Photograph with kind permission from Martina Aubrechtova via pixabay
“The Spiritual minded man, he looks at an acorn and sees a forest.” Joseph Murphy
I have dedicated a page in Irish words of wisdom to trees and included Celtic Commemorations Kilkenny, home of the Cats and because of the passion of Gerry Gaule, a man who understands the spirit of Irish trees and woods, their lessons and their gifts. A wise man who understands life and living, a craftsman and gentleman. Gerry with beautiful wife Pauline, and below, one of his wise and many wood creations.
My love for trees.
I remember back to my childhood days, climbing and exploring trees, sitting under trees on hot summer days, hiding and swinging from them using a tyre. I love and appreciate their magnificence. I am blessed to have four huge 350 year old beech trees in my garden. I call them my earth Guardian Angels. The photograph is of one of my beautiful and monumental beech trees.
Our native trees are the trees that reached Ireland before we were separated from the rest of Europe. Our most common native trees include oak, ash, hazel, birch, Scots pine, rowan and willow. Over the years, people brought other trees, such as beech, sycamore, horse chestnut, spruce, larch and fir to Ireland from all over the world.
Trees produce the oxygen we breathe
It is worth saying it again; Trees produce the oxygen we breathe. Trees are the biggest plants on the planet. They give life to the world’s wildlife, forests provide a habitat for many species of animals and plants, trees contribute to their environment improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, stabilizing and preserving soil not to mention providing us with the materials for tools and shelter, health benefits etc…
For tree lovers have a look at the Top 22 benefits and learn why we need to plant more and care for our trees available from: https://www.treepeople.org/tree-benefits.
“The wonder is that we can see these tress and not wonder more.” Ralph Walde Emerson
Wikipedia write: Many types of trees found in the Celtic nations are considered to be sacred, whether as symbols, or due to medicinal properties, or because they are seen as the abode of particular nature spirits. Historically and in folklore, the respect given to trees varies in different parts of the Celtic world. On the Isle of Man, the phrase ‘fairy tree’ often refers to the elder tree. The medieval Welsh poem Cad Goddeu (The Battle of the Trees) is believed to contain Celtic tree lore, possibly relating to the crann ogham, the branch of the ogham alphabet where tree names are used as mnemonic devices.
SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF TREES
In many cultures a tree symbolizes the world center, where heaven and earth touch, where all times and places converge. For this reason trees are considered sacred and provide a focal point for meditation, enlightenment, guidance and prayer and if we are open to their energy, will converse with us.
Meaning: The Goddess Tree
Symbolism: Cosmic storehouse of wisdom embodied within its towering strength.
The oak is considered a cosmic storehouse of wisdom embodied within its towering strength.
Ancient Celts observed the oak’s massive growth and impressive expanse. They took this as a clear sign that the oak was to be honored for its endurance, and noble presence.
Indeed, wearing oak leaves was a sign of special status among the Celts (as well as ancient Greeks and Romans). Today we see artistic renditions of the “Leafman” in which a man’s face is covered in leaves. This is an evolution of lore that dates back to earth-based spirituality in which the regal power of the oak was recognized and honoured.
Beech Tree Symbolism
Symbolism – Study and knowledge
This tree is also related to study and knowledge, and long time ago students kept a piece of bark in order to succeed in their studies. Beech trees are believed to enhance creativity, and to pertain to wisdom and written word
Tree of Resurrection
Symbolism – Protection & Oracular Powers
In Celtic folklore it was believed that doorways to the fairy realm where concealed within the Alder’s trunk. The Alder was sacred to the god “Bran” who is said to have created bridge to span the dangerous waters from this world to the other… the chosen wood, “ALDER.” An old Celtic legend speaks of “Bran” carrying a branch from the Alder tree during the “Battle of the Trees. “Bran’s totem animal was the Raven who also became associated with the Alder. Ritual pipes and whistles were often made from Alder wood, many in the shape of the Raven.
Meaning: Tree of Life
Symbolism: Mastership and Power
Ash is the key to healing the loneliness of the human spirit, forming a link between the gods, humans, and the dead in the spirit world. Ash holds the key to Universal Truth and Cosmic Wisdom, and it takes on the important role as a Tree of Initiation.
Meaning: Tree of Loyalty and Harmony
Symbolism: Voice of Spirit
The Aspen, considered part of the poplar family, has a habit of shimmering or quivering in the breeze making a distinctive rustling, whispering sound. In several native languages, the name “Trembling Aspen” as “woman’s tongue” or “noisy leaf”.
Meaning: The Goddess Tree
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.
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.
Meaning: Tree of Harmony
Symbolism “Balance, Calm & Peace”
In the days of the Celts, Europe was covered with dense woods of forests so thick it was said a squirrel could hop from branch to branch from one end to the other without touching the ground. Trees not only provided earthly sustenance: they were regarded as living, magical beings who bestowed blessings from the Otherworlds. From Ancient Celtic Lore comes the concept that all living things arise from the Great Mother, Gaia, source of Life and nourishment and the Elm, often associated with Mother and Earth Goddesses, was said to be the abode of faeries.
Relax in the shade of the Elm tree’s branches and leaves. Say hello across the barriers of form and language letting your hands communicate your intention. Feel the connection to Mother Earth grounding you as you plant your feet firmly. Absorb the energy as you release stressful tensions. Let the Elm nourish you and replace negativity, surrounding you with a protective shield of love, harmony and peace. Let yourself be held in the Elm’s embrace of energy … slow down and explore a balanced path.
Tree of Protection
Symbolism – Good Luck
Holly – The ancient Celts would bring holly into their homes for their bright, cheerful disposition.
Holly was also sacred to the Druids. They kept it in their homes during winter to provide a haven for the “little people.” Its spirit and essence manifests energy of protection for them with respect. Holly is powerful to use for wands, staffs and prayer sticks. It is magical and can successfully be used by anyone with little effort. It is a great plant to use for magical wishes, for protection and for connection to the Faerie Realm.
The Celtic meaning of holly deals with ruling the wintery realms with style, dignity and honor even in the midst of great challenge.
Meaning: Tree of Knowledge
Symbolism: Wisdom and poetic Inspiration
In mediaeval times, the Hazel tree was considered sacred and any junjstified felling, was a crime punishable by death. It was believed that magical skills and knowledge could be gained from eating Hazel nuts, which are the emblems of concentrated wisdom, In Irish folklore, the Hazel tree was the home of “Bile Ratha,” the poetic fairy.
In Celtic tradition, the “Salmon of knowledge” was said to have eaten the nine nuts of poetic wisdom dropped into its sacred pool from the hazel tree growing beside it. Each nut eaten by the salmon became a spot on its skin. Prayer/Talking Sticks made of Hazel wood are said to hold a healing property.
Meaning: Metaphysical and ritual practices
Symbolism: Inspired Imagination
Specifically, the willow wood has been (and still is) used in ceremonies intended for enhancement of psychic abilities, honoring the moon as well as increase the essence of love in our lives.
Many uses and associations came be traced back to our Celtic ancestors’ observations of the willow tree in their natural environment. Druid priests, dryads (priestesses), bards and ovates all recognized the willow’s affinity to watery domains. Flora and fauna in close connection with water are considered dwellers of the psychic realm, and symbolic of inspired imagination.
In all, the willow reminds us to take heed of this lesson: Keep growing and reaching higher no matter where you are planted.
Meaning: Tree of Imbolc
Symbolism: Cosmic storehouse of wisdom embodied within its towering strength.
The rowan has long been honored by the Celts for its balance of beauty and hardiness.
When we silence ourselves long enough to listen to the rowan speak, we hear her message: “look deeper, see through the object before your eyes and you will encounter visions into the worlds beyond the one you physically know.”
The wood of the rowan is traditionally used for divination tools and objects such as runes and wands. Rowan branches are the prime choice for divining rods, and druids also crafted rowan wood into staffs.
The druids maintained the rowan as a sacred container for protective energy. It resonates a high, clear vibration that naturally transforms lower (negative) energies. This is why it is revered as a protective symbol.
The Fairy Tree
I have not included fairy trees as part of this article, that is an article in itself and I will write about fairy trees and what I have been taught about them, in the meantime here is a great article about fairity trees. Yourirish.com/folklore/irish-fairy-trees
“Ireland was once a forest culture, By the time our forebears arrived 9000 years ago, Ireland was blanketed in trees, but following the development of agriculture practices, since the 1600’s, the proportion of Irish woodland has now reached an all time low. Unfortunately, Ireland has been almost completely deforested with merely 1% of native woodland left.”
In her fascinating and excellent article; Ireland a land of trees in the time of Saint Patrick, Irish American Mom Mairead Mairéad Geary expands extensively about our Irish trees and their importance to our Irish heritage. Article: Ireland a land of trees
Other links you might be interested in: Heritage trees of Ireland
If you have any photograph’s of trees you would like to share we would love to see them.
For further information, why not visit Spiritlodge
Finally I love music and have found the amazing Secret Garden ~ Have a look and listen