Mount Vernon is home to thirteen tree specimens that George Washington planted around 1785 when he improved his serpentine walk.
The Thirteen Scared Trees, or Sacred Grove, of the Druids.....
The Celtic Lunar Calendar
In today's world it is often difficult for us to imagine that there were ancient civilizations that came long before us who were more aware and in tune with nature, astronomy, and astrology than we are today with all of our advanced intelligence and technology.
Historical records and archeological discoveries have made us all too aware of ancient peoples who had acquired such knowledge, which they used to alter and influence the activities of their daily life.
Approximately one thousand years B.C., a religious order of Celtic priests known as the Druids lived in the British Isles. They used a lunar calendar that consisted of 13 months, with each month having within it 28 days, plus an additional day which was added to the calendar as in a leap year, to correspond to the solar/lunar year.
This 13 month calendar was used by the Druids to calculate their year and important festivals.
The Druidic religion focused on the natural and supernatural energies of the universe which they identified with the spirits of their sacred trees. These sacred trees formed the basis of the Druid astrological zodiac.
The Druidic Zodiac
Beth.............Birch........December 24 - January 20.............The eagle or stag
Luis.............Rowan..........January 21 - February 17............Green dragon
Nion..............Ash...........February 18 - March 17...............The trident
Fearn...........Alder..............March 18 - April 14..................The pentacle
Saille...........Willow...............April 15 - May 12...................The serpent
Uath.........Hawthorne............May 13 - June 9....................The chalice
Duir..............Oak................June 10 - July 7.....................The golden wheel
Tinne...........Holly..................July 8 - August 4..................Flaming spear
Coll.............Hazel..............August 5 - September 1............The rainbow fish
Muin............Vine..........September 2 - September 29...........The swan
Gort.............Ivy.........September 30 - October 27...............The butterfly
Ngetal.........Reed............October 28 - November 24............The stone
Ruis............Elder..........November 25 - December 22............The raven
The last day of the calendar, December 23rd, is known as The Nameless Day which is represented by the Mistletoe and symbolized by the black pearl.
The Birch Tree
The birch tree is associated with the letter Beth in the Celtic tree alphabet, the first of the thirteen consonants of the Celtic letters that formed a calendar of seasonal tree magic. The spirit of the birch tree projects the faint aura of the sun, representing the rise of the Solar King from the dark slumber of night. This ethereal light symbolizes the divinity of the Dryad or tree spirit. The golden eagle flying overhead carries the salmon, a bright symbol of knowledge. The statuesque white stag is a symbol of the eventual fate of the Sun King, who will reign for seven months in the thirteen month calendar of the Druids.
Ruling Deity – The Celtic warrior God Lugh, inventor of all arts and crafts.
Planetary Ruler – Sun.
The Rowan Tree
The Rowan tree stands in the center of Stonehenge, the ancient gathering place of the Druids. In Celtic legend, the tree was considered to be the magical tree of life. The tree was guarded by a fiery green dragon, a powerful symbol of life during the time of year when night still ruled the day. Stonehenge symbolically formed a giant candle at the Celtic feast of Candlemas, marking the quickening of the year. The fiery breath of the dragon ignited the vital current of energy pulsing through the stones, regenerating the flame of eternal life.
Ruling Deity – Brigid, the Goddes of fertility and poetry.
Planetary Ruler – Uranus.
The Ash Tree
The Ash tree symbolizes the power of the sea, depicted in this illustration by the sea god Lir, one of the ruling divinities in Celtic legend. Lir was a powerful deity who represented the mystical fusion of man and God through the medium or element of water. In Celtic myth the Ash was sacred to Gwydion as a tree of enchantment, from whose twigs he made his wands. A Druidical wand, made from ash, with a spiral decoration was unearthed in Anglesey during an archaeological find. The wand dated from the early first century.
Ruling Deity – Gwydion, the Magician, storyteller and trickster.
Planetary Ruler – Neptune.
The Alder Tree
Armed with a spear and swoed, Bran the mighty giant and ancient Celtic King of Britain has slain the green dragon to establish his power over the seasons. The power of the sun has triumphed as it reaches the Vernal Equinox, for the days will now rule the night. March 21st, known to the Druids as Elbin Eilir, was celebrated with the lighting of a sacred fire of alder woodfrom which all other fires where then rekindled. From this day forward in the Celtic calendar, the sun will have dominion over the moon.
Ruling Deity – Bran the Blesses, the God of the Spirit world.
Planetary Ruler – Mars.
The Willow Tree
The Celts believed that a serpent was hidden within the branches of the willow tree. The coils of the serpent protected two scarlet colored eggs which contained the infinate potential of the world. A beautiful young maiden holds the branches of the tree. She has been chosen Queen of the May to preside over the celebration of Beltane, a fire festival held on the first day of May. The roots of the willow tap into the sacred spring of the mysterious and awesome aspect of the lunar Goddess, the Cailleach, who sits on a silver throne in a dark cavern under the tree.
Ruling Deity – Ceridwen, the Celtic Moon Goddess.
Planetary Ruler – Moon.
The Hawthorne Tree
The Hawthorne tree symbolizes the spiritual quest that demands chastity and purification after the earlier festivities of May. The Goddess holds the silver chalice of the Holy Grail, known also to many as the cauldron of Cerridwen. In this depiction, a warrior prince leaves his weapons behind in preparation for his ascent up the hill, representing the Suns journey towards the ultimate act of sacrifice at the summer soltice.
Ruling Deity – Olwen, the summer flower maiden.
Planetary Ruler – Vulcan.
The Oak Tree
The Oak tree stands in a circle of fire, the flames engulfing the sacrificial oak king, who sits upon his white stallion. Deep within its roots lies the double head of Janus, a dual god of life and death, who symbolizes the turning of the year from summer to winter. The golden wheel of the Celts represents the changing face of the Sun. The Sun has reached its highest point in the sky and is about to begin its descent. The summer solstice, celebrated on June 21st, was known to the Druids as Alban Hefin. This marked the turning point in the Druidic calendar when the Sun appeared momentarily to stand still as it reached its most northerly point.
Ruling Deity – The Dagda, the Father of all Gods.
Planetary Ruler – Jupiter.
The Holly Tree
The Earth Goddess is dressed in scarlet to symbolize fruition and the beginning of autumn. She holds the triple symbol of the Earth, Moon, and Sun. A flaming spear has pierced the earth at her feet, representing the renewal of her power at the Celtic festival of Lammas. This festival was an ancient fire festival celebrated on August 1st. It was associated with the transformation concept of the magical powers of the female.
Ruling Deity – Govannon, the smith God.
Planetary Ruler – Earth.
The Hazel Tree
The leaves of the hazel tree are slowly turning to gold and the nuts have formed into clusters of three, the sacred number of the universal Goddess. The nuts are dropping into a crystal clear pool and feeding the salmon, a magical symbol pertaining to knowledge of the arts and sciences. A young man sits by the spring and gazes into the pool, seeking to gain knowledge and wisdom not from the book that he has beside him; but from the ancient symbols of the universe that are revealed to our subconscious minds if we are open to them.
Ruling Deity – The sea God Manannan Mac Lir, master of disuise.
Planetary Ruler – Mercury.
The vine is depicted here growing over a mysterious entrance into the castle of Arianrhod, Lady of the Silver Wheel. Deep within the castle is the seat of Annwn, which in Celtic mysteries is the center of the astral plane. The four white swans symbolize the radiant aspect of the psyche approaching another revelation and initiation. The vine is associated with the Celtic festival of the autumn equinox known to the Druids as Alban Elfred, and is celebrated on September 23rd.
Ruling Deity – The Tuatha De Danaan Gods of light.
Planetary Ruler – Venus.
The tiny figures of the Sidhe or faery people, dance wildly in the moonlight awaiting the rebirth and resurrection of the souls of the dead. The butterfly is a symbol of the Sidhe and represents this metamorphic transition. A coverlet of Ivy almost conceals the ruins of an ancient temple. The Men-an-Tol stone in Cornwall is believed to be the solitary survivor of an ancient temple built by the same people who constructed Stonehenge. The Druids continued to use these same sites for their own rituals, carving their own symbols on some of the stones and erecting additional stones inscribed with Ogham.
Ruling Deity – Guinivere the fairy bride.
Planetary Ruler – Persephone.
The Celtic festival of Samhain was a time when doors were opened between the natural and supernatural world. For the Celts, it was the most important festival of the entire year, as it officially marked the beginning of winter and the start of the Celtic New Year. In this depiction, Pluto, god of the underworld, resides in a subterranean cavern where he guards the four treasures that the Celts had inherited from the Tuatha Danaans, a race of immortals who became their gods.
Ruling Deity – Pwyll, the Celtic God of the underworld.
Planetary Ruler – Pluto.
The Elder Tree
The magical deep purple berries of the elder tree relate to inception, the beginning of the mystical birth of the Celtic Sun God. A huge black raven flies above the child with a wreath of mistletoe around its neck and a lustrous black pearl in its mouth. It is the messenger of impending death, the physical death that precedes spiritual rebirth. To the Celts, the secret of Annwn is revealed at the time of the winter solstice, which marks the shortest day and heralds the rebirth of the Sun. The winter solstice on December 22nd was known as Alban Arthuan in the Druidic calendar.
Ruling Deity – Cailleach Beara, the crown Goddess and Celtic tribal mother.
Planetary Ruler – Saturn.