This month the Irish Heritage Tree is partnering with the Celtic group Moon Mná to give readers a chance to win a native tree planted in Ireland. 

The Irish Heritage Tree, an initiative created by IrishCentral, allows our community to plant a native tree in the green forests of Ireland and is an ideal way to honor your family, friends, and Irish ancestry while joining our commitment to keeping Ireland green and growing. Find out more information here.

This month we're delighted to collaborate once more with Moon Mná Women's Celtic Circle, an international group of women whose heart beats with Celtic soul. They are offering you the chance to plant an Irish Heritage Tree in honor of someone special to you - it could be a loved one who has passed, or to celebrate an occasion, such as a birth, anniversary, retirement, your own Irish roots.

Win an Irish Heritage Tree planted in Ireland:

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The Moon Mná Diary-Journal 2022 features fascinating facts and personal stories about native Irish trees. This month focuses on the Crab Apple Tree which you can learn more about below.

The Crab Apple Tree: one of Ireland's oldest native sacred trees

An extract from the Moon Mná Diary-Journal 2022 by Dr. Karen Ward

As the ‘Tree of Immortality', the native Crab Apple is the ‘silver bough’ of the Faerie folk. Steeped in myth and legend, this tree has been grown in Ireland for at least 3000 years. Its name in Irish Gaelic is Ceirt also Crann Fia-Úll with the horticultural name Malus Sylvestris. The dark green, oval leaves are alternately arranged on the branches and their pinkish-white flowers have 5 petals growing to tart-tasting fruit.

The main difference with common Apple trees is that not only the tree but also the fruit of Crab Apples are smaller in size. Hardy trees that like moist and sunny habitats, found in hedgerows and in woodlands, Crab Apple can reach 100 years and are pollinated by bees. Belonging to the Rosaceae Rose family, all species of Apple trees are a symbol of beauty, love, health and fertility. Perceived as a healing gift of the Gods and Goddesses they are an age-old symbol of eternal youth, long life and renewal.

Did you know ... Crab Apple’s high pectin content ‘sets’ jams and jellies? Full of fiber, eating one a day aids gum health and digestion. Medicinally the fruit’s antioxidant lowers cholesterol while the malic and tartaric acid, which gives the sour taste, can help ease gout, inflammation, constipation, and fever.  Crab Apple is very popular to make cider and sparkling alcohol drinks and sweetened refreshing juices.

As the Ogham tree ‘Q’, Crab Apple is connected with Samhain, the Celtic New Year and still features today at Halloween for games, divination, food and drink. Even today in Wexford, Ireland and South England the tradition of ‘Wassailing’ the oldest apple tree at mid-Winter continues to celebrate this tree and its fruit.

Crab Apple is forever immortalized in the Celtic myths of the Isle of Apples, the romantic legend of warrior Bran and faerie goddess Aisling, the tale of Cormac Mac Airt and Manannan Mac Lir as well as W.B. Yeats poetry.

A Reflection of the First Fruits – a Crab Apple Tree story extract from the Moon Mná Diary-Journal 2022 by Annette Davis Campbell, Musician/Singer, Moon Mná Circle Facilitator, Shamanic Practitioner, Student of Herbalism.

Crab Apple Tree expresses balance in her equal parts below ground and above ground, in her symmetry.  She shows her young fruits as we come into the Idir Ait (‘between places’ in Gaelic), this time between the Summer Solstice and Lughnasa, the first fruits harvest.

The lone planted Crab Apple - so many low limbs reach out to hug me - a perfect resting place for a soul sister.  As I unfocus my eyes, I see the tree’s bark moving, breathing, and its heart beating.  I’m grateful for this precious vision. I’m receiving so much, I ask, “what can I give back?”  The answer is “You are giving it”.  Yes, I am giving attention and love, but I can give more.  Hugs coming up! She provides a refuge for recharging; I’m feeling fed.

I reminisce that as a young child I once took refuge in a large fissure in the trunk of a tree in our yard.  I felt enveloped, hidden away from some tense energy I’d picked up from inside the house. That tree was a godsend, sheltering me for a short time away from the others. As a child I connected to nature easily; now I depend on that connection to ground me.

I ask Crab Apple Tree to please teach me, visioning her in a bright golden mist, perhaps a reflection off the first fruits.  I saw her standing in harmony and balance, roots reaching into the dark earth, limbs reaching towards golden skylight. This beautifully balanced tree assured me that “All Is Well”.  She often goes unnoticed because she is small; one must look closely for her craggy bark and misshapen trunks.

Do we sometimes feel like that?  Misshapen? Craggy? There are times, yes, but I am learning to love my shape. I’m learning to love everything about me as I change physically and evolve spiritually, and hopefully age gracefully in my crone years.  This is what Crabapple represents to me - love, and especially self-love. “Seek balance, harmony will follow.” And she says to me again, to all of us, “All is Well.

This article is proudly presented in collaboration with the Irish Heritage Tree Program and Moon Mná. 

Moon Mná Women's Celtic Circles is an international community of women, whose heart beats with Celtic soul, mná being the word for women in the Irish Gaelic language and pronounced ‘meh-naw’. We commune daily through the pages of the Moon Mná Diary-Journal while gathering online for Lunar Gatherings and ceremonial Rites of Passage Courses. Find out more here. 

You can follow Moon Mná on Facebook and Instagram or e-mail them at moonmna@moonmna.ie