Betula pendula/B. alba
The graceful birch, lady of the woods, is one of the most sacred trees of northern European traditions. Especially in Scandinavian countries it is deemed as a tree of life. In Britain it is considered sacred to the Maiden Goddess Bridha /Bridget, the shining one who guards over the waters of life. Birch indeed has an affinity with water. Despite its fragile appearance it is a tough and resilient tree, a pioneer tree that fearlessly populates even quite inhospitable places, bogs and swamps where few other trees would set root. Magically, birch is highly regarded for its life-giving properties. Birch twigs are hung over the stable doors to protect the cattle and ensure the flow of milk. A broom fashioned from birch twigs has special magical powers that can clear out negative energies and to protect against the evil doings of witches. Folk-magical healing practices recommend birches to restore a failing manhood and to take away the aches and pains of rheumatism, gout and arthritis, usually by weaving a spell into its branches, thus transferring one's own suffering to the tree. The fact that birches were thought to protect against witchcraft did not stop witches from utilizing them for their own purposes and birches were a choice source material for their brooms. Today, the only relict of these ancient believes that has survived, is the custom of using birch as a May-tree, the ever popular symbol of fertility around which children still twine their symbolic dance of life.
Birch's affinity with water is also responsible for its primary medicinal uses. Birch leaves are an excellent diuretic that can be used in all kinds of kidney and bladder trouble, as well as oedema and swelling of the joints. However, make sure the patient is taking plenty of liquid at the same time. Birch flushes out toxins from the body and can also be used as a spring cleansing herb to rid the body of accumulated metabolic wastes, especially uric acid crystals. It is an excellent supportive remedy for rheumatism, arthritis and gout pains.
Birch is sacred to the Maiden Goddess Bridha, the bringer of light. They convey fertility, female power and endurance in adversity, especially with regards to overcoming the growing pains of new beginnings. Birch can serve as a symbol of hope, light and energy that help us get through the dark times. Its affinity with water teaches us to let go of all that is hampering us and blocking our flow.