Beith / Birch


Beith is the maiden tree, the first of the three Goddess trees. Many ancient cultures use the image of the Triple Goddess. Both the three Fates from Southern European symbology and the Norns from the Norse are personifications of this archtype. The ancient Irish Triple Goddess is both like and unlike these concepts. Like the other triads, the Irish triple Goddess is three women at three life stages, each with her own viewpoint and message. Unlike the Norse or the Romans, the Irish viewed the Triple Goddess as three stages of one single life, or as three different manifestations of the same deity, the Great Goddess Bride. The modern personification of the Goddess Bride is Gaia, the totality of the world. So, for the Irish, the triple goddesses all partook of the same store of universal knowledge and the form they wore was part of the message they were bringing to the listener.

The Maiden is the life stage when adult life is beginning, menarche is past and the girl is beginning to be comfortable with her adult body and to be interested in adult sexual contact. Seasonally, it is the full rush of Spring, the beginning of the bright half of the year at May first, or Mayday. Mayday is the point on the mythical cycle when the Maiden Goddess and the Young God, the Green Man of the woods, become lovers. They engender the child who will be born at the tipping of the year, nine months later, at Imbolc. Historically the Mayday festival was a time for lovers to declare themselves and to begin marriage contracts. Maypoles were made out of birch saplings, and brooms were made from birch twigs to sweep away the remnants of the old, dark time and start afresh. The old saying, «The new broom sweeps clean» comes from this practice.

Birches have this meaning in all of the cultures that they grow in. The rune that Beith is paired with is also birch, or Beorc, with the same meaning of beginning and the same beautiful symbol of Spring. The image of the shining green of new birch leaves, the contrast of the white trunks and spring flowers underneath is the picture of the future clear and bright. The bird connected to this tree is the robin, also the symbol of Spring and a fresh start.

This is the time to start a new project, to make agreements and contracts. The message this card sends is that it is time to begin. The time of preparation is past, difficulties have been overcome, and a new beginning can be made with confidence of success. If you have not been planning for a change, than this may be an indication that something is coming and to be prepared, not to let an opportunity pass. Beith reversed tells us that the way must be cleared first, that there is something to be finished and put away before a new beginning can be made. This is a happy, uncomplicated card with the message, «Go ahead! Begin! Take a risk and succeed!».

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