In Britain where the Reed tree is the dwarf elm, it is
called the Water-Elder, Whitten, or rose Petal. Some of the information in this section is based on the immature Elm
tree in place of the Reed tree, the Elm is usually known as Elm, and sometimes
Piss-Elm (due to the smell it makes while being burned as a green wood).
The Month of Reed:
12th Moon of the Celtic Year
Ogham: Ng - Ngetal
Known as: The Inquisitor
Associated with: Harmony, Health
Purpose, Protection, Purification, Clarification, Communication and Growth
Celtic Symbol: The Wolf or The White Hound
Bird: The Owl and The Goose
Planet: Reed = Pluto & Elm = Saturn
Color/Stone: Grass Green / Clear Green Jasper
Today we may not consider the reed a tree, but in the time
of the ancient Celts their landscape held prolific reeds in swamp areas; some
growing up to 20 feet tall. The druids viewed any large plant like this with a
woody stalk to be a tree, and the reed was considered very important. The reed
was used for many purposes by the Celts. Specifically, they would weave reeds
together to make thatched roofs on their homes – some of which (when properly
constructed) last up to a decade or more. This is where the reed obtains its
symbolism of protection. It is also a natural insulator, and the Celts honored
it highly during cold, wet months. Reed gives off a faint sweet smell when
macerated, and so the Celts were known to lay out pressed reeds as flooring in
their homes to deodorize. This was also a practice for cleansing and purifying
homes. Reeds also made good candles, and were viewed as beacons of light during
the dark nights. This is another facet of the reed’s purposefulness in the life
of the Celts.
The reed gets its symbolism of communication from several
sources. In the hands of a good craftsman a reed would make a fine whistle,
flute or recorder. These were highly prized amongst the people, particularly
bards. Through these flutes and music the spiritually-minded Celts would
communicate fantastic worlds of vision, heroism, and beauty. Secondly, if you
are still enough, you can hear them sing a song when the wind blows through a
field of reeds. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing it, you know it is
an eerie experience. The Celts viewed this as an otherworld voice, and
considered it a message of powerful importance.
Other symbols associated with this Celtic month are The
Stone, The Fire Feast of Samhain Dis, Pwyll, and Arawn. Identified with the
submerged or hidden dryad, The Month of Reed represents the mysteries of death.
In fact the Fire Feast of Samhain celebrates the dead and on Samhain, the
boundary between the Otherworld and this world dissolve. It is a night of great
divination. Or in another fashion, it represents the hidden roots to all life.
The Month of Reed is associated with being both a savior and custodian. Pwyll,
the Celtic ruler of the Otherworld was given "The Stone" , one of
four treasures given to him for safekeeping. The Stone represents the right of
the kings and queen to have divine power. Thus the Reed is also the symbol of
Royalty. The White Hounds represent the dogs that guard the lunar mysteries. It
is sacred to Odin, Hoenin and Lodr.
Elm is sometimes said to symbolize the dark side of the
psyche and so can be used in psychic workings. The Elm is commonly known as
"the elf friend". If you desire to have contact with wood elves, pick
a grove of Elm trees and sit under them and sing. Around about dawn, the elves
will have gotten over their initial shyness and come out to join in the
singing. Elm trees are also thought to provide a channel for the communication
with divas. To get an Elm tree to help you in this quest, offerings can be
brought to a favorite tree and left. The best offerings are wine, mead,
tobacco, coins and sage. Tiny twigs of Elm can be worn in a bag around a
child's neck as a charm to produce eloquent speech in later life. Elm wood may
be bound with a yellow cord and burned to prevent gossip. The Elm represents
primordial female powers and therefore the Elm is a tree with great protective
qualities. The wood from the Elm can be made into talismans and charms that can
be worn for protection. The Elm also has the qualities of regeneration,
boldness and fidelity, and so added to its protective qualities, it is
excellent when given as a good luck token to departing friends.
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