The Celtic Tree Month of The Birch

 

The Celtic Tree Month of The Birch

December 24 – January 20

 

The Celtic meaning of the birch tree deals with:

  • Growth
  • Renewal
  • Stability
  • Initiation
  • Adaptability

 

Listen closely and you will detect whispers of transformation and growth in the midst of the birch groves within your soul.

The birch is highly adaptive and able to sustain harsh conditions with casual indifference. Proof of this adaptability is seen in its easy and eager ability to repopulate areas damaged by forest fires or clearings. Bright and beautiful, the birch is a pioneer, courageously taking root and starting anew to revive the landscape where no other would before.

This is a powerful metaphor for our lives. The birch asks us to philosophically go where no other will go (voluntarily or otherwise). The birch asks us to take root in new soils and light our lives with the majesty of our very presence. The birch sings to us: “Shine, take hold, express your creative expanse, light the way so that others may follow.”

Paradoxically, while the birch is a brilliant symbol of renewal, it is also symbolic of stability and structure. The druids also held the birch as the keepers of long-honored traditions.

Associated with the sun, the birch is a solar emblem, and facilitates passion, energy, as well as growth. This solar association is paralleled when we learn the druids carried birch bark with them as kindling. Birch serves as a perfect igniter as it will start to burn even when damp. This makes it a prized fire starter over most other wood types.

Here again, this makes for a perfect analogy. The birch asks us to serve our fellow man with a fire in our hearts. In this respect, the birch reminds us that even if our spirits are dampened by the set backs in life, we can always catch fire from the spark of passions that drive us to divinity.

 

Whats-Your-Sign.com

Daily OM For November 18th – Children of Mother Nature

Children Of Mother Nature

Trees And People

A tree that is beginning to grow sends roots down into Mother Earth even as it reaches and opens to the sky above, seeking nourishment from the sun and the moisture in the air and in the rain that falls. In the same way, we can envision ourselves as treelike beings, imagining that we have roots reaching down into the earth, energetic strands that keep us connected. At the same time, the crowns of our heads lift and open to receive nourishment from above. Just like a tree, we seek the sunshine and water we need to survive and thrive. Both trees and people serve as conduits for the intermingling of the opposite and complementary elements of air, water, sun, and earth.

We also share creative ways of growing, regardless of the challenges we come up against in our environments. Trees will even grow through rock, shattering it, in their effort to reach the air and light they need to survive. We are similarly resilient, with a built-in propensity for growth and the conditions that promote it. We find creative ways around the obstacles we confront as we move along our paths, moving toward the light that feeds us, just as trees grow around other trees and rocks as they make their way upward.

Contemplating the ways in which trees and people mirror one another brings us into alignment with the reality that we are part of Mother Nature. Our children, and the trees and their children, will live together on the earth as long as we all survive, sharing the elements and serving together to forward nature’s plan. Walking in a forest can be a meditation, the interweaving lives of all living creatures and the planet on which we all take root and reach for the sky.

The Willow Knot Spell

THE WILLOW KNOT SPELL

To win the love of a young lady, according to the old Gypsy Witch lore, a young man must go into the woods on Saint Johns Day (mid- summer) and find some willow twigs that have grown together into a knot. With a sharp, white handled knife, he must cut the twigs, put them into his mouth, and repeat the following incantation with his eyes closed.

WILLOW TREE
WILLOW TREE
GIVE ME THE LUCK
OF THINE THEN
(NAME OF LOVED ONE)
SHALL FOREVER BE MINE.

Calendar of the Moon for November 15

Calendar of the Moon

 

15 Ngetal/Maimakterion

Day of the Yew Tree

Color: Ivory or bone-white
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon a bone-white cloth set a vase of yew branches, a single ivory candle, a pot of soil, seeds of a sometimes-poisonous medicinal plant, a bowl of water, and a bell.
Offerings: Plant seeds. Care for a cemetery.
Daily Meal: Vegan

Invocation to the Green Man of the Yew Tree

Hail, Green Man of the Autumn!
As the leaves fall and turn to brown,
As their breaking bodies crack beneath our feet,
As the earth itself browns and fades
And every stalk and tree gives way
To withering, the evergreens alone
Hold up their heads, and watch over
A kingdom which begins in death.
This is your kingdom, sacred yew,
Whose wood made bows to shoot
Flying death into the hearts of enemies.
Wreath of sacrificial bulls, beloved of ghosts,
Barrel-maker’s joy, coffin of the vine,
Churchyard tree whose roots spread
One to each corpse’s mouth,
Whose scarlet berries bring still more death,
Spell of knowledge, King’s Wheel,
Boundary of autumn and winter,
Saturn’s tree, slow to grow and slow to die,
Eagle who shrieks and dives to kill,
Whose all-seeing eyes follow shadows,
We hail you, sacred yew tree,
Green Man of the Autumn,
On this the day of your deathwatch.

Chant: (To be sung to the slow beat of a drum)
Like leaves we fall Like leaves we fly Upon the winds

(Each comes forward and plants a seed in the pot of soil, saying, “Hail Green Man of the Earth!” Water is poured onto the pot, and then the rest is poured out as a libation. Ring bell and dismiss.)

 

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Calendar of the Sun for November 15

Calendar of the Sun

 

15 Blutmonath

Nidhogg’s Blot

Color: Black
Element: Earth
Altar: On a black cloth set several bare tree branches in an earthenware vase, a horn of mead, and the figure of a dragon.
Offerings: Pieces of wood with the name of a missed duty scratched on them.
Daily Meal: Tree fruit such as apples or pears or cherries or peaches.

Invocation to Nidhogg

At the base of the great World Tree
Dwells a black dragon
Whose name is Nidhogg,
Whose sole task is gnawing
At the roots of Yggdrasil.
As quickly as it gnaws away,
New growth comes forth
In a never-ceasing spiral.
At the base of each soul
Dwells a black dragon
Whose name is Conscience,
Whose sole job is gnawing
On our blithe thoughtlessness.
As it gnaws and forces us
To do what should be done,
It clears away our disorder
And allows for new growth
In the tangle of our lives.
Teach us, gnawer at the roots,
How to listen and decide.

Chant:

Roots of the Tree,
Hidden, mysterious,
Reveal them to me,
Dragon of Earth.

(Each person shall snap a twig from the branches on the altar and take it with them, laying it under their pillow to remember Nidhogg and their own consciences. The mead is passed around and shared, and the remainder poured out as a libation to Nidhogg.)

 

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Calendar of the Moon for November 7th

Calendar of the Moon

24 Gort/Puanepsion

Apaturia Day 3: Koureotis

Color: White
Element: Air
Altar: Upon a white cloth set the carved root of a tree, the leafy branch of a tree, scattered seeds, a bowl of water, a loaf of bread, and either fresh milk or nourishing herbal tea.
Offerings: Oneself, to the Order.
Daily Meal: A feast of any correct foods of the harvest, prepared for all.

Koureotis Invocation

Hail to those who have come together today!
Hail to those who live outside the Houses,
Yet follow the Rule as best they can,
Spreading the seeds of our Light beyond our walls.
(One comes forth with a handful of seeds, and gives them out to the lay members who have come to the House on this day, and says, “Take these with you, and plant them well.”)
Hail to those who are like the branches of a tree,
Reaching for the light, seeking for grace,
Who come to us like birds alighting,
Perhaps to stay and nest, perhaps to fly away.
Hail to you, and may you touch that Light
With your outstretched arms.
(The tree branch is carried around, and all Branch members brushed with the water.)
Hail to those who are rooted here,
Flesh and bone, heart and soul,
Giving up their lives for this our Life.
Hail to those who are the ground beneath our feet,
The stone beneath the field, the mountain
Beneath the path that climbs. Hail!
(The carved root is carried around, and all Root members are touched with water via the root.)
Bring forth those who would enter,
Who would come further, who would go deeper!
Bring them forth and hear their vows!
(All cry, “Bring them forth!” and those who would enter the Order as lay members are brought forward, and then those who would enter the Houses as Branch members, and then those who would take Root vows. Each in turn makes their vows before all.)

Song: Blessing Song

 

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Herbal Etiquette

Herbal Etiquette

by Amber S.

When studying herbology within witchcraft, it is important to learn about how plants work and the best ways to gather our stores, whether they come from wild plants or plants in our garden. There is more to herbs and trees than meets the eye.
All things have a soul: rocks, trees, animals and people. The soul is the energy of an object that exists in the same place and time as the physical body. Things that exist on the physical plane can be seen on the astral plane because of their energy. When you remove part of a plant, it is customary and proper to ask before you take any part of it and thank the plant once you have finished.
Plants that you grow and raise in your garden do not need to be asked for their permission to take leaves and flowers. Because they depend on you for protection and sustenance, you can remove what you need when you need it. It is an understood relationship between the grower and the plants. They give their leave and fruit in exchange for protection and care. Prayers and spells should be said over the crop at significant times such as planting, watering, pruning, and harvesting.
Wild plants are a little different. these plants are dependant on themselves for their health and survival. When you remove part of a plant, you must first ask the plant. Do this by closing your eyes and imagine just for a moment what you want from the tree. Normally, you will get no answer in return or a feeling of acceptance, in which case, you may remove what you need. Occasionally, however, you will receive a feeling of mistrust or an uncomfortable feeling telling you that you may not remove any part of the plant, in which case, you must move on.

When gathering wild herbs:- Never remove the bark from a tree. Bark covers a tree to keep out disease and fungus just the way our skin does for us. removing the bark can result in infection and the death of the tree. If you need bark for a recipe, remove twigs instead and strip the bark from the removed twigs with a knife.
– Try not to remove the entire plant. If possible, take only a few leaves or flowers and move on.
-Always ask a plant before you remove any part of it.
-Always thank plants after you have taken from them.

Plants are very sacred to witches. All plants should be given homage when we take something from them. There are many different ways of giving thanks. Any act of devotion is acceptable. Traditionally, gifts of apple cider, milk, honey, tobacco, or prayer are given. You can also give shiny coins or fertilizer as a gift. If you have nothing to give, a prayer for the health and well-being of the plant is more than sufficient. Leaving gifts for the tree spirits is also a good thank-you idea. Fairies enjoy music. Performing a song and dance for them is also a good thing to do if you have not brought any gifts with you.

Calendar of the Moon for July 14

Calendar of the Moon

14 Tinne/Hekatombaion

Day of the Spindle Tree

Color: Pale yellow
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon a pale yellow cloth set a vase of spindle-tree twigs, a single pale yellow candle, a pot of soil, seeds of some medicinal or useful herb, a bowl of water, and a bell.
Offerings: Plant seeds. Do some handcraft.
Daily Meal: Vegan

Invocation to the Green Man of the Spindle Tree

Hail, Green Man of the Summer!
Spindle tree of the craftsman’s pride,
You who have been carved and sectioned
Into spools, wands, and many other things,
You who pride yourself on being useful,
Guide our hands as we turn
Things of nature into things of use.
Show us the beauty in pure function
And in pure service,
In the comfort that comes
Of being a worthy tool
And a well-worked object.
Remind us of the satisfaction
In the creation of some new thing
That will please the hands
Of many generations to come.
We hail you, sacred spindle tree,
Green Man of the Summer,
On this your day of labor.

Song: Fashioned in the Clay by Elmer Beal

(Each comes forward and plants a seed in the pot of soil, saying, “Hail Green Man of the Earth!” Water is poured onto the pot, and then the rest is poured out as a libation. Ring bell and dismiss.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Daily OM for July 10 – The Unseen World

The Unseen World

What We Can’t See

by Madisyn Taylor

 

Exploring the unseen world can be well worth your while as there are many gifts awaiting you there.

 

Just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, although this is a common way in which people deny the existence of spirit guides, angels, and other unseen helpers in our lives. However, anyone who has encountered such beings can attest to the fact that they do, indeed, exist, just as our breath exists, keeping us alive, even though we can’t see it. The wind exists, too, but we only know this because we feel it on our skin and hear it moving the leaves on the trees. All around us and within us are things we can’t see, and yet we know they are just as real as the grass beneath our feet.

What we see and don’t see may just be a matter of perspective, like the ladybug who sees the leaf on which she sits, but not the tree the leaf grows on, or the person sitting beneath it. And the person beneath the tree may or may not see the ladybug, depending on where he focuses his attention. Still, all of these things, whether seen or not seen by the person or the ladybug, exist in reality. Some people are more gifted at accessing that which we cannot see, but given an open and willing heart, anyone can tune into the invisible realm and begin to find their way.

Human beings have always done this, and it is only recently that we have fallen into distrusting the existence of what we can’t see. If you have lost touch with the unseen world, all you have to do is resolve to open your heart to its existence, and it will make itself known. Closing your eyes in meditation and visualization, or engaging the unseen through the written word, are just two ways to welcome the invisible back into your life. Whatever you choose to do, cultivating a relationship with that which you can’t see is a time-honored human practice that can greatly enhance your life.

The Wicca Book of Days for July 7 – The Fig Feast

The Wicca Book of Days for July 7

The Fig Feast

 

A festival called the Caprotinia, or the Nonae Caprotinae (“The Nones of the Wild Fig”) took place in ancient Rome on July 7.  Celebrated by serving women, it is thought that this feast day fused an older fig-tree festival with the commemoration of a historical event, when female servants, under the leadership of a caprificus-climbing girl called Philotis played a crucial part in defeating a Latin tribe. During the Caprotinia, the ancillae staged play fights, feasted under fig trees, and offered the fruits to the matriarchal goddess Juno Caprotina.

 

Heavenly Honeysuckle

Go out at dusk to inhale the divine scent of a flowering honeysuckle. Associated with both the Moon and this day’s zodiacal sign of Cancer in astrological belief, honeysuckle has long symbolized the sweet, clinging nature of a young woman’s love.