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  • Writer's pictureChristine Dorman

Celtic Tree Signs: The Resilient Birch

In Celtic folklore, the Birch tree symbolizes protection, purification, and new beginnings.
In Celtic folklore, the Birch tree symbolizes protection, purification, and new beginnings.

The Tree Sign

Birch is the first sign in the list of Celtic Trees. It makes sense, then, that those who are born during the period of its influence (December 24—January 20) are great leaders. They have a strong drive, zeal, and ambition. Cool-headed, they tend to deal well in crises. These qualities inspire others and cause them to trust and follow Birches.

All Celtic Trees have corresponding animal signs. The Birch’s is the Stag / Deer (discussed below). In Celtic folklore, deer are Otherworldly guides, so this animal sign enhances the Birch’s leadership qualities.

Born under the first sign of the new year, Birches are innovators. They are seekers, whether of enlightenment or new horizons (or both). They may seem a bit unconventional to others. Since the Birch symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings, change will be a part of the lives of those born under its influence. While transitions can be unnerving, remember that change also presents new opportunities.

Full Moon Birches are highly driven and need to learn to have some fun.
Full Moon Birches are highly driven and need to learn to have some fun.

Because transition and change are so much a part of this sign, Birches learn to be adaptable and resilient. They have an inner strength that comes from being tested. Some may appear hard but most are tolerant and have a soft, gentle side. Birches can be charming and witty. Their inner beauty can enliven their outer environment, enriching the lives of those in their orbit.

The Celtic tree sign system is lunar-based, and the phases of the moon can contribute to differences in the personality of a Birch person. New Moon Birches (born during the first two weeks of the sign) can feel a bit torn in some aspects of their lives. For example, they highly value their families but can, at times, feel burdened by familial responsibilities. They also can be impulsive and led by their emotions while, at other times, they can over-think and feel paralyzed. Nevertheless, all Birches are called to greatness, and New Moon Birches will find a way to achieve their goals, no matter the obstacles. Full Moon Birches are highly driven. They know what their goals are and have the will to do what it takes to achieve their ambitions. They run the danger, though, of becoming workaholics. Full Moon Birches are outgoing, so they need to take time to socialize and have some fun!

The Animal Sign: The Stag / Deer

Stags are fearless trailblazers but they aren’t foolhardy. Before acting, they plan and prepare. Plus, they have a secret weapon. Deer are highly perceptive and intuitive. If they listen to their inner voice, they will get a sense of which way to go and what to do next.

The Celtic stag symbolizes nobility.
The Celtic stag symbolizes nobility.

This perception isn’t limited to the physical environment. They can read the room. The Stag / Deer is highly empathetic, intuitively understanding how other people feel. In Celtic folklore, the deer is a guide, and those born under the sign of the deer make excellent mentors and counselors.

The Celtic stag symbolizes nobility and Human Stags have the grace and leadership qualities appropriate to their noble status. They can come across, at times, as either arrogant or condescending. In truth, they are neither. They simply are confident in their abilities, usually with good reason.

In Celtic symbolism, encountering a stag is a sign never to give up, to keep going, and to refuse to be hampered by boundaries. Human Stags know what they want and they’re willing to do the hard work to get it. Seeing a Celtic deer is a reminder to treat others with kindness and to be gentle with yourself as well. Those born under the influence of this sign know how to be kind to others. They need to remember to treat themselves with the same compassion.

The Birch Tree in Celtic Folklore and Customs

The birch tree is hard and sturdy, so it had many uses in Celtic society. A variety of everyday items were made from its wood. One of those items was baby cribs. This had not only to do with the wood’s durability but also its association in folk belief with protection.

Celts used birch in Samhain purification rituals to drive away evil spirits to protect their homes and livestock. Brooms made from birch wood also were said to have protective qualities. At Beltane, birch was used in ritual fires as well as to make Maypoles. Finally, Celtic folklore said that carrying a birch twig could protect you from faerie mischief.

Birch leaves have been used in tea as a treatment for infections of the kidneys and urinary tract.
Birch leaves have been used in tea as a treatment for infections of the kidneys and urinary tract.

In addition, parts of the birch tree were, and still are, used in herbal medicine. The leaves have a diuretic effect as well as an antiseptic quality. Putting them in a tea has been used to treat urinary tract and kidney infections as well as kidney stones. A combination of the leaves and sap has been used to help rheumatism and gout. It is said that the bark was applied externally to help ease sore muscles. Note: Never make your own herbal remedies unless you know what you’re doing. Also, it’s a good idea to consult your healthcare professional before adding herbals to your regimen as they may have an adverse interaction with prescription and even nonprescription medicines.

The Birch tree is highly valued in Celtic culture, and those born during the time of its influence are a gift to all around them.

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Slan go foil!

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