MISTLETOE (The Woman's Dictionary Of Symbols And Sacred Objects by Barbara Walker) The North American Mistletoe that we see at Christmastime, Phoradendron serotinum, bears both leaves and berries in clumps. The sacred mistletoe of ancient Europe, Viscum album, is a different plant whose leaves grow in winglike pairs, the berries in pairs or singly. Druids considered the plant's poisonous, pearly white berries to be drops of the oak god's semen, such as the red holly berries were drops of the life-giving lunar blood of the Goddess Hel (Holle). Thus the mistletoe acquired phallic significance. Druids 'castrated' the oak god by cutting the mistletoe with a golden sickle, and catching it in a white cloth before it touched the ground. To Nordic Pagans, the mistletoe was Guidhel, the same 'guide to hell' that led Aeneas through the underworld as his Golden Bough. The golden colour of withered mistletoe was connected with its supposed ability to find buried treasure, through its magical familiarity with the underworld. The plant symbolized death (and eventual resurrection) for the 'beautiful god' Balder, who was slain by a spear of mistletoe wielded by the blind Hod -- actually, another version of the one-eyed Odin, supposed to be Balder's father. From this version of the dying and resurrected god arose the legend of the famous magic sword named Mistletoe. Because the Mistletoe was the key to free access to the hidden places in the earth, Albertus Magnus and other authorities claimed that mistletoe can open every lock. Remembering also its phallic significance, some said the mistletoe was a love charm and an enhancer of potency; it 'makes a man do often the act of generation.' Our present custom of kissing under the mistletoe is all that is left of earlier sexual orgies in honour of the earth and in hope of a fertile season. The use of mistletoe at Christmastime encountered considerable opposition from churchmen, who called it 'the heathenish and profane plant, as having been of such distinction in the pagan rites of Druidism.' It continued anyway.