The Celtic Lunar Zodiac
The Willow Tree, `Saille
April 15th – May 12th
by Treasa ©
According to the Celtic Lunar Zodiac, written by Helena Paterson, those of us born under the sun signs of Aries/Taurus—from April 15th to May 12th –were also born under the Celtic Lunar Sign of The Willow Tree or Saille. Saille is the fifth of thirteen consonants of the Celtic letters that formed the associated calendar of seasonal tree magic. Each of the signs of the Celtic Lunar Zodiac is associated with a tree, a mythical being, a planet, a gemstone, a flower, and at least one archetypal animal.
The Willow Tree, Saille, symbolizes The Moon, its gemstone is Moonstone, its flower is the Primrose, and its animal associates are The Serpent, and Two Scarlet Eggs hidden in the Willow Tree.. The Archetypal Character associated with this fifth sign of the Lunar Zodiac is Morgan LeFay. The overall influence is the transformation or magical aspect of the triple goddess; in particular the transformation process of the young woman—the virgin aspect of the goddess—into the mother goddess.
The Willow Tree
The European Willow, found in central and southern Europe, is known as the White Willow, because of its grayish bark, while the American variety is called the Black Willow because of its black-colored bark. However the bark of both varieties of Willow contain similar constituents known to herbalists. It is thought that the Druids used Willow bark to cure worms and dysentery. Willow bark, along with the Primrose, was also used as an analgesic or primitive painkiller, especially for the arthritic diseases so prevalent in the damp climate of Britain and Ireland.
The Willow tree was sacred to the triple goddess in Celtic Myth, and associated with the "Old Veiled One," the Cailleach ("old woman" in Gaelic). As such, the Cailleach would be associated with the Crone aspect of the triple goddess, who was identified with the spirit of Wisdom.
The words, "Witchcraft," and "Wicca," are derived from the word, "Willow" and are associated with an ancient cult which used the natural cycle of creation associated with the goddess.
The Willow tree has always been known as a tree of enchantment. At the Temple of Delphi in Greece, Orpheus was depicted as receiving the mystic gift of eloquence by touching a willow in the sacred grove of Persephone. The Celts also associated it with poets, and young suitors would commonly wear a sprig of willow to acknowledge the power and status of the old "wise one," the Crone. The Willow was also host to the sacred mistletoe, which is more commonly found growing on the Willow and the Poplar Tree than on the Oak.
Beltane marked the official start of summer in the seasonal Celtic calendar. However, the fire festivals also represented spiritual cycles that connected the Earth with underworld forces.
On the eve of Beltane, all the fires in the community were extinguished, so that the element of Fire would be absent from the Earth. The Celts would gather on their sacred Beltane hill at sunrise to ritually rekindle the fire, which symbolized their regeneration of their own spiritual vitality. Their bonfire consisted of nine sacred woods, from which they relit their hearthfires, then drove their cattle through the smoke in the rite of "saining," or purification with fire. Fire was seen as a divine power, and the people would also jump over the bonfire as an act of personal purification and transformation of the spirit.
On the first morning of May, the Queen of the May was chosen to represent the goddess. With the ritual music and dancing round the phallic Maypole, the human sphere was united with the etheric forces to promote a new season of fertility and fruition.
The dew of May Day morning was also collected and used in the rituals. To the Celt, the dew represented an element of the divine and was regarded as a magical substance, being the distilled essence of the earth through fire, the alchemy of the spiritual nature of earth.
Special attention would also be given to their sacred wells and springs at this time—revered for their life-giving and healing properties. The Earth goddess was perceived by the Celts as the natural consort of the Sun, since both were life-giving deities, The Moon, or Lunar goddess, was the primeval mother of creation in the deeper mysteries of life, and had the power to preserve or destroy life in the esoteric sense.
The planet associated with this fifth Moon Sign, is The Moon. The Moon, in traditional astrology, represents the mother figure and is associated with the maternal nature. It is also associated with the instinctive nature or the unconscious mind.
The Moon, like Neptune, has always been considered a symbol of illusion, for nothing born under her influence endures; it is constantly changing and dissolving. The realm of dreams is considered to be under her guidance. However the Moon does relate to the powerful inherited physical traits of character and the residue of memory.
This is an opalescent, transparent gem, sometimes said to resemble a raindrop. The Moonstone, or Selenite, was used in ancient times in various parts of the world, as a lucky charm. Miraculous cures have been attributed to it.
The Romans believed that the moonstone enclosed the image of Diana, their Moon goddess, who represented, "the moonlight splendor of night," and had the power of bestowing wealth, victory and wisdom on its wearer. The Druids hung moonstones on fruit trees to ensure a good crop of fruit, and believed the stone changed color according to the waxing and waning of the Moon. As a gift for lovers, the Moonstone was believed to arouse tender affection. If placed in the mouth at the full Moon, it was said to bestow the power of foretelling both good or ill fortune.
The Two Scarlet Eggs
According to the Druidic mysteries, the Two Scarlet Eggs hidden in the Willow tree are related to both cosmic birth and death of mankind.
The Druids believed that the universe was hatched from two serpents’ eggs that contained the Sun and Earth. Hens’ eggs were substituted for the serpents’ and were symbolically eaten as part of the feasting at Beltane. This act was later transferred to the celebration of Easter in the Christian calendar, with the eggs becoming Easter eggs.
In all ancient myths of creation, Serpents were closely aligned with man’s own growth in spiritual terms. Serpent legends usually relate to the aspect of transformation associated with the fire festivals of the Celts. The sacred serpent was the goddess aspect of the Moon, Ceridwen, a passive but form-creating spirit.
The Primrose was highly prized by the Druids, and its abundance in the woods and pastures made it easy to collect. A poem by the famous Celtic bard, Taliesin, entitled, "The Chair of Taliesin," describes the apparatus and ceremony associated with the initiation of a bard. A draught of inspiration was made from the flowering Primrose and Vervain, and Primroses were carried by the Druids during these rituals as a protection from evil. Druids also rubbed the fragrant oil of Primrose on their bodies before certain rituals, to cleanse and purify themselves.
The medicinal properties of this plant were used to ease muscular rheumatism, and was also used for certain forms of paralysis and insomnia. Some herbalists recommended an infusion of the flowers to make a Primrose tea to be drunk in the month of May for curing the "phrensie" or nervous hysteria. Culpeper, an herbalist with a knowledge of astrology, placed the Primrose under the dominion of Venus, and wrote about the virtue of its leaves as making "as fine a salve to heal a wound as any I know."
The Archetypal Character
The Celtic equivalent of a powerful lunar sorceress is Morgan le Fay, half-sister to King Arthur. It was her powers, working against Arthur behind the scenes, which eventually destroyed the unity of the order of the Knights of the Round Table. Revenge for the death of her father, who had been treacherously killed by Uther Pendragon, father to Arthur, was the motivation behind her actions. But in the Celtic mythology of archetypes, Morgan le Fay symbolizes the darker forces of the psyche, which require greater understanding and recognition.
The Festival of Beltane, which occurs during this month, also reflects the transformation process of the young woman—the virgin aspect of the goddess—into the mother goddess. In personal terms it underlines the sensual nature of the Willow tree character, and the powerful influence of the Moon, or matriarch figure. The overall influence, however, is in the transformation of the triple goddess, which provides an intuitive wisdom and a deep insight into the workings of nature.
The Willow Character
Willow tree characters are difficult people to get to know in any depth or detail. People born under this sign touch upon all the mysterious aspects of nature associated with the Moon. Their psychic antennae appear to be naturally switched "on." Their lives are full of odd experiences, and they are naturally drawn to the unexplained mysteries of life. They can become extremely eloquent in explaining such mysteries, for they speak from experience. They act intuitively in all situations and their virtue of resourcefulness is their great strength. They make powerful friends as well as enemies.
Some notable Willow tree characters are: Karl Marx, Leonardo da Vinci, Sigmund Freud, Charlotte Bronte, and William Shakespeare.
Birch tree characters are passively tenacious and shrewd of character. They make wise parents and counselors, and their instinctive maternal nature has a powerful influence generally, being both protective and resourceful. Although they are great traditionalists, they are also receptive to change and quick to take advantage. They have excellent memories; which serves them well in business dealings.
These are related to sudden mood changes that may blur their power of reasoning. There is also a reluctance to forgive and forget, which may harbor resentment and thus limit future success. This can lead to great unhappiness, particularly within the family.
Much of this may, however be carefully hidden in everyday life, for Willow characters are usually employed in very responsible jobs and positions. Counseling and teaching professions attract many of them. Initially, some of them may find it difficult to settle into a definite career. They can be inclined to move residences at frequent intervals, although when they do eventually settle down they often become leading members of society. But there is still a sense of mystery about them that is intriguing.
They may seldom express a controversial opinion in public, while privately holding every type of controversial view on most subjects. They may therefore appear as very amenable people, although, in fact, they may have a very sensual nature that is easily aroused and liable to change, becoming hot or cold.
There are some Willow tree characters who may not fit this picture at all. They are the great magicians in every sense. They will appear as the most conventional people on the surface, but will have an incredible inner life or imagination. There will be a time, however, when this hidden potential will suddenly burst forth. It may take the form of writing to public figures, or perhaps taking up a political role themselves to address the rights and wrongs of a particular issue. And then there will be periods when their personal motivation suddenly ceases, and their intuitive nature appears to need a complete break from the routine and daily rigors of life.
People born at this time of year usually marry young and are drawn to either younger or older partners. This is the aspect of the moon that likes to be mothered or to be the mothering partner. Close personal relationships are important to them, and once married, the family or children become paramount in the affections.
However, if the right partner is found, a close bond can be formed that strikes an affinity between the sexes. There is a depth of emotion associated with this sign that is full of desire and passion. Unfortunately, this is not always so easy to express or channel positively in today’s society.
The lunar energy of the Willow can be positively channeled into the arts. It can also suddenly activate latent creative skills that may appear to change the personality.
Willow people can be incredibly difficult to get to know because there is a kind of veil over their personality that hides a great deal. Their sense of humor is not always easy to define and may seem to come and go depending on the occasion. They have a potential wisdom that makes them wise counselors, and as such, they make the most valued members of society.
The Moon has always been associated with people who can influence the public with the force of their personality—good or bad—and it a personal quality with which to be reckoned.
Treasa can be contacted directly by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org