The Maple Tree
There are over 125 different species of the maple tree that are indigenous to Asia, Europe, North Africa, and the U.S. With the species interacting with so many different cultures over millennia, it’s attracted all kinds of myths, associations, and related magical properties. In this article, we’ll focus on the most common uses, associations, and properties.
It’s best known for producing sweet sap that can be made into maple syrup and sugar. Ingenious people made the syrup for thousands of years and drank the sap directly from the tree. In North America, maple syrup has become a national staple and symbol. Today, it’s mainly produced commercially.
The maple also treats us to the most beautiful autumn colors as leaves turn from green to brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and bright red. For witches (and mystics), each color has a particular meaning, so maple leaves are ideal for spell work and art. You can preserve the leaves by placing each one between two sheets of wax paper. Cover with a piece of cloth or thick paper and press with a warm iron for a few seconds. The heat will meld the two parts of wax paper together, sealing the leaf inside. Cut around the leaf while leaving a reasonable margin of wax paper to keep it sealed. Store in a dark, dry place and your colored maple leaves should last for around three months. Gently peel off the wax paper when you want to use them.
In the Kitchen
If you really want to go back to nature, you can make your own maple syrup, but it’s quite a big job and rather messy, so do it outdoors. All you need is lots of sap collected from maple trees; boil it down to remove the water content. Depending on how long you boil it for, you’ll be left with a sweet syrup or sugar crystals.
Here’s the kicker though:
You need 40-parts of maple sap to make 1-part syrup. That’s a lot of collecting and outdoor boiling if you want just a cup of syrup.
Although maple syrup is best known in North America, almost all species of maple tree produce sap that can be made into syrup. However, taste and yield do differ.
The inner bark, young leaves, and small, green seeds are also edible. Simply boil the bark, leaves, or seeds (with the outer skin removed) until soft; then season and eat. You can add them to stews, casseroles, or as a side dish. Maple seeds can also be salted and roasted as you do any nuts. This is genuinely going back to the authentic roots of your local cuisine.
Maple trees are mostly dioecious, meaning that there are both male and female trees. However, some species are polygamo-dioecious, carrying both male and female flowers on the same tree. They are therefore considered to resonate both masculine and feminine energy.
Owls are commonly associated with the maple, because the tree itself represents the changing of the seasons, the natural cycle of death followed by rebirth, and wisdom accumulated over a lifetime. Under normal conditions, a maple tree lives between sixty and two hundred years.
Healing is strongly linked with maple trees, and many shaman and witches use a maple staff, wand, or the smoke of maple wood in healing. The inner bark can get used as:
- An astringent to soothe sore or swollen eyes
- An infusion to treat stomach cramps and diarrhea
- A tea to treat coughs
- A concentration (infused with maple leaves) to detoxify the liver and spleen
Kindness and compassion are other associations. Since the maple tree starts blooming in late winter or very early spring, it’s a feeder for pollen and leaf eaters when there’s not much nourishment available. It’s therefore associated with nurturing, purity, caring, and sharing.
Magical Properties of the Maple Tree
Apart from healing, many witches use maple wands and pendulums because it reveals options seen and unseen, broadening the intellect and acquiring knowledge. It also encourages peaceful communication making it excellent for use when doing spell work or readings that involve conflict resolution.
Maple is ideal for spells and rituals that involve abundance (with pure intentions), binding, beauty, cleansing, and love. You can use maple wood in your home to encourage love, harmony, and happiness.
Because maple is a wood of caring, knowledge, and wisdom, it will guide you in making realistic and honest decisions and choices. It won’t do much for you if you use it for harm or rash outcomes, like quick luck or gambling.
The wisdom that maple brings into any situation makes it ideal for divination. If used for negative ends, maple is known to become a neutral energy. It tends to choose its companions, seeking people who are devoted and who have a strong sense of conviction and truth.
How do you know if maple is choosing you as a companion? You’ll be naturally drawn to the tree even if there aren’t any growing nearby. It will pop up in articles, books, and catalogues. A companion piece is anything that you keep nearby or with you all the time. Maple is a potent and loyal companion.
Grow a Maple Tree
Since the maple is a tree of kindness and compassion, you can repay the species by gifting Mother Earth with one or two. They’re not difficult to grow, but it takes some time. You can collect the seeds in late winter, plant them in a container, and then return them to mother earth in spring.
There are a few steps in-between though, so this is what you do. Collect the dry, brown seed pods. In nature, they stratify in the cold soil before germination, but you’ll have to do that since you’re gifting Mother Earth. Here’s how you do it:
- Leave the seeds in their pods
- Mix a few seeds with about a half cup of good quality, slightly damp soil
- Put the mixture into an airtight container
- Keep it in the refrigerator until they begin to sprout (around 40 to 90-days)
- (If you live in a cold climate, you can keep them in a cold, dark spot indoors.)
- Plant them into containers that drain well
- Don’t overwater them and keep them out of direct sunlight
- When your baby maples are strong enough, you can have a planting ritual.
This article is from the Mabon issue of Wicca Magazine. Our most recent issue can be found by visiting www.WiccaMagazine.com/subscribe