In the Celtic mind, the elegant birch (Betula) was associated with birth, death, and rebirth. This lithe tree was also associated with the balance between the physical realm and other realms, including the realm of the fairies and the realm of the dead. Aligned with the element of fire as well as the watery, ethereal moon, and possessing both masculine and feminine energy at once, the birch is clearly a tree of polarity. This is true in the material sense as well: she appears delicate and light but is actually unusually hearty and adaptable.
The Divine Feminine
Corresponding with goddesses no less powerful and revered than Brighid, Frigga, Freya, Venus, and the Morrigan, the birch is truly an arboreal emissary of the Great Goddess and feminine/lunar mysteries. Indeed, it’s added to sabbat fires as a representation of the Great Goddess.
Healing Depression and Anxiety
Some say that depression is a side effect of being overly attached to the past, while anxiety is a side effect of being overly attached to the future. By bringing inspiration, tranquility, and beauty to our present moment experience, birch can help with both.
For this purpose, take the homeopathic medicine (called “Betula”) or spend time in quiet contemplation with a birch.
Renewal and New Growth
The rune Berkana (appearing like a pointed capital letter B) is named after birch, and—like springtime—indicates a time of renewal, rebirth, verdant expansion, freshness, and new growth. What’s more, maypoles were made of birches. It’s believed that this tradition began when Christianity began forbidding people to perform springtime fertility rites (read: exuberant orgies) among the birch groves.
Remember, too, that new beginnings are also always a sort of death to what went before. In much the same way that the daffodil—as one of the earliest spring flowers—is associated with birth and death, as well as the passage between these two domains. Birch is aligned not just with renewal, but also with mortality and the land of the dead. In fact, in Celtic burials, the body was covered with birch branches as it was conveyed to its final resting place.
In the practical sense, birch demonstrates renewal in the way that she is among the first to appear after a fire or other land disturbance. This paves the way for other plants and animals to eventually return and thrive as well.
BIRCH CHARM FOR BEAUTIFUL NEW BEGINNINGS
To release the old and make room for a beautiful new beginning in any area of life, visit a birch tree at sunrise on a new moon. Offer a bit of ale or red wine by pouring it around the tree’s base, and then silently communicate what you’re ready to let go of and what you’re ready to welcome into your life. Lovingly gather a small amount of the tree’s papery bark. With a gold pen or gold paint, draw the rune Berkana (shaped like a pointed capital B) on the bark. Place it on your altar or keep it with you until your new beginning manifests.
Gender: Masculine and feminine