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Friday, June 21, 2013

Birch Tree Medicine and Magic for Sleep, Purification and Rites of Rebirth

*Previously published elsewhere; see note at end of article. This information is based on my understanding and research done at the time of original publication.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

The birch tree has many species including short trees and shrubs, but the two most well known are the tall white and paper (a.k.a. canoe) trees. The peeling bark was used to make paper and in the construction of canoes. The wood is used for household items such as items and kitchen ware. All parts of the tree have uses in natural medicine and magic.

Birch Tree in Natural Medicine

Birch tree drawing -
By published by Ward, Lock, & Tyler of London
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Oil extracted from birch bark is astringent and used in healing severe skin conditions such as eczema. Tea made from fresh leaves is used in breaking up small kidney stones. Tea made with either young leaves or the inner bark is used for rheumatic conditions and as a sleep aid.

Leaves of birches have diuretic properties and are used in teas along with young shoots as a laxative. All parts of the birch are high in potassium and vitamins including A, B, C and E. A tincture made with birch buds is used for fevers, colds, stomach and rheumatic problems.

Birch Tree in Magic and Divination

The Irish word for birch is beith (pronounced bayth). It was the first letter in the ancient Celtic alphabet known as the ogam. According to Erynn Rowan Laurie in her book Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom, drawing birch in a reading may indicate a need to purify intentions or that clarity and discipline are required for the question at hand.

As a result of its association with purification, birch can be used in meditation to cleanse the mind and energy fields. Brooms made of birch twigs can be used to sweep away negativity before rituals or around living spaces.

The birch tree has a feminine energy which is exemplified in berkano, a rune from an early Northern European writing and magical system. Berkano represents the goddess in her birth, death and rebirth aspects. It can be used in protection magic, especially for mothers and children as well as fertility spells. Drawing this rune in a reading signifies a rebirth or death of an old way of life.

In Celtic Tree Mysteries: Practical Druid Magic and Divination, Steve Blamires calls birch a colonizer. Because of its shorter life span than other trees, it gives its life to fertilize the ground for other forest life. Birch signifies a new beginning and the possible need to sacrifice a strongly held desire for the common good. Wands made of birch can be used in rites where the magician wishes to invoke a new phase of life.

References not mentioned in article:

[Note:  This is one of my original articles that was first published at Suite 101.  Unfortunately, much of my work has been copied and posted elsewhere.  All of the content on this site is my original work unless otherwise noted.]

© Trish Deneen

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