Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.




Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.     Merry we meet.






In Worship of Trees


Written and Compiled by George Knowles


Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow /  Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder






The common birch tree (Betula pendula alba, also B. pubescens, and B. verrucosa) is one of the sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft.  Coleridge (the English poet and critic 1772–1834) spoke of the birch as the “Lady of the Woods”, due to its lightness, grace, elegance and fragrance particularly after rain.  The wood of the birch is soft and not very durable but being cheap and the tree being able to thrive in any situation or soil, it is grown all over Europe and used for a wide variety of purposes.  In country districts the lighter twigs are used for thatching, wattle fencing and brooms.  Bobbins for thread-mills, herring-barrel staves and various fancy articles are made from birch, as is the manufacture of cloth.  The tree is also a source from which asphyxiating gases have been manufactured, and its charcoal was and still is used for gunpowder.


The white epidermis of its bark when separated into thin layers can be employed as a substitute for oiled paper and applied to various economical uses.  It yields Oil of Birch Tar and the peculiar well-known odour of Russian leather is due to the use of this in the process of its dressing.  Its use imparts durability to leather and it is owing to its presence that books bound in Russian leather are not liable to become mouldy.  The production of Oil of Birch Tar is a Russian industry of considerable importance.  It is also distilled in Holland and Germany but these are appreciably different from the Russian oil.


When the stem of the birch tree is wounded a saccharine juice flows out and when added to yeast it produces a vinous fermentation from which beer, wine, spirits and vinegar are made in various parts of Europe.  Normally during March incisions are cut into the tree from which a thin sugary sap is collected.  Honey, cloves and lemon peel is then added and the whole fermented with yeast from which Birch Wine and a very pleasant cordial is made.  From 16 to 18 gallons of sap may be drawn from one large tree and a moderate tapping does it no harm.


The bark of the birch contains only about 3 per cent of tannic acid but is still used extensively for tanning throughout Northern Europe or wherever there are large birch forests.  As it’s tannic acid gives a pale colour to the skin it is used for the preliminary and the final stages of tanning.  The bark also contains betulin and betuls camphor, while the leaves contain betulorentic acid.  By destructive distillation the white epidermis of the bark yields empyreumatic oil known variously in commerce as:  Oil of Birch Tar, Oleum Rusci, Oleum Betulinum or Dagget.  This is a thick bituminous brownish-black liquid with a pungent balsamic odour.  It contains a high percentage of methylsalicylate as well as creosol and guaiacol.  The Rectified Oil (Oleum Rusci Rectificatum) is sometimes substituted for Oil of Cade.  The Oil of Birch Tar is almost identical with Wintergreen Oil.


In Wicca/Witchcraft the Druids placed the birch at the start of the Celtic tree calendar from whence it became associated with inception and new beginnings and twigs of the birch were use at Beltane celebrations to light the festival fires marking the beginning of a new season.  The birch was also associated with the spirits of the dead and the Underworld.  An old folk-ballad known as “The Wife of Usher’s Well” tells of souls returning from the realms of the dead wearing hats and clothing of made of birch.


One of the ritual tools of a Witch is the Broom, which traditionally it was made by tying the twigs of a Birch tree around a handle made of Ash with strips of Willow.  In folklore it was thought that the Ash with its association with water had command over the four elements.  The Birch with its connection to the spirits of the dead drew those spirits into one’s service and the Willow through its connection with Hecate allowed communication with the Goddess.  The handle, brush and binding of the broom are also symbolic of the triformis aspects of the Goddess. 

The Birch tree is known by several folk-names:  Beithe, Bereza, Berke, Beth and Bouleau.  Its associated deity is Thor.  Its gender type is Feminine, its planet ruler is Venus, and its associated element is Water.  Birch is used to attract the powers needed for protection, purification and exorcism. 

Magical Uses: 

In folklore, tying a red ribbon around the stem or branch of a birch tree would ward off the evil eye.  Because of its purificatory and cleansing properties as well as its association with the Underworld, birch twigs can be used to exorcise evil spirits by gently striking possessed people or animals.  Babies’ cradles were once made from birch wood to protect their innocent charges and the birch was also used for protection against lightning. 

Various parts of the tree have also been applied to medicinal uses.  For instance, the young shoots and leaves of the birch secrete a resinous substance having acidic properties, which when combined with alkalis is said to be a tonic laxative.  The leaves have a peculiar aromatic though agreeable odour with a bitter taste and have been employed in the form of infusion (Birch Tea) for use in gout, rheumatism and dropsy.  It was also recommended as a reliable solvent of kidney stones and with the bark they resolve and resist putrefaction, a decoction of which is good for bathing skin eruptions. 

Oil of Birch Tar is astringent and is mainly used for its curative effects in skin affections, especially eczema, but is also used for some Internal maladies.  Rubbing the oil onto the hands or skin also keeps away insects and prevents gnat bites.  The inner bark is bitter and astringent and has been used in intermittent fevers.  The vernal sap is diuretic and Moxa is made from the yellow fungous excrescences of the wood, which sometimes swell out from the fissures.


Astrologically birch people (i.e. those people born in the month of December) can be vivacious, attractive, elegant, friendly, pretentious and modest.  They do not like anything in excess and abhors the vulgar.  They love life in nature and create a calm and content atmosphere, but while they can be full of imagination, they are not very passionate and have little ambition.  




Cunningham's Encyclopedia Of Magical Herbs - By Scott Cunningham.

Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft - By Raven Grimassi.

The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft - By Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

Tree Wisdom (The difinitive guidebook to the myth, folklore and healing power of Trees) - By Jacqueline Memory Paterson.

AA Book of Britain's Countryside.

The Penguin Hutchinson Reference Library (CD cassette).

Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia (CD cassette).

Plus many websites to numerous to mention.


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Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColoursMagickal DaysStones and GemsElements and Elementals




Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /


Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /


Other things of interest:


Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology)Esbats & Full MoonsLinks to Personal Friends & ResourcesWicca/Witchcraft ResourcesWhat's a spell?Circle Casting and Sacred Space /  Pentagram - PentacleMarks of a WitchThe Witches PowerThe Witches HatAn esoteric guide to visiting LondonSatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  /  Part 2 Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /  The History of ThanksgivingI have a Dream, the 1963 speach by civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King /  Auras by Graham Furnell - Part 1 and Part 2 /


Sabbats and Rituals:


Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)


Rituals contributed by Crone:  Samhain / YuleImbolcOstara /  BeltaneLithaLammasMabon




Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron MagickMirror Gazing




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrowFoxFrog and ToadsGoat / HoneybeeKangarooLionOwlPhoenixRabbits and HaresRavenRobin RedbreastSheep SpiderSquirrelSwansWild Boar /  Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat




In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow /  Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  ElderAlso see:  The Willow Tree (Folk Music)


Sacred Sites:


Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /


Rocks and Stones:


Stones - History, Myths and Lore


 Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:   / Apophyllite  / Amber AmethystAquamarineAragoniteAventurineBlack TourmalineBloodstoneCalciteCarnelianCelestiteCitrineChrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / FluoriteGarnet /  Hematite Herkimer DiamondLabradoriteLapis LazuliMalachiteMoonstoneObsidianOpalPyriteQuartz (Rock Crystal)Rose QuartzRubySeleniteSeraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodaliteSunstoneThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble




Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakeningThe Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


Murder by WitchcraftThe Fairy Witch of ClonmelA Battleship, U-boat, and a WitchThe Troll-Tear (A story for Children)Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-LanternThe Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark


Old Masters of Academia:


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras




Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Abramelin the MageAgrippaAidan A. KellyAlbertus Magnus “Albert the Great”Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” Alison HarlowAmber KAnna Franklin /  Anodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey  / Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite Austin Osman SpareBiddy EarlyBridget ClearyCarl Llewellyn WeschckeCecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey LelandCharles Walton /  Christina Oakley Harrington /  Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) /   Dion FortuneDolores Aschroft-NowickiDorothy MorrisonDoreen ValienteEdward FitchEleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” /  Dr. John Dee and Edward KellyDr. Leo Louis Martello /  Eliphas LeviErnest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry /  Fiona Horne /  Friedrich von SpeeFrancis Barrett /  Gerald B. GardnerGavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gwydion PendderwenHans Holzer /  Helen DuncanHerman Slater "Horrible Herman" /  Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" MurrellJanet Farrar & Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne John George Hohman /  John GerardJohn Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJohannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von EckartshausenLaurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis Spence /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General”Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata /  Monique Wilson the “Queen of the WitchesMontague SummersNicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellersMrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-RavenheartOld Dorothy ClutterbuckOld George Pickingill /   Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsusPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip Emmons Isaac Bonewits Philip HeseltonRaymond BucklandReginald ScotRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /  Rudolf Steiner /  Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & DruidsSabrina - The Ink WitchScott CunninghamSelena FoxSilver Ravenwolf /  Sir Francis DashwoodSir James George FrazerS.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  StarhawkStewart FarrarSybil LeekTed AndrewsThe Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather /  Thomas AdyVera Chapman /  Victor Henry AndersonVivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest



Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)



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