Broomsticks of Birch, Wands of Maple… Halloween Folklore Found in Nature

[ 0 ] October 4, 2012 |

I have loved Halloween since I was a kid. The crisp fall air, the costumes, walking around outside in the dark, and the spookiness of it all.

Halloween is full of superstition and folklore. Many creatures and plants found right here in Rhode Island have been tied to Halloween through myths and legends. As we approach this autumn celebration, Audubon shares some folklore of the wild and invites families to learn more at Mother Nature’s Halloween Hike and other nighttime programs and folklore hikes on the trails (program details below).

Legend tells us that birch trees were favored by witches to make their brooms, with the binding done with willow branches. In ancient times, birch brooms were viewed as having protective properties.

Spiders were traditionally placed in a nutshell and worn around the neck on a cord to cure illness and improve health. They were also believed to cure warts, constipation, and jaundice.

Branches of the maple tree were believed to be used for the making of magic wands.

Believed to be a witch’s “familiar” or companion, owls were often associated with magic and mystery.

By tradition, acorns from mighty oaks were put in windows to guard against lightening and a piece of oak in one’s pocket would protect the wearer from harm.

Burning pine needles was considered a way to reverse evil spells, and scattering the floor with pine needles drove away evil spirits.

Young women would toss apple-peels over their shoulders, and then examine the peels closely, hoping to find the initials of their future husband magically appear.

Learn more about the myths and legends of the natural world. Join Audubon’s Mother Nature’s Halloween Hike on October 27, 2012 at the Audubon Caratunk Wildlife Refuge in Seekonk, MA and other Audubon nature hikes. Visit for details.

  • Nighttime Nature Stroll
    October 12, 2012 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm
    Head out with an Audubon naturalist for a fall night hike on the wildlife refuge.  Do you think you could survive as a nocturnal animal?  Test your night vision and your other senses too, as we wander under the trees and discover whom else might be out at night.  Keep an eye and an ear open for any nocturnal visitors who might be curious about you!
    Location: Audubon Environmental Education Center, 1401 Hope Street, Bristol, RI
    Program Fee: $10/member adult, $5/member child; $12/non-member adult, $6/non-member child; Ages: 5+. Course Number: 164333-585. To register call (401) 949-5454.
    Registration is required as space is limited.
  • Mother Nature’s Halloween Hike
    October 27, 2012 from 5:30 – 9:00 pm. Tours leave every 10 minutes beginning at 5:30 pm
    Bring the kids for a fun-filled, fright-free Halloween celebration! Bundle up and rustle through the leaves on guided lantern-lit trails through the cool night forest. Families encounter friendly costumed woodland creatures that explore the myths and legends associated with local wildlife and Halloween. Before or after your tour, take part in fun crafts and activities. In the event of rain, participants will meet the characters in the big barn.
    Location: Caratunk Wildlife Refuge, 301 Brown Avenue, Seekonk, MA
    Program Fee: $8/member, $12/non-member; Ages: 3+.
    Registration is required to reserve a time slot. To register call (401) 949-5454
  • Hike Under the Hunter’s Moon
    October 28, 2012 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm
    Enjoy autumn in all its splendor by taking a walk under the full hunter’s moon. Walk through the moonlit pines and out to the pond at Fisherville Brook Wildlife Refuge. Beaver may be heard or seen busy at work making preparations for winter.  You may hear an owl calling in the distance. Participants will hike up to the historic cemetery on the property for a great view of the moon. Wear warm clothes and bring a flashlight.
    Location: Fisherville Brook Wildlife Refuge, 99 Pardon Joslin Road, Exeter, RI
    Program Fee: $8/member, $12/non-member; Ages: 14+. Course Number: 134333-230.
    To register call (401) 949-5454.


Category: local venue, nature places, seasonal, special events

Anisa Raoof

about the author ()

Anisa Raoof is the publisher of She combines being a mom with her experience as an artist, designer, psych researcher and former co-director of the Providence Craft Show to create the go-to spot for families in Rhode Island and beyond. She loves using social media to connect parents with family-related businesses and services and promoting ways for parents to engage offline with their kids. Anisa believes in the power of working together and loves to find ways to collaborate with others. An online enthusiast, still likes to unplug often by reading books and magazines, drawing, learning to knit, making pop-up books with her two sons and listening to records with her husband.

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