Spirit Message of the Day – Wood Woman Wise Woman

Wood woman, wise woman, tall as the sky
Speak from your secret strength – say, who am I?

You are a woman, strong with women’s strength
A birch strength, flexible throughout your slender length
Deep-rooted in myth, yet still reaching up high
Each tiny twig seeking out the truth of the sky

Wood woman, wise woman, old as the air
Speak from your forest home – who will love and care?

A thousand friends across the world and in your home
You are not the sort of person who need fear being alone
Just trust yourself, love yourself, and don’t fear seeming weak
And in unexpected places you will find the love you seek.

Wood woman, wise woman, sensual as the earth
Speak from your curving thighs – say, will I give birth?

I cannot tell your future, and would not if I could
Only living in the present will let you be what you should
But see, even now you are fertile with creation
There are many things you can give the world without procreation

Wood woman, wise woman, vibrant as the flame
Speak from your heart-sap – tell me my name

Singer, dancer, writer, speaker, follower and leader
Show the world your true self, and learn how it needs her
Mother, daughter, friend and lover, challenger wise and true
All these people, and many more, are written deep in you

Wood woman, wise woman, you elemental one
Stay with me and guide me, until my journey’s done.

– Anonymous

Advertisements

Spirit Message of the Day – Celtic Tree Month Birch – Strength

CELTIC TREE MONTH – BIRCH
December 24 – January 20: The Birch Moon is a time of rebirth and regeneration. As the Solstice passes, it is time to look towards the light once more. When a forested area burns, Birch is the first tree to grow back. The Celtic name for this month is Beth, pronounced beh. Workings done in this month add momentum and a bit of extra “oomph” to new endeavors. The Birch is also associated with magic done for creativity and fertility, as well as healing and protection. Tie a red ribbon around the trunk of a Birch tree to ward off negative energy. Hang Birch twigs over a cradle to protect a newborn from psychic harm. Use Birch bark as magical parchment to keep writings safe.

–Excerpt taken from http://paganwiccan.about.com
BIRCH LORE
  • 1st Moon of the Celtic Year – (Dec 24 – Jan 21)
  • Latin name: Yellow birch – betula alleghaniensis; black birch – betula lenta; canoe or common birch – betula papyrifea.
  • Celtic name: Beth (pronounced: beh)
  • Folk or Common names: Beithe, Bereza, Berke, Beth, Bouleau, Lady of the Woods, Birth, Canoe Tree, Paper Tree, Silver Birch, White Birch. “Birch” is derived from the meaning “Bright” or “Shining” in Indo-European and Sanskrit terminology. Quite possibly it came from the Anglo-Saxon term “Beorgan” meaning “to protect or shelter”
  • Parts Used: Leaves, bark, wood, sap, branches.
  • Herbal usage: Birch leaves can be used to make an infusion that is good for breaking up kidney or bladder stones. Birch bark is an astringent and can be used to treat non-hereditary baldness. Birch tea can be made from the inner bark and leaves and this is good for rheumatism or as a sedative to aid sleep. Birch sap can be harvested the same way maple sap is, and then boiled down into birch syrup.

Magical History & Associations
The bird associated with the Month of the Birch is the pheasant. Birch’s color is white, its day is Sunday and its gemstone is red chard. The Celtic symbol of Birch is the White Stag with a rack with seven tines. Birch is associated with the element of water, is a tree of the sun and the planet Venus, and its Herbal Gender is feminine. The Birch tree is sacred to the God Thor and the Goddesses Diana and Cerridwen. Birch is considered to be a Goddess tree, the symbol of summer ever-returning. The Birch is also a special tree to the Celts (“On a switch of birch was written the first Ogham inscription in Ireland, namely seven B’s, as a warning to Lug son of Ethliu, to wit, ‘Thy wife will be seven times carried away from you into fairyland or elsewhere, unless birch be her overseer.” – Robert Graves (The White Goddess).

Birch wood is one of the nine traditional firewoods to be added to the Belfire that is burned at Beltane. It is one of the three pillars of Wisdom (Oak, Yew, Birch) and often symbolizes the first level of Druid working. Birch trees often have Otherkin spirits attached to them and the “Lieschi” or “Genii of the Forest” are said to dwell in their tree tops. The Ghillie Dhu (pronounced “Gillee Doo or Yoo”) are guardian tree spirits who are disguised as foliage and dislike human beings. They prefer birch trees to all others, and jealously guard them from humans. If the spirit of the Birch tree touches a head it leaves a white mark and the person turns insane. If it touches a heart, the person will die.

Magickal Usage
The month of Birch is a good time to do magick associated with new beginnings. Magickal work done in this moon adds strength and momentum to any new choices made. The Birch has applications in magick done for protection, creativity, exorcism, fertility, birth, healing, Forest Magic, Inner Authority/Self-Discipline, Lunar workings, love, and purification. Magickal protective uses of Birch include tying a red ribbon around the trunk of a birch to ward off the evil eye. Also, gently whapping someone with a Birch twig drives out negative energy, and Birch branches hung near a cradle will protect the newborn from psychic harm. In fact, cradles can be made from Birch wood to further protect a newborn. Many farmers plant Birch around their houses to protect against lightning. For magical parchment, gather Birch bark from a tree that has been struck by lightning (chosen by Thor) – and the Birch paper will keep the writings safe. Because Birch wood has the qualities of exorcism and protection, its twigs are traditionally used to make witches’ brooms. Brooms made of a mixture of Ash, Birch and Willow are said to be especially powerful in magick.

Birch rods are also used in rustic rituals to drive out the spirits of the old year. Birch is also perfect to use to make a ‘Goddess’ wand, since Birch is the tree known as ‘the Lady of the Woods’ and a grove of Birch trees is an excellent place to communicate with the Goddess. Birch wood is also a good choice for making rune sets to use for divination. Be sure to harvest your branch for the rune set during the waxing moon, and make sure you ask Odin or Byarka to inspire your work. Also ask the tree if it will allow you to take a branch and be sure to leave the tree an offering of thanks when you are done. Birch trees especially appreciate gifts such as pretty stones, sea shells, flowers or herbs. (Please note: never take bark off a living Birch tree, since this will kill it.)

–Excerpt taken from http://www.dutchie.org/Tracy/trees/celtic_tree_birch.html

THE MONTH OF BIRCH

Names: BETH, Birch,  Beath, Bethi, Bedw, Beithe, Bedwen, Beithi, Betula pendula
Celtic Symbol : The White Stag
Zodiac Degrees : 2º00` – 29º59` Capricorn
Ruling Planet : The Sun – Sul
Ancient Gods Associated With The Sun
Greek : Helios, Apollo ( Alson Known As Phoebus), Cynthius And Pytheus
Celtic : Hu, Beli, Taliesin, Arthur
Full Moon: Birch Moon; Moon of Inception, Moon of Beginning
Magickal Properties include Protection of children; purification; creativity
Tarot Key: The Magician

The birch is the tree of inception, representing birth, initiation, discipline and sacrifice. The time is ruled by the force of wild, un-tamed nature, and is reflected in the unconscious (inner) self and the rebirth of the Sun from winter’s solstice.  This is the first tree that takes away  the decay of  the mysterious elder.  Both the Birch and the Elder stand on either sides of The One Nameless Day.   They both represent a link between life and death, with the Birch being the beginning of all things.  It is also associated with the training of Druids, the birth of new life and is both energetic and spontaneous.Children’s cradles were made of Birch. Axe handles were also made from Birch. On the Isle of Man, off the west coast of Scotland, criminals were ‘birched’ to purify them and to drive out evil influences.

The silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) is the most common tree birch in much of Europe. It grows up to 30 m (100 feet) high, but is more often found in spreading clumps on sandy soils. It is one of the first trees to colonize an area after a mature forest is cut; this is probably a large part of its symbolic connection with new beginnings. It is cultivated in North America, often under the name of weeping birch.

Its symbols are the horned animals, especially goats and stags. Connected to pentagrams and mountains. The Magician tarot card. Symbolized by Cernunnos – the horned one, said to be the Soul of Lugh, and the Dagda – Celtic Earth god. Archetypically related to other horned gods such as Pan, the Hircocervus (sacred Goat-Stag), the Egyptian horned god Asar (Osiris), and Shiva who is lord of the animals.

Birch trees have been long associated with fertility and healing magic, and the twigs were used to bestow fertility on cattle and newlyweds. Birch is most useful for fertility and healing spells. The birch has a multitude of uses: it yields a sap similar to maple syrup; its bark can be used as flour and also make birch beer; and birch tea is said to ease rheumatism and gout. The inner bark provides a pain reliever while the leaves can be used to treat arthritis.

–Excerpt taken from http://www.crystal-forest.com/celtictreemonthBIRCH.html

Spirit Message of the Day – Winter Solstice – Spirit of Warmth

YULETIDE & WINTER SOLSTICE
Monday, December 21st, marks the day of Yule. Also known as midwinter, Winter Solstice. This is the longest night of the year and is the time when the Goddess gives birth to the new spark of hope; the light of the world which was conceived during the rites of Ostara. 

The season is for celebrating the rebirth of the sun. The Sun God, who dies at Samhain, is reborn from the Maiden aspect of the Pagan holy trinity: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. On the Winter Solstice, longest night, the Goddess gives birth to the Sun Child when hope for new light is born. The notion of hoping the light returns may seem a bit strange in modern times, but the originators of these traditions did not have the scientific sophistication of contemporary times. The waxing and waning of sunlight was a mystery. 

This is one of three holy days that feels supremely comfortable to Pagans because they are celebrated by the culture at large with many of the Pagan customs and conventions in place. Practices such as gift giving, tree decorating, the hanging of greenery, kissing under the mistletoe and the burning of a Yule log are all unmistakably Pagan. The old Pagan ways are the template over which some religious traditions have laid claims to the season. The most common tradition still in existence from times of old is probably the Yule tree including the stringing of rosebuds, cinnamon sticks, and popcorn garlands, use for keeping the wood spirits warm during the cold winter months. Bells were hung in the limbs so they would ring with spirits passed by.
–Excerpt taken from author Gretchen Raisch-Baskin 

“Dance and Sing the Birth of Sun,
For Holly’s reign is gone and done.
‘Tis from this death rebirth we heed
as bread is found from grinding seed.
So, look within for grain to grind.
May peace and joy be all you find.”
–Raven’s Wing
 

The Winter Solstice: The Unconquered Sun 


 

At the Winter Solstice, we celebrate Children’s Day to honour our children and to bring warmth, light and cheerfulness into the dark time of the year. Holidays such as this have their origin as “holy days”. They are the way human beings mark the sacred times in the yearly cycle of life.  

In the northern latitudes, midwinter’s day has been an important time for celebration throughout the ages. On this shortest day of the year, the sun is at its lowest and weakest, a pivot point from which the light will grow stronger and brighter. This is the turning point of the year. The romans called it Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. 

The Roman midwinter holiday, Saturnalia, was both a gigantic fair and a festival of the home. Riotous merry-making took place, and the halls of houses were decked with boughs of laurel and evergreen trees. Lamps were kept burning to ward off the spirits of darkness. Schools were closed, the army rested, and no criminals were executed. Friends visited one another, bringing good-luck gifts of fruit, cakes, candles, dolls, jewellery, and incense. Temples were decorated with evergreens symbolizing life’s continuity, and processions of people with masked or blackened faces and fantastic hats danced through the streets.  

The custom of mummers visiting their neighbours in costume, which is still alive in Newfoundland, is descended from these masked processions. 

Roman masters feasted with slaves, who were given the freedom to do and say what they liked (the medieval custom of all the inhabitants of the manor, including servants and lords alike, sitting down together for a great Christmas feast, came from this tradition). A Mock King was appointed to take charge of the revels (the Lord of Misrule of medieval Christmas festivities had his origin here). 

In pagan Scandinavia the winter festival was the yule (or juul). Great yule logs were burned, and people drank mead around the bonfires listening to minstrel-poets singing ancient legends. It was believed that the yule log had the magical effect of helping the sun to shine more brightly. 

Mistletoe, which was sacred because it mysteriously grew on the most sacred tree, the oak, was ceremoniously cut and a spray given to each family, to be hung in the doorways as good luck. The celtic Druids also regarded mistletoe as sacred. Druid priests cut it from the tree on which it grew with a golden sickle and handed it to the people, calling it All-Heal. To hang it over a doorway or in a room was to offer goodwill to visitors. Kissing under the mistletoe was a pledge of friendship. Mistletoe is still forbidden in most Christian churches because of its Pagan associations, but it has continued to have a special place in home celebrations. 

In the third century various dates, from December to April, were celebrated by Christians as Christmas. January 6 was the most favoured day because it was thought to be Jesus’ baptismal day (in the Greek Orthodox Church this continues to be the day to celebrate Christmas). Around 350, December 25 was adopted in Rome and gradually almost the entire Christian Church agreed to that date, which coincided with Winter Solstice, the Yule and the Saturnalia. The merry side of Saturnalia was adopted to the observance of Christmas. By 1100 Christmas was the peak celebration of the year for all of Europe. During the 16th century, under the influence of the Reformation, many of the old customs were suppressed and the Church forbade processions, colourful ceremonies, and plays. 

In 1647 in England, Parliament passed a law abolishing Christmas altogether. When Charles II came to the throne, many of the customs were revived, but the feasting and merrymaking were now more worldly than religious. 

Here in Nova Scotia outdoor coloured lights play an important part in the local celebration of the mid-winter season. With the day turning to darkness so early in the North, it is cheering to look out into the cold and dark at lights sparkling and glittering in the crisp air. 

Our celebration of Children’s Day is inspired not only by the pagan celebrations of mid-winter but arises also out of the Japanese holidays of Boy’s Day and Doll’s Day, which are two separate days in the spring, when boys and girls of a certain age are presented to the temple and honoured with special gifts. The Shambhala Children’s shrine is modeled after the display of ancestral dolls traditional in homes on Doll’s Day.Our sangha is our village, our clan, our family. Our children belong to all of us, and are bright reminders of the future of Buddhism. We celebrate them and the Great Eastern Sun together at the darkest time of the year, with open-hearth parties and cheerful festivities.


The Unconquered Sun first appeared as an article by Janet Shotwell in The Karma Dzong Banner (Vol III, No 11, December 1991, Halifax, Nova Scotia).