Posts Tagged With: calendar

The Celtic Tree Calendar:Alder (Dec27-Jan23)


Month 3: Dec  27th – Jan 23rd

– Holiday: None

– Celtic Tree Oracle Card Properties: Oracle – Teacher

– Horticultural Note: Alder’s are often the first trees to grow in a forest after a fire and are most often found close to a water source.  They have wide and rounded leaves that come to a point, with feathered edges. The trunks are slender and they grow fairly tall. Alders have catkins and little cones they drop for reproduction. They are a member of the birch family so their bark can appear “mottled” as lichen covers nearly all of its bark.  Some species of Adler grow to trees and some exist as bush.

– Totems for this Month: Birds (e.g. wrens, ravens, crows and kingfishers), Dragons, Bran & Branwen

– Author, Sharlyn Hidalgo on Alder: The Adler month marks the beginning of the Celtic solar year. Nobility, strength, and great competency are seen in the alder; it is said to represent deep winter.  A time of year to come indoors and get all cozy and comfy. It is a time to go within to sleep and dream, to read, write and rest.  The alder possess a strong male energy that will offer backbone and strength when dealing with challenges. It also has female qualities as it nurtures the ground through its roots that provide exceptional nitrogen replacement in soil allowing other trees to grow above and beyond her – the mothering quality of self-sacrifice for the growth and goodness of others.

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The Celtic Tree Calendar:Rowan (Nov29-Dec26)

Month 2: November 29 – Dec 26 ~ Rowan~

– Holiday: Alban Arthan, celebrated on the Winter Solstice

(December 21 or 22).

– Celtic Tree Oracle Card Properties: Protection – Defense

– Best time to ask a Rowan to prune a branch for wand, rune, broom or staff? Late autumn or winter.

– Totems:  Horse, Centaur and Chiron

– Author; Sharlyn Hidalgo on Rowan: Within this month we celebrate the Winter Solstice marking the beginning of winter and the rebirth of the sun. Rowan is a tree of vision, healing and psychic powers. Rowan wood increases divination abilities and helps expand psychic view. Rowan provides protection and is good for grounding, and can help you reconnect with universal love. It protects against seduction and anything that means to overpower us. Rowan encourages using your spiritual strength to turn away from anything that threatens your serenity and purpose. It helps in controlling your own life.

– OBOD:  This is the time of death and rebirth. The sun appears to be abandoning us completely as the longest night comes to us. Linking our own inner journey to the yearly cycle, the words of the Druid ceremony ask “Cast away, O wo/man whatever impedes the appearance of light.” In darkness we throw on to the ground the scraps of material we have been carrying that signify those things which have been holding us back, and one lamp is lit from a flint and raised up on the Druid’s crook in the East. The year is reborn and a new cycle begins, which will reach its peak at the time of the Midsummer Solstice, before returning again to the place of death-and-birth.

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The Celtic Tree Calendar: Birch (Nov 1 – Nov 28)

Month 1: November 1 – November 28 ~ Birch~

– Holiday: Samhuinn (“sow-en”) October 31st to November 2nd.

– Celtic Tree Oracle Card Properties: Growth – Beginnings

– Best time to ask a Birch to prune a branch for wand, rune, broom or staff? Late summer through early autumn.

– Totems: Snake, Phoenix and Eagle

– Author; Sharlyn Hidalgo on Birch: The Birch month begins with the Celtic New Year, the end and the beginning time. It is a month of inceptions and beginnings and this lunation is known as the “Snow Moon”. It offers protection for children and represents purification, creativity and change.  Birch offers a new start, but before the beginning can unfold, there is work to do. What is unhelpful, outworn, outdated or inhibiting must be gathered and let go.  The Birch branch is often used to drive out energies that are no longer desired a space.  Transformation and regeneration is offered. Herein lies death, but also the promise of rebirth.

– OBOD on Samhuinn: The Druids knew that these three days had a special quality about them. The veil between this world and the World of the Ancestors was drawn aside on these nights, and for those who were prepared, journeys could be made in safety to the ‘other side’. The Druid rites, therefore, were concerned with making contact with the spirits of the departed, who were seen as sources of guidance and inspiration rather than as sources of dread. The dark moon, the time when no moon can be seen in the sky, was the phase of the moon which ruled this time, because it represents a time in which our mortal sight needs to be obscured in order for us to see into the other worlds. The dead are honored and feasted, not as the dead, but as the living spirits of loved ones and of guardians who hold the root-wisdom of the tribe.

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The Time Conundrum

One of the first decisions a new druid must make in my opinion is to determine what tool will be used to mark time.  Calendars abound and at first glance there appeared to be a great deal of incongruity  between my resources.  I am forced to live by the Gregorian calendar for example but I see great wisdom in the Lunar calendars and I’m drawn heavily to the Celtic Tree Calendar.  I realized I must find a way to mark dates to important festivals, holidays and rituals.

At this point I have decided to use the Celtic Tree Calendar as my template. However instead of starting the New Year as the Celtic Tree Calendar suggests (the Full Moon closest to Oct 31st) my new year will begin during Samhuinn during the Gregorian dates on which some druid groups such as OBOD observe this holiday (Oct 31, Nov 1 and Nov 2) each year.  So far as my attention to the Lunar Calendar is concerned, it will be focused on the lunar phases.  I may yet attempt to include card readings on these full moon marks.

With all of this in mind I began some research about the Celtic Tree, Gregorian and Lunar calendars. Additionally I needed to research the Eight-Fold Wheel of the Year to ensure important holidays were included.  As such I started down this rabbit hole of time and space and I soon learned how much I had forgotten about the history of keeping time and so did a bit of research on the internet.

Below are some notes that help me make sense of the four types of calendars that I must balance in my everyday life:

1) Gregorian Calendar

Introduced by its namesake, Pope Gregory XII on 24 February 1582 it is in widespread in use today and  sometimes referred to as the “civil calendar”.  The catholic church introduced this calendar largely because the current method of tracking dates (i.e.  the Julian Calendar) was found to be inaccurate in calculating of the vernal equinox which is tied to the celebration of Easter.  Essentially the inaccuracy created a drift of about 3 days every 400 years which was simply not acceptable to the church. It should be noted here that due to the Gregorian calendar’s (see “a.” and “b.”  below)  obvious connotations of Western Christianity, some replace the traditional era notations “AD” and “BC” (“Anno Domini” and “Before Christ”) with “CE” and “BCE” (“Common Era” and “Before Common Era”).

2) Lunar Calendar

The origin of the lunar calendar is based on the various cycles that can be seen while watching the moon. In the solar year there are 365 days, while in the lunar year there are nearly two weeks less, with 354 days. There are certain instances in which the lunar calendar is still put into place. This is usually done through various religions, such as Islam, where the lunar calendar is used to keep track of events within the religion.

3) The Eightfold Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is an annual cycle of seasonal festivals in contemporary Paganism. While not a calendar per say, the following is of note from “Druid Mysteries” by Philip Carr-Gomm who leads OBOD. Druidry recognizes eight particular times during the yearly cycle which are significant and which are marked by eight special festivals. Of these eight times, four are solar (the spring (vernal) and autumn equinoxes (see “c.” below)  and the summer and winter solstices (see “d.” below) ) and four are lunar (see “e.” below) (Samhuinn, Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasad)  creating thereby a balanced scheme of interlocking masculine and feminine observances. The solar observances are the ones that most people associate with modern-day Druids – particularly the Summer Solstice ceremonies at Stonehenge.

4) The Celtic Tree Calendar

This calendar is based on a 13 month progression (with one day that is not a day October 31st) to most closely align with the lunar cycle.  Each month is allocated a tree with special teachings, guides, totems and deities and each tree goes with a lunar cycle.  Fifteen trees are represented, two of them (apple and blackthorn) sharing months with other trees.  The 8 holidays from the Wheel of the Year above fold neatly into this calendar however because it’s a lunar based calendar, if one were to follow it to the letter it would not coincide with the Gregorian Calendar. For example the year begins with the full moon nearest October 31st (Samhain) if one is using the traditional methods. To make this even more convoluted, after the Norse began to influence the Celts they began to use the full moon nearest to Yule to mark the new year.  While Yule fits a bit better into the Gregorian calendar so far as determining a “New Year” I will choose to remain with the original Celtic new year of Samhuinn.


a. The Gregorian calendar is a tropical solar calendar (vs. Sidereal solar calendar which recons with respect to the suns position with fixed stars) because the Vernal Equinox is defined as:

1. The point at which the ecliptic intersects the celestial equator, the

sun having a northerly motion.

2. The moment at which the sun passes through the vernal equinox,

about March 21, marking the beginning of spring.

b. The Gregorian calendar modified the Julian calendar’s regular cycle of leap years as follows:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100; the centurial years that are exactly divisible by 400 are still leap years. For example, the year 1900 is not a leap year; the year 2000 is a leap year.

c.  A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year tied to the Sun. It is the day that is either the longest day of the year (in summer) or the shortest day of the year (in winter) for any place outside of the tropics. A solstice occurs twice a year (around 20 June and 21 December.)

d.  An equinox is an astronomical event that happens twice each year tied to the sun.  The equinox is the date at which day and night are of equal length. An equinox occurs twice a year (around 20 March and 22 September), when the tilt of the Earth‘s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun,

e.  It should be noted that Philip Carr-Gomm states above that Samhuinn, Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasad are “lunar” based events yet the dates that OBOD druids celebrate them are based primarily on the timing of the equinoxes and solstices.  This confused me at first and I wondered why he would refer to them as lunar until I found that traditionally these festivals were held by choosing to use the sixth day after the new or full moon closest to November 1st, February 1st, May 1st and August 1st, respectively.

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