Ancient Tree Of Life   Irish Fireside 2007
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  • 1. IRISHFIRESIDE E-NEWSLETTER The Ancient Celtic Tree of Life by Kat Behling Trees have a special significance in popular Irish lore. Although there are actually seven noble trees in Celtic mythology: oak, apple, alder, birch, hazel, holly and willow - each with its own spiritual An image representing meaning - it is the oak that is the Tree of Life in considered to be the most wise Celtic Knotwork and sacred. The Yew Tree Many a tale has been spun around the mighty oak. Some The yew is the longest lived say if you fall asleep under the mystical tree, you may of all trees. Speculation that awaken to find yourself among the faerie people. Heroic and some churchyard yews, wise spirits were said to have sheltered among its bark and especially on the north side leaves, giving the oak the title, “The Lord of Truth”. Its leaves of churches in Ireland, are have long symbolized courage and an oak leaf worn at your that of Celtic antiquity due to breast and touching your heart was believed to protect the the early religious practice of wearer from deception. Likewise, the acorn carries magical building foundations on old properties of its own. It was believed carrying an acorn in pagan sites. ones pocket was to protect oneself from storms and evil intent, while carrying three acorns as charms was to invoke youth, beauty and attainment upon its owner. The eve of January 31st marks the Festival of Imbolc
  • 2. In pre-Christian Ireland, trees were – the coming of spring. Each believed to be a sacred threshold, day getting slightly longer bridging the gap between the upper than the one before as and lower worlds. With its branches winter’s tight grip slowly lets reaching toward the heavens and go. Gentle rays of sun are its roots lying firmly in the ground, it cast down upon the earth, was considered to be a link buds emerge and flowers will between heaven, earth and the “other world”. A symbol of soon bloom. Imbolc is the beauty, resurrection and immortality, trees are prominent in season of rebirth: a time for popular pre-Christian motifs such as crosses and illuminated living things to re-emerge manuscripts, its intricate from the introspection of knotwork symbolizing the interconnectedness of these three winter to the fresh hope of worlds. spring. As Cailleach, the goddess of winter hardened To the ancient Celts, not only did the tree represent the the earth with her hammer at eternal cycle of seasons – birth, life, death and renewal – the beginning of winter, trees were a source of earthly sustenance: a bearer of food, Brigid, the goddess of spring a provider of shelter, fire and weapons and regarded as is believed to make it soft living, magical beings. Without trees, life would have been again. quite difficult. During times of war, one of the greatest triumphs over an enemy was to cut down their sacred tree, their foundation of strength and support. January Birthdays Countless Irish superstitions revolve around the lore of trees January Flower and the belief that they were messengers to the gods. In Carnation many legends, trees guarded sacred wells, many of which can be found as you drive through the Irish countryside January Birthstone today. Known as “Rag Trees,” they are adorned with Garnet personal belongings – hankies, ribbons, bits of clothing and trinkets left behind by persons seeking solace to their pleas The traditional color for love, healing and prosperity. associated with January’s birthstone is a deep red and Spiritual Meanings of Common Trees was a popular gem in Victorian jewelry. Throughout the ages, the
  • 3. Many of these meanings are meaning of its color has associated with Christian, represented many aspects of Judaism and other religions life: social, religious, biblical today. Christ’s cross is believed and Christian symbolism to have been of oak, while “the reflected in the color red. tree of life” holds special The symbolic meaning of red prominence in the teaching of is “fire” and is associated God’s creation in the Kabbalah. with power and importance. Some believe the Kabbalah The garnet is associated with “tree of life” corresponds to the “tree of life” mentioned in the truth, friendship and insight. Book of Genesis, its mystical meaning adapted by many “By her who this month was pagans as well. The custom of holly and mistletoe has born become identified with Christmas and the apple with the No gem save garnets shall story of Adam and Eve. be worn Alder – courage and perseverance They will ensure her Apple – beauty, innocence and youth constancy Beech – stability True friendship and Birch – birth, energy and spontaneity fidelity.” Cedar – protection from harm Elm – the dark side of the psyche Fir – change and objectivity Hazel – wisdom and creativity Hawthorne – divine secrets Holly – eternity and good fortune Ivy – mystery Mistletoe – birth and rebirth Oak – the soul, sacrifice and understanding Pine – continuation and hardiness Sequoia – longevity Willow – death and enchantment Yew – rebirth and change Copyright (C) 2007 Corey Taratuta All rights reserved