Silver Birch

Lore

Aino is a well known Goddess in the pagan culture of Finland. Wainamoinen is a much holder very powerful hero, and desires Aino´s hand in marriage. He enters a contest with his brother, Youkahainen. During the fight Aino escapes and swims away to sit safely upon a large rock, removed from the storm created by the contest between the two huge men. The storm becomes so intense that it shakes the rock she is sitting on and she tumbles into the sea. She is transformed into nature itself, her flesh is transformed into the fish, her blood becomes the water, her hair gives birth to the seaweed. After Aino's death the animal world was so upset that cuckoos took up residence in a silver birch mountain forest where their song of love and sorrow lasts throughout the ages, because of this, the birch is sacred to the Goddess Aino.

 

The late Robert Graves had quite a lot to say about birch, he wrote about a custom in rural Britain where the girl offers her desired partner a piece of birch as a sign he may now begin wooing her.

 

Birch is also sacred to Thor..  one is never to take the bark of this tree unless it has been kissed by Thor (stricken with his lightning!)..  once The mighty Thor has claimed the trees spirit, then its bark is available for human use.

 

In the still practised Shamanic Lore of Siberia it is believed that the birch is the axis upon which the universe turnsand is an intrinsic part of a shamans journey.

 

Usage

The beautiful birch tree, known by some as `lady of the woods´ is a sight to behold in the countryside. Still nowadays modern pagans use this tree in order to give honour to the Goddess of the woodlands and it is said that a circular grove of birch trees is among the most magical sites in the sacred woodlands. If you come across a birch tree sit quietly close to the tree/s for some time preferably with ones back against the trunk, close the eyes and take some deep breaths feel the power of the tree extending into your back when you feel recharged and healed thank the tree and be on your way again.

 

Notes

  • Birch is a medium-sized tree that can reach 30 to 50 feet in height. Some species may grow to the height of 80 feet under appropriate conditions. 
  • Birch has green leaves that are oval or elliptical in shape. Leaves are single or double serrated on the edges. 
  • Bark of the birch can be white, grey, yellow, silver or black in color. Young trees have smooth bark. Deep ridges on the bark are characteristic for the older plants. Bark of all birch species (except Grey Birch) peels off in long horizontal strips. 
  • Birch has shallow root system which can damage sidewalks and roads in urban areas. 
  • Individual flowers are arranged in long clusters known as catkins. They hang from the branches during the summer. 
  • Birch tree produces fruit called "samara" which can release around 1 million seeds each year. 
  • Seeds and bark of the birch are source of food for forest animals such as rabbits, deer and birds.
  • Wood of birch tree is highly flammable. It can catch a fire even when it is wet. Because of that, birch tree is used as high-quality firewood.
  • Wood of birch tree is used in the manufacture of furniture, toys, basketball courts, doors and canoes. Wood of Paper Birch is used in the production of paper.
  • Pollen of the birch tree is responsible for 15 to 20% cases of hay fever in northern hemisphere. 
  • Leaves of birch are used in the preparation of tea in Finland.
  • Birch sap is used in the manufacture of wine and beer in the northern Europe, Russia and China. It can also serve as a substitute for sugar. Birch syrup, made of birch sap, is used like a dressing for the pancakes. 
  • Birch tree can live from 30 to 200 years, depending on the species, quality of the soil and climate.