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I have two main tree designs which can be altered to indicate different trees by changing the terminals and colour. (See also Thorn Trees) This one is based on a stone carving from one of the high crosses. I have made it to indicate not only a rowan (shown) but also hazel, ivy, apple, birch, alder, oak, mistletoe and holly.
It is thought that the early Celts held trees in special esteem. The druids were believed to worship in oak groves and many tribes had a tutelary tree called the bile. The letters of the Ogham alphabet and the months of the Celtic year were named after trees.
(ref: Robert Graves, “The White Goddess”)
Rowan is the tree of life, the quickbeam. It was a tree of protection and of quickening. It was put to oracular use, probably from very early times, since there is an especial abundance of rowan trees around megalithic monuments and other sacred places. Its Gaelic name is Luis.
Apple is the tree of hidden knowledge and immortality. King Arthur goes to Avalon (apple land) to be healed of his wounds. The Irish Bran is summoned to the otherworld with an apple branch. Ossian follows a girl with a golden apple to the Land of Youth. Apple shares the 9th month with hazel (which is the tree of revealed knowledge. Its Gaelic name is Quert.
Oak was the tree of midsummer. the gateway tree, the tree of coming and going. An oak tree is more likely than any other tree in the forest to be stuck by lightening and is for this reason often thought to be a tree of power. The English word for door is thought to be derived from its gaelic name, Duir.
Mistletoe was not a tree, but its folklore was included in tree mythology because it was parasitic on the oak – an especially sacred tree.. Caesar tells of druids cutting mistletoe boughs with a golden sickle for ritual purposes. It was thought to be sacred to the moon goddess because of its white berries. It is the tree of the winter solstice.
Associated with the Fire Festival of Lammas, holly is a symbol of luck and good fortune. In Celtic mythology the Holly is the evergreen twin of the Oak. The Oak rules the light part of the year in the form of a white horse while the Holly rules the dark part in the form of a unicorn. The Holly also represents those eternal, ever-green aspects of the earth. Its Gaelic name is Tinne