Ruler of the 1st Lunar Month
24th December – 20th January
In divination Beithe indicates that it is time to shed any negative influences or behaviours which may be around you. This may relate to your own patterns and actions or those of people around you. Instead of being dragged down by the negative begin to focus on the positive things you have in your life. This will help to further manifest these things in your life. Hold your desire firm in your mind to ensure that is stand out from other distractions. A period of spiritual, emotional and physical regeneration may be needed after a time of desolation, allow yourself time to concentrate on this renewal.
Common name: Silver Birch
Scientific name: Betula pendula
Silver birch is a striking, medium-sized deciduous tree. Though they are relatively short lived trees but when mature they can reach 30m in height, forming a light canopy with elegant, triangular leaves which hang from delicate branches. The bark sheds easily and trees often become black and tagged at their base. Once mature the white bark sheds layers like tissue paper and becomes black and rugged at the base.
Another species native to the British Isles include Downy (Betula pubescens). Dwarf birch (Betula nana) can be found in the Highlands of Scotland. The birch tree is often refered to as pioneer species as they are quick to colonize newly opened areas of land. They were amongst the first species to colonize the UK after the end of the Ice Age and they are found all over the northern hemisphere in one form or another, speaking to their diversity and adaptability as a pioneer plant.
Element: Air, Water
Themes: Renewal, Protection
Birds: Eagle, Pheasant, Egret
Deity: Freya, Brigid, Blodeuwedd, Venus, Lugh,
Sabbat: Winter Solstice
Beithe Beithe BeitheSuggested Galdr
Beee Eeeeth Bee Eeeeth
Be Be Be Be Eeeeth
Beithe Beithe Beithe
Brooms made of Birch twigs can be used to drive out the spirits of the old year and to ‘beat the bounds’ of property for protection.
The birch is sometimes used by the shaman to climb the sky ladder to make contact with the Gods of the Air.
Write a wish upon the papery bark of the Birch tree and burn it to make it come true. As an alternative to a yule log wrap a white candle in birch bark.
Birch wands are best used in in spells for inspiration and protection, and the bark makes a good addition to incense intended for use in purification rituals. Steep bark and leaves within water a use as a cleansing wash.
Carrying birch upon your person will prevent kidnapping of the individual by the sidhe, or the Faerie Folk. This will also protect you from malignant intentions. Placing a bough by your door will also protect against ill wishing visitors.
Mythology and Literature
The Birch is a feminine tree, associated with many different Goddesses and female mythological figures. In Norse mythology Birch is associated with Frigg and Freya, whilst in Welsh mythology is is the tree of Blodeuwedd, wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes. In Ireland it is Lugh, the equivalent of Lleu Llaw Gyffes, that receives the first message written in Ogham; a warning that his wife would be lost if not protected by Birch. On the other hand, and in Russia, it is the witch Baba Yaga that is associated with Birch trees. The birch wood is her home and a silver birch twig broom the manner in which she hides her passing.
The association of Birch with the fertility of Beltane and with protection extends to the both the nursery and cowshed. A barren cow herded using a birch stick was believed to become fertile whilst an animal already with calf would be assured a safe and healthy birth. In the home cradles, toys and nursery decorations were often made of Birch in the belief that these would protect the infant from harm, be that from ill health or from the malignant influence of Faeries.
Birch is often used within the celebration of the four fire festivals, Imbolc, Beltane, Samhain and Yule. Generally speaking birch is used within the balefires associated with these events, either as fuel or as the method of lighting it as a symbol of new beginnings. More specifically it is included as one of the woods from which the Yule log is traditionally made and is also used as the maypole during the celebrations of May Day.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,Birch Trees by Robert Frost
And climb black branches
up a snow-white trunk
till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top
and set me down again.
That would be good
both going and coming back.
One could do worse than
be a swinger of birches.