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Holly in July


Holly in July

The 8th of July to the 4th of August is the 8th month of the 13 month Lunar Celtic Calendar. Though now mostly associated with Christmas time, holly is in Celtic tradition, the tree associated with this month and for those born during this time it has significant influence. The holly tree known as Tinne to the Celts. It is the evergreen twin of the Oak. The Oak watched over the light half of the year from winter solstice (or Yule) to summer solstice (or Litha) when the holly, soon after, takes over as watcher for the dark half of the year.

Holly is evergreen and symbolises the immortality of nature, producing white star -shaped flowers in the spring and red berries in the winter. Its deep green shiny leaves with their characteristic prickly edges represent protection and in Celtic traditions were brought into homes to ward off evil spirits and also to offer shelter to the fairies during the harsh winter months. When a new chieftain was crowned it was with a wreath of holly to symbolise his strength and ability to watch over his clan. Its strong white wood was used in weapons and for making walking sticks. This mystical tree was often planted near homes as protection against lightening. (This tradition can be linked to the Norse and Celtic Gods of Thunder, Thor and Taranis).

This outward sturdiness and firm resilience helps to guard its healing and nurturing qualities. The flowers could be used to make a remedy which was said to aid those afflicted with jealousy and hatred, opening the heart to love. Its leaves could be infused to make a healing bath for colds and fevers and to offer protection against evil forces. Though poisonous to humans, its bright red berries provide a good source of food for birds and other animals in the winter.

If you are a holly person, you are said to possess the traits of the holly tree which in general are strength and practicality, you are very perceptive, understand the dark side of life and are very able to find ways to bring that into the light. The characteristics are also dependant on whether you were born in the first or second half of the month. As the Celtic calendar is linked closely to the Lunar cycles the waking and waning of each new moon offer deeper meaning.

If you are born in the first two weeks of the holly month, the new moon phase, then you are said to be very aware of the needs of others, offering good council and helping them to realise their dreams. You are nurturing, protective and prefer to be active in the wings rather than taking centre stage. You need to watch that you do not get lost in the shadows and are able to keep some of that energy and diligence for yourself. If you are born in the second half of the month you are possibly in a better position to push your own goals and dreams to the fore, you make a great leader or founder and inspire those around you, but you are very susceptible to criticism who can with draw into yourself becoming very guarded and prickly.

Each of the 13 months has its own Tree Guardian* and this points to the well know symbol of the Celtic tree of life. The roots and the branches form an eternal knot symbolising birth, death and rebirth – the natural cycles of life. The roots in the ground symbolise our connection to nature, to the womb of the earth our physical bonds to all life. The branches reaching way up high symbolise our spiritual bonds and our connection to one another and to the influence of the moon and the sun. The tree of life or crann bethadh is the symbol of balance and harmony. It is the guardian which stands sentinel over the light and the dark, the passing of time, of ages, sheltering and life giving.

It is no surprise that for centuries poets have written so many odes to trees and fitting that the Celtic alphabet – Ogham – is often said to be the invention of Ogma Mc Elthan, an ancient Irish Poet from mythology (said to be a member of An Tuatha Dé Danann a tribe of magical powerful people). It is also known as the Tree Alphabet for its links to the old Irish names for certain trees. Examples of Ogham can still be seen today all over Ireland and in some parts of Scotland and Wales. To understand the significance of the scared tree which governs our birth month, is perhaps a way to find our place in the forest, to reach our roots down into the past and our branches out into the future. A way to stand silently in the present, to bear witness, to give shelter, nourishment, to share our strength, our flowers, fruits and to feel connected to all the living things.

*Birch Dec 24- Jan 20, Rowan Jan 21-Feb 17, Ash Feb 18 – Mar 17, Alder Mar 18 – April 14, Willow Apr 15 – May 12, Hawthorn May 13 – June 9,Oak June 10 – July 7. Holly July 8 – Aug 4, Hazel Aug 5 – Sep 1, Vine Sep 2 – Sep 29, Ivy Sep 30 – Oct 27, Reed Oct 28- Nov 24, Elder Nov 25 – Dec 23.


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