The Celtic Trees
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

The Importance of Trees:

The oldest symbol of the world-axis is the sacred tree, and the World Tree was the symbolic center of the universe. Many words for awareness, knowledge, and writing include elements of the word, wydd (wood).

Many cultures have trees in their beliefs:

The Classification of Trees:

Chieftain Trees: oak, hazel, holly, apple, ash, yew, and fir.

Peasant Trees: alder, willow, birch, elm, hawthorn, aspen, and quicken.

Shrub Trees: black thorn, elder, spindle, test-tree, honeysuckle, bird-cherry, and white hazel.

Herb Trees: gorse, heather, broom, bog-myrtle, and rushes.

Great Trees:

The Druids venerated the native trees of Britain and Ireland. Ogham was the mystical alphabet used in divination and magic.

Five Great Trees in Ireland:

  1. The Tree of Ross
  2. The Tree of Mugna
  3. The Tree of Dathi
  4. The Tree of Uisneth
  5. The Tree of Tortu

Each of these trees was guarded by one of the Irish Shaman-Poets who seemed to have cut their trees down when they were threatened by Christian incursions. Similarly, Christians cut down many sacred trees, just in case they had powers.

The Order of the Magical Power of Trees:

The tree represented the cosmos. The branches were symbolic of heaven and its roots of the underworld. From the roots or base of trees, streams of pure, life-giving water flowed and formed pools or wells. Some the the Celts most sacred spots were sites were their were wells and large oaks. Hawthorn is a powerful tree against lightning

  • Hazel is a tree of wisdom and the tree of seers
  • Willow was used for baskets
  • Birch trees sybolized purification
  • Apple trees stood for regeneration and eternal life. Avalon meant "a place of the apple."
  • The Rowan tree was a protective tree. A Rowan tree growing by a garden gate was placed there to ward off witchcraft, bad luck, and harmful spirits. The Rowan tree is the clan tree of the Malcolm Family.

    An old Scottish spell tells us:

    "Rowan tree and red thread
    Makes the witches lose their speed."

  • Blackthorn was used as walking sticks and magical staves of Druids, wizards and witches.

    ***Please note that the blackthorn bushes are becoming scarce in Ireland. However, Creative Irish Gifts has a Blackthorn walking stick for $39.98 (item #0A064). Their phone number is 1-800-843-4538. Their website is: Shop Irish.com. Their FAX: 1-877-213-3600.

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    This page was last updated on May 20, 2007

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