Celtic Tree Lore
The Alder Tree - Fearn - March
Alder Tree - Celtic Moon month - 18th March – 14th April
Latin name - Alnus Glutinosa
The Alder is a member of the birch family, Betulaceae. This is a small tree and grows up to about 70 feet (21 meters). Its one of the first to grow on new cleared ground. The Alder tree loves water and needs plenty of it to get the seeds to grow. The Alder also found lining the banks of rivers and streams in Britain. In lowland peaty areas it forms woodlands and flourishes in cold and temperate climates. The wood is resistant to fire and it has an oily wood that's also resistant to water.
When this wood is cut it bleeds a red colour, also the new buds are purple in colour giving it associations to royalty.
The Alder tree takes around 30 years to reach maturity and can enrich poor soils and has large roots. It can also re-grow from the stump, it becomes open and straggling when its older but as a younger tree it has a regular conical crown. The leaves are broadly ovate, stalked and usually smooth. The Alder tree flowers in early spring before the leaves. It produces cat kins (so called be cause of their resemblance to cats tails) that are formed in the autumn, the fruiting ones having scales, similar to a fir cone. The female cat kins are the so called berries; these are more wooden and more globular in appearance.
When the Alder is first cut the wood appears white and gradually changes to a red colour. The wood becomes stronger and harder when immersed in water so Alder wood would be used to make platforms, piles and bridges. Any wood needed for a damp place or water logged would use Alder wood as its first choice. Milk pails were traditionally made of Alder. Makes good whistles, spinning wheels and spokes.
Alder is one of the best woods for charcoal as it burns at a very high temperature. This tree produces four colours for dyes, green from its flowers, brown from its twigs, yellow from young branches and red from its bark.
Alder is both a tonic and an astringent. It can be used for a gargle for sore throats and also help rheumatism.
This tree has many associations with the faery realm as it grows near water (where water and land meet) and has red and purple as colour. The Alder tree is known as the King of the Waters, with its Queen being the Willow. The colour purple gives it is link to Kings especially the Elf and Faery King. Its elements are fire, earth and water. Whistles made from green Alder wood were used by witches to call forth help from the realm of the other world. Known as sacred trees in Wicca/Witchcraft and the tree of the God’s and Goddesses of fire, forge and smith craft.
In Ireland it would be used for making shields, but it was also considered unlucky to cut the “bleeding“tree. The Alder tree attracts the powers of protection of self, divination, oracles, healing and all things connected with the element water.
This tree is sacred to Bran the “Raven”, Bran the “Blessed” whose head was buried in London to protect it and the land of Britain. Also known as the Ancestor God of the Celtic Cult of the Sacred Head. He was a Celtic hero who instructed on his death for his head to be placed on a pillar so he could continue to give them counsel. Later they were told to bury his head at White Mount, the site of the now Tower of London.
Bran keeps open the doorway to the other world and our connection to our ancestors by his body and head being kept on London soil. The Ravens at London Tower are still said to have prophetic powers giving to them by Bran. In legend Bran carried an Alder wand/branch with him during the “Battle of The Trees” an old Celtic Legend.
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Written by SpiritDancer © Mystic Familiar 2009
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