Under the Ash Moon

In Celtic tradition, the month of March is associated with the great ash tree. The ash tree is one of three trees that the pre-Christian Celts held sacred (ash, oak, and thorn), and according to tradition, Yggdrasil, the “world tree” was an ash tree from which all life was birthed.

Because ash trees are so tall, they were seen as the connection between the heavens and the earth, and therefore were understood to be powerful symbols of good in the world. In fact, it was rumored in ancient times that snakes were so afraid of the ash tree that they wouldn’t even slither over its shadow.

Snakes are an interesting evil symbol, too, until you remember that in the ancient world the snake was very scary: quiet and often venomous. It would attack you in your sleep, often looking for warmth in the bed of a person. Or it might strike you in the field, shaded by the grass.

Our modern zoological minds may wonder at this ancient symbol of evil, but our pre-modern ancestors just knew “stay away!” This, and its unusual form, is why it’s often a representation of evil in the ancient world. After all, snakes are not bad creatures, just misunderstood by humans who think they have to understand everything.

Celts would often carry ash leaves in their pockets to ward off evil, and would sometimes put ash leaves in their shoes to help with foot problems.

Beyond the magical and practical, though, the metaphorical can speak to our lives today. The ash tree can be a reminder for all of us to tap into our strengths in this month of March, trying to balance our lives a bit, bridging the heavens (ideals) and the earth (reality) of our being.

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