The Celtic Zodiac and Plants
The Celts consisted of many different tribes, but collectively were the largest group of ancient Europe. They shared the same culture and
though there were many different variations, they also shared a deeply rooted language. The Celtic religion had a close relationship to the natural world. Lakes, rivers, trees, and celestial objects were considered deeply connected to their gods and were worshipped. Over time the Ogham alphabet was developed with much intrinsically interwoven meaning. Possibly stemming from hand signals (a type of sign language) it became not only a base for written language, but to represent plant, animal and gemstone spiritual connections in a Celtic zodiac which differs from the more commonly known western one.
I thought it would be interesting to go through the Celtic zodiac month by month to see the reverence and connection they had to some of our native plants and animals. The Celtic zodiac calendar is divided into 13 periods vs 12 and though there is some variation (depending on source) it more or less begins with B for Beithe (modern equivalent would be Beth). This period runs from around Dec 24-Jan 20 (give or take a day or two) and people born under this sign are thought to be achievers with a deeper connection to the Golden Eagle and White Stag. Rock Crystal is their stone and Birch is their tree – representing motivation, passion and progression. There are a number of different species of Birch that thrive in a number of habitats with much purpose, so this description of Birch is coincidentally fitting. You can find out more about our native Paper Birch by going here.
Since we have now entered the second sign, I will include L (Luis) as well. From Jan 21-Feb 17 those born under this
sign are thinkers – visionary types with a large degree of creativity. This may explain why their spirit animal is the Green Dragon (you can choose whether to believe in the fantasy type, extinct dinosaur or a more tangible version such as a Komodo Dragon or smaller lizard with dragon like qualities. Here you would have to settle for the Mountain/Greater Short Horned Lizard which only occurs in the SE corner of Alberta). Peridot is the gemstone. Perhaps its yellow green colour is thought to relate to the Green Dragon? Rowan (as it is called in Europe) or Mountain Ash, is this sign’s tree. Both Western/Sitka Mountain Ash (Sorbus sitchensis) and Greene’s Mountain Ash (Sorbus scopulina) occur in Alberta but Greene’s is found more in the Rocky Mountains. Go to the University of British Columbia here to see a good description and picture of Western Mountan Ash vs Greene’s. Mountain Ash wood is good for carving walking sticks and handles, and druids used the berries and bark to make dyes for ceremonial garments. This would be an expression of the creativity and thought under this sign.
Next month we will look at the sign of N and the Ash tree so don’t forget to follow us so you don’t miss it!