This article appeared in the North Clare Local in April.
Whether you rush to the horoscope page in your daily newspaper, or dismiss it all as a load of baloney, almost all of us know what our Western star sign is. Not many of us know that we have a corresponding Celtic tree sign.
The Celts were very fond of trees, and the Druidic religion centred on their worship. The druids followed a lunar calendar, which gave them 13 months a year instead of our current 12. Like the Greeks, Chinese and Babylonians, they believed that time of the year you were born influenced your personality. They matched the months to a corresponding tree and, behold, Celtic tree signs were born.
This is the story anyway, but it’s very difficult to find historical evidence that the Celts had this sign system. The system was “rediscovered” by the poet Robert Graves in the 1970s.
Whatever the veracity of Celtic tree signs, it’s a bit of fun. Here are the 13 signs of the Celtic zodiac:
The Rowan (Jan 22- Feb 18). The Thinker. They’re people with bright ideas (ideas that the world may not yet be ready for). Rowans can come across as aloof and unsociable, but underneath they are burning with passion. They have high standards. Animal: Cat.
The Ash (Feb 19- Mar 17). The Enchanter. The Ash person is creative, artistic, and in touch with nature. They tend towards being withdrawn and introverted, and can sometimes be moody. Ash people are very generous and trusting, sometimes to a fault. Animal: Adder.
The Alder (Mar 18- Apr 14). The Trailblazer. Alders are leaders, often drawing followers in whatever path they take. They are confident, gregarious and proactive. They have little tolerance for the superficial and dislike wastefulness. Animal: Fox.
The Willow (Apr 15- May 12). The Observer. Willows are intuitive, and in touch with nature’s cycles and seasons. This makes them patient and accepting people. Highly intelligent, Willows sometimes hold their potential back out of modesty. Animal: Bull.
The Hawthorn (May 13- June 9). The Illusionist. Hawthorns are dual creatures; often appearing average and ordinary on the outside, they are bursting with passion and creativity on the inside. They’re excellent listeners and have a great sense of humour. Animal: Seahorse.
The Oak (June 10- July 7). The Stabiliser. Strong and wise, Oaks love to stand up for the underdog and make good campaigners. Oaks like social settings and sharing knowledge, and make good teachers. They are nurturing and caring. Animal: Wren.
The Holly (July 8- Aug 4). The Ruler. The sign of kings, Hollies take on positions of power and leadership effortlessly. They can be competitive and ambitious, and this can be mistaken for arrogance. However, underneath, the Holly is kind and generous. Animal: Horse.
The Hazel (Aug 5- Sept 1). The Knower. Hazels excel at academia, and have strong memories. They like keeping abreast of current events, and are always well-informed. They also have a need for order. They have a keen eye for detail, and make good scientists, mathematicians etc. Animal: Salmon.
The Vine (Sept 2- Sept 29). The Equaliser. Vines are changeable and unpredictable, which can lead to indecisiveness. They tend towards neutrality, as they can see both sides of the story. Vines enjoy the good life and have a great sense of style. Animal: Swan.
The Ivy (Sept 30- Oct 27). The Survivor. Like the plant itself, Ivy people overcome any challenge to thrive. They persevere with grace and cling to their self-belief and faith in times of strife. They are charming and warm-hearted. Animal: Butterfly.
The Reed (Oct 28- Nov 24). The Inquisitor. Curious, with a lively mind, Reeds make great journalists, detectives and archaeologists. They love to ‘dig’ for the truth and can coax stories out of people. On the flip-side, Reeds can enjoy gossip and tend towards manipulation. Animal: Wolf.
The Elder (Nov 25- Dec 23). The Seeker. Elders can be thrill-seekers, and can burn the candle at both ends. Often blunt, they can have problems forming deep connections despite their gregarious nature. Despite appearances, Elders are generally deeply thoughtful with a genuine desire to help others. Animal: Hawk.
The Birch (Dec 24- Jan 21). The Achiever. Highly driven, Birches are always striving for more. They want to be the best, and are natural leaders. They also maintain a cool head, and are famous for their wit. Birches do have a softer side, and aim to bring beauty wherever they go. Animal: Stag.
Whether you take it all with a pinch of salt or can identify your own personality within these signs, one idea I spotted online may be worth pursuing. Stuck for a birthday gift or don’t want to risk getting a newborn yet another Babygro? Why not plant or buy them “their” tree? A truly green present!