Beith       Symbol: Beith


Sound value: B

Literal meaning: Being

Pronounced as

Northwest Europe


(Betula alba, pendula, or pubescens)

FEATURES: Deciduous tree, marks beginning of agricultural year (Birch Family)

USES: Medicinal

North Central Florida


(Betula nigra)

FEATURES : Medium deciduous tree (Birch Family)

USES: Wood is strong & easily turned, & used for fuel wood. Bark extracts used in leather tanning. In some species extracts are used to make birch beer. Medicinal uses.+

+ School of Forest Res. & Conserv, Univ Florida, Forest Trees

River Birch

River Birch, Gainesville, FL

River Birch leaves

River Birch leaves, Gainesville, FL

River Birch bark

River Birch bark, Gainesville, FL

Modern divinatory meaning: White tree of purification, protection, & beginnings

Animal symbolism (based on traditional lore): cow

Bird symbolism (based on traditional lore): pheasant

Associated deities: Frigga, Freya, Arianrhod, Eostre, Blodeuwedd

Color: silver white

Element: Air

Calendar:  Beith is associated with the first lunar month of the Celtic year, November. (Using the Celtic tree calendar system that has 13 ‘months’ starting in November, as popularized by Liz and Colin Murray. Other calendars are also used, most notably the calendar devised by the poet Robert Graves in his 1948 book White Goddess.)


  • The European Silver Birch is known as the “Lady of the Woods”.  It’s bright silvery bark gleams in both moonlight (evoking the Fae) and sunlight.
  • As one of the first trees to leaf out in the spring, birch is known as the tree of inception.
  • As a tree of purification, birch rods were used to drive out the spirit of the old year, to beat spirits and demons out of people, and to ‘beat the bounds’ of property. (And birch twigs were used in traditional brooms, to enhance their mundane and magical uses.)
  • In Scandinavia, switches of birch are used on the body to stimulate the process of purification in the sauna.*
  • The shaman of the Siberian Gold Eskimos climbs a birch tree at the high point of an initiation ceremony, circling its trunk nine times. The Buryat and the Central Asian Altai shamans carve nine notches in the trunk of a young birch – representing the steps they must take to ascend to heaven.* (Note: nine is a number attributed to the moon.)
  • The birch shares with the ash the distinction of being used as a representative of the Cosmic World-Tree – the Axis Mundi. This tree links the Underworld with Middle Earth and Heaven Above.*
  • Maypoles were often of Birch, as were the twigs used to ignite the Beltane fires, signifying new beginnings and a fresh start. The Yule log is, traditionally, Birch also.*
  • Cradles made of Birch are said to protect an infant from harm, particularly of a psychic nature. For the same reasons it is said that a small piece of birch carried upon a person will prevent kidnapping of the individual by the sidhe, or the Faerie Folk.**


To learn more:

Druid Tree Lore- OBOD *

Tree lore: Birch- OBOD **

Tree Wisdom: The Definitive Guidebook to the Myth, Folklore, and Healing Power of Trees by Jacqueline Memory Paterson (1996)