• Christine Dorman

Celtic Tree Signs: The Fiery Alder

The Tree Sign


Those born under the Celtic Tree Sign of the Alder are passionate trailblazers.

Those born between March 18th and April 14th are born under the Celtic Tree Sign of the Alder. Because the pale wood of this tree turns a fiery orange or deep red when it is cut, the Celts believed the tree had a flame hidden inside it. Those born under the tree’s influence are themselves like fire: both passionate and inspirational. As highly independent, bold leaders, they can be trailblazers. Other people are drawn to the Alder’s charismatic self-confidence and Alders are good at interacting in social settings. However, they have no time for superficial people or for those who waste their time. Alders can’t stand wasting time. They believe in action and results.


The Animal Sign: The Fox


The companion animal sign for the Alder is the Fox. Like the Alder, Foxes like to stay active, engaged, and stimulated. They can be quite serious about taking care of work and attending to other responsibilities, but they also need to have serious play time. If they go for a sustained period without having some fun, they get bored and cranky. And if they go too long without some way—work or play—to burn up their energy, they grow restless and miserable.

Foxes are adventurous and enthusiastic, especially about new ideas and projects. They are impatient, however, and can tend to lose interest in things before they’re completed. When this happens, Foxes drop the project and move onto the next thing. There is a life lesson for them in this: the importance of patience and perseverance in accomplishment.

That said, when Foxes set goals, they will work hard to achieve them. Foxes know what they like and what they want. They are willing to take risks to get it and they won’t let obstacles stand in their way. A word of warning though: Foxes are impulsive and may not think things entirely through before springing into action. Once their minds are made up, they don’t care what others think. This can be a good thing, but they also often don’t listen to advice from others and that can lead them to encounter problems that they might otherwise would have avoided.


Foxes can be charming, persuasive, and inspirational leaders.

Foxes make great leaders. When their fiery energy is channeled in a positive way, they can be charming, persuasive, and inspirational. When channeled negatively, they can become overly competitive, overbearing, and even combative.

At their best, Foxes are clever, charming, and self-assured. Finally, they can be tremendously generous to friends and strangers alike.


Celtic Symbolism of the Fox and the Alder

“Clever as a fox” is a maxim most people are familiar with. The Druids admired the fox’s skill and cunning in escaping hunters. The word cunning is related to the Scottish verb ken. To ken is to know, so the fox, in Celtic culture, is associated with knowledge. The Celts saw the fox as wise guides. Often, in Celtic folklore, a fox appears as a guide through the spirit world or a guide to the Otherworld.

The Alder, in Celtic culture, is associated with protection, and with giving and nourishing. There may be a couple of nature-based reasons for this. Alders have nutrients in their root systems which can change poor soil to good soil (the nutrients improve the soil’s ph). Additionally, the tree often grows near water and its falling leaves provide nourishment for fish and other water life. The Alder is connected as well with safety and shelter. Celtic mythology and folklore have a number of tales in which characters hide in Alder trees or Alder woods.


In Irish folklore, Deirdre and her beloved, Naoise, escaped the wrath of King Conchobhar by hiding in an Alder wood.

The best-known story is from Irish mythology. In The Ulster Cycle, Deirdre, at infancy, is prophesied to become the most beautiful woman in all Ireland but, the prediction adds, her beauty will bring Ireland war and sorrow. When King Conchobhar MacNessa hears the prophecy, he sends his royal guard to take the child and orders that she be put in the care of the poet Leabharacham until she comes of age. He plans to marry Deirdre when she is old enough so he will have the most beautiful woman in Ireland for his wife. Unfortunately for all involved, before the king and she marry, Deirdre falls in love with a handsome young man named Naois. Neither Deirdre nor Naoise are stupid, so they flee Ireland for Scotland. The king sends his soldiers after them and the young lovers escape capture by hiding in an Alder wood at Glen Etibhe, Scotland. Sadly, they later are persuaded to leave the glen and return to Ireland. Where they die. They should’ve stayed near the protection of the Alders!


Folklore


Perhaps because the wood of the Alder changes from white to flame red when it is cut, Irish folklore teaches that cutting an Alder angers the faeries who guard the tree. As punishment, they will set all of the houses in the offender’s neighborhood on fire. So, for a long while in Ireland, cutting an Alder was against the law.


Scottish folklore recommends placing Alder leaves in your shoes before taking a long journey. This is supposed to protect your feet from hurting.


Placing Alder leaves in your shoes before walking will keep your feet from hurting, according to Scottish folklore.

In Celtic folklore, foxes are highly regarded as well. According to the folklore, foxes have a number of talents. One is the gift of foresight, especially in regards to the weather. Hearing a fox's bark is said to be a sure sign of rain. Another skill foxes have is their adaptability. They are said to be able to change with their environment in order to hide and / or survive. In fact, some folklore says that they are shape-shifters.

Celtic folk medicine teaches that gall or kidney stone pain can be cured by rubbing the blood of a fox on the affected area.


Finally, although folklore says it’s unlucky to see a fox at the start of the day, apparently catching a fox later on brings a reward. The animal is believed to carry a magic pearl which will bring good luck to the one who finds it.


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