Tinne         Symbol: Tinne

Sound value: T

Literal meaning: Iron

Pronounced as


Northwest Europe


(Ilex aquifolium)

Features: Medium evergreen tree, won’t grow in wet soils, good hedge (Holly Family)

Uses: Dense wood, good for carving

North Central Florida


(Ilex opaca & Ilex x attenuata Ashe)

Features: Medium evergreen trees (Holly Family)

Uses: Wood: made into handles, fixtures, small tools (wood is ivory-white, close-grained, & shock-resistant) ^

^ Floridata

American Holly

American Holly (Ilex opaca), Gainesville, Florida

American holly

American Holly (Ilex opaca), Gainesville, Florida

Modern divinatory meaning: Life symbol/ reincarnation; directed balance, courage

Animal symbolism (based on traditional lore): boar

Bird symbolism (based on traditional lore): starling

Associated deities: Tannus, Thor, Taranis

Color: dark grey

Element: Fire

Calendar: Tinne is associated with the eigth lunar month of the Celtic year, June. (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.)


  • A common Celtic tradition says that there is a perpetual battle between two aspects of the nature god- the Oak King (the God of the waxing light, or the Divine Child) and the Holly king (the God of the waning light, or the Dark Lord). Each year at the summer solstice, the Holly King wins the battle and rules, until he is defeated by the Oak King at the time of the winter solstice. (Holly is known as the evergreen twin to the oak, and one of it’s names is ‘Kerm-Oak’.)
  • Holly was also brought into the house during the winter to both protect the home and to allow faeries to shelter in the home.
  • Holly trees are either male (with prickly leaves) or female (with smoother leaves). During Yule, the type of holly (prickly-leaved or smooth-leaved) brought into the house first dictated whether the husband or wife respectively were to rule the household for the coming year.
  • The Christmas carol, ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ reflects a pre-Christian celebration where a boy and a girl would be dressed in a suits of holly leaves and ivy respectively, to parade around the village, as a sign of the re-emergence of another year’s fertility.
  • Holly is one of the Nine Sacred Woods used in Need-Fires (the others being Oak, Pine, Hazel, Juniper, Cedar, Poplar, Apple, and Ash). In In ancient Irish lore, it was also listed as one of the Noble Trees of the Grove (along with Birch, Alder, Willow, Oak, Hazel and Apple).
  • Holly was felt to have protective properties, and there were taboos against cutting down a whole tree. Although the felling of whole trees was said to bring bad luck, the taking of boughs for decoration, and the coppicing of trees to provide winter fodder, was allowed.
  • Holly trees were traditionally planted near a house for protection from lightning strikes. (In European mythology, holly was associated with thunder gods such as Thor and Taranis. On a modern note, in the Harry Potter series Harry’s wand is made of holly, to repel evil; and he has a lightning bolt scar on his head!)

To Learn More:

http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/forest/mythfolk/holly.html– Trees For Life

The Holly- Celtic Radio

Tree Lore- Holly (OBOD)