Of Adaptability And Survival
The fact that the willow tree can bend in various outrageous poses without snapping makes it a great example of adaptability to a situation.
It is a very powerful symbol of survival because it has the ability to survive in even the most challenging of situations such as heavy storms with the strongest winds.
The branches will never easily break no matter how bent by the strong winds they are. In the event that they do break, they grow again and this gives the tree this crooked, scarred look which actually contributes to its overall magnificent.
The willow tree as a symbol of adaptability also encourages expression whether of love, loss, sadness and so on.
It is a tree that symbolizes that even through great loss, there is always an opportunity for something new to emerge, something even better.
Willow Color Symbolism
The colors of the tree also hold special meaning and depict rich symbolism. The trunk of the tree is of the color brown which symbolizes stability, support and structure.
Brown depicts that sense of responsibility and duty or security and belonging. The Green of the leaves on the branches is usually a symbol of nature, fertility, and life.
Balance, growth, learning, and harmony are also other things that the green leaves symbolize. The willow bloom color is also an important part of color symbolism.
The white blossom is a symbol of purity and consciousness, while the pink blossoms are symbols of love and relationships.
The yellow blossoms are thought to signify the joy of new life into the world. Therefore stability, hope, relationships, and growth are the main things that the colors of this tree symbolize.
The willow is a great part of Celtic history and it is often times connected with metaphysical and ritual practices. The tree has been used in many ceremonies related to psychic abilities enhancement, moon honoring and love ceremonies.
Back in the era of ancient Celtic tribes, the druid priests and priestesses, bards and ovates all held the willow in high esteem and they recognized its affinity to watery environments.
The Willow actually gets its moon associations because of its relationship with water. The moon is obviously influential when it comes to the moving tides and other effects of its pull.
The Celtic spiritual leaders recognized such natural unions which is why they noted the Willow’s importance when it comes to influencing psychic visions which enabled a clearer understanding of the world then.
The willow tree will always be important in many cultures and traditions around the world.
We all learn from the willow tree in one way or another. We use it to promote feelings of safety, protection, personal growth and even to keep ourselves motivated.
There is no doubt that the symbolic power of the weeping willow tree is strong and will continue to be so.
After all, hasn’t the tree proven that you can adapt to difficult changes in your life and still emerge triumphantly? Definitely, it has.
On behalf of the author, thank you so much for taking the time to read this article !