The hazel is one of the most magickal trees of all as it's the tree that stands at the very heart of the faery realm. In the center of the Otherworld, nine sacred hazel trees stand in a circle around the Well of Wisdom and drop their nuts into the water from their overhanging branches, feeding the Salmon of Knowledge. Hazel was the sacred Tree of Knowledge in many ancient cultures, from the Norse to the Celts to the ancient Greeks. It's no surprise then that this is the tree whose wood is used most often for divination: Druidic wands were always fashioned from Hazel and it's the preferred wood for dowsing and divining rods as well. It's believed that, to this day, hazel works so well as a dowsing rod because it instinctively wants to reconnect with that first ancient well tree in the faery realm.
Want to protect yourself from evil (and especially that most evil thing of all- witches- the handmaidens of the devil)? Craft yourself a shield of hazel or use its wood to carve a protective rod or small wooden talisman. Use it at the dark of the moon in rituals, crafted as a divination tool, or eat hazelnuts before shamanic journeying to increase your psychic knowledge.
The hazel tree is feminine in energy and vibrates to the elements of both air and water. It is ruled by Mercury and the Sun and is one of the nine sacred woods of the sabbat fire in which it represents wisdom. The sabbats for which hazel is traditionally used for are Beltane and, most especially, Samhain.
Photo of this gloriously lush hazel tree courtesy of Argentem on flickr.