The Birch Tree
Birch or Beith is the first tree of the Celtic Ogham Tree Alphabet and represents new beginnings. I associate its energy with the element of Air and find the cleansing qualities excellent for mental tension and stress.
Birch medicines include:
Endings and Beginnings
Forgiveness/Return to Innocence
The Birch is a feminine tree and her rune in the Ogham fits perfectly into the symbol of Venus, side by side with the rune for Hawthorn. I see the Birch as a youthful innocence and the Hawthorn as the wise mother. The cleansing nature of the birch can return us to a state where we are able to see things with fresh eyes. Her Heart shaped leaves reflect the need to forgive in order to move on to a new start. Forgiveness and being flexible enough to let go are big factors in the reduction of mental stress and anxiety.
Traditionally Birch wood was used to make Besoms (broomsticks). The branches flexible nature makes it easy to sweep and clear away unwanted energy. The witch is regularly seen to be flying on a broomstick, not because they physically take off, but because the energy of the Birch can provide clear vision and assist with astral travel. This could also be why the Fly Agaric mushrooms like to grow near the Birch, feeding off her visionary nature. Because of this psychic power and the positive effects Birch has on the mind, I relate this tree to the Third Eye Chakra.
Smaller Besoms can be used to cleanse the aura of negative energy either as a wand, or by dipping in water and gently flicking drops over the body or the home. A practice I really enjoy and find very effective is to weave in and out of the tree branches first thing in the morning when rain or dew is gathered on them. It cleans the mind of weighty stress and helps relieve tension from the neck and shoulders.
Finding wood to make your own Besom is nice and easy because the Birch drop bits of its branches all the time. It is always good practice to build a relationship with the trees you are working with though by giving offerings. If you take food items, make sure they can be consumed by local wildlife, and remember to take your magical tool back to the tree for its blessing.
Here's a little poem inspired by the Birch.... Enjoy!