Trees have been venerated throughout history by different cultures across the planet. In the West, the Celtic have been the people that have left the deepest traces due to their close relationship with nature and the knowledge they extracted from it, where the trees became the central axis of their mythology and theurgy.
The Celts populated much of Europe until the Romans and Germans were expelling them from their lands and ended up settling in the north of the British Isles, Ireland, France and northern Spain. The chronicles about its existence, beliefs and customs are the legacy of Greek and Roman authors.
They practiced a religion about which little is known, although their world of heroes, druids, and wizards has inspired later legends, such as the Arthurian myths.
The Celts based their beliefs on nature since it was the environment in which they lived immersed and that provided them with shelter, warmth and food. In observing their behavior and evolution, they associated the other vital phenomena and gave them a sacred character. The adoration of each of the natural life forms was intended to obtain the benefits of the qualities linked to it.
"WORDS OF THE WIND AND OF THE EARTH".
Trees, in the Celtic world, meant the pure essence of nature, they were home. The Druids, Celtic priests, analyzed all the signs they perceived from nature in order to converse with her, and when a god was invoked, it was done, among other things, to obtain the favor or "words of the wind and the earth", in most of the time through the trees.
Trees and forests were symbols of life and protection in Celtic theurgy and their culture developed around them. In their time, the Druids, inspired by the seasonal magic of the forests, developed a protective horoscope, which like most of the cultures of their time was inexorably linked to the phases of the moon.
Trees were for the Celtic people as well as a source of energy, the physical and divine link with the three planes represented, first, by the trunk of the tree that signified the material world because from it they extracted firewood and food.
In the second plane was the world of dreams, represented by the roots of the tree that went into the underground soil, where the underworld and the very secret of the wisdom of the Earth was located.
The third plane was represented by the top of the tree and its branches that were directed towards the sky and were moved by the wind; for the Celts it was the part of the tree that signified the divine plane of consciousness, the higher superhuman plane.
The trees were so important to the Celtic peoples that even the Druids and the Druidesas lived in them and rarely came near the town and mixed with the people, which is why they were considered great scholars of the trees of the region and the Writings that they have bequeathed to us give proof of their knowledge.
THE ”ALPHABET OF THE FOREST”.
The importance of the trees was such that in the elaboration of the language they took the first letter corresponding to the name of each one of them to make up the Celtic alphabet, in its original language called the ogham alphabet, which is also called the “forest alphabet”.
The forests thus represented cathedrals for the Druids, and in them their festivals, rituals and ceremonies were carried out. The power of the gods was mystically found in each of the trees in the forest and each tree was consecrated to a god or symbolized a virtue.
Protagonists of the calendar, 21 trees were part of the transit of the days and months throughout the year, in addition to forming a compendium, according to which each tree endowed a series of qualities to the person who was born at the corresponding time his regency.
In this worldview, the Moon was the benchmark through which the stages of life passed, as well as field work and life events. Time was divided into 30 months (lunar phases) and the 21 sacred trees governed the different stages of the year, as well as the births and the character of those born during that phase. As a horoscope, the tree corresponding to the period spoke of the character of the individual and its fruit protected him from the vicissitudes of life.
The 21 trees were divided, two for the solsitices-Birch in summer and Beech in winter, two for the equinoxes Oak in spring and olive in autumn and the remaining 17 distributed throughout the year.
Conservative people with organizational talent (oak, beech, elm, linden, walnut, chestnut, and fig tree) belong to the first group. To the second (olive, apple, fir, cypress, cedar, pine and maple) belong those people who have highly developed intellectual capacity; and the third group (birch, poplar, willow, hazel, Rowan or rowan tree, fesno and Hornbeam or hornbeam tree) who have imagination and capacity for synthesis.
Certain hills, lakes, caverns, springs, wells, monoliths, forest glades, and ancient stone circles were sacred sites of worship for their association with clover-strewn field boundaries and significant past events. Wells, springs, fountains and ponds were considered feminine symbols, passages of water that led to the subterranean womb of the Great Mother. However, the Druids preferred oak groves and forests.
And finally, among the Celts, the popular expression "let's touch wood" has remained among us, which comes precisely from the sacred character with which these peoples wrapped the tree, since they believed that the Druids, after death, were incarnated in a tree and They continued to watch over the health of their people.