The Celtic calendar begins with the month of the Birch Moon, a time of new beginnings and making plans for the future.
The Birch Moon is a time of rebirth and regeneration. As the Solstice passes, it is time to look towards the light once more. When a forested area burns, Birch is the first tree to grow back. The Celtic name for this month is Beth, pronounced beh. Workings done in this month add momentum and a bit of extra “oomph” to new endeavors. The Birch is also associated with magic done for creativity and fertility, as well as healing and protection. Tie a red ribbon around the trunk of a Birch tree to ward off negative energy. Hang Birch twigs over a cradle to protect a newborn from psychic harm. Use Birch bark as magical parchment to keep writings safe.
I honor the energy of birch, for a new beginning.
I am able to change myself as I will to do.
So mote it be.
The first of the 13 months of the Celtic calendar is the month of the Birch Moon. It begins just after Yuletide and runs through most of January.
Starting just after the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year – the month of the Birch Moon marks the period of the year when the hours of daylight start to increase over the hours of darkness. Its associated color is flame red.
New Year’s Resolutions
The month of the Birch Moon falls into the “quiet time” during the bleakest period of winter. None of the eight major Neopagan festivals occur in this month. There is little to do but wait for warmer weather.
This month is therefore primarily a time of contemplation, of looking to the future and starting to make plans for the year ahead– hence the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.
THE LADY OF THE WOODS
The silvery bark that covers the trunk of the birch tree resembles the silver of the moonlight, which it reflects at night giving it a magical look.
With its long, slender branches that stretch up to the sky, the birch symbolizes the female aspects of nature and is often known as “the Lady of the Woods.” Growing up to 100 feet high, it has also been thought of as a ladder that shamans can climb to reach the gods.
BIRCH MOON MAGIC
The month of the Birch Moon is the ideal time to weave magic focusing on new beginnings and purification, or to cast spells for support, shielding and cleansing.
At the beginning of the year, concentrate on new beginnings. Ask for general luck in whatever the coming year brings, and focus on what you want to achieve.
Resolution Blessing Spell
The birch is the first tree to grow back after a forest has been cut down or razed, reinforcing its association with new beginnings. It is a tree of extreme hardiness, thriving in places where the oak cannot. When you make a New Year’s resolution, increase your chances of sticking to our guns by performing this blessing spell.
You Will Need:
- Red candle
- Red ribbon
- Birch wand
- Frankincense, rose, and benzoin essential oil
1. Go for a walk in your local park and collect a birch twig no more than 12 inches long. As birch is a very common tree, you should be able to find one easily, even in urban areas and parks.
2. Mix a few drops of rose frankincense and benzoin essential oil into the palm of your hand and rub the mixture into a red candle.
3. Light the candle, and stand in front of it for a few moments visualizing your resolution. If you are planning to learn to play guitar, for instance, visualize ourself happily strumming your favorite song. You may want to state your intent aloud, saying, “I will learn to play guitar.”
4. Holding your birch twig at one end, pass it through the candle’s flame. Then turn around, clockwise, holding the twig in front of you to draw a circle around yourself.
5. Repeat the incantation, “I manifest new chances for good fortune, clarity and insight. I open myself to new experience and allow change to manifest in my life.”
6. Now sit down for a few minutes and quietly contemplate your wish. When you have finished, blow out the candle.
Purification and Cleansing
The silver color of the birch’s bark is associated with purity and cleansing. Criminals and naughty schoolboys were often beaten with birch twigs – “birched” – in order to purify them and drive out any evil influences.
This is a good time to cleanse your mind of negative thoughts and attitudes, such as anger and jealousy, or an addictive behavior, such as smoking. A full Moon that calls within the month of the Birch Moon is called the Cold Moon; you can strengthen your intent by performing the following ritual at this time.
A Simple Cold Moon Ritual:
1. Light a white candle besides a small bowl of natural spring or rain water.
2. Stand over the water and pray for the strength to let go of your vice.
3. Write down your negative behavior nine times on a piece of paper.
4. Fold up the paper, place it inside a freezer bag, and pour in some of the prayer water.
5. Place the bag inside your icebox to “freeze” your bad habits – putting them behind your forever.
Birch Throughout the Year
- Birch is used for purification, exorcism and protection. A red ribbon tied to a birch twig will help ward off the evil eye.
- Witches’ brooms are made of birch twigs tied around an ash branch with strips of willow. The purifying birch sweeps away evil spirits, as well as dirt.
- At Beltane (May Day), birch twigs are used to light the fires that signal the beginning of the new season.
“Birch into the fire goes, In sign of what the Lady knows”
First consonant of the Ogham alphabet – Beith
Element: Air, Water
Symbolism: Renewal, Protection, The Tree of Inception and of New Beginnings.
Birds: Eagle, Pheasant, Egret
Color: White, red
Deity: Freya, The White Goddess Brigid, Venus, Thor
Sabbat: After the Winter Solstice, as the days begin to lengthen again…
Folk Names: Beithe, Bereza, Berke, Beth, Bouleau
Medicinal properties: The oil from Birch bark is used for treating skin conditions, and insect repellent. The sap is a natural shampoo, and can be a remedy for dysentery and urinary infections. An infusion of Birch leaves is an antiseptic and diuretic.
Magickal properties: Birch wood is believed to ward off evil, banish fears and build courage.
Associated with beauty and tolerance, the Birch’s vibration heightens tolerance of oneself and others. Use a Birch Broom to brush out the old year on the morning after Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Add the cut bark to protection spells or drink birch beer if you feel you are under psychic attack.
Stripped of its bark, Birch is the traditional Yule Log. Traditionally, Birch twigs were used to light the Beltane fires, and couples paired off to the Birch forests. Later they began to make the Maypoles out of Birch, setting them up and decorating them as the focal point in the villages. The traditional broom of the Witches was made of birch twigs, and cradles were once made from birch wood for the sole purpose to protect the helpless children.
LESSON OF THE BIRCH
from The Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford
The birch tree symbolizes a fresh start and can bring courage and determination to those of us who are treading the path of spiritual growth and development for the first time.
Although the birch does appear fragile, it is in fact extremely hardy. This teaches us that in apparent weakness there is often to be found great strength.
The birch also promises new life and love, and is a potent symbol of purification and renewal, which focuses our attention on our potential for the change and on the consideration of new directions and goals to be experienced in our lives.
It teaches the lesson of unselfishness and of caring for the needs of others in ways that help them to flourish of their own accord.
Green Man Tree Oracle
|The Green Man Tree Oracle
by John Matthews and Will Worthington
A GOOD BEGINNING LEADS TO A GOOD CONCLUSION
Beginnings are always important, as are the ways we approach any new task. Good preparation and a willingness to lay the ground on which we will build are every bit as valuable as the eventual outcome. The Green Man’s wisdom here is specific: make a good start and whatever you are undertaking will end well. This means paying attention to the moment of inspiration (which the Celts called ‘awen’) and following this to a satisfactory conclusion.
Traditionally birch was used to drive out evil spirits and return to sanity those who had become mad. Its calendrical association is with the beginnings of the year, and with the sacred festival of Samhain, hence its connection with making a fresh start. The birch is also one of the first trees to flower in the spring.
by Gillian Kemp
“Your life is potentially graceful and well balanced like the slender Silver Birch.
Mother Nature presides over this tree, bringing maternal protection, a deepening relationship with your mother, and, the encouragement to learn new skills. Babies’ cradles were made of Birch, signifying that an idea will materialize if it is nurtured.
Like the Silver Birch, which grows almost anywhere its seeds fall, you will make the most of opportunities.
The traditional witches’ Birch broom implies a fresh sweep around Hallowe’en, and magical miracles as if by luck. Purity and Springtime, symbolized by the silvery-white bark, indicate happiness.”
|| The Faces of WomanSpirit
A Celtic Oracle of Avalon
Birch moon teaches of potentials that stretch before you. She reflects the possibilities as the spectrum of color glistens on her white glittery face. Like a mother prepared to give birth, her belly rises and she presents you with a teaching.
“This moon time will be like kneading bread and letting it rise before you cook it.” Birch says to you. Now, with the essence of Birch, you come into the rhythm of life, the empowerment of dreams, and the ability to envision your possibilities.
Birch’s essence is to create, bring together dreams and prepare for the new patterns of living. Understand Her. Use the lessons of the moon mothers you have already embraced… look at the bigger picture, listen and unfold your plans through creative visualization.
|Looking into the Celtic forest, one that formerly covered the whole of the United Kingdom, the Birch stands out as a graceful, slender tree with a characteristic white bole. The white indicates cleanliness and determination in overcoming difficulties.
It is time for a new start. Before this can be safely embarked upon, however, all old ideas, unhelpful influences and bad thoughts need to be cast aside. In making your spiritual journey with this tree as a guide, remember to concentrate your mind on the uplifting slender whiteness of the tree, a whiteness that stands out clearly from the tangled undergrowth and confusion of shrubs and thorny bushes that cover the forest floor and, hence, may inhibit an easy journey.
THE CELTIC TREE ORACLE
by Liz and Colin Murray