By Ellen Evert Hopman
Illustration by Will Hobbs
The Birch tree (along with Willow, Aspen, Poplar, and Linden) is one of the quintessentially feminine trees of ancient European culture. Interestingly Birch is also regarded as feminine by Native American nations who have traditionally used her wood for canoes, to make paper, and for carrying bags and prayer baskets.
Birch trees are associated mystically with new beginnings. They are one of the first trees to take hold in an area where the ground has been disturbed and were one of the earliest trees to appear after the retreat of the last Ice Age.
The ancient Indo-European word for Birch is associated with the words; “it shines, glitter, flash, shimmer, brilliance, brightness, white and bright” in several modern languages. Birch has traditionally been known as “the way shower” because of Her bright, white bark. In a dark forest Birch always shows the way.
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