The bark of the willow contains salicin, which has analgesic properties. These properties, which were discovered by the Druids, make willow bark an important ingredient in the herbalist’s pharmacopoeia. In ancient Greece, the willow was highly revered by witches and was sacred to the goddesses Hecate, Circe and Persephone. In folklore it is called “witches’ aspirin” and the “tree of enchantment” and is associated with the moon.
Contemporary Witches use it in Healing rituals; the soft branches are knotted (see knots) in the casting of spells. Willow also is used to bind birch twigs onto an ash branch to form a “Witch’s broom,” also used in rituals. A willow planted in the garden, especially if it is near a spring or river, will bring the blessings of the moon to the occupant and will guard the home.
In some parts of England, the willow has a dark side according to love: it is said to stalk travellers at night, muttering low noises.