In forest and in gardens, the silver-barked birch trees stand sentinel during these waning days of Winter. It won’t be long now before the buds will be apparent, especially in Ireland, as birch is one of the first trees to burst forth with the gift of new life and spring awakenings. Birch, known as Beith in Irish, is a tree of the transition of the season of Samhain (winter) to Imbolc (spring). It is the third tree of the ancient lunar Ogham Tree Calendar and represents the Ogham alphabet letter B.
Birch represents beginnings, as we stand on the threshold of Imbolc, the springtime and, with that, Brigit’s Day, celebrated on 31 January/ 1 February. Birch is one of Brigit’s favourite trees, along with oak. Just as Brigit tended to the healing and nourishment of her people, birch is considered a nurturing tree of the forest as its tiny leaves allows sunlight to trickle through and feed the plants closer to the forest floor. Additionally, the tiny birch leaves rot easily, offering rich compost for others to grow and thrive.
To humans, birch offers healing remedies to the body. Its leaves, bark and stems can be made into a tea and ingested as a spring detoxifier and also to ease the inflammation and pain of rheumatism and arthritis. Because of its astringent and antiseptic properties, birch tea can also be beneficial as a wash, directly on the skin, to reduce eczema outbreaks. Take a bath in birch leaves or bark to ease muscle aches and pains.
This week, take a walk in Nature and discover a birch tree. Lean against its narrow trunk, sharing your breath with it and slowing down to the pace of the tree, the pace of Nature.
Ask if you may receive a gift, a branch, to take home and connect with, to place on your altar. It is always important to ask a plant’s permission before taking. And listen for the reply. Do not take it personally if a tree or plant is resistant. Ask again, being more clear with your intention or move on to another.
With your birch branch/ wand, take a piece of light blue yarn, about 10 to 12 inches in length and tie it at one end of the stick. Wrap the wand with intention as you weave the light blue yarn around the stick, allowing your meditation to be that which you are calling in and that which you awakening to, as winter moves into spring. Wrap the birch wand until you are done. And place it on your altar or a place where you can see it often and be reminded of your ritual and intention, of the promise of new beginnings and the awakenings of the Earth and your own essence.