With its tasty nuts and inclination to grow near water, the hazel tree has been a traditional symbol of fertility and wisdom. Hazelnuts are sometimes hung in rooms to bring fertility to the dwellers.
In Scotland, nuts were hung around the necks of children as amulets against the Evil Eye. During the Samhain Rituals nuts were burned into the hearth and by their patterns, wise people interpreted clues about the future. The magical wands and staffs of the druid wizards were also made by the hazelnut tree.
The Irish mythological poems the Dindshenchas describe five great trees of ancient Ireland, including an oak, which bore nuts and apples as well as acorns, just like the trees, which Celts believed grew in the Otherworld.
In the branches of the nut trees lived the fairy folk Ferri Shyne – in green and red attires, with little cups and coats, they enjoyed disorienting people, who walked upon the hills at evening time, so that they eventually lost their direction.
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In the Mythology of the Celts of Ancient Ireland, the story of the Hazelnut revolves around a magical well called Connla’s Well (Cóelrind’s well) which is an Irish sacred site. No one knows after whom this well is named – whether this person belongs to the fairy folk or to the mere mortals. Its location is also unknown – sources guess it is situated under the sea, or even in the other world. There are nine Hazel trees that surround it dropping magical nuts into the water. Fintan, the Salmon of Knowledge bathes in Connla’s Well of inspiration and gains its wisdom from eating the nuts which fall into the well, causing bubbles of inspiration. The well is a symbol of spiritual power.
If you found this well, you might want to eat the nuts yourself, or sip from the water or even catch the sacred salmon and eat it – any of these actions will bring you wisdom and inspiration. The Druids once called Aes Dane, which is a name derived from the auld Irish word for poets had to drink from the well of wisdom, or eat the floating hazelnuts, or taste the flesh of the salmon to gain the gift of inspiration
Once upon a time, the salmon, which ate the magical nuts was caught by a Druid, who told his pupil to prepare the fish, without trying any of it. But when he was baking it – hot liquid from the fish got upon his thumb, and he instinctively put it into his mouth to cool, thus receiving the fish’s wisdom. This man was called Fionn Mac Cumhail and he was one of the most impressive and heroic leaders in the Irish mythology.
In Colchester, the God Silvanus Callirius (“god of the hazelwood”) was worshiped. He was associated with protection, wisdom, kingship, fertility. Tuatha De Danann – the supernatural race in Irish Mythology put the plow, the sun and the hazel tree above everything. The Last King of Ireland was called Mac Cuill – the Son of the Hazel.