Celtic Tree Signs: The Grounded, Enchanting Willow
One of my all-time favorite trees is the willow with its feathery beauty and strong flexibility. The willow has made significant contributions to Celtic folk medicine, magic, and lore. Those people blessed to be born under the Celtic tree sign of the Willow (April 15-May 12) also contribute significantly to the lives of those around them by being stable, reliable, and grounded. Sounds boring? Well, if your life is chaotic or falling to pieces around you, isn’t it nice to have a strong, dependable shoulder to cry on? When the waves of life’s emotions are tossing you about, don’t you want to drop anchor into a calm harbor? Willows can be great to have as friends or relatives. Oh, I forgot to mention: they’re mysterious and mystical too.
The Tree Sign
Those born under the sign of the Willow are realistic and patient. In Celtic belief, the willow is associated with the moon and with water, so Willows understand that everything is cyclical. They see no point in overreacting to situations that will pass. They tend to be even-tempered and exercise a great deal of self-restraint. This may lead people to underestimate their potential and passion. That’s a mistake. Willows make fiercely loyal friends. And they make determined, indefatigable enemies. Additionally, Willows have impressive memories so they don’t forget an injury—or a kindness.
Willows are resourceful, intelligent, and strong-willed. Unfortunately, they also can be stubborn and, despite the tree’s reputation, inflexible at times.
Because Celtic tree “astrology” is a system based not on stars but on the moon, there are a few differences between a New Moon Willow (born during the first half of the tree’s influence) and a Full Moon Willow (born during the second half). New Moon Willows are more outgoing, moody, adventurous, and impulsive than Full Moon Willows. They also deal better with change but can be less dependable. Full Moon Willows are highly resourceful and perceptive, which helps them overcome obstacles and solve problems. In addition, they have acute intuition and excellent inner wisdom. However, they can rely too much on these gifts and miss out on the wise advice offered to them by others.
Highly influenced by the moon’s energy, Willows are creative, can be secretive, and have tremendous psychic ability (if they choose to tap into it).
The Celtic Animal Sign
Each Celtic tree sign has a Celtic animal associated with it. The Willow’s corresponding animal is the Cow (or Bull). I realize, dear Willows, that cows may not seem very exciting to have as your sign, but know this: they were extremely important in Celtic society. A Celt’s wealth and social standing was measured, in a large part, by how many head of cattle he or she owned. The Celts valued bovines so highly that one of the most famous pieces of Old Irish literature, “Táin bó Culinge,” is about a fight over a bull. The English translation of the story’s title is “The Cattle Raid of Cooley.” In it, Queen Maeve of Connacht tries to proves she’s richer than her husband by obtaining (i.e., stealing) the Brown Bull of Cooley from the King of Ulster. This results in a war and in the death of the legendary Irish hero, Cú Chulainn.
If you were born under the sign of the Cow / Bull, you are a wonderful person to have around and you make a fantastic friend. This is because you are loyal, trustworthy, and supportive. You value your friends, but you are selective about who you let into your close circle. Once you’ve accepted someone as a friend, though, you can be depended upon to be there for the long haul.
Family is extremely important to Cows and they are very good to their families. They are caring, affectionate, and not afraid to show it. They also are protective and passionate defenders of those they love. An angry bull is not to be trifled with! (cows have horns too, by the way.) Cows provide a calm center and an emotional anchor for their families. They are strongly maternal (even if they’re fathers). Whether or not they have children, Bulls / Cows tend to make excellent mentors, teachers, and role models.
As loving nurturers, Cows / Bulls make great cooks and / or gardeners. These activities are well-suited to them not only because of their desire to nurture, but also because they are highly sensual. Cows and Bulls actively engage in life through their senses. In keeping with this, they prefer things (clothes, people, experiences) which are comfortable. They like the finer things in life too, whether it’s chocolate, wine, or silk sheets. And they love to collect things, especially pieces of art.
Cows and Bulls are happiest when they are surrounded by beauty, and when they are in orderly, familiar places. They like organization and routine. They do not like disorganization or chaos. Cows / Bulls aren’t too crazy about change either. In fact, they are strongly resistant to it. They like to do things their way and at their own pace, so they can be quite stubborn about changing things. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is their philosophy. However, learning to go with the flow and, like willow trees in nature, bending in a storm so they don’t break is an important life lesson Bulls / Cows need to learn and accept.
The Willow Tree in Celtic Medicine, Magic, and Lore
The willow has eased the world’s pain by providing an analgesic. The salicin in its bark is chemically similar to acetylsalicylic acid, the key ingredient in aspirin. Celtic folk doctors used willow bark for pain centuries before the pill came into being.
Druids associated the tree with enchantment and it is used frequently in plant magic, especially for protection. According to Celtic folklore, planting willow trees near your house will protect it from lightning. Willow branches are placed inside the house to keep the family safe from a witch’s malice and other forms of evil.
There is a considerable amount of folklore about Willows, but I’ll conclude with three of my favorites.
1) The sound of the wind rustling through willow leaves is actually the sound of faeries giving inspiration to poets.
2) If you have a secret you are just dying to divulge, tell it to a willow. The tree will take it in and lock in up so it never gets out. (I told you Willows were secretive!)
3) Willows can walk at night. They follow strangers and mutter after them.
I really love that last one. Willows may be reliable and protective but they’re definitely not boring!
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