Ash

The European or common ash (or Fraxinus excelsior) is seen throughout the Blessed Isles, with the exception of the Faireys, Orkneys and Shetlands. In our reality, the trees are generally produce all male or all female flowers but may swap from one to the other between growing seasons. They typically live for 200 to 250 years. Ash has been useful for fuel, building and woodworking – and, historically, is the typical wood used for weapons.

In the Otherworld, the ash is known to be somewhat longer lived with specimens reaching and occasionally surpassing three centuries. The best known examples are the eldest of the Nine Queens on Caer Wydyr but the lost “Dreaming Tree” that used to grow both in the Otherworld and on the Isle of Bute may have been around four centuries old before it died. Few trees remain a single sex throughout their lives but do keep to one sex each growing season. It is typical to refer to ash trees as “queens” regardless of flowering sex and spirit forms are generally observed as being feminine.

Folklore represents the ash as a source of healing and protective magic, and some readings of Norse traditions suggest the World Tree is an ash, although this is now disputed. The “Dreaming Tree” was used to reveal the future through dreams brought on by eating its leaves. It has been suggested that this was a more widespread habit when more ashes were rooted in both realities – as the mythological World Tree was. The Otherworld experience of ash spirit forms is generally both talkative and helpful, with trees willing to share knowledge and even their actual wood, leaves or fruit in order to help an explorer in trouble.

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