The Wish Tree

Many of you have heard of a Wishing Well, have you ever heard of a Wish Tree?

A Wish Tree may be a specific tree that is noticed by its form, position or location. It is used by folks to make a wish sometimes including an offering. Pagans such as the Druids in the past would consider a specific tree such as an Oak as a sacred tree to revere. Other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity consider certain trees as hallowed or Holy such as the Banyan tree or the tree of life.

In Pre-Christian times German and Celtic pagans believed a sacred tree or sacred groves was home for tree spirits and nature spirits. In Norse Mythology the Giant Ash Yggdrasil houses the 9 worlds. The Yule Tree which is an evergreen tree was considered sacred and offerings and decorations placed on it was to evoke good fortune in the coming year.

Below illustration of the famous Giant Ash tree Yggdrasil of Norse Mythology. (Public Domain)


After Christianity became popular Christians renamed their Yule trees Christmas trees in honor of Jesus Christ.

Coin Trees: Today folks in their local communities may revere a sacred tree by praying at it or by  tossing a coin into a tree stump after making their desired wish.

There are other trees such as Shoe Trees where people will tie a pair of shoes in the branches of the tree. Some folks may toss a pair of shoes into the Shoe Tree to attract good luck.

The Kissing or Wishing Tree was crafted at Yuletide later Christmas before Prince Albert popularized them in England 1840. Apples, candles, ribbons and sweetmeats were hung on the evergreen’s branches, symbolizing peoples wishes.

Clootie Wells: Are popular in Ireland and Scotland often associated with fastening cloth pieces to a Wish Tree are often linked with the Clootie Well. In Cornwall, England it is called Cloughtie wells.


Above Photo: Cloths tied to a tree near Madron Well, Cornwall, U.K. 


Sources & References:

  • Porteous, Alexander, The Forest in Folklore and Mythology. (2002) Courier Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-4210-8
  • Houlbrook, Ceri (2014). “The Mutability of Meaning: Contextualizing the Cumbrian Coin-Tree”. Folklore. London: The Folklore Society. (1): 49–59. doi:10.1080/0015587x.2013.837316.




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