The Birch Tree is a small tree that rarely exceeds 25 meters, and it can live to 50 years. In Europe it growsbelow 2,000 feet of altitude. It is a tree that remotes to an ancestral time, of more then 30 million years of existence.
This tree represents ( in druidic lore ) the renewal and rebirth. In the woods, this is the first tree to gain leaves, to rebirth and to renew its green appearance after the Winter. It is also the first tree to grow again in places where it has been a great burning or a place where the trees have all been chopped down.
It is belived that these were the first trees to grown after the great glacial age.
The origins of its name, birch , comes from the indo-european languages, linking to the words Brightnessand shining.
However, it is a possibility that the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon term, beorgan, which means “to protect” or “shelter”.
That is why it is said, in a dark forest, it is the birch tree that always show us the way out.
This tree is sacred to the Norse god Thor but especialy to the Welsh goddess Blodeuwedd, and to other goddesses such as Freya, Frigga and Ceridwen.
In the Druid Calendar, the first month, that goes from 24th of December till 20th of January, is called beth – the birch moon. In Portugal, this tree is called Betúla.
There is an ancient habit, to give to the newly married folk, small branches of birch tree in order toensure the fertility.
In certain places in Europe, farmers used to plant these trees around the house, as a protection against lightning, and the juice extracted from leaves, prevents worms from appearing in the cheese.
The wood of the birch tree is one of the tradicional timber used in the Beltane fire festival.