Ash tree in Slavic tradition – part 3

Ancient Slavs used ash tree as a powerful “snake repellent”. They believed that these reptiles are very afraid of it. In fact, so afraid that, according to Slovak beliefs, they do not even slither into the shade of this tree. Poles believed that snakes would rather get into the fire than into the ash leafage. That is why they fumigated the cattle with the smoke from the burnt ash tree leaves.

Russians believed that snakes could not stand the smell of ash tree. Therefore, to protect themselves, they sprayed clothes with its juice or washed it with ash tree ashes, or even applied these liquids on their body. It was also believed that snake could even get petrified in a mere presence of such person. And a healer, with the help of an ash branch, could subdue a snake at a distance of several steps. Belarusians of the Vitebsk region believed that if a drop of ash juice was poured into the snake’s mouth, it would die. The wound from a snakebite had to be treated with an ash “broth” as well.

What legends about ash tree do you know? Maybe they even survived in your family?

More interesting facts can be found in: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

ash tree

Ash tree in Slavic tradition – part 2

Ash tree protected our Slavic ancestors from many hardships. For example, from bad weather. In the Vitebsk region, with a special ash tree twig (used to separate a snake and a frog) people would try to ward off a hail cloud from their fields. The Czechs believed that the devil did not like this tree, therefore, lightning does not strike the ash, and anyone can hide under it during a thunderstorm.

Our ancestors also believed in the ash tree protection from evil spirits. To guard the livestock on the eve of Kupala night, the Poles stuck ash tree branches and leaves into the barn walls. In Herzegovina, during the dangerous period from Kolyada to the New Year (when all evil spirits are very active), a shepherd drove the sheep with a branch of ash. Slavs also used ash tree to magically reverse the curses. The decoction from its bark was considered a good medicine for a variety of diseases. In Kosovo, if children died in a family, then parents made an ash tree cradle. It was also believed that Vilas lived safely in the branches of this tree, not fearing any harm from anybody.

Which of the mentioned ash tree applications would you like to test in person? 😉  What traditions related to ash tree do you know?

To be continued…

ash tree

Ash tree in Slavic tradition – part 1

In Bulgaria, there is a legend about the origin of the ash tree. One girl married a serpent and gave birth to three children. When the girl went to visit her family, her brothers, wanting to rid her of the serpent, began asking the children about where their home was. Both her sons were silent, but her daughter betrayed the secret. So the mother cursed her children, turning the boys into oak and ash, and the girl into aspen, which always trembles with leaves…

Ancient Slavs treated ash tree with special honor. In Serbia it was used as “zapis” (a sacred tree in a village, which played a role of an open-air temple). Cult objects were also decorated with ash tree branches. Eastern and Southern Slavs often used ash wood chips and twigs to obtain “living” fire (produced by rubbing wood against wood). Slavs believed that this fire cleans people and livestock from diseases, especially during epidemics. In Croatia people thought that if a person bends an ash branch and rolls under it from west to east, he could turn into a wolf. Would anyone dare to check?

To be continued…

ash tree