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  • Writer's pictureOlivine Moss

Birch (Pioneer Tree) Myths, legends, Poetry and Planting

Updated: Feb 11




Meekness

Guidance

Protection

Good luck

Healing

Femininity

Grace


 

Myths and Legends


Damion of Venus


According to some sources, the birch tree is related to the planet Venus because of its symbolism and zodiac associations. The birch tree is a sign of rebirth, renewal, and fertility, which are qualities often attributed to Venus, the planet of love, beauty, and harmony. The birch tree is also ruled by Venus in the Celtic Tree Zodiac, which is based on the lunar calendar and the Ogham alphabet. The birch tree corresponds to the first lunar month, which falls between December 24th and January 20th and is associated with the air and water elements. People born under the birch sign are said to be courageous, ambitious, and graceful, just like the tree itself.



One of the first trees to recover after the ice age, which gave it the name Pioneer Tree. This is a tall and handsome tree that grows in many parts of the world, especially in temperate regions. It has a smooth and white bark that contrasts with its reddish young shoots. The leaves are round, green, and notched, and they look very pretty in the spring and summer. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, but the fruit is a scaly ball that hangs on the branches even after the leaves fall.


Ojibwa


An Ojibwa legend says a spirit boy named Winabojo searched for the feather of a thunderbird to make a bow and arrow. After removing the feathers of a bay thunderbird from a nest, he tried to climb out of the nest and return to the village. The thunderbird was angry and chased the young spirit boy to his village who sought refuge in the hollow trunk of a birch tree. Winabojo was saved by the birch tree and returned to his village. The birch tree was forever known as a tree that will help man and Winabojo blessed the birch tree so it would never get struck by lightning and continue to be a refuge for man.


Celts


The silver birch tree is more than just a beautiful and graceful tree. It has a special significance in Celtic mythology, where it is linked to the Goddess Brigid, the patroness of healers, poets, and smiths. Brigid is also associated with fire, light, and fertility, and her feast day is celebrated on February 1st, the beginning of spring in the Celtic calendar.






The silver birch tree symbolizes renewal, purification, and protection. Its white bark represents the purity and clarity of Brigid's wisdom, while its branches are flexible and resilient, bending but not breaking in the wind. The silver birch tree can also grow in harsh conditions, such as on rocky hillsides or in boggy soil, showing its adaptability and strength.


The silver birch tree was used by the Celts for various purposes, such as making baskets, brooms, cradles, and musical instruments. Its wood was also burned as a sacred fuel for bonfires and hearths, and its sap was tapped to make wine and vinegar. The leaves, bark, and buds of the silver birch tree have medicinal properties, such as soothing skin irritations, reducing inflammation, and healing wounds.


The silver birch tree is a wonderful example of how nature and mythology are intertwined in Celtic culture. It is a tree that inspires reverence, gratitude, and creativity. It is a tree that connects us to the Goddess Brigid, who guides us with her light and warmth.


In Celtic mythology, the birch tree was also known as "the white lady of the forest" and was believed to have protective powers against evil. The birch tree also represented new life due to its early budding in the spring. Birch twigs were used to ward off evil and gave the bearer protection.




China


The birch tree is also linked to other aspects of Chinese culture, such as art, medicine, and religion. The white bark of the birch tree is used to make paper, which is then used for writing, painting, and calligraphy. The bark is also used to make tea, which is believed to have healing properties for various ailments. The birch tree is also considered sacred by some Taoist and Buddhist sects, who regard it as a symbol of enlightenment, wisdom, and harmony.

 

Medicinal Uses


The birch tree has many benefits for your health and well-being. One of them is its juice, which you can get by making a small hole in the trunk in the spring. The juice is clear and sweet, and it can help you flush out toxins from your body. It can also prevent or treat scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. The juice is rich in this vitamin, as well as other minerals and antioxidants.


Another way to use the birch tree is to make tea from its leaves. You can pick them fresh or dry them for later use. The tea has a mild flavor and a green color, and it can help you with various skin problems, such as acne, eczema, or rashes. It can also reduce swelling and inflammation in your body, which can be useful for people with arthritis or edema.

The birch tree is not only good for your health but also for your home. You can use its wood to make furniture, tools, or toys.





 

Industrial Uses


Extracts from the birch tree are used in soaps and perfumes. Birch is used in the building of furniture due to its hardness and durability. Canoe bark was highly regarded by Indigenous peoples for the ability to peel the bark and use it for canoe making.


 


Poetry



THE BIRCH TREE

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

Rippling through thy branches goes the sunshine ,

Among thy leaves that palpitate forever ; Ovid in thee a pining Nymph had prisoned ,

The soul once of some tremulous inland river ,

Quivering to tell her woe , but , ah ! dumb , dumb forever !

While all the forest , witched with slumberous moon shine ,

Holds up its leaves in happy , happy stillness ,

Waiting the dew , with breath and pulse suspended ,

I hear afar thy whispering , gleamy islands ,

And track thee wakeful still amid the wide - hung silence .

On the brink of some wood - nestled lakelet ,

Thy foliage , like the tresses of a Dryad ,

Dripping round thy slim white stem , whose shadow

Slopes quivering down the water's dusky quiet ,

Thou shrink'st as on her bath's edge would some startled

Naiad ...

 



Planting a Birch Tree


Birch trees are among the most popular and versatile trees in the world. They can grow in almost any climate, from cold to warm, and they offer many benefits for your landscape. Here are some reasons why you should plant a birch tree in your garden:


  • Birch trees are easy to grow. They don't need much care or maintenance, and they can adapt to different soil types and moisture levels. All they need is a sunny spot and some space to spread their roots.

  • Birch trees are beautiful. They have a distinctive white bark that contrasts with their dark green leaves. In the fall, their leaves turn yellow, orange, or red, creating a stunning display of colors. In the winter, their bare branches create a striking silhouette against the snow.

  • Birch trees are beneficial. They provide shade and shelter for birds and other wildlife. They also produce sap that can be used to make syrup, vinegar, or wine. Some birch species have medicinal properties, such as anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects.


If you are convinced that a birch tree is the right choice for your garden, here are some tips on how to plant one:


Choose a suitable species. There are many types of birch trees, each with its own characteristics and preferences. Some of the most common ones are paper birch, river birch, yellow birch, and silver birch. Do some research on which one would suit your climate and soil conditions best.


Buy a healthy sapling. You can find birch saplings at your local nursery or online. Look for one that has a strong stem, healthy leaves, and no signs of disease or damage. Avoid buying bare-root or container-grown saplings, as they may have root problems.


Dig a hole. The hole should be twice as wide and as deep as the root ball of the sapling. Loosen the soil at the bottom and sides of the hole, and mix in some organic matter, such as compost or manure.


Plant the sapling. Carefully remove the sapling from its pot or wrapping, and gently loosen its roots. Place it in the center of the hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Fill in the hole with soil, and tamp it down firmly.


Water and mulch. Give the sapling a good watering, and apply a layer of mulch around its base. The mulch will help retain moisture, prevent weeds, and protect the roots from temperature extremes. You can use wood chips, bark, straw, or leaves as mulch.


Enjoy your birch tree! Watch it grow and flourish in your garden, and admire its beauty throughout the seasons. You can prune it occasionally to shape it or remove dead or diseased branches, but otherwise, let it be.


Planting a birch tree is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. You will not only enhance your garden's appearance but also support your local ecosystem and biodiversity. So what are you waiting for? Get your birch sapling today and start planting!







 



Gallery



Further Reading and Resources


NativeTech: Winabojo and the Birch Tree. (n.d.). http://nativetech.org/brchbark/winabojo.htm


Moloney, L. (2022, May 19). Birch Trees in Celtic Mythology. https://celticmythology.com/birch-trees-in-celtic-mythology/


Fickett, M. G., & Stone, G. L. (1902). Trees in Prose and Poetry. Ginn & Company

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