Sacred Trees of the Pacific Northwest
The native spirituality of Celtic Europe celebrated the lunar and solar cycles, involving a set of sacred trees. The lunar cycle celebration has thirteen trees, and the solar cycle has five trees. In the Pacific Northwest of the United States, we have a distinctly unique bioregion, with a climate similar to that of the southern Celtic lands. Although similar, we do have differences in native flora.
Through teachings from Native Peoples, we can learn about the symbolism of sacred trees in the Pacific Northwest. The sacred trees of Celtic Europe each had name that began with a letter of the alphabet: vowels for the points of the solar cycle, consonants for the moons (months). This same idea is used with identifying the sacred trees of the Pacific Northwest.
The lunar year pivots on the moon on which the summer solstice lies: Cedarmoon. In any year, you should identify the Cedarmoon first, and then count backward and forward to the other moons. Some years will have thirteen moons, and in others Firmoon and Hollymoon will overlap. You should start naming with the new cycle after the midwinter Fullmoon.
The Celtic moons will be given below in parentheses for comparison purposes.
The Sacred Trees
HollyMoon – IBeth, birch)Holly is bright with berry to decorate your dwellings for Midwinter. She stands for good times, community, the thread of sisterhood, and as celebration in the darkest times.
Hemlockmoon – Luis, rowan) Western Hemlcok stands where other trees have died. Her branches are heavy under the snow, but shed excess weight. She symbolizes survival during hard time, new growth out of decay, and for feminism.
Ashmoon – (Nion, ash) The Oregon Ash stands tall and bright in early spring. Her black buds are prominent in pairs and her branches strong. She stands for the optimism and bonding of youth, the youthful heart, and for friendship.
Aldermoon – (Fern, alder) Alder grows by the water. Her roots, water logged, can support life because she lives in harmony with the bacteria that produces nutrients for her. The red dye under her bark produces natural pigment. She sheds her leaves, but has cones. She symbolizes versatility, the capacity to adapt, and cooperation.
Dogwoodmoon – Saille, willow) Dogwood decorates the spring forest with bright stars of white. Her wood is hard and strong. She stands for the unconquerable partnership of beauty and strength.
Hawthornmoon – (Uath, hawthorn) Black hawthorn blossoms at this time covering the hedgerows and thickets with a white blanket. Her sharp thorns remind us that death lies in all life. She stands for the irrepressible sexual power of women and their capacity for ecstacy.
Cedarmoon – (Duir,oak) Western Red Cedar is the beauty of the forests of the region. Her wood is fragrant, sturdy, and good for carving. She symbolizes the value of commitment, home, and family life.
Myrtlemoon – (Tinne, holly) Oregon Myrtle spreads her strong fragrance through the forests. Her evergreen leaves shed and conserve water. She stands for strong preferences and tastes for living, for being different, and willing to be counted.
Willowmoon – (Coll, hazel) Willow grows by water, supple, pliable, and able to withstand strong winds because she will bend. She symbolizes the courage to yield to others when it is wise to do so.
Madronemoon – (Muin, vine) Madrone shows her evergreen leaves and rust colored berries against red-brown bark. She stands for the balance of darkness and light.
Maplemoon – (Gort, ivy) Vine Maple is brilliantly red during the fall. She stands among great firs and cedars. She stands for thrift, the simple life making much out of little, and the capacity to pass on more than one is given.
Oakenmoon – (Ngetal, reed) White Oak or Garry Oak keeps her brown leaves into the first winter storms. She scatters acorns and her wood is hard. She stands for the capacity to live a meaningful and prosperous life in the unlikeliest of places.
Firmoon – (Fuis, edler) Douglas Fir is one of the commonest trees in the Pacific Northwest. She grows quickly and stands for rapid growth, easy movement, the capacity to run things smoothly, and to be useful.
Celebrating the Lunar Cycle
When the moon is full, visit the sacred tree of that month. Use every sense to get to know the tree: touch, smell, taste, listen, and look at the tree. You may be surprised at what you experience.