Celtic Calendar with Tree Months (Moons) as Neo-Pagans See It
The Celtic Tree Calendar is a Neo-Pagan Calendar that claims to be based on the lunar cycle but is rather adjusted to the Gregorian calendar. If we insist to stay within 13 lunar months in a year we'll significantly fall out of sync in a couple of months and be totally lost within a year.
The History Behind the Celtic Tree Calendar
It is based on the Ogham alphabet, an Early Medieval alphabet used for the Irish language. The calendar was created by poet and historian Robert Graves in 1948, so it's actually a very new calendar and resembles very little with ancient druid calendars which were far more accurate from the cosmologic point of view.
Robert Graves used an old Song of Amergin as a starting point, translated it very loosely, and adapted the ancient Ogham alphabet with 15 consonants to 13 consonants only, so it could fit his theory of 13 lunar months in each solar year. Well, we all agree a solar year begins with a virtual starting point of the Sun related to the Eart and ends when the Sun 'reaches' the same point. This means one year has approximately 365,25 days as we all know from the Gregorian calendar. Even with three years with 365 days following by one leap year, we need some corrections from time to time, yet this calendar fits its purpose pretty well.
The lunar calendar, as presented by Robert Graves, has 13 months with 28 days and one additional day, which gives 13 x 28 + 1 = 365 days to each year. This effectively makes it a solar calendar (with the still unsolved problem of the leap year), so we can only look at it as a lovely quirk of an imaginative mind which became extremely popular among neo-pagans who are desperate to find meaning in the otherwise cynical and disappointing situation in the today's world without really looking for scientifically supported background.
Yet It's Cute!
Yes, the Celtic Tree Calendar is cute and can be used as an inspiration in our lives just like almost everything. So we will present it as the calendar created by Robert Graves and add a few interesting theories (developed from old druid teachings) for each month.
As we already stated, there are 13 months in the Celtic Calendar and each one of them is devoted to a tree. Druids believed trees have magical powers. Even the word Druid is likely connected to 'duir' (meaning 'door', what is the name of one of the months) and derived from an old name for oak tree, meaning 'the one with the wisdom of the oak'.
Druids frequently used trees for gatherings, ceremonies, and meditation places. The Celtic Tree Astrology is based on Earth cycles and closely related to trees, which, in turn, were homes to dwarfs, fairies, and other magical beings.
Here are the months of the Celtic Tree Calendar:
Beth (Birch Moon) Dec 24 - Jan 20
This is the month of adaptability, ambition, elegance, rebirth, and regeneration.
Birch is related to creativity, feminity, fertility, healing, and protection. This is a perfect time to start a demanding project.
Luis (Rowan Moon) Jan 21 – Feb 17
It's the time of beauty, courage, connection, initiation, power, self-dedication, and success.
Rowan has protecting powers, especially for hearth fires, families, mothers, ad against souls of the dead people. It is believed a rowan tree can improve psychic and philosophic powers.
Nion (Ash Moon) Feb 18 – Mar 17
A month of focusing on inner-self, growth, and mastership. Ash is a tree with huge magical powers, used for dreams, prophecy, and rituals.
Its berries, when put in a cradle, protect a baby against changeling. They also have protective powers over others. The leaves of ash can bring love to you.
Fearn (Alder Moon) Mar 18 – Apr 14
This month connects heaven and earth, it's a time of confidence, divination, intuition, peace, prophecy, and spirituality.
The flowers of Alder are traditionally used in fairie magic and parts of the tree could give you the power to face your biggest fears. Alder is supposedly best for making pipes and whistles, but an old belief bans cutting the tree down because a fairy living under the tree would punish you by burning your house.
Saille (Willow Moon) Apr 15 – May 12
The time of the Willow Moon is best for flexibility, healing, knowledge, rejuvenation, and nurturing. Willow protects against floods, storms, and other natural disasters, thanks to its connections to healing and growth.
Another important connection is the willow's connection to water and consequently to the Moon, which puts the tree in a realm of psychic ability and spirituality.
Uath (Hawthorn Moon) May 13 – Jun 9
A month of contradiction, dualism, fertility, fire, and masculinity. Hawthorn's magical energy is used for business decisions, professional connections, and all kinds of masculine powers.
This particular time of year is traditionally considered the month of male-female unity, thus being also popular as the month for marriages.
Duir (Oak Moon) Jun 10 – Jul 7
The summer month of Duir (meaning 'door') is the month of caring, nobility, strength, winning, and wisdom. Oak is connected with fertility, money, and success.
An acorn in your pocket will bring you good luck at the business interview. If you catch a falling leaf of oak, you'll stay healthy at least till next year. Celts praised the oak (sometimes called 'The Father of the Woods') due to its magical powers, especially its ability to attract lightning.
Tinne (Holly Moon) Jul 8 – Aug 4
Evergreen Holly symbolizes beauty, firmness, grace, optimism, and, due to its evergreen properties, the immortality of nature. It has cleansing and protecting powers.
Holly symbolizes goodwill and peace. While oak attracts lightning, holy repels it, which makes it a protection plant and popular to have around homes. It is believed that leaves of holly provide shelter to fairies in cold times.
Coll (Hazel Moon) Aug 5 – Sep 1
It's a month of inspiration, introspection, knowledge, and uniqueness, great to deal with everything related to divination, dreams, and knowledge.
It is said that nine hazel trees marked the border between the worlds of people and gods. The magical properties of hazel trees can be at least partially transported to ones who eat their fruit.
Muin (Vine Moon) Sep 2 – Sep 29
The month of Vine is a time of abundance, endurance, finding a balance, growth, opportunity, and passion. Vine is associated with happiness, transformation, and wreath, great for trying to connect with Mother Nature, especially around Mabone (Autumn Equinox).
Due vine's ability to grow wherever a chance is shown, the druids used it as an example of an important life lesson: use the opportunities in your environment as their best.
Gort (Ivy Moon) Sep 30 – Oct 27
Gort is time for getting rid of negativity. Ivy reminds us that life goes on and always finds a way to continue somehow even in the times of death.
It is used to binding lovers together and cooperations of all kinds. Thanks to its endurance (being detached from its base), it symbolizes fidelity and thanks to being evergreen - immortality.
Ngetal (Reed Moon) Oct 28 – Nov 24
It's the month of celebration of death, honoring the cycle of life, meditation, and spirituality. Reed also presents clarity, expression, meaning, and security.
Talismans made of reeds were believed to protect against evil and the reed was a popular thatch for rooftops. Being used as paper, the reed is associated with knowledge and scholarship as well.
Ruis (Elder Moon) Nov 25 – Dec 22
This is the time of endings, great for creativity, regeneration, and rejuvenation. Elder is a symbol of prosperity. Its white flowers are good to repel insects, which was probably extrapolated to the belief of being able to protect against evil spirits.
Otherwise, a complete elder tree, from bark and roots to berries and flowers is traditionally associated with healing properties against at least 70 (!) health issues.
Special Day Dec 23
23 December roughly matches the Winter Solstice (21 December) and Christmas (25 December), which puts this date in the area of eight major Celtic holidays and also in the area of the major celebrations in all major religions (which, of course, are strongly intertwined with pagan celebrations, connected to life cycles). This is the day when the night is the longest (approximately) and the day shortest, which means it somehow resets the life cycle of the earth. While everything is dying, there's also hope for a new life, new beginnings, and purification. Some versions of the Celtic Tree Month Calendar put 23 December to the Elder Moon.
With this detailed walk-through calendar based on druids' wisdom and Robert Graves' imagination we conclude the article. Feel free to share it with your friends!