The Celtic tree calendar is based on the ancient Celtic ogham alphabet, the creation of this nature based system is usually accredited to the ancient Druids. The ogham alphabet includes twenty-five letters which are symbols consisting of lines that cross each other and would have been etched into stone in ancient times. The ogham alphabet are associated with twenty-five trees and shrubs with the twenty-fifth letter representing The Sea. The first fifteen ogham letters and their respective trees make up the cycles of the Celtic tree calendar. Two of cycles share two trees with The Grove and the Koad ogham assigned to Samhain on the 31st of October. I follow the lunar version of the calendar which begins on November1st also known as the Celtic or the Witches New Year. The lunar version of the calendar is based on the 13 lunations of the year. I personally choose to assign the Yew tree as belonging at the point of Samhain. For me The Celtic Tree Calendar is a living rooted system supporting me in moving through the seasons of the year intentionally acknowledging the associated trees, the ogham and their guidance each cycle.
I would like to focus on my own discoveries and insights into what I think is beautifully illuminating and deeply mystical system for personal growth and the souls evolution. I think it is valuable to mention my own perspective here that even though there is much debate around the Celtic Tree Calendars origin and authenticity and general relevance as a modern spiritual system. I believe that which is created from insight and inspiration needs not be held and dogmatically fixed to a time and place. The Celtic Tree Calendar and Ogham will evolve and so will the way in which it lives and breathes in our lives. The ogham and the Celtic tree calendar would have had a specific purpose when developed that suited the time and place of its creators. Although now in this present day or any point in the future we can still discover new and equally truthful ways to rediscover reveal and relate to something that I believe is a tapping into the fundamental rhythms of nature. If we are staunchly convictive of what the purpose of the calendar was then we might never fully experience what it can grow into now. And while we honour our ancestors and those who developed and carried these ancient traditions over time we may also now as a people of equal relevance continue to create and support the evolution of these beautifully creative systems. We can embrace our own magics and inner divinity, our alignment with and synchronisation into the natural world and allow ourselves to let the ogham and the Celtic tree calendar continue to evolve flourish in this present day.
I have recently, during the Hawthorn cycle, entered my third year of journeying with the trees. In my research I have noticed curious patterns and profound revelations that have offered me a personal and enhanced experience with greater relational depth of the way in which I understand and access the wisdom available through journeying within The Celtic tree wheel of the year. My greatest discovery I would like to share with you, and my new and enhanced approach to journeying with the trees will be the focus of my third yearly cycle, taking me from Hawthorn 2021 through to Oak 2022.
Lets take a stroll through the woods and I will tell you a story. It is a warm and bright day, the sun is shining brightly but to our delight from where we are walking deep within the woodland, we are enjoying scattered beams of iridescence filtered kindly through the trees. The soil beneath our feet is warm and musky, steeped in thick pungent humidity. Scents of wild plants, leaf mould and pine needles lap around our thighs. We take our shoes off and sigh, such abandoned freedom. The soles of our feet naked, our warm skin touching soft cool bare earth. The air is thick and wet, dripping of heathery aromas. Delicate shadows dance through the thickets, the sweetness of song are the birds own honey. We follow the path, each step intentional of our love for this place. We are on our way to visit the Great Oak, eternally rooted and always beyond the farthest tree in the distance. We notice as we wander along the path many more smaller trails on either side of us, each one an invitation but we pass them by. We walk on soaking up through our legs deeply relaxing earth energy. Lungs awaken, yawn and stretch. Heart soothes her cautious fox and the mind loosens and lightens. All life slows for a moment. Now I will begin.
What if we think of this beautiful walk along this woodland path as the Celtic Tree Calendar. We are always moving forward, meeting each tree along the way and at some point we will reach the Great Oak. However we are tethered to the tree line, never changing our direction, never getting lost, never challenging our senses. This has been my observation as I have journeyed within the Celtic tree calendar. To journey with the trees is to live in the here and now and fully present. The trees support us as we move through our lives encountering what I term 'spiritual weather'. Spiritual weathers are the often unseen and sometimes known forces that influence and inspire us each day. Weather patterns will charge the seasons with associated impulses. They will infuse elemental moods into the Celtic wheel of the year. Psychic winds will deliver to the intuition debris from the collective unconscious and conscious minds of all living beings and plant life on our world. Spiritual weather will also rain down on us the astrological effects of the planets and stars in the universe. We will also feel the energetic forces of water lines, ley lines, sacred sites as they are impacted or energised by seasonal and astrological triggers. We are like walking antennae, we pick up vibes and have feelings in our bones and gut. For some of us spiritual weather is a subtle awareness of something and for others it is a loud and clear weather broadcast. Each tree cycle we journey through invites us to look to the trees for their support during the spiritual weathers. We can regard the general guidance of a tree and reflect on how their wisdoms can offer us insights into our daily life experience. For instance if it was forecast for rain we would wear wellies and take an umbrella. For snow we might wear gloves and take our sledge and for high pollen counts, if we have allergies we would stay indoors. It is very similar with spiritual weather. The spiritual weather can influence our attitudes and values and also carry inspiration to us. For instance as example during the Elder tree cycle we know that we ourselves or those around us may be going through deep soulful transitions, we may be facing endings and trying to integrate past life traumas. We are also descending into Samhain and engaging the Yew tree and so in the Elder tree cycle we may be feeling very deep and our vulnerabilities might resurface and challenge us. Elder season encourages us to sink into our soul, engage our raw spirit and open up to the potential for change. Elder also delivers the invitation to reunite with our ancestors and so we might want to sit in sacred space or meditate.
Now lets come back to our woodland walk. On this wildly beautiful yet unsheltered path we are exposed to the weather, regular and spiritual. It begins to rain heavily. We notice that a moss laden trail veers off of our path and sidewinds into a grove of thick umbrella like conifers. Yes yes, most of us would gleefully stay on the path in the pouring rain skipping deliriously through every muddy puddle praising the Goddess, I know who you are! But please humour me here, I am going somewhere with this analogy. Lets take this sheltered pathway that leads us into a deeper denser part of the wood. We stroll beneath these furry giants and to our surprise we find nestled here and there within the shadows other woodland creatures, rabbits, bees and deer also seeking a little respite. This path leads us through an enchanting otherworldly place. The air is different in this place, the sounds and smells are familiar yet strange and the light is filtered into shades of emerald green. As we wander through the wood we encounter curious and peculiar trees, they observe us as we pass by regarding our intentions. These trees are the guardians and the great teachers of the shadows and they offer hidden wisdoms that can illuminate and inform us of the unseen forces at play within the deepest realms and depths of our being, they are The Council of Trees, and the Hidden Trees of the Celtic Tree Calendar.
These hidden trees reside in our periphery of our awareness, they are reflected upon us from opposite side of our yearly cycle. Cross linked through each tree cycle in a zig zag pattern all along the traditional track of the Celtic tree calendar. The hidden trees give us an opportunity to view the tree cycles of the Celtic tree calendar as we engage them, as a spherical experience as opposed to linear journey. We also have the opportunity to move in a spiral each month, spiralling in and out of the hidden cycles at varying depths of relation. We will always find our anchor within the present day tree cycle, grounding us in the here and now and allowing our Council to offer us a expanded view of regarding our past and future. Effectively we can have a multi time realm experience throughout the year giving us greater freedoms within and control over the direction and depth of our own spiritual journey and everyday lives. Having taken the sidewinding path we have moved more creatively through the woodland of our soul. Had we remained in our original direction and on the most direct route to the Great Oak we would never have known our potential for an even greater adventure. When we follow the classical Celtic tree calendar from one cycle to the next, we are following a linear timeline, moving forward always, acknowledging an awareness of a rhythm of nature while it endures, until the weather changes and we move into the next tree cycle. While I have learned a great deal from journeying with the trees this way I have learned that this is a foundation for a freer and wilder adventure. I do like to get lost in the woodland, especially a woodland I have explored extensively. I like to find the hidden hollows of woodland creatures, I experience childlike joy in discovering inspiring new tree friends and stumbling on playful curves of the river. Taking new paths or getting a little lost enlivens my spirit. And we will always find our way back to the Great Oak, if we are meant to.
In the northern hemisphere the seasonal tree cycles of the Celtic tree calendar are polled by the southern hemispheres tree cycles and their seasons. We meet the Council of Trees when we view our own hemispherical yearly cycle in a similar way to the northern and southern flip. We can apply this same concept and view our own hemispherical yearly cycle as poled sphere and journey through the Celtic tree wheel of the year with our present day tree cycle while also aware of the mirroring of the tree cycles on the polar side, literally on the other half, six months ahead of our own hemispherical yearly cycle.
For instance in this moment of writing this blog post, in the northern hemisphere we are in the throws of spring and in the Hawthorn tree cycle (March 21st - April 17th). If we look to the southern hemisphere our spring is reflected by their autumn and our Hawthorn tree cycle echoes their Elder tree cycle (April 3rd - April 29th) although the dates do not corelate precisely. This correspondence in of itself can offer us an expanded view of polar tree cyclic energy. Now I will take you even deeper. If we look at the dates of the Hawthorn cycle (March 21st - April 17th) we may assume that the tree cycle that sits on our own hemispherical pole, basically directly 6 months ahead will be the Elder tree, as is offered as the tree cycle in the southern hemisphere right now, directly opposite us globally time relative. But the dates don't match up exactly, the dates for Elder in the southern hemisphere are April 3rd to the 29th and these don't reflect our Hawthorn dates of March 21st to April 17th. Now things get interesting when we take a look at the dates of the Hawthorn cycle in the southern hemisphere (September 21st - October 17th) and we flip these dates back to the northern tree calendar which reveals to us that Hawthorn in the northern hemisphere is traversed by our very own Reed & Blackthorn (September 5th - October 2nd) and Elder (October 3rd - October 30th. Reed & Blackthorn with Elder are the hidden tree cycles of the hawthorn tree and they become The Council of Trees. For the southern hemisphere again time relative, you are in the Elder cycle right now you will be traversed by the hidden cycles of Hawthorn and Oak and these are your Council.
Here I will offer you The Celtic Tree Calendar enhanced by The Council of Trees for the northern hemisphere and the southern respectively. Please view on desktop. I am also creating a pie chart to illustrate these correlations for a clearer view of the Celtic tree wheel of the year and I will add this soon.
The Celtic Tree Wheel of the Year
The Council of Trees
Present Tree Cycle Hidden Tree Cycle
Birch (Nov1- Nov 28) Oak & Holly (May1 - May 28)
Rowen (Nov 29 - Dec 26) Holly & *Hazel/Apple (May 29 - June 26)
Alder (Dec 27 - Jan 23) *Hazel/Apple & Vine (June 27- July 23)
Willow (Jan 24 - Feb 20) Vine & Ivy (July 24 - Aug 20)
Ash (Feb 21 - March 20) Ivy & *Reed/Blackthorn (Aug 21- Sep 20)
Hawthorn (March 21 - April 17) *Reed/Blackthorn & Elder (Sep 21 - Oct 17)
Oak (April 18 - May 15) Elder, The Grove (Yew) & Birch (Oct 18 - Nov15)
Holly (May 16 - June 12) Birch & Rowen (Nov 16 - Dec 12)
*Hazel/Apple (June 13 - July 10) Rowen & Alder (Dec 13 - Jan 10)
Vine (July 11 - Aug 7) Alder & Willow (Jan 11 - Feb 7)
Ivy (Aug 8 - Sep 4) Willow & Ash (Feb 8 - March 4)
*Reed/Blackthorn (Sep 5 - Oct 2) Ash & Hawthorn (March 5 - April 2)
Elder (Oct 3 - Oct 30) Hawthorn & Oak (April 3 - April 29)
The Grove/Yew (Oct 31) Oak (April 30)
I have include the Yew tree at the point of Samhain where The Grove would traditionally be as the Yew tree is deeply associated with the ancestors, stillness and peace, everlasting life and the afterlife and with witches in the druidic tradition of the ovate. Samhain is known as the eve of the witches new year.
Present Tree Cycle Hidden Tree Cycle
Birch (May1- May 28) Oak & Holly (Nov1 - Nov 28)
Rowen (May 29 - June 26) Holly & *Hazel/Apple (Nov 29 - Dec 26)
Alder (June 27 - July 23) *Hazel/Apple & Vine (Dec 27- Jan 23)
Willow (July 24 - Aug 20) Vine & Ivy (Jan 24 - Feb 20)
Ash (Aug 21 - Sep 20) Ivy & *Reed/Blackthorn (March 21- April 20)
Hawthorn (Sep 21 - Oct 17) *Reed/Blackthorn & Elder (April 21 - May 17)
Oak (Oct 18 - Nov 15) Elder, The Grove/Yew & Birch (May 18 - June15)
Holly (Nov 16 - Dec12) Birch & Rowen (June 16 - July 12)
*Hazel/Apple (Dec 13 - Jan 10) Rowen & Alder (July 13 - Aug 10)
Vine (Jan 11 - Feb 7) Alder & Willow (Aug 11 - Sep 7)
Ivy (Feb 8 - March 4) Willow & Ash (Sep 8 - Oct 4)
*Reed/Blackthorn (March 5 - April 2) Ash & Hawthorn (Oct 5 - Nov 2)
Elder (April 3 - April 29) Hawthorn & Oak (Nov 3 - Nov 29)
The Grove/Yew (April 30) Oak (Nov 30)
We can also look to this chart for our birth tree. Our birth tree will share with us familiar personality and soulful traits that we see in ourselves and our ways of being. Interestingly however, when we look to our hidden birth trees or our Council of Trees we can unlock deeper soul journey experiences and powerful spiritual themes, influences and inspirations that engage us in our every day lives and that will be especially more powerful during the weeks surrounding our birthday or age milestone. For instance, as a simple example I offer myself. I was born of 22nd of April during the season of transformation and my birth tree cycle is the Oak. Oak is traversed by the hidden tree cycles of Elder, The Grove (Yew) and Birch, trees also of a season of transformation. At a glance I can see that Oak reflects my core being my ground nature and my strong will, I am steadfast (stubborn) and will endure and survive much in my life. I am also loyal, trustworthy and I love the sensuous experiences of nature. My Council includes Elder and the mysteries of death and the afterlife. Elder tells me that I experience continual death birth and rebirth cycles and that I am often integrating past life traumas and living within the soul journey of reoccurring themes. I have often thought 'I should have been born at Samhain'. I love the Autumn with her deeper moody skies and the cooler air ringing through the waning embers of the crisp auburn leaves on the trees, like little bells announcing the visitations of October 31. I also see that The Grove and the Yew tree are also on my Council of Trees. This tells me that I find my deepest healing within my inner realms, my grove and from the woodlands and the trees. I was born in the light of the spring but my soul is one that also walks comfortably through the night and the deep dark forest. The Birch tree continually offers me the light again, the journey out of the eternal night of Elder and Yew and to step into the light once again. Birch offers me the continual rebirthing vibrations of Elder, the awakening into the dawn of a new day with a strength and courage to begin again. So you see how beautifully and intricately woven into us our Tree Council are.
Each tree cycle I will offer an article informing us of the guidance of the Celtic tree that we are journeying within and I will also include the hidden tree cycles. I will explore each The Council and their wisdoms and illustrate how these will inform, Inspire and influence us. It is my intention that this research will be the groundwork for a third oracle deck and companion book in the future.
Yours in the heart of the woodland.
All concepts including dates discussed in this article relating to the The Counsel of Trees and the Hidden Trees of The Celtic Tree Calendar are my own original ideas and life work and may not copied. I would be honoured if anyone would like to incorporate my work into their spiritual journey and if anyone would like to share element of this work on their social media platforms please reference the author and your original source of information and offer a link to my website and blog post please.
The dates relating to the traditional lunar Celtic Tree Calendar (excluding the Yew) and the foundational knowledge of the trees that inspired me on my journey through the Celtic Tree Calendar has come from Celtic Tree Oracle Guidebook by Sharlyn Hidalgo.