The Bitch tree is a Deciduous hard wood tree in the family Betulaceae, which also includes alders, hazels, and horn beams. There is around 60 species in this family, 11 of which are endangered. They are native to the Northern Hemisphere, mainly America and Europe. They often grow to around 40 feet in height and have a papery bark, with the colours often giving them their names, grey, white, silver, black. he simple leaves are alternate, singly or doubly serrate, feather-veined, petiolate and stipulate. The wood of all the species is close-grained with a satiny texture and capable of taking a fine polish. The Rune Berkanan is named after the birch.
In Celtic tree astrology the birch is one of the months, BIRCH - THE ACHIEVER (December 24th - January 20th). The Birch once fulfilled many purposes. From providing handles for brooms and axes to the manufacture of cloth and children's cradles. It is particularly well-known for its use in making writing parchment and oil from the bark was often used to treat skin conditions and depression. People were once "birched" in order to drive out evil spirits, while twigs were given to newly weds to ensure fertility. Witches would use Birch twigs bound with Ash for their broomsticks or "besoms."A person who is highly driven and quite often will motivate others, making you Tolerant, Tough and Resilient. Birch wood is fine-grained and pale in colour, often with an attractive satin-like sheen. Ripple figuring may occur, increasing the value of the timber for veneer and furniture-making. Ground birch bark, fermented in sea water, is used for seasoning the woolen, hemp or linen sails and hemp rope of traditional Norwegian boats. Birch sap is a traditional drink in Northern Europe, Siberia, and Northern China. The sap is also bottled and sold commercially. Birch sap can be used to make birch syrup, which is used like maple syrup for pancakes and waffles. Birch wood can be used to smoke foods.
Magickally In magick, Birch is associated with inception, fertility, and sometimes with purification. (Birch has natural antiseptic properties.) Birch is traditionally used for the Witch’s besom, Beltane fires and Maypoles, and Yule logs. “Birch into the fire goes/In sign of what the Lady knows,” goes the traditional Wiccan rhyme. To ward off the evil eye, tie a red ribbon on the branch of one of these trees. The branches were marked with ogham and carried for protection in small pouches as well as given to newlyweds for fertility. In Wales, the Birch is a tree of love, and wreaths are made out of the branches and twigs as tokens of love.
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