Merry we meet - Merry we meet - Merry we meet
In Worship of Trees
Written and Compiled by George Knowles
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 moldy. 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
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.
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.
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 definitive 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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Best Wishes and Blessed Be.
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History of Thanksgiving / Auras - Part
1 and Part 2 /
Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /
The History of Thanksgiving / Auras - Part 1 and Part 2 / “Doreen Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /
Sabbats and Festivals:
The Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Rituals contributed by Crone:
Samhain / Yule / Imbolc / Ostara / Beltane / Litha / Lammas / Mabon
Tools of a Witch / The Besom (Broom) / Poppets and Dolls / Pendulums / Cauldron Magick / Mirror Gazing
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Unicorn / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat / Rats / Unicorn
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 / Elder
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 / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Wisdom and Inspiration:
Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill / I Talk to the Trees / Awakening / The Witch in You / A Tale of the Woods / I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murdered by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
Pliny the Elder / Hesiod / Pythagoras
A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Pioneers: Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A Kelly / Albertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda Metteyya / Allan Kardec (Spiritism) / Alphonsus de Spina / Amber K / Ann Moura / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Balthasar Bekker / Biddy Early / Barbara Vickers / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christopher Penczak / Christina Oakley Harrington / Cornelius Loos / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Donald Michael Kraig / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edain McCoy / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake / Fiona Horne / Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Heinrich Kramer / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / Ivo Domínguez Jr. / Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jean Bodin / Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" / Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim - the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred / John Michael Greer / John Score / Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Lodovico Maria Sinistrari / Ludwig Lavater / Madeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Michael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" / Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Martin Antoine Del Rio / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" / Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Olivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Paul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school / Peter Binsfeld / Philip Heselton / Raven Grimassi / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Richard Baxter / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" / Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Rossell Hope Robbins / Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) / Rudolf Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough" / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / T. Thorn Coyle / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / Walter Ernest Butler / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest /
Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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