Myths and Lore
time began the tree has been recognized as a symbol of life and
regeneration and to some of sacred knowledge. To primitive man the tree
and its by-products were a source used in all aspects of life. It
offered Shelter from the elements, Food from its fruit, Heat from a
fire, Clothing from its bark and Tools as well as Weapons from its
wood. Little wonder then that the tree evolved as one of the earliest
symbols of reverence to worship.
Of old the Oak tree was thought
to have been the primary symbol of worship and then other trees were
given prevalence. Trees in general were believed to have been the God
incarnate. Kings, Queens, Emissaries, Priests and Priestesses all
carried branches of Oak (or those of the other sacred trees) as symbols
of their authority. The Staff (also made from rowan, walnut, birch and
beech) became a symbol that the bearer was an emissary of the gods.
symbolism was common throughout continental Europe and the British
Isles and appears in the lore and mythology of many cultures. Some
believed that giant trees supported the World, others like the
Greco-Romans believed that the Gods themselves transformed into trees.
The Celts and Teutons believed that the first human beings were
descendant from trees.
In many Pagan beliefs the tree was
considered magical, it’s roots extended beneath the earth and beneath
the earth was a realm of great mystery. This was the Underworld, the
predominant place of the God and ancestral spirits. But so did a trees
branches bare fruit and reach up into the heavens another realm of
great mystery and the predominant place of the Goddess, where the
physical manifestations of both the God and Goddess could be seen in
the Sun, Moon and Stars. Birds were thought to be the messengers of the
gods and they often nest in trees to rear their young, so the trunk of
the tree itself became a bridge between the worlds.
mystical belief of 'as above, so below' came from trees. The tree has
two equal parts, the top that reached into the heavens – 'as above',
and a virtually identical part that reached deep down into the earth –
'as below'. This refers to the belief that whatever is in the unseen
world is replicated and manifest in the physical world (one of the
basic principles behind all magic). As the tree physically unites the
heaven with the earth, so the Goddess and God became one.
folklore many pagan gods sacrificed themselves on trees, an act that
reunited them with the 'all that is' and the afterlife of
reincarnation. In some traditions it was believed that only women could
enter the afterlife (known to some as 'Tir-na-nog', or the 'Land of the
Forever Young') and that man must first be reabsorbed into the womb
before passing on. The tree with its all-reaching circle of life,
death, earth and sky fulfills this symbolism.
Nature spirits and
elementals are believed to dwell in trees, normally indisposed to
helping humans, they could under certain circumstances be partitioned
to aid in magic and to communicate with deities. Tree fairies lived
high up in the branches watching out for children and laughing at human
folly, while gnomes the earth elementals were said to make their homes
in the roots of oak trees. There they could watch out and protect all
of earths creatures.
Trees were also used to bind and trap evil
spirits. This was normally done through the use of prayers and spells.
In folklore trees were often planted over the graves of evil magicians
and wicked witches to keep their spirits from returning and harassing
the living. It was believed that the trees roots trapped their souls
beneath the earth in that realm of great mystery.
had always been considered sacred, much of their associations have been
credited to the ancient Druids. It was the druids that developed the
practice of tree magick particularly in relation to healing. They
devised rituals and methods of divination using trees, and codified the
Celtic calendar by allocating a tree to each of the 13 yearly phases of
the moon, each tree being sacred to either the Goddess or God.
with Samhain in November the original beginning of the Celtic new year,
I list here the 13 trees (actually 12 trees and one plant the 'Ivy')
with their noon associations and their general magical properties.
Other associations and correspondences can be found under their
Birch – November - Samhain - also known as
the Moon of Inception and/or Moon of Beginnings. Magical properties –
Protection of children and Purification.
Rowan – December -
Yule – also known as the Moon of Vision and/or the Astral Travel Moon.
Magical properties – Healing and Empowerment.
Ash – January - Ostara – also known as the Moon of Waters. Magical properties – Prosperity, Protection and Healing.
– February - also known as the Moon of Utility, Moon of Efficacy or
Moon of Self-Guidance. Magical properties – Completeness and
Willow – March - Imbolc – also known as the
Witches Moon and/or Moon of Balance. Magical properties – Love,
Healing, Protection and Fertility.
Hawthorn – April - Beltane
– also known as the Moon of Restraint and/or Moon of Hindrance. Magical
properties – Fertility, Peace and Prosperity.
Oak – May - also known as the Moon of Strength and/or Moon of Security. Magical properties – All positive purposes.
– June - Litha – also known as the Moon of Encirclement and/or Moon of
Polarity. Magical properties – Protection, Prophecy and all magick for
Hazel – July - also known as the Moon of the Wise
and/or Crone Moon. Magical properties – Manifestation, Protection and
Vine – August - Lughnasadh – also known as the Moon
of Celebration. Magical properties – Prosperity, Protection, Healing,
Inspiration and Spirituality.
Ivy – September - Madon – also
known as the Moon of Buoyancy and/or Moon of Resilience. Magical
properties – Healing, Protection, Cooperation and Exorcism.
– October - also known as the Moon of the House, Hearth Moon or the
Moon of Truth. Magical properties - Fertility, Love and Protection.
- Last two days of October and first day of November - also known as
the Moon of Completeness. Magical properties – Prosperity, Healing,
Banishing and Exorcism.