IrishCentral is delighted to partner with the Celtic company 'Moon Mná', who is giving one lucky reader an incredible chance of winning an Irish Heritage Tree planted for you in Ireland.
For those whose heart beats with ‘Celtic Soul’, Moon Mná is for women who love the Moon, Celtic and Nature inspired books, diaries, journals, and gifts.
Their Moon Mná Diary-Journal offers the precious gift of personal sacred time to reflect. Each month features fascinating facts and personal stories on different Irish trees.
The Birch Tree: one of Ireland's oldest native sacred trees
An extract from the Moon Mná Diary-Journal 2022 by Dr. Karen Ward.
Known as the ‘Lady of the Woods’, the Birch tree heralds new beginnings and promise as Spring beckons from this month of January. This beautiful pioneering tree grows easily in cleared land having spread in post-glacial Ireland before the primal Oak forests began. There are two native Irish species, Beith (also Beithe) Gheal, Betula Pendula: the Silver Birch, and Beith Chlúmlach, Betula Pubescens: the Downy Birch.
A sun-loving deciduous tree maturing after 60 years, the Birch grows up to 60m with a unique slender pale trunk. The soft green oval leaves have serrated edges and in early Spring the female flowers become tiny cones while the male flowers develop into long catkins over the Summer which yield up to 800 seeds from its fruit ‘samara’. Birch’s papery white bark is thin and peels away easily. The name Birch comes from the Sanskrit word bhurga: ‘tree bark for writing on’.
Did you know that...
Birch is a highly flammable firewood and prized for making distinctive furniture, toys, doors and paper? It’s betulin and betulinic acid are used in the pharmaceutical (insect repellant) and the cosmetic industries (skin products). Long ago the Native Americans carved Birch wood for their canoes and wigwam homes. Our Celtic Island ancestors made wine and beer from ‘tapping’ the trunk of these versatile trees, a practice which continues today in Europe, Russia and China.
As the Ogham tree for January and the first lunar month 24th December to 20th January, the Birch is a symbol of the Druid Bardic storytellers. For those of us with Irish ancestry, Birch was often the traditional Yule Log and the twigs were used to light the Bealtaine (also Beltane) fires in early May. Our foremothers and fathers crafted their baby cradles and witch’s brooms of birch wood and twigs believed to ward off evil, banish fears and build courage.
Back To Bare Essentials – a Birch Tree story extract from the Moon Mná Diary-Journal 2022 by Bárbara Damasceno, Positive Sexuality Educator, Doula and Moon Mná Circle Facilitator:
"January is a special month for me representing a closure/rebirth for nature and life itself, and also when I was born. However, being Brazilian, in the Southern Hemisphere I emerged in full Summer. Little did I know that once I moved to Ireland, I would find myself in the middle of Winter, feeling very much alive. I was ‘back home’ - my first thought when I put my feet on this island.
One of my mentors introduced me to a Birch and its gift of rebirth. My Winter was definitely present: I couldn’t find my creative energy, my libido for life itself was shaken. That’s when I first touched this very special tree and felt its bark peeling in my hands. I knew I was getting an answer to my questions stripping me back to bare essentials. Yet somehow, I couldn’t quite see it yet felt as if a strong hug and very powerful spark was starting to ignite a fire inside me. I could do it! I embraced death and started preparing for rebirth. I asked for change, for strength and guidance while I saw everything releasing slowly. All I needed was to feel, to trust and to rest my body.
Winter stayed longer. It was tough but I kept going. I sensed a wheel turning the way I lived my life – too fast. I kept going with the power of that bark and my spiritual guides. It unearthed a memory of my first birthday in Ireland on a rainy day, really ‘feeling’ Winter and jumping with happiness. Ten years later, I can still recall that vividly. I am grateful for my journey, knowing the darkness can be as powerful as the light, allowing me to dive deep into my feelings and thoughts. It is not an easy process to go through but it is doable and rewarding to see everything begin to blossom again.
The Birch Tree took me to a place of becoming another person, of shedding everything but my heart and soul, making me think about who I really am. Now I embrace Winter, with this potent Rebirth tree as my ally bringing me back home to my true self."
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.