To the Druids, the Birch (often referred to as the "Lady of the Woods" due to its grace and beauty) represented renewal, rebirth and inception, since it was the first tree to come into leaf after the Winter Season. The Birch along with the Elder were said to stand on either side of the one "Nameless Day" (December 23). This slender but determined tree, which represented the seed potential of all growth, is hardier than even the mighty Oak and will thrive in places where the Oak will fail to flourish. It also signifies cleanliness and purity. The Birch once fulfilled many purposes...from providing handles for brooms and axes to the manufacture of cloth and childrens' cradles. It is particularly well-known for its use in making writing parchment and oil from the bark was often used to treat skin conditions and depression. People were once "birched" in order to drive out evil spirits, while twigs were given to newlyweds to ensure fertility. Witches would use Birch twigs bound with Ash for their broomsticks or "besoms." Birch has been known to cure muscular pains and the sap used in the manufacture of wine, beer and vinegar. It is the rod of a Birch that Robin Red Breast used to slay the Wren in a furze or gorse bush on Saint Stephen's Day. In Wales, the Birch is a tree of love and wreaths of Birth are woven as love tokens. Its trunk was frequently use to form the traditional maypole and boughs were hung over cradles and carriages to protect infants from the glamor of the Little People.
The Silver Birch, often found in spreading clumps on sandy soils, is the most common tree Birch in most of Europe. This elegant tree with its slender trunk, light branches and smooth, thin bark can grow to 100 feet (the Common Birch, reaching up to 65 feet in height, prefers acid or peaty soils). The Birch is one of the first trees to colonize an area after a mature forest is cut. It is a deciduous tree with white or grey bark and one of the earliest trees to gain its Spring leaves. The Birch lives to about age 50. It is cultivated in North America, often under the name of "Weeping Birch." A member of the Birch family and indigenous to Europe, the Birch may be found from Sicily to Iceland and even in some parts of Northern Asia. Its name is derived from the meaning "Bright" or "Shining" in Indo-European and Sankskrit terminology. It is possible that it came from the Anglo-Saxon term "Beorgan," meaning "to protect or to shelter."
There are two distinct types of Birch individuals (a division which relates to all Celtic Tree Signs). The "new moon" character is associated with the first two weeks of a sign and the "full moon" character is associated with the last two weeks.
The "new moon" Birch individual has a more impulsive and emotional nature, but is inclined to be subjective and/or introverted. The positive traits of these people are displayed by their resolve or faith in themselves in overcoming all obstacles, thereby being more tenancious in pursuing their objectives in life. The "full moon" Birch individual possesses a clarity of purpose combined with a visionary nature. Such people are inclined to be more objective and/or extroverted. The characteristic negative traits, however, hinge upon a lack of reality which can sometimes cloud the judgment.
In general, Birch individuals are determined, resilient and ambitious. Being goal-oriented, they make for excellent leaders, good organizers and supreme strategists. Usually undeterred by setbacks and possessed of an intense need to succeed, Birch individuals believe that hard work, patience and persistance will eventually triumph. Birch people are loyal, reliable and trustworthy, but prone to be reserved in displays of affection...although they are sociable with those they choose to socialize with. Personal limitations are not readily accepted by Birch individuals and due to their drive and ambition, there is sometimes a tendency to grow cynical. These people thrive best under a well-regimented lifestyle and are often known as the "workaholics" of society. Serious by nature with a somewhat droll sense of humor, Birch individuals sometimes aim to become less serious, which can lead to identity problems. There is a tendency for Birch people to become obsessive about health, but they are unlikely to be affected physically or mentally, having developed a powerful resistance. They prefer to keep a low profile, even in high office, preferring not to flaunt their successes, and have an acute sense of money...having worked hard to acquire their financial status. On the more negative side, Birch individuals can have a pessimistic attitude at times and may impose upon themselves a large amount of self-discipline. There is a tendency for the Birch individual to experience loneliness and successful marriages frequently occur later in life, since it is often difficult for such people to easily find someone willing to fit into their strict routine. Divorce is rare for those governed by the Birch...separations being more likely or the premature death of spouses. Birch people need a goal in life in order to avoid becoming depressed and pessimistic. They possess much individual potential but must cultivate great persistence in order to overcome personal setbacks.
Physical Goal: To be rid of negativity, unhelpful influences and bad thoughts in order to accomplish a fresh, new start.
Mental Goal: To concentrate on personal desires...the image of the result wanted must be held firmly in mind.
Spiritual Goal: To focus on new beginnings...the White Birch symbolizes the desired image, standing out clearly from distractions and obstructions.
Amergin Verse: "I am a Stag of Seven Tines"
Ogham Association: Beith
Letter Character: "B"
Month: November...the New Year in the Celtic calendar and the first Ogham month, also being the traditional first month of the Winter Quarter. November begins with the Festival of Samhain, first day of the Celtic Year. Since it was once a time for killing livestock which would be unable to survive the Winter, the Anglo-Saxon name for November was "Blotmonath" or "Blood Month." It is a month which foretells of new beginnings and a cleansing period. Its name probably comes from the Latin Novem, which means "nine." Novem was the ninth month of the old Roman calendar.
Alias: "Moon of Inception" and "Moon of Beginning"
Magickal Properties: Protection of children, purification and creativity
Some Famous Birch People: Jim Carrey, Minnie Driver, Mel Gibson, Marilyn Manson, Richard Nixon, Louis Pasteur and Howard Stern.
Gemstone: The Birch gemstone is Rock Crystal, a naturally-occuring substance with the ability to render invisible light visible through the means of refraction. It is formed from clear, lustrous quartz and was first discovered in the Alps, at which time it was believed to be a kind of ice or "krystallos." Rock Crystal has been valued since ancient times as a magical stone of divination and was formed into spheres for the art of crystal-gazing. Sometimes, shadows would materialize within the Crystal as it cooled...shadows which resembled mountains or pyramids, usually indistinct and barely discernable. These shadows were known as "phantoms" or "ghosts" and though considered imperfect for divination, such ethereal inner shapes lent a certain unique enchantment to the particular sphere. In Medieval Europe, alchemists believed that if Rock Crystal were cut in a certain manner and then placed in sunlight, it would have the power to make any solid thing invisible. To the Japanese, it was the "perfect jewel," being a symbol of purity, patience and perseverance, and in Ancient Rome, noblewomen carried Crystal balls in their hands during the heat of Summer, believing they had been formed from ice and thus, possessed cooling properties. American Indians treasured the Crystal as a sacred stone, believing it to possess a life and energy which was treated as a sacred trust. Some tribes would "feed" their Crystals with sacrificial blood whenever a Deer or Caribou was slain, believing this would keep the spirits within the stones aware of their reverence. The Druids are said to have used Rock Crystal to make themselves invisible so that they might travel undetected. If held in both hands, it was believed to induce serenity and peace of mind, as well as sharpening the mental processes. An aura of mysticism and magic continues to surround the Crystal and it may be many centuries before all its secrets are truly revealed.
Flower: The flower of the Birch is the Common Daisy, which blooms from the earliest days of Spring until late in the Autumn and covers the ground with its flat leaves so closely that nothing can grow beneath them. It is said that the Daisy awakens with the Sun and sleeps with the Moon. As a symbol of innocence and fidelity, some authorities claim that the lineage of the Daisy may be traced to "Belenos," a Celtic God of Light and a Solar deity. Others maintain that the name is derived from the Latin bellus (meaning "pretty" or "charming") while yet others believe its name is taken from a dryad named "Belidis." The healing powers of the Daisy were often employed by the Druids, particularly on the battlefield. Under such circumstances, those who could counteract the debilitating shock of injuries accompanied by the immense loss of blood, were considered to be great wound-healers. Knights of old would wear a chain of Daisies on their persons to protect them in battle. If such a knight wore a double band, then he was recognized as being betrothed. Worn as a charm, the Daisy was said to protect the wearer and afford a cure for ulcers and warts. The Daisy grows profusely over wide areas throughout the world and is an evergreen plant of hardiness which complements the durability of the Birch. There is an old English proverb which states that Spring has not arrived until one's foot can be set upon twelve Daisies. To dream of Daises in the Spring or Summer is associated with good luck, but the same dream in the Autumn or Winter is considered to be bad luck. The tears of Mary Magdalene, as they fell upon the ground, are said to have created the first Daisies and, according to Celtic legend, the spirits of infants who had died in childbirth scattered Daisies on the Earth to cheer their sorrowing parents.
Celestial Body: The celestial body associated with the Birch is the Sun ("Sul"). In terms of Celtic mythology, the Sun was a powerful deity whom the Welsh Bards called "Taliesin" and whose brilliance was referenced in many romantic and intellectual deeds which are the subject of numerous poems. In similar fashion, the Irish Celts also have many tales recounting the great deeds of their greatest of all Warrior Gods...their Sun-King named "Lugh." Lugh had many titles, one of which was "Lugh of the Long Arm," since he was believed to be guardian of two Great Gifts of the Ancient Irish...the Magical Sword and Spear. This belief in Lugh would eventually evolve over time into the beliefs surrounding Christianity and Jesus Christ...the "sun" or "son" of God who, coincidentally, may have belonged to an ancient Jewish order known as the "Essenes" or "Brotherhood of Light." Lugh is also credited with being the inventor of all arts and crafts.
Deity: The Birch deity is Lugh, also known as the "Shining One." Lugh was a Hero God whose symbol in Wales was a White Stag and whose sacred symbol was a spear. Always accompanied by two Ravens, Lugh is sometimes depicted as having only one eye. He was a deity of many skills, a diverse God whose jurisdiction included the Sun, light, grain harvest, fire, metallurgy and weaving. He was also know to be a protector of the weak. Lugh, whose destiny it was to kill his grandfather, was Chief Lord of the Tuatha De Danaan and may have originally been a King of the Fomorians who was adopted by the Tuatha De Danaan and then by the Celts. Though divine, Lugh is thought to have possibly been sired by an earthly father and, because of this association, is perceived as a "bridge" between the mortal and immortal worlds. More statues and holy sites were erected to Lugh than to any other Celtic deity and he is often equated with the Greek God, Apollo. Lugh's final claim to fame is that his name became part of the term used to describe a certain fairy common in Irish folklore...over time, "Little Stooping Lugh" or "Luchorpain," evolved into the word "Leprechaun," the tiny expert cobbler and guardian of hidden treasure.
The Golden Eagle - The Golden Eagle once symbolized the soul...signifying resurrection and rebirth...the power of life over death. It also represented a metamorphosis or change of spirituality on all levels. Now almost extinct in Britain, this magnificent Bird is seldom seen except in the North of Scotland. Scottish Highland Chieftains still wear three golden-eagle feathers in their bonnets to proclaim their high rank. The Druids were believed to have the ability to change into the form of all birds and beasts, but among their favored choices was the Eagle, as well as the Raven and the Crow.
The White Stag - The Stag of ancient times was considered a beast of royal lineage and, as a horned deity called "Cernunnos," became an important intermediary for the Celts between the animal kingdom and man, being guardian of the gateway connecting these two worlds. The Stag figures prominently in Celtic myths and legends. Antlers have been unearthed in Newgrange (Ireland), as well as at various sites in Britain, including Stonehenge and Glastonbury. It was a symbol of the metamorphic process of spiritual growth, high ideals and aspirations.
December 24-December 31: Those born between these two dates also fall under the lesser influence of a secondary tree...the Apple, whose motto is "Fulfilled In Love." The Apple Tree is the tree of perfection, the love link that unites nature with mankind, life with death and the beyond with the here and now. It is one of the seven sacred Celtic trees. The Celtic calendar has only two fruit trees...one is the Apple and the other is the Fig. Apple individuals are usually slight of build and blessed with an abundance of charm, appeal and attraction. They exude a pleasant aura and are flirtatious, adventurous and sensitive. Always in love, Apple people seek to be loved and make for faithful and tender partners. They are generous, stable and possessed with scientific talents. A person who "lives for today," the Apple individual is a carefree philosopher endowed with imagination who dreams about an untroubled life with no division. Apples are excellent mediators, their moral tolerance being beyond reproach and they like to be in contact with people they can help, for by helping others, they can often help themselves out of a bad patch.
January 1-January 11: Those born between these two dates also fall under the lesser influence of a secondary tree...the Fir, whose motto is "To Watch Over Every Birth" or "The Mysterious." Fir individuals have extraordinary taste, dignity and sophistication. They love anything that is beautiful, but tend to be somewhat moody and stubborn. Though somewhat egotistic, Fir individuals nonetheless care deeply for those close to them. They are usually quite modest, very ambitious, talented and industrious. Fir people tend to make many friends...and equally as many foes...but are very reliable in character. Reserved about everything that affects them closely, Fir individuals tend to take refuge beneath the facade of prosperity, with a paradoxical need to feel free and protected at the same time.
January 12-January 20: Those born between these two dates also fall under the lesser influence of a secondary tree...the Elm, whose motto is "Noble Attitude." Elm individuals are usually pleasantly built and are fond of tasteful clothes. Their demands are modest and they are practical by nature. There is a tendency to be unforgiving of those who make mistakes, but they are otherwise cheerful. With a desire to lead, the unconventional Elm individual dislikes being given orders, but does make for an honest and faithful partner. With an inherent dislike of selfish people and those who "follow the pack," the ideals of Elm people lean strongly toward justice and tolerance. Although Elm individuals are prone to make decisions on behalf of others, they are nonetheless noble-minded and generous with a good sense of humor. Those who fall under the jurisdiction of the Elm detest being labeled...even if that label be a flattering one.