In 1990 after a day of music and dancing we were soaking in a hot spa with twisted willows overhanging the pool. The ensuing discussion [willows and their many ancient and modern, natural and sacred uses, the willow-themed tunes and dances] was the inspiration for the name of our new Kiwi Celtic Band.


In New Zealand, watercress very quickly became a nuisance, clogging streams, drains and waterways; 19th century naturalists suggested planting willow as a control.

In no time at all, the willows became an added problem

In the Hebrides, people should have been so lucky. Willows were scarce and every twig was turned to a useful purpose. Willow was one of the first trees to establish itself in Scotland after the last Ice Age and has for thousands of years been used for a host of purposes: to weave baskets, to make rope, to build houses, fence posts, lobster pots, coracles and curragh (boat) frames: it burns well and makes excellent charcoal. The bark was a source of supplementary feed for livestock and could be used to tan leather or to produce a dye. The bark is a natural source of acetylsalicylic acid — the main constituent of aspirin — and has long been used to concoct painkillers in Scotland. Moreover, the willow was a magic tree, willow wands being used for divination. One of the ancient druids’ sacred woods, willow was often thought to be the wood chosen by witches for the shafts of their broomsticks. There are still people in Scotland who think a branch of willow catkins brings good luck into the home.

From the NZ Scottish magazine SCOTIA PACIFIC

Send a Message/CommentRequest a Quote