Tag Archive: birch


Full Wolf Moon – January

The Farmers’ Almanac tell us that January’s full moon is known as the Wolf Moon amongst the Native Americans – Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.

According to the Wise Witches Society, this moon is known as the Storm Moon.  A storm is said to rage most fiercely just before it ends, and the year usually follows suit.

“This moon is also known as Ice Moon, Wolf Moon, Snow Moon, and Cold Moon. This moon was said to warn hunters of falling ice from the trees. This is a time for introspection. Save your energy, stop worrying about others and concentrate on yourself. The zodiac association is Capricorn.” [1]

 

JANUARY: Quiet Moon, Snow Moon, Cold Moon, Chaste Moon, Disting Moon, Moon of Little Winter

Nature Spirits: gnomes, brownies

Herbs: marjoram, holy thistle, nuts, cones

Colors: brilliant white, blue-violet, black

Flowers: snowdrop, crocus

Scents: musk, mimosa

Stones: garnet, onyx, jet, chrysoprase

Trees: birch

Animals: fox, coyote

Birds: pheasant, blue jay

Deities: FreyjaInannaSarasvatiHeraCh’ang-OSinn

Power Flow: sluggish, below the surface; beginning and conceiving. Protection, reversing spells. Conserving energy by working on personal problems that involve no one else. Getting your various bodies to work smoothly together for the same goals. [2]

 

 

 

 

* Check out Mooncircles.com every month, or better yet, subscribe to their monthly newsletter to get the scoop on each month’s Full and New Moons, find out more about Moon Astrology  and read blogs.  They even have a different 3-Minute Moon Ritual for each Full Moon! 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

The Celtic Lady. The Olde Way, “Individual Moons Explained“.

Farmers’ Almanac, “Full Moon Names and Their Meanings“.

Emeraldmoon’s Book of Shadows, “Wolf Moon Full Moon of January“.

Wise Witches Society, “Full Moon Names and Their Meanings“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Schaile, Aepril. Aepril’s Astrology, “Aepril’s Astrology daily forecast Jan 14, 2014“.

The Fine-Arts and Bluesband & Poetry Press, “The Names of the Moons“.

Desai, Dipali. Celestial Space Astrology Blog, “Full Moon in Cancer – January 15, 2014“.

McDowell, Robert. Mooncirlces.com, “January Full Wolf Moon“.

National Geographic, “Full Moons: What’s In A Name?

What-Your-Sign.com, “Symbolic Native American Full Moon Names“.

The Celtic calendar begins with the month of the Birch Moon, a time of new beginnings and making plans for the future.

birch moon

The first of the 13 months of the Celtic calendar is the month of the Birch Moon.  It begins just after Yuletide and runs through most of January.

Staring just after the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year – the month of the Birch Moon marks the period of the year when the hours of daylight start to increase over the hours of darkness.  Its associated color is flame red; from this comes the red candles that we burn at Yuletide.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

The month of the Birch Moon falls into the “quiet time” during the bleakest period of winter.  None of the eight major Neopagan festivals occur in this month.  There is little to do but wait for warmer weather.

This month is therefore primarily a time of contemplations, of looking to the future and starting to make plans for the year ahead- hence the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.

THE LADY OF THE WOODS

The silvery bark that covers the trunk of the birch tree resembles the silver of the moonlight, which it reflects at night giving it a magical look.

birch-wood-tree

“Tree Goddess”. Photo taken by Norse Witch

With its long, slender branches that stretch up to the sky, the birch symbolizes the female aspects of nature and is often known as “the Lady of the Woods.”  Growing up to 100 feet high, it has also been thought of as a ladder that shamans can climb to reach the gods.

 

BIRCH MOON MAGIC

The month of the Birch Moon is the ideal time to weave magic focusing on new beginnings and purification, or to cast spells for support, shielding and cleansing.

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“The Birch” by Margaret Walty

At the beginning of the year, concentrate on new beginnings.  Ask for general luck in whatever the coming year brings, and focus on what you want to achieve.

Resolution Blessing Spell

The birch is the first tree to grow back after a forest has been cut down or razed, reinforcing its association with new beginnings.  It is a tree of extreme hardiness, thriving in places where the oak cannot.  When you make a New Year’s resolution, increase your chances of sticking to our guns by performing this blessing spell.

You Will Need:

  • Red candle
  • Red ribbon
  • Birch wand
  • Frankincense, rose, and benzoin essential oil

resolution spell1. Go for a walk in your local park and collect a birch twig no more than 12 inches long.  As birch is a very common tree, you should be able to find one easily, even in urban areas and parks.

2. Mix a few drops of rose frankincense and benzoin essential oil into the palm of your hand and rub the mixture into a red candle.

3. Light the candle, and stand in front of it for a few moments visualizing your resolution.  If you are planning to learn to play guitar, for instance, visualize ourself happily strumming your favorite song.  You may want to state your intent aloud, saying, “I will learn to play guitar.”

4. Holding your birch twig at one end, pass it through the candle’s flame.  Then turn around, clockwise, holding the twig in front of you to draw a circle around yourself.

5. Repeat the incantation, “I manifest new chances for good fortune, clarity and insight.  I open myself to new experience and allow change to manifest in my life.”

6. Now sit down for a few minutes and quietly contemplate your wish.  When you have finished, blow out the candle.

Purification and Cleansing

purificationThe silver color of the birch’s bark is associated with purity and cleansing.  Criminals and naughty schoolboys were often beaten with birch twigs – “birched” – in order to purify them and drive out any evil influences.

This is a good time to cleanse your mind of negative thoughts and attitudes, such as anger and jealousy, or an addictive behavior, such as smoking.  A full Moon that calls within the month of the Birch Moon is called the Cold Moon; you can strengthen your intent by performing the following ritual at this time.

A Simple Cold Moon Ritual:

1. Light a white candle besides a small bowl of natural spring or rain water.

2. Stand over the water and pray for the strength to let go of your vice.

3. Write down your negative behavior nine times on a piece of paper.

4. Fold up the paper, place it inside a freezer bag, and pour in some of the prayer water.

5. Place the bag inside your icebox to “freeze” your bad habits – putting them behind your forever.

Birch Throughout the Year

birch year

  • Birch is used for purification, exorcism and protection.  A red ribbon tied to a birch twig will help ward off the evil eye.
  • Witches’ brooms are made of birch twigs tied around an ash branch with strips of willow.  The purifying birch sweeps away evil spirits, as well as dirt.
  • At Beltane (May Day), birch twigs are used to light the fires that signal the beginning of the new season.

 

 

 

 

Source:

“Enhancing Your Body, Mind and Spirit”, 21 Nature Magic, CARD  5.

 

Suggested Links:

Celticradio.net, “Celtic Zodiac: The Birch“.

The Goddess Tree, “Birch“.

Jaecap. People.tribe.net, “The Birch Tree“.

Spiritblogger.wordpress.com, “Spirit Message of the Day – Celtic Tree Month Birch – Strength“.

Goddess Saules Mate

“Saule” by Lisa Hunt

“Saules Mate’s themes are the sun, prayer and protection. Her symbols are the sun, fire, yellow/gold items, horses and birch.  Saules Mate comes to us from Indo-European tradition, Her name meaning ‘sun’. Indeed, with the sun reaching its highest point today, She becomes the center of our festivities. Saules Mate crosses the sky during the day in a carriage drawn by yellow horses, then travels the waters by night in a golden birch boat, hanging a red scarf in the wind to give the sky its lovely color.

In magical traditions, we stop for a moment on this day to mark the sun’s halfway point through its annual journey. Traditionally, this is a time to harvest magical herbs, but do so before Saules Mate gets too bright in the sky; Her heat diminishes the natural oils in the herbs. Remember to leave an offering for the Goddess so She will empower these herbs – perhaps some ground birch wood that acts as plant mulch!

Purify yourself by jumping the ritual fire (or a candle) today, then burn a wish in Saules Mate’s fires to release it into Her care. And use this invocation to Saules Mate for part of personal magic today (for the southern quarter of the magic circle):

‘Powers of fire, reach ever higher. Saules Mate, bring your light; the power to ignite. Salamanders prance in the magical dance, by your power and my will, this sacred space fill!'”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Saule” by Helena Nelson-Reed

“Saule (pronounced SEW-lay) means ‘the sun’ and is the most powerful of Latvian heavenly Goddesses. She is the Goddess of the sun and of fertility, the patroness of all unfortunate people, especially orphans (as the only one to substitute the mother, to warm the child; mother is compared to Saule speaking of kindness, and bride as speaking of beauty). She is the mother of Saules meitas or meita (plural or singular). She is said to live on the top of the heavenly mountain (some model of world), where She rides during the day in Her chariot. At night She sails with Her boat on the world sea. The motif of permanent motion is apparent in this image, as well as the idea of the sun shining somewhere else during the night. Of course, the diachronic aspect is to be taken into account. In several cases She appears as the ruler in heaven, especially in relations with Meness.” [1]

Patricia Monaghan tells us that “Saule ruled all parts of life, from birth into Her light to death when She welcomed souls into Her apple tree in the west. Even the name of the ocean on which the Balts lived was Hers, named for Balta Saulite (‘darling little white sun’). She was worshiped in songs and rituals that celebrated Her nurturance of earth’s life, for She was Our Mother, called various names like Saulite Mat (‘little sun-mother’) and Saulite Sudrabota (‘little silver sun’).

She was married in the springtime of creation to the moon man Menesis. Their first child was the earth; after that, countless children became the stars of heaven. Saule was a hardworking mother, leaving the house at dawn each day and driving Her chariot across the sky until dusk. Menesis, however, was fickle and carefree, staying home all day and only sometimes driving his moon-chariot. The light of Saule’s life was Her daughter (variously named Austrine, Valkyrine, and Barbelina, but most generally called Saules Meita, the sun’s daughter), the beloved lady of the Morning Star (or Venus).

Each evening, after She had bathed Her weary horses in the Nemunas River, Saule looked for the child. But one evening She could not find Her – for in Her absence, Saule’s beautiful long-haired daughter had been raped by Menesis.

Art by Marilyn Todd-Daniels

Furious beyond words, Saule took a sword and slashed the moon’s face, leaving the marks we see today. Then She banished him forever from Her presence; thus, they are no longer seen together in the sky – the end of the happy paradise before the evil came into our world.

Saule was worshiped every day when Her people would bow to the east to greet Mother Sun. But she was especially honored on summer solstice, Ligo, when She rose crowned with a braid of red fern blossoms to dance on the hilltops in Her silver shoes. At that moment, people dived into east-flowing streams to bathe themselves in Her light. All the women donned similar braided wreaths and walked through the fields, singing Goddess songs, or daina. Finally, they gathered around bonfires and sang the night away.

“Sophia of the Heights” by Freydoon Rassouli

Because LIthuanian is the oldest extant Indo-European language, it is thought that the Baltic mythologies hold clues to the original beliefs of the people.  But scholarly convention has it that the Indo-Europeans worshiped a sky father embodied in the sun.  Whence, then, this powerful sun mother? Marija Gimbutas, herself Lithuanian, believed Saule to be an Old European Goddess of that woman honoring culture that preceded the Indo-European invasions; Saule was to give way to a male solar divinity. But sun Goddesses in other Indo-European areas show there is room for study” (p. 274). (See my entry on Sól)

 

 

The most Latvian of holiday, “Ligo!”  Below, a video featuring an in-depth explanation of the traditional Ligo! festivities, by Latvia tourism.

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Saule”.

Putelis, Aldis. Encyclopedia Mythica, “Saule“.

Suggested Links:

Agaliha. Mystic Wicks, “Saule {Goddess of the Week}“.

The Blue Roebuck,Saule“.

Dunduliene, Prane. The Sage Grove, “Forgotten Goddesses – Saule“,

Monaghan, Patricia. The Goddess Path: Myths, Invocations & Rituals.

Wikipedia, “Latvian Mythology“.

Wikipedia, “Saulė“.

Goddess Lada

“Goddess Lada” by Lady-Ghost

“Lada’s themes are spring, protection, overcoming, kinship, energy, and joy.  Her symbols are birch and bells.  Lada bursts forth from Her winter hiding place today in full Slavic costume and dances with joy, grateful for spring’s arrival. As Lada moves, Her skirts sweep away sickness and usher in the earth’s blossoming beauty. She bears a birch tree and flowers to honor the earth’s fertility and to begin planting anew.

Sechseläuten, a traditional Swiss spring holiday, is overflowing with Lada’s vibrancy and begins with the demolition of a snowman, symbolic of winter’s complete overthrow. If you don’t live in a region where there’s snow, take out an ice cube and put a flowering seed atop it. Let is melt, then plant the seed with ‘winter’s’ water to welcome Lada back to the earth.

Bells ring throughout this day in Switzerland to proclaim spring and ring out any remaining winter maladies and shadows. Adapt this by taking a handheld bell (you can get small ones at craft stores) and ringing it in every room of the house, intoning Lada’s revitalizing energy. Or, just ring your doorbell, open the door, and bring in some flowers as a way of offering Lada’s spirit hospitality.

Finally, wear something with a floral print today or enjoy a glass of birch beer. Better still, make a birch beer float so the ice cream (snow) melts amid Lada’s warmth, bringing that transformative power into you as you sip.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Lada is the Slavic Goddess of spring, love, and beauty. She was worshipped throughout Russia, Poland, and other areas of Eastern Europe. She is usually depicted as a young woman with long blonde hair. She carries wild roses, and is also known as the ‘Lady of the Flowers’. As Goddess of spring, Lada is associated with love and fertility in both humans and animals. She is said to return from the underworld every year at the Vernal Equinox, bringing the spring with Her.” [1]

“The Slavic Goddess of love and beauty, who appears as Freya, Isis, or Aphrodite with other peoples. She is, of course, linked to the planetary power of Venus who is, besides love and beauty, associated with fertility. Lada is represented as a girl with long golden hair sometimes with a wreath of ears of grain braided into Her hair, which symbolizes Her function of fertility deity thus making Her an aspect of Mother of Wet Land. A symbol of Sun, a mark of lifegiving power was sometimes on her breasts. As a fertility Goddess, Lada has Her annual cycles, which can be shown by the belief that She resides in the dwelling place of the dead until the vernal equinox comes. This world of the dead is called Irij, and here, besides Lada, dwells Veles, the horned god of cattle. [Does this story ring a bell?  A connection between Persephone/Kore in Greek mythology or Oniata in the Americas?]

At the moment when Lada is supposed to come out into the world and bring spring, Gerovit opens the door of Irij letting the fertility Goddess bless the earth. At the end of summer, Lada returns to Irij (there is a similar myth in German mythology in which Freya spends a part of the year underground among the elves, whereas Greek Persefona dwells in Hades during the winter period). Although Her reign begins on the 21st of March, Lada is primarily the Goddess of summer. She follows Vesna, the Slavic spring Goddess. However, both of these Goddesses are associated with fertility so sometimes it can sometimes be difficult to separate their functions. As we can see, Lada’s reign begins in spring, the proof of which is ladenjanother name for April, given after this Goddess. Apart from the Sun, Lada is also associated with rain and hot summer nights, the ideal time for paying respect to the love Goddess.

Lada’s animals are a cock, a deer, an ant and an eagle, whereas Her plants are a cherry, a dandelion, a linden and a peony. Besides Venus, Lada is connected with the constilation of Taurus, which Aleksandar Asov wrote about in The Slavic Astrology. Here, we can once again Her function of fertility Goddess, whose reign begins in spring, mix with the function of the Goddess Vesna. A myth says that Lada is married to Svarog who is only with Her help able to create the world. According to another one, She is a companion of Jarilo, thus associated with Aphrodite, whose lover is Ares. Rituals performed in Lada’s honor are most often linked with contracting marriages, or choosing a spouse. One of the known rites is ladarice, also performed under the name of kraljice in Serbia. Vuk Karadžić described the basic characteristics of this ritual. On Holy Trinity Day, a group of about ten young girls gathers, one of them is dressed like a queen, another one like a king, and another one like a color-bearer. The queen is sitting on a chair, while the other girls are dancing around Her, and the king and the color-bearer are dancing on their own. In this way the queens go from house to house looking for girls of marriageable age. Jumping over the fire is another characteristic of rituals performed in Lada’s honor. This custom existed in all parts of Europe and its purpose was to ensure fertility as well as to protect people and cattle from evil forces.” [2]  This very similar to the customs of Beltane; celebrating the May Queen and jumping the balefire for purification purposes and to ensure fertility.

“Lady Galadriel” by Josephine Wall

“Lada’s name means peace, union, and harmony.  Lada creates harmony within the household and in marriages;  She blesses unions of love with peace and goodwill.  In Russia, when a couple is happily married it is said that they ‘live in Lada.’  Rituals performed in Her honor are most often linked with contracting marriages and and choosing a spouse.” [3] 

 

 

Sources:

MXTODIS123. An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology, and You, “Lada“.

Kakaševski, Vesna (translated by Jelena Salipurović). Starisloveni.com, “Lada“.

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Lada“.

Wolf Moon – January

The Farmers’ Almanac tell us that January’s full moon is known as the Wolf Moon amongst the Native Americans – Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.

According to the Wise Witches Society, this moon is known as the Storm Moon.  A storm is said to rage most fiercely just before it ends, and the year usually follows suit.

“This moon is also known as Ice Moon, Wolf Moon, Snow Moon, and Cold Moon. This moon was said to warn hunters of falling ice from the trees. This is a time for introspection. Save your energy, stop worrying about others and concentrate on yourself. The zodiac association is Capricorn.” [1]

 

JANUARY: Quiet Moon, Snow Moon, Cold Moon, Chaste Moon, Disting Moon, Moon of Little Winter

Nature Spirits: gnomes, brownies

Herbs: marjoram, holy thistle, nuts, cones

Colors: brilliant white, blue-violet, black

Flowers: snowdrop, crocus

Scents: musk, mimosa

Stones: garnet, onyx, jet, chrysoprase

Trees: birch

Animals: fox, coyote

Birds: pheasant, blue jay

Deities: FreyjaInannaSarasvatiHeraCh’ang-OSinn

Power Flow: sluggish, below the surface; beginning and conceiving. Protection, reversing spells. Conserving energy by working on personal problems that involve no one else. Getting your various bodies to work smoothly together for the same goals. [2]

 

 

 

Sources:

The Celtic Lady. The Olde Way, “Individual Moons Explained“.

Farmers’ Almanac, “Full Moon Names and Their Meanings“.

Emeraldmoon’s Book of Shadows, “Wolf Moon Full Moon of January“.

Wise Witches Society, “Full Moon Names and Their Meanings“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

The Fine-Arts and Bluesband & Poetry Press, “The Names of the Moons“.

McDowell, Robert. Mooncirlces.com, “January Full Wolf Moon“.

National Geographic, “Full Moons: What’s In A Name?

What-Your-Sign.com, “Symbolic Native American Full Moon Names“.

 

 

 

* Check out Mooncircles.com every month, or better yet, subscribe to their monthly newsletter to get the scoop on each month’s Full and New Moons, find out more about Moon Astrology  and read blogs.  They even have a different 3-Minute Moon Ritual for each Full Moon! 

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