I went and named myself a birch tree maiden — because I like them, because they make me smile, because of the character in Thomas the Rhymer, because birch switches have kinky connotations and so do I — and today I went and looked them up in the context of Druid Trees.
The context of why I decided to do this now: Someone I know is looking for a tied-to-her-ancestors lens through-which to understand her own abilities to communicate with (and, er, draw the attention of) non-human intelligences. I’ve been pushing her towards various types of neopagan druidry because… it seems to fit. The skills she already has fit the profile of a seer, but her animism also fits with the ways her (and my) ancestors read the world, its holy places, it’s vast and acknowledged life-in-all-things.
So I’ve been looking at Druid Stuff today, and this gave me an excuse to go looking up the Birch Tree and seeing what-all it’s about.
I see rulership. I see a tree of song, communication, music, and words. I see an association with the ancestors. I see healing and blessing. I see love and trust and partnership. I see new beginnings (appropriate for my own pantheon — My Lady of New Beginnings stands in scrub-land and meadow, between the field and the forest, and that’s the space the birch tree occupies). I see creativity. I see fertility. I see world-trees. I see new perspectives (shades of the Hanged Man in my tarot deck). I see protection (both in the sense of the magical and in the sense of the literal – housing and roofing materials). I see water associations. I see women associations and goddess associations. I see winter associations. I see … huh… an unexpected tie to Macha, the earthy, horse-woman of the Morigan trio who handles fertility as well as death. Really? Huh. Can anyone confirm this? <*eyebrow*>
I see a lot of ways in which I picked the right tree for me, my pantheon, my own life and work. Eeeeeeeeeeeeenteresting. 🙂
Anyone worked with birch before? Care to share? Drop me a comment and we’ll yack. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden
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Birch is, indeed, for beginnings – the first tree to return (where I come from) after destruction, the first to colonise new land, the first to bud and then leaf (which is why I personally see it as an early-spring/Imbolc tree). It’s incredibly useful: fragrant and diuretic; it’s flexible, dyeing many colours, the bark can be moulded when wet and produces birch tar for glue and waterproofing. It’s intoxicating: the sap is sweet and makes wine.
It’s also a tree of the otherworld, and the dead – check out songs like The Wife Of Usher’s Well. The visiting dead wear hats of birch.
Will think more about this! 🙂
Here, the birch leafs late (a good one for planting food shrubs under because it’s dappled shade, as well), but buds VERY early. You can feel her stretching and waking up literally as soon as the snow is really melting. (Sometimes as early as Spring Equinox).
She’s very much a spring tree in my world as well. 🙂
I look at her and frequently see a ballet dancer, honestly. Touching the earth lightly. (Maybe that’s because of their shallow root systems?)
They’re actually nitrogen-fixers, like beans. Isn’t that cool? Their presence helps get the ground ready to support forests (rather than the self-seeding annuals of meadow land). They’re like cedars (although not necessarily willows) in the way they suck up water and can happily live knee-deep in the stuff for weeks.
Here, people make birch syrup (although not as often as maple syrup). Maple syrup is to birch syrup what clover honey is to buckwheat honey, more or less. I think it’s neat that her leaves make a tea that helps with arthritis.
It’s astonishing me how much this tree is linked with my own Girls. O.O
I’ll have a look at the song you mentioned. 🙂