Poplar are a group of trees containing the species Poplar, Aspen and Cottonwood and are mainly native to America, but with species spanning most continents. They are a popular lumber tree and given there flexibility are used to make paper and tissue and kitchen products. They typically grown between 50 and 170 feet tall and the leaves are in a sort of spiral around the branches. The seeds grow on catkins and the fruit are brown nuts with a hairy white outer casing.
The resin of several North American species of poplar has been used historically by North America’s indigenous population for a number of healing purposes. Christian European colonists thought the sweet smelling, powerful healing balm used by the native people they encountered in the New World reminded them of the Balm of Gilead mentioned in the Bible. Poplar wood is also widely used in the snowboard industry for the snowboard core, because it has exceptional flexibility, and is sometimes used in the bodies of electric guitars and drums. Poplar was the most common wood used in Italy for panel paintings; the Mona Lisa and most famous early renaissance Italian paintings are on poplar. The wood is generally white, often with a slightly yellowish colour. Logs from the poplar provide a growing medium for shiitake mushrooms. An infusion or tincture of the buds can be used to combat coughs, bronchitis, sore throat, hoarseness and laryngitis. The taste is not as pleasant as the smell, so it is often made into syrups or lozenges. A decoction of the bark can be drunk for relief from rheumatism and gout and an infusion of the buds drunk for the treatment of kidney and urinary tract infections. A tincture diluted in water can be used for coughs and colds.
Magickally Poplar wood can be used to make good all-purpose wands and is a good choice for a backing to a magick mirror or a box to store divination tools as it may enhance their efficacy. Carry poplar buds with you when seeking employment. Crush and add them to traditional money incense when you work on commission and need to attract more funds. White Poplar leaves are suitable for altar decoration for Samhain, celebrations in honor of Hades, ancestral rites, funerals and any ceremony related to the underworld, life cycles, death and rebirth. Balm of Gilead resin may be used in anointing oil or dressing oil for any and all spells related to attraction, reconciliation and soothing injured feelings and damaged relationships. It is also suitable for anointing tools to be used in the service of spirit. The trembling leaves of the Poplar tree can be ‘read’ to divine messages from the God and Goddess, and also from spirits that drift into woods.
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