The name witch hazel refers to the flexible nature of the twigs. The word “witch” comes from Old English wice meaning “pliant, weak, bendable” from Proto-Indo-European *weyg “to bend, to turn, to yield”. The “hazel” part of the name may have come from the use of witch hazel branches for dowsing as hazel branches are also used for this.
Witch hazel extract or hydrosol is made from the leaves, bark, and twigs of the American witch hazel shrub Hamamelis virginiana. It is used as an astringent and for many skin conditions, to reduce swelling and itching. Among other applications, witch hazel extract and hydrosol has been used in preparations for the treatment of bruises, burns, sunburn, psoriasis, eczema, ingrown hairs and nails, blisters, cracked skin, insect bites, contact dermatitis, including poison ivy rash, varicose veins and hemorrhoids and to rinse and soothe the peritoneal area after childbirth.
Witch Hazel is an American native, thus it did not enter into our European-based magickal system until relatively late in the game. Couple this with the fact that Wytch Elm (Scots Elm) was often referred to as Witch Hazel in Europe and we might have some problems with accurate information. That being said, I will do my best.
Witch hazel branches can be used for dowsing.
The energy of witch hazel resonates with the planet Saturn. It can be burned or made into an herbal elixir to banish unwanted emotions and to remove hexes, dis-ease, and general negativity.