Celtic Zodiac, Birch





January 1999 E-Zine Issue

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The Celtic Lunar Zodiac

The Birch Tree


December 24th – January 20th

by Treasa 1999

Happy New Year to All! Hard to believe but 1999 is upon us and it’s time to get your new calendars out and begin planning all your New Year’s goals and resolutions.

Most of us are familiar with the 12 sun-signs of the solar-based Zodiac—and can, at least, cite which sign we were born under, should the occasion arise. But how many of us know which "moon sign" we were born under, according to the "Celtic Lunar Zodiac?"

According to Helena Paterson’s books, "The Celtic Lunar Zodiac" and "The Handbook of Celtic Astrology" (both available through Mystical Minds’ bookstore), the Celtic Druids used a 13 sign Lunar Zodiac, which followed the yearly cycles of the moon, and was associated with the Celtic tree alphabet.

In an interesting interpretation of this "Celtic Calendar", Helena Paterson tells us:

"The thirteen moon signs "exist" within the twelve-sign zodiac, or the same 360 degrees—as they have always existed—and represent the "shadow zodiac" or yin principle. The ancient Chinese yin and yang concept represents two complementary energies whose interaction is thought to maintain the harmony of the universe and to influence everything within it. Yin is darkness, the feminine principle, and is symbolized by the Moon. Yang is brightness, the masculine principle, and is symbolized by the Sun."

("The Celtic Lunar Zodiac," Introduction, Page 23, Helena Paterson)

According to the Celtic Lunar Zodiac, those of us born under the sun sign of Capricornfrom December 24th to January 20th –were also born under the Celtic Lunar Sign of The Birch Tree or Beth. Beth is the first of thirteen consonants of the Celtic letters that formed the associated calendar of seasonal tree magic. Each of the signs of the Celtic Lunar Zodiac is associated with a tree, a mythical being, a planet, a gemstone, a flower, and at least one archetypal animal.

The Birch Tree, Beth, symbolizes The Sun, its gemstone is Rock Crystal, its flower is the Daisy, and its animals are The Stag, and the Golden Eagle. The Archetypal Character associated with this first sign of the Lunar Zodiac is Taliesin, a Welsh bardic-god, or Lugh, the Irish Sun-king.

The Birch Tree

The stark beauty of the birch in winter reminds us of the serenity of nature, as it lays dormant and sleeping. The Birch is indigenous to Europe, and can be found from Sicily to Iceland, and some parts of northern Asia. It is sometimes referred to as the Lady of the Woods because of its grace and beauty. Despite its slender growth, it is hardier than the oak and will thrive in places where the sturdy oak will die. It has many fulfills many purposes, from providing broom handles, to the manufacture of cloth. Its bark is especially well known for writing upon.

The Solar Symbolism

The planet associated with this first Moon Sign, is The Sun. The Sun, in terms of Celtic mythology, was a powerful deity. The Welsh Bards called this deity, Taliesin, and recounted his brilliance in the many romantic and intellectual deeds of numerous poems.

Similarly, the Irish Celts, have many tales recounting the great deeds of their greatest of warriors, their "Sun-king" named "Lugh." (Please see my priori articles in the Mystical Minds’ Ezine Celtic archives for more tales regarding Lugh.) Lugh had many titles, one of which was Lugh of the Long Arm, as which he was guardian over two of Great Gifts of the Ancient Irish, the Magical Sword and Spear.

This belief in the Sun-king, Lugh, of the Ancient Irish would eventually evolve over time into the beliefs surrounding Christianity and Jesus Christ, the "sun" or "son" of God (who, coincidentally, may have belonged to an ancient Jewish order, the Essenes, also known as the "Brotherhood of Light").

Astrological Significance

The significance of the Sun in traditional astrology is "the life giver," a vital influence throughout one’s entire birth chart. Its position reveals the individual faculties. The symbol itself, a circle with a small dot in its center, represents the one unity underlying all things. It may be thought of as that spark or ray from the central sun or supreme intelligence which may shine through the human "self" or the "ego."

The Rock Crystal

This gemstone is a naturally occurring substance that has the ability to make invisible light visible by refraction. Some alchemists of medieval Europe claimed that if it were cut in a certain way, and exposed to the Sun, it could render a solid object invisible. Certainly it seems to have certain abilities to transform energy.

If held in both hands, rock crystal is said to induce serenity, peace of mind, as well as to sharpen the mental processes.

The Stag

The Stag was considered a royal beast from ancient times, and figured prominently in Celtic myths and legends. Antlers have been found buried in Newgrange in Ireland, as well as at various sites in Britain, including Stonehenge and Glastonbury. The horned deity known as Cernunnos became an important intermediary for the Celts between the animal kingdom and man. Cernunnos was the guardian of the gateway connecting these two worlds.

The Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle symbolized the soul, as well as the power of life over death, for the ancient Celts. Now almost extinct in Britain; this magnificent bird is seldom seen except in the north of Scotland. Scottish Highland Chieftains still wear three golden-eagle feathers in their bonnets to proclaim their rank.

The Druids were believed to be able to change into the form of all birds and beasts—but among their favorites was the Eagle, as well as the Raven and the Crow. Indeed, those of you familiar with Carlos Casteneda’s books, regarding the "Teachings of Don Juan, A Yaqui Way of Knowledge," will remember that the Crow was Don Juan’s chosen animal for shape-shifting.

The Daisy

The Daisy is a symbol of innocence and fidelity. According to some the daisy’s lineage may be traced to Belenos, another Celtic god of light and a solar deity. It’s botanical name is Bellis perennis.

The druids used the healing power of the daisy on the battlefield. It was said to be a great wound healer that counteracted the debilitating shock of injuries and the loss of blood accompanying them. The daisy grows profusely over wide areas throughout the world—and is an ever-green plant of hardiness that complements the durability of the Birch.

The Birch Character

The basic Birch character is influenced by the need for patience, which evokes an inward sense of quiet determination, as well as a sense of personal isolation.

There is a basic inflexibility in this sign. In personal terms, the Birch Tree character must learn to become less narrow-minded and rigid regarding all aspects of life.

People born under this sign direct their energy through ambitious strategy. Specific goals are usually kept in mind with each step they take in their personal lives. Some notable Birch Tree characters include: Pasteur, Kepler, Gladstone, Lloyd George, and Richard Nixon (as well as my own favorite "baby brother" who turns 31 this year—Happy Birthday, Garrett!)

Positive Aspects

Birch tree characters are reliable and trustworthy—not given to rash moves or bold statements. They take family responsibilities seriously. And they’re usually the most successful members of the family in financial terms, although they may not appear so as they do not flaunt their success or generally waste money on status symbols.

Negative Aspects

Birch tree character must watch out for becoming overly rigid in their outlook which can promote pessimism as well as imposing a kind of self-discipline that is hard to sustain. Their willpower can therefore alternate between two extremes, resulting in wild behavior or acting out of character which may surprise even close colleagues. It may also fall into the other extreme of acting with great discipline and determination at times—but never consistently. Happiness lays in their finding a balance between the two.


The term, "workaholic," fits many Birch tree characters perfectly. And they actually thrive best on strict routines and regimens.

The best way to understand this tendency is to look again at their ambitious strategy—work being a means to an end—but do they really enjoy being the last person left in the office at the end of the day? This may be a question all Birch tree characters should ask of themselves every so often, in order to define their true objectives in life. Although their intense desire to succeed is a positive aspect overall, they must be careful it does not outweigh their highest priorities.

They often see socializing as a means to an end—a way to climb the career ladder. Their sense of humor may have a droll quality that has some people laughing in the aisles, but what makes them laugh is another matter. It may be extremely clever witticisms or jokes so course as to make most people blush.

With regard to material values, the Birch tree characters have no problems whatsoever. They understand the value of money. Not only do they work hard to acquire it—they are neither ashamed nor embarrassed about having it.

Do Birch tree characters make good friends? Yes, but not many people will get close enough to count themselves as such. They make good bosses, treating their employees fairly. Some people may find them cold or indifferent—but this is often a cover-up for shyness, as well as an inherent sense of dignity. Of all the signs, the Birch tree character is the most modest individual.

Love Life

Successful marriages will often occur later in life, and people born under this sign are not inclined to divorce. Separations are more likely, or the premature death of their spouses. Their love life can be a bit of hit and miss—with some passionate affairs fizzling into nothing. Their chosen partners will have to fit into their strict and narrow routines.


In general, Birch tree characters prefer to keep a low profile. They prefer their private life to be very private. Their careers remain a dominant influence overall. They will set their own standards, and eventually create a degree of growth or success not easily matched by other signs of the zodiac.

Treasa can be contacted directly by e-mail at: tarot1@cox.net

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