Trees in Celtic Mythology

Trees in Celtic Mythology. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Trees were hugely significant to the ancient Celts. They believed different kinds of trees served different mystical purposes that helped them through their lives.

Celtic Tree CalendarCeltic Tree Calendar

Based on the ogham alphabet and its association with trees.

alder-menuThe Alder Tree

Druids believed the Alder tree symbolised the balance between male and female.

apple tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Apple Tree

Appears in several stories in myths and legends in many cultures. In Celtic mythology it is a symbol of youthfulness and rebirth.

Ash Tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Ash Tree

The ancient Irish believed the Ash tree had healing qualities and saw it as one of a trilogy of sacred trees, along with the Oak and the Hawthorn.

Aspen tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Aspen Tree

It was believed to have the power to communicate with the next world. The Celts also believed that the wood from the tree would protect them from spiritual harm.

Birch Tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Birch Tree

The Celts believed the Birch tree had the power to purify and also protect them from spirits and evil fairies.

Blackthorn tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Blackthorn Tree

There was a sinister mythology around the blackthorn tree. It was connected to witches and the goddess of winter.

Elder tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Elder Tree

Sacred to the Celts and they believed it protected them from evil spirits. However, the Christians took a very different view.

menu-gorseThe Gorse Tree

The Celts believed that the Gorse tree was a symbol of love and fertility.

Hawthorn tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Hawthorn Tree

The Celts believed it was bad luck to cut the branches of a hawthorn tree as it would disturb the fairies. However, in Britain and other parts of Europe it was associated with love.

hazel tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Hazel Tree

Sacred to ancient Celts and it was punishable by death to chop one down. The Romans and Greeks associated it with intelligence.

Heather tree Ireland CallingThe Heather Tree

Covered the hills of Ireland with purple and white colours. It had many practical uses for the Celts and also mystical qualities.

Holly tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Holly Tree

Has played a key role in many cultures. Druids believed it had protective qualities while Christians believe it was part of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Ivy tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Ivy Tree

Seen by many cultures as an enemy of the vine tree. The Irish believed it protected them from evil.

Mistletoe. Image Copyright - Ireland CallingMistletoe

The Christmas plant was a considered sacred by the druids and was thought to ward off evil, restore health and bestow fertility.

Oak tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Oak Tree

Has always been used for building things due to its strength. It was also thought to be associated with thunder and lightning.

Reed tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Reed Tree

Very important in Celtic folklore. It is thought to be an introduction to the Ogham calendar and was used by Druid scholars for writing equipment.

Rowan tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Rowan Tree

Very sacred to the Druid Celts. They believed it symbolised death and buried it with their dead to protect them from evil spirits.

Scots Pine tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Scots Pine Tree

One of the oldest tree species in existence. It symbolises many things including; eternal life, fertility, prosperity and vitality.

Vine tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Vine Tree

Introduced to Ireland by the Romans. The Irish later built vineyards wherever they went in the world.

Willow tree Ireland CallingThe Willow Tree

The Druids used to say that the universe was hatched from two eggs that were nested in the Willow tree. It is a key element of the mythology of a number of cultures.

Yew tree copyright Ireland CallingThe Yew Tree

Associated with longevity and resurrection. It was revered by both the Druids and the Christians.

Ancient Irish language of ogham

Ogham – ancient Irish written language

New age beliefs about Ogham

Ogham alphabet named after Irish words for trees

Origins of Ogham – modern theories

Poems written in Ogham