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The Nine Woods
As researched by Shea Thomas
The "nine woods" in the Rede of the Wiccae refer to the components of a ritual fire. Ritual fires are used quite often in Pagan rites, Beltane being the most common. The exact make-up of the nine woods is uncertain, and may in fact turn on regional wood supplies and/or group custom. This theory may be supported by the next line of the Rede of the Wiccae, which implies that you can burn different kinds of wood - as long as you don't burn Elder.
Nine woods in the Cauldron go - burn them quick and burn them slow.
Elder be ye Lady's tree - burn it not or cursed ye'll be.
The most commonly referenced "nine woods" are birch, oak, rowan, willow, hawthorn, hazel, apple, vine, and fir - although aromatic woods more common to North America, such as dogwood, mesquite, poplar, juniper, pine, and cedar are also sometimes mentioned. A ritual poem describing the nine woods is listed below.
The Nine Woods: Author Unknown
Nine woods in the Cauldron go,
Burn them fast and burn them slow
Birch in the fire goes
To represent what the Lady knows
Oak gives the forest towers might
In the fire brings the God's insight
Rowan is the tree of power
Causing life and magick to flower
Willows at the waterside stand
To aid the journey to the Summerland
Hawthorn is burned to purify
And draw faerie to your eye
Hazel, the tree of wisdom and learning
Adds its strength to the bright fire burning
White are the flowers of Apple tree
That brings us fruits of fertility
Grapes that grow upon the vine
Giving us both joy and wine
Fir does mark the evergreen
To represent immortality seen
Elder is the Lady's tree
Burn it not or cursed you'll be