"The mighty deciduous hardwood of the oak has played a prominent role in the Celtic imagination from ancient to modern times. The English word ‘druid’ (from the Latin plural druidae) derives in part from the root dru- ‘oak;’ Celtic words for oak."
For the Celts, trees were considered to be gods, the ancient ancestors of mankind and elder beings of wisdom. They were a connection to the world of the spirits and a doorway into the ‘Otherworld’. They gave shelter and protection, provided sustenance and were a source of healing and medicine.
The tree represented the soul of the community, their spiritual focus and source of well-being. Each community had their own sacred tree usually located near a well or a stream where assemblies and ceremonies were held. (ref: http://www.celticquill.com/irish-culture/59-celtic-sacred-trees)
The reason the ancient Irish legal system held trees in such high regard was due to their enormous value to Irish society. Trees served as a multi-layered ecosystem which provided for every aspect of traditional life. They served as monuments, created sacred spaces & ceremonial centre points. They gave food, fodor, medicines, shelter, tools, weapons and even formed the ancient Irish alphabet (Ogham). They featured heavily in Irish myths and legends, such was their importance that to this day 13,000 Irish towns have trees within their names!
Trees were held in such high regard in ancient Ireland that according to Brehon Law, unlawful felling of a “Chieftan Tree” carried the same sentence as the killing of a Human Chief!
The Birch Moon is a time of rebirth and regeneration. As the Solstice passes, it is time to look towards the light once more. When a forested area burns, Birch is the first tree to grow back. The Celtic name for this month is Beth, pronounced beh. Workings done in this month add momentum and a bit of extra “oomph” to new endeavors. The Birch is also associated with magic done for creativity and fertility, as well as healing and protection. Tie a red ribbon around the trunk of a Birch tree to ward off negative energy. Hang Birch twigs over a cradle to protect a newborn from psychic harm. Use Birch bark as magical parchment to keep writings safe.
The Rowan Moon is associated with Brighid, the Celtic goddess of hearth and home. Honored on February 1, at Imbolc, Brighid is a fire goddess who offers protection to mothers and families, as well as watching over the hearthfires. This is a good time of year to perform initiations (or, if you’re not part of a group, do a self-dedication). Known by the Celts as Luis (pronounced loush), the Rowan is associated with astral travel, personal power, and success. A charm carved into a bit of a Rowan twig will protect the wearer from harm. The Norsemen were known to have used Rowan branches as rune staves of protection. In some countries, Rowan is planted in graveyards to prevent the dead from lingering around too long.
ASH In the Norse eddas, Yggdrasil, the world tree, was an Ash. The spear of Odin was made from the branch of this tree, which is also known by the Celtic name Nion, pronounced knee-un. This is one of three trees sacred to the Druids (Ash, Oak and Thorn), and this is a good month to do magic that focuses on the inner self. Associated with ocean rituals, magical potency, prophetic dreams and spiritual journeys, the Ash can be used for making magical (and mundane) tools — these are said to be more productive than tools made from other wood. If you place Ash berries in a cradle, it protects the child from being taken away as a changeling by mischievous Fae.
ASH At the time of the Spring Equinox, or Ostara, the Alder is flourishing on riverbanks, roots in the water, bridging that magical space between both heaven and earth. The Alder month, called Fearn by the Celts, and pronounced fairin, is a time for making spiritual decisions, magic relating to prophecy and divination, and getting in touch with your own intuitive processes and abilities. Alder flowers and twigs are known as charms to be used in Faerie magic. Whistles were once made out of Alder shoots to call upon Air spirits, so it’s an ideal wood for making a pipe or flute if you’re musically inclined.
The Willow moon was known to the Celts as Saille, pronounced Sahl-yeh. The Willow grows best when there’s lots of rain, and in northern Europe there’s no shortage of that this time of year. This is a tree associated with healing and growth, for obvious reasons. A Willow planted near your home will help ward away danger, particularly the type that stems from natural disaster such as flooding or storms. They offer protection, and are often found planted near cemeteries. This month, work on rituals involving healing, growth of knowledge, nurturing and women’s mysteries.
The Hawthorn is a prickly sort of plant with beautiful blossoms. Called Huath by the ancient Celts, and pronounced Hoh-uh, the Hawthorn month is a time of fertility, masculine energy, and fire. Coming right on the heels of Beltane, this month is a time when male potency is high — if you’re hoping to conceive a child, get busy this month! The Hawthorn has a raw, phallic sort of energy about it — use it for magic related to masculine power, business decisions, making professional connections. The Hawthorn is also associated with the realm of Faerie, and when the Hawthorn grows in tandem with an Ash and Oak, it is said to attract the Fae.
The Oak moon falls during a time when the trees are beginning to reach their full blooming stages. The mighty Oak is strong, powerful, and typically towering over all of its neighbors. The Oak King rules over the summer months, and this tree was sacred to the Druids. The Celts called this month Duir, which some scholars believe to mean “door”, the root word of “Druid”. The Oak is connected with spells for protection and strength, fertility, money and success, and good fortune. Carry an acorn in your pocket when you go to an interview or business meeting; it will be bring you good luck. If you catch a falling Oak leaf before it hits the ground, you’ll stay healthy the following year.
Although the Oak ruled in the previous month, its counterpart, the Holly, takes over in July. This evergreen plant reminds us all year long about the immortality of nature. The Holly moon was called Tinne, pronounced chihnn-uh, by the Celts, who knew the potent Holly was a symbol of masculine energy and firmness. The ancients used the wood of the Holly in the construction of weapons, but also in protective magic. Hang a sprig of Holly in your house to ensure good luck and safety to your family. Wear as a charm, or make Holly Water by soaking leaves overnight in spring water under a full moon — then use the water as a blessing to sprinkle on people or around the house for protection and cleansing.
HAZEL The Hazel Moon was known to the Celts as Coll, which translates to “the life force inside you”. This is the time of year when Hazelnuts are appearing on the trees, and are an early part of the harvest. Hazelnuts are also associated with wisdom and protection. Hazel is often associated in Celtic lore with sacred wells and magical springs containing the salmon of knowledge. This is a good month to do workings related to wisdom and knowledge, dowsing and divination, and dream journeys. If you’re a creative type, such as an artist, writer, or musician, this is a good month to get your muse back, and find inspiration for your talents. Even if you normally don’t do so, write a poem or song this month.