Celtic tree calendar – inspiration for a tree planting.
We know sometimes choosing a memorial tree, whether it’s for a natural burial ground or at your own home can be difficult. There are so many beautiful trees to choose from. If you are not sure what tree to choose for your tree planting the Celtic Tree Calendar may help bring some inspiration, especially if there is a special date you wish to remember.
Memorial trees are a really special way to remember the people we love, while also helping our environment. We have memorial trees at our natural burial grounds at Aylesbury, Pembrokeshire, Cothiemuir Hill and Hundy Mundy some of which are already planted and can be dedicated, while others can be planted in a memorial tree planting and we would discuss native trees with you. However, you may be looking for a native tree with a special meaning and while there are many more native trees you can choose from the Celtic Tree Calendar is an interesting place to start looking. You may know something special about these that we don’t and if you do please let us know in the comments, we love hearing about the history of nature.
Birch Tree – ‘Lady of the Woods’
(December 24th – January 20th)
The birch tree is linked to the calendar dates December the 24th – January the 20th and is known as a ‘Pioneer Tree’ and ‘the bringer of promise, light and new beginnings’. It can restart new woodland even after long term natural disasters which could also be the reason it symbolises adaptability. It also has the symbolic meaning of new beginnings and growth as well as renewal, rebirth and is known as ‘Lady of the woods’ because of the deep feminine connections it was given by the Celts. In early Celtic mythology, the birch tree also came to symbolise purification. This beautiful tree has links to those that are creative because it is suggested to be a tree month that is a good time for creativity and starting new projects. The birch tree is a really beautiful tree with silvery-white bark and wonderful yellow-green catkins that form in the autumn months, while the slighter female catkins appear in the spring.
Rowan Tree – ‘Lady of the Mountain’
(January 21th- February 17th)
The Rowan Tree is linked to the calendar dates January 21st – February 17th. It can take root almost anywhere but prefers to grow in higher places which why it has been given the name ‘Lady of the Mountain’. It thrives in harsher conditions, and maybe this is where it’s symbolism for courage comes from as even after difficult times it can come out stronger on the other side. The Rowan tree has a deep connection to the psyche and philosophy. It was thought to open the mind and inspire those who came into contact with the tree, which may be where it’s symbolism for connection has taken root. The Rowan tree also symbolises protection due to its bright red berries as red has been closely linked to protection. Rowan berries serve to protect our wildlife and ecology too previously used to treat scurvy due to their great source of vitamin C, they are loved by our native birds and help to feed them over the winter. The rowan is a beautiful tree with long green leaves, beautiful red berries and is also loved because of the little cream flower clusters that appear in May.
Ash Tree – ‘The World Tree’
(February 18th – March 17th)
The Ash Tree is linked to the calendar dates February 18th – March 17th. In Celtic culture, it has strong associations with other realms or worlds such as the underworld, middle earth and spiritual world, which is why it may be known as the ‘World Tree’. However, it was also strongly associated with children and given the name ‘cradle of life’ as it was used to create remedies that helped to cure childhood illnesses. The ash symbolises protection which may be linked to it’s healing properties but also was used in protective rituals. It was thought it has good energy and that the leaves would bring love and affluence. The ash tree has beautiful bright green leaves which splay out from the branches and while it may look quite delicate it supports many unusual mosses and lichens, as well as insects including the Alder Kitten Moth. It’s well known that ash trees have suffered from the Ash dieback in recent years, which may be something to consider, however choosing to plant this tree may give the Ash a chance to thrive again and adapt in a new world, after all, it is the World Tree.
(March 18th – April 14th)
The Alder Tree is linked to the calendar dates March 18th – April 14th. The Alder is part of the birch family and has several symbolic meanings including release, determination, discrimination and inner confidence. It was thought it would help people to face up to things that they may have been avoiding. It was also believed to have many magical influences including healing, shielding, protecting, and peaceful properties and that it could take you to the fairy realm. The alder tree loves to keep its feet wet and is often found near wet areas such as streams, wetland and rivers which may also be why it has been so closely linked to fairy lore. Whistles were once made out of alder shoots used to call air spirits too which gives it a strong connection to those that love music. The Alder Tree provides a fantastic habitat for insects with its wonderful round leaves while produces beautiful catkins which turn from a bright green to a deep shade of brown. The alder also has another amazing quality which is that its roots can improve the pH of the surrounding soil, allowing life to return in areas of poor soil conditions. It is often used in restoration projects for this very reason.
Willow Tree – ‘The Tree of Enchantment’
(April 15th – May 12th)
The willow tree is linked to the calendar dates April 15th to May 12th. It is a symbol of fertility and new life, which may be because you can plant a willow branch in the ground and a new tree will grow, while it has many healing properties. It has always had strong links to spirituality as well as psychic ability, specifically to the moon or lunar realm due to the trees love of water, however, the appearance of the weeping willow is also very enchanting and spiritual. The beautiful hanging branches that drape around the tree could be why it became known as ‘the tree of enchantment’. Willow trees thrive in wet boggy areas but they also have deep, strong roots. They have received the meaning of flexibility because the branches can be weaved and worked in many ways without snapping and is an eco-friendly choice for many natural burial coffins. We have had families who have chosen to weave their own willow coffin too so it is something that can be very personal.
Hawthorn Tree – ‘The Faery Tree’ or ‘The Marriage Tree’
(May 13th – June 9th)
The Hawthorn Tree is linked to the calendar dates May 13th – June 9th. It has many different symbolic meanings which may also be the reason it has so many different nicknames. It is seen as a wild and enchanted tree which could explain why it known as the ‘The Faery Tree’ but also has a strong connection to unity and marriage. This is due to the dual energies it was seen as having. This also means it is a tree of contradictions and opposites and the balance that duality and opposition can bring hence the name the ‘ marriage tree’. The hawthorn is also known for its symbolism in purification. While the hawthorn tree may have a few thorns it also has delicate little flowers, and beautiful red berries (haws), and is very important within nature. The haws are loved by a huge variety of birds which makes this a great tree for bird lovers. It provides a home to many insects too including May Bugs and many animals use the tree for nesting. Critters such as toads, wood mice and slow worms may be found among the roots so it is a great tree for wildlife lovers.
The Oak Tree – ‘Father of the Woods’
(June 10th – July 7th)
The Oak Tree is linked to the calendar dates June 10th – July 7th. It is known as’ father of the woods’ which may be due to the size and great power it is thought to hold, including its ability to attract lightning. This also gave it its strong links to the Celtic and pagan gods. The Oak symbolises strength, intuition, and caring. It was perhaps the fact that Oak tree can easily live for hundreds of years that they became a symbol of nobility and wisdom, while the Oak is an important tree in nature. It supports more life than any other UK native tree species and offers homes to hundreds of insect species. This helps to support birds, while the acorns it produces offers an invaluable food source to animals such as squirrels, badgers and deer, and it has been used widely in human history. The Oak is a very large and imposing tree which has to be placed in the right spot but when it is, is an invaluable addition to our ecology.
(July 8th – August 4th)
The Holly Tree is linked to the calendar dates July 8th – August 4th. The holly tree makes most of us think immediately of winter and Christmas, it symbolises peace and goodwill throughout the winter months and can often be found adorning Christmas decorations. However, in the past the holly was used to brighten up the home as it was one of the brighter plants available when everything else was dormant. It was also thought that Holly gave the Fairies shelter in the cold months. The Celtic tree calendar month is not in the winter but July to August which may be because this is the time of year when there is the most lightning in the UK. While Oak can attract lightning, holly was seen as repelling it, and there is some truth in this. Many would plant it around their homes as a protective measure, while the red berries were seen as having protective qualities so one the strongest meanings it held was protection. It is also known for strength and optimism and the berries provide a valuable food source in the winter for our wildlife.
Hazel Tree – ‘Tree of Knowledge’
(August 5th – September 1st)
The Hazel Tree is linked to the calendar dates August 5th – September 1st. Known as ‘the tree of knowledge’ and symbolises wisdom. It was thought that it stood between the boundary of heaven and earth, which may be why it is associated with divination. While had important links to the idea of the life force, which may also be why it has the meanings of uniqueness and intuition. The fruit of the Hazel tree, the hazelnut, is an important food source for wildlife as well as for humans. These nuts were associated with wisdom and protection and are beautiful when they are ripening amongst the bright green leaves. So while it’s known for its wisdom it is also known for its nurturing qualities offering food and protection for birds, insects and other wildlife.
Vine – ‘Tree of Joy’
(September 2nd – September 29th)
The Vine is linked to the calendar dates September 2nd – September 29th. While we may not consider a vine to be a tree the Celts did as it was thought any large plant with a woody stalk was a tree. When referring to vines you may consider grapes, however, it was more likely that the Celts were referring to blackberries. While these may not grow into a large tree there is no reason that you could not plant a blackberry in memory of someone special. The Vine in the Celtic tree calendar symbolises the time of the harvest and the picking of blackberries is still widely undertaken to this day. They offer a wonderful food source for many animals and the Vine is known as the ‘tree of joy’, maybe due to the joy it brings when picking and devouring a box of blackberries. The blackberry ‘vine’ symbolises reward, growth, and opportunity as well as transformation and endurance. Many of these qualities may be due to the plant itself including the reward you get when persevering with their spiky thorns and the opportunity this awards.
(September 30th – October 27th)
Ivy is linked to the calendar dates September 30th – October 27th. The Celts considered Ivy to be a tree due to its woody stem. When allowed to grow in a natural and balanced habitat, English Ivy works in tandem with a tree so does not act as a parasite but instead uses a tree as a support. Introduced in its native habitat it can be a peaceful and useful addition to its environment rather than being considered as a nuisance, it’s just important it’s planted in the right place. Ivy has beautiful green leaves which spread out across tree trunks and symbolises growth, regeneration and opportunity, maybe due to the way it makes the most of what is around it. It is also connected to love and in the past was carried for good luck by brides. Ivy is known as a guard against negativity and disaster. It has a strong meaning in connecting and binding together which may be due to the way it climbs and binds, looking to others for support, but also offering some support and protection itself.
(October 28th – November 23rd)
The reed is linked to the calendar dates October 28th – November 23rd. While we may not consider the reed to be a tree, the Celts classed any large plant with a woody stalk to be a tree and there is no reason reeds could not be planted in memory of someone special. The reed is an important plant and one of many meanings including security and clarity, maybe because reeds made good candles and were seen as a source of light in the dark. It was a useful day to day plant and given the status as being a meaningful plant. It has strong connections to music as is often used for musical instruments and maybe the reason it gained its symbolism for expression. Reeds are also very important in nature are often used for water purification to naturally filter and drain boggy areas. They provide an important habitat for birds including rare species, as well as supporting lots of other wildlife.
(November 24th – December 23rd)
The Elder Tree is linked to the calendar dates November 24th – December 23rd. With its beautiful pinnate leaves, small cream coloured flowers and purply black elderberries it is considered to be one of the most magical trees with symbolism connected to rebirth and regeneration and death. This was maybe due to how it’s broken branches could take root and form new life elsewhere, but it was also seen as a reminder of the need for honour dignity in life and in death. The Elder was thought to have protective qualities that protected you from misfortune and harm, while was also planted in cemeteries in the past as a means to ward off evil spirits. Elderflowers and elderberries provide a valuable food source not only to us but also to our native wildlife. It is used by insects such as caterpillars, birds and many mammals and can often be found near rabbit warrens.