Holly is a lovely wood. Pale and dense. This was harvested from a very special place and made into a ring whilst still green and alive. It is the same shade as ivory and has a similar ‘grain’. Chess pieces were made out of the wood as were were piano keys (black and white ones – it is easily dyed). It is thought to be unlucky to fell an entire holly tree but it is alright to coppice it. This ring was made from a male holly.
In Celtic mythology the Holly King was said to rule over the half of the year from the summer to the winter solstice, at which time the Oak King defeated the Holly King to rule for the time until the summer solstice again. These two aspects of the Nature god were later incorporated into Mummers’ plays traditionally performed around Yuletide. The Holly King was depicted as a powerful giant of a man covered in holly leaves and branches, and wielding a holly bush as a club. He may well have been the same archetype on which the Green Knight of Arthurian legend was based, and to whose challenge Gawain rose during the Round Table’s Christmas celebrations. It is reputed that the tree gives protection and keeps people safe – warding off bad omen. Holly Water was spinkled onto infants to ward off evil and give them luck. In European mythology, holly was associated with thunder gods such as Thor. Holly trees were traditionally known for protection from lightning strikes.