Today’s card is the Birch, also known as Betula alba/pendula in scientific terms. The birch tree has a title, The Lady of the Woods’, which is a reflection of its willowy and fluid form, and is associated with the young Goddess of the Woods, by whatever name she is called. Birch also rules over the planet Venus and is thus connected to love of all kinds. The Norse viewed this tree as sacred to Frigga, Goddess of married love, and Freya, Goddess of fertility. In the Greek tradition, this tree summoned the Goddess, Ariadne in her guise as Initiatrix, imparting the mysteries of life and birth to her followers. In the Welsh tradition, it is also associated with the owl goddess, Blodeuwedd, who was both treacherous as well as loving. For this reason, the birch is sometimes seen as ambiguous in nature. On the positive side, it is the protector of children, especially early in life. Birch was also the traditional wood used by witches for their broomsticks, believing that the ‘light’ within the wood helped them to fly.
The Ogam letter for this card, Beith, is believed to be the first letter ever written in the secret alphabet of the trees. It was used to warn the sun God, Lugh, that his wife was being taken away to the land of the Sidhe, the faery folk. Thus, in Ireland, this tree was forever associated with light. The birch was also honored around the time of the Whitsun, just after Easter. Farmers went out into the woods to choose a fine tree which would be decorated as a woman and honored with feasting, a portion of which was offered to the tree. After this they would cut down the tree and take it home to the sound of songs where it would be honored for two days. On the third day, they would throw it into the nearest river, taking away any bad energy that might have plagued their harvest in the Fall. This is reflected in the association of the birch with water and air, both of which cleanse the way before starting a new undertaking.
The Green Man Wisdom here is: A Good Beginning Leads to a Good Conclusion. Beginnings are always important, and good preparation and a willingness to lay the necessary ground work on which to build is vital for ensuring a positive outcome. This means paying attention to the moment of inspiration, which the Celts call awen, and following this to a satisfactory conclusion. The birch was once thought to drive out madness and return to sanity those affected by madness. In this way, the birch is linked with clarity and focus. The birch is one of the first trees to bloom in the spring as well as being honored at Samhain, the beginning of the Wheel of the Year. This card signals a need to rethink things and/or to make the beginning of a new task or enterprise a clean and fresh one.
May you feel inspired by the light as you rethink your next move or embark on a new path today!