Raven was sacred to the Druids, the Celtic Shamans.

Who Were the Druids?

In pre-Christian Europe the Druids were a class of priest/healers.  They first make their historical appearance about 4000 BCE, well before the rise of the Celts, they were associated with the Indo-European Aryans who emerged from the misty mountains between the Caspian and Black Sea. Later they were associated with the nature Gods of the Celts.  What we know of the Druids comes primarily from three sources: Roman histories, Irish folk stories and the scant archaeological record.

The Romans told stories of human sacrifice and cannibalism. They told of the brutal torture and sacrifice of prisoners and dealings with the dark elder gods of humanity.  These tales terrified the legionnaires and gave the Romans a reason to exterminate them at all costs.  Irish folktales and myths portray them as wizards like the “Merlin" of the Arthur legend.  Holding court under sacred oaks, making magic and communing with the spirits of the forest. Counseling Kings, trying law cases, dealing with oath breakers, conducting wedding ceremonies and blessing warriors before battle and joining them in the field.

Like all descendants of the Aryan invaders the Druids held the virtues of strength of arms, valor, truth in speech and oath keeping as their primary tenets.  The Celts viewed the Romans as effete and untrustworthy. Honor was all important to the Celts.

“We teach that the gods must be honoured, no injustice done and manly behaviour always maintained.”

“Truth in heart, strength in arm, honesty in speech.” 

The Druidic Warrior’s Oath, inscribed in runes circa 200 B.C.E 

 ๑ Samsaran ๑

Tree Lore

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Birch
(Dec 24th - Jan 20th)
Female * Gentle in nature, supportive allies, devotion to beliefs, strong desire to make others happy. Enhance in growth and development. Represents the common, everyday labor. Hardy and protective, bitch thrives. It is the herald of new beginnings. Brooms made from birch were used to beat out bad spirits. Maypoles, Yule logs, and new cradles were often made from birch. It is also said to wear birch to prevent a kidnapping by the faerie.
Rowan
Jan 21st - Feb 17th
Female* Considered sacred amongst Scottish tradition. Associated with St. Brigid. Arts, healing, smithing, spinning and weaving. Fairies were said to hold their revels beneath these trees. The twigs are placed in doorways to  protect against misfortune and evil spirit. It is protection against sorcery. Rowan also symbolizes death ad rebirth and has been used on funeral pyres. Excellent for divination, invoking spirits and rites of purification. One of the nine sacred woods.
Ash
Feb 18th - March 17th
Gender Fluid* Associated with enchantments, extreme transformations, and agency in ones destiny. Useful for placing a Geis (a prohibition or commandment) on someone. Resolution through conflict. Possibly the tree of Yggdrasil. Cosmic Axis. Journeys into the shamanic world. Nymphs were said to dwell within these trees.
Alder
March 18th - April 14th
Male* Useful for conjuring assistance from another realms. It invokes protection of the self, divination and healing. It has connections with ones tribal ancestry and may be useful for getting advice or council.
willow
April 15th - May 12th
Female* Used during religious processionals. Considered sacred to many chthonic deities and thus is useful for funeral rites. Inspiration, artistic endeavors, eloquence and prophecy. Sometimes symbolic of the more fearful aspects of the goddesses. Overcoming weakness brought by fear, such as fear of death, panic attacks and or to assist in self nurturing.
hawthorn
May 13th - June 9th
Female* Used for marriage boughs and suggestive of sex. This tree is considered sacred to faeries and was once though to be unlucky as witches made their brooms from it. Some even attributed it as the place of pagan altars. Some attribute wish granting properties to the tree, while others consider it foolhardy to risk disturbing it in any way. It also shares an affinity with lightning and is thought to protect from storms.
oak
June 10th - July 7th
Male* Seen as the most sacred of trees, it is known for it’s endurance, longevity, strength and steadfast. It is seen as sacred to many gods and noted for it’s power. It is the gathering place for druids. It is held as a tree of sacrifice, both metaphorical and literal. Pieces were often put in houses for good luck. It is often seen as a source of spiritual illumination and a source of shamanic power. It is a tree with avenging force, known for punishing those who insult it or take from it without asking due permission.
holly
July 8th - Aug 4th
Intersexed* A tree of hope of renewal and rebirth. It is eternally green even in the depths of winter, and is as such a symbol of continuing endurance in the worst of conditions. It has significance as a fertility plant, prompting declarations of affection. The berries are seen as female while the prickly leafs are viewed as male. Being whipped with the bough was seen to bring good luck, perhaps because being whipped by a prickly switch was enough bad luck for a year!
Hazel
Aug 5th - Sep 1st
Male* Mystic inspiration and wisdom, the tree which helped give birth to the Salmon of Knowledge and Inspiration. A mead is though to be made from these nuts that which will give prophetic powers. It has strong associations with intelligence and foresight. It also has some significance as a wood of authority, said to put things in order. Votive offerings can be hung in it’s branches. It is also the preferred wood for divining everything from water to the future of young lovers.
Bramble
Sep 2nd - Sep 29th
Female* Connected to joy and exhilaration. Useful for shamanic journeys. It is considered deeply unlucky to eat the berries after Samhain. Brambles are often said to protect the gates to the realm of fairies.
Ivy
Sep 30th - Oct 27th
Female* Progress over time. Ivy is slow but steady, breaking down the strength of stone. It is the poets crown. It is thought to prevent intoxication. It is thought to be an emblem of fidelity, as well as a means of keeping one from getting drunk. It is a hardy plant.
Reed
Oct 28th - Nov 24th
Male* This is a wood of creative impulses as it has been used for mats, instruments, papyrus and writing implements for thousands of years. As such, Reed has it’s roots in emotional and sympathetic magic. It can be used to discover things hidden beneath the surface. It can be burned when tied with a yellow cord to prevent gossip and may be used as a talisman to encourage eloquent speech in children.
Elder
Nov 25th - Dec 23rd  
Female* Not even one twig of this tree should be harmed for fear of angering it’s spirit. Witches were closely associated with it and thought to ride it’s branches. Bathing in the green juice of the wood is thought to grant sight of the unseen. Standing under one at Samhain might cause you to see the fairy host. Nine pieces hung on a thread are thought to create protection. Twigs hung in a cross are thought to protect livestock.

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Pine
Male* Useful to alleviate guilt, regret and resentment. It can be burned to help purify a space. The cones and nuts are considered a fertility charm when worn. A pine wand is said to ward off evil influences and the oil is used for cleansing illness in the air.
Gorse
Male* The golden flowers are useful for protection during conflict. It was used in Beltane fires and seen to protect against sterility. Closely associated with the sun, it is a reminder of optimistic thinking and focus. It can help one remain constant even in dark times and to apply ourselves.  It is a plant of creativity and well being.
Heather
Female* A plant of maturity, heather is used in a variety of magic involving consummation, luck, ritual work, spirit conjuring and rain making. It is seen as a protective charm against rape and other violent crimes. This plant is useful for meditation. It represents solitude and peace within ones self.
Poplar
Male* A tree of triumph against impossible odds. It is the tree sacred to those in the autumn of their life and has a close connection to chthonic deities for funeral rites. It is known for it’s ability to conquer and defend, as well as to promote success. Poplar is a reminder of transitions and natural progression.
Yew
Male* A tree of reincarnation and resurrection, Yew is regarded as a tree of everlasting life. It is an ancient, with new branches springing from the old. Staffs were used for inscribing names and Ogham. They are associated with churches and churchyards.
Apple
Female* Associated with everything from witchcraft to the fall of man. Apples exist are through out nearly every mythos, most often noted as symbols of youth, immortality, and vitality. It’s skin can be used in divination and it’s meat can be used to carry spells or curses. They are customarily a part of many feasts as the star of their seeds is a symbol of witchcraft.
Blackthorn
Male* A tree with a somewhat dark reputation. It is the keeper of dark secrets and is linked with warfare, death and wounding. It is often used for binding and cursing. The thorns are used for poppets and when carried as a staff can be used to cause great mischief. It can also be a wood for great and powerful protection as it has been used for cudgels and it’s brambles are impenetrable. It is also a herald of dark deities taking up a place in your life. It helps one accept the necessity of death in life.
Mistletoe
Male* If one collects Mistletoe, it must never touch the ground. It is a plant held most sacred by the Druids for it’s eternal ability to remain green even in the dead of winter. It’s berries, being white, resembled sperm, and is considered a useful charm against impotence. It is propitious regarding declarations of love
Juniper
Female* Noted for it’s ability to ensnare thieves. Dreaming about juniper is said to mean one will e a person of great importance. It can be quite useful during evocations or during a house blessing or purification.

“The Green Witch knows of the connection of all things, the immortality of life, and draws upon the Power of the Divine directly, or through the Elementals of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, or such spirits, devas, and Other People as may be helpful. The Elementals are the Kith and Kin of the Green Witch, for body and strength are of Earth, breath and thought are of Air, energy and drive are of Fire, and emotions and vital fluids are of Water. In olden days, The People learned in the ways of the Old Religion were called Wicce — voiced in the Middle English speech as Weetch’ie — meaning Wise, and the use of that wisdom was called the Craft of the Wise — WicceCraft, from whence comes the word Witchcraft. The Green Tradition of Witchcraft sees the Practice of the Craft as spirituality, and holds the word Witch as honorable and spiritual.”

- Ann Moura
Grimoire for the Green Witch: A Complete Book of Shadows
http://amzn.to/1LbDD0W

Image Credit: Emma Sjolin

“The Morrígan is probably the most powerful yet mysterious figure amongst the Celtic Gods. The popular image of the Morrígan is as the Goddess of Battle and Sex, a perception that only scratches the surface of this complex and manifold Goddess. From Bestower of Sovereignty to Earth Goddess, from Lady of the Beasts to Faery Queen, from Lover to Witch Goddess, the Morrígan stands out as one of the pre-eminent Celtic Goddesses. More than any other Celtic deity the Morrígan embodies the resurgence of the divine feminine, appearing in a wide variety of guises to express the full spectrum of feminine power. The strength and control the Morrígan displays, as well as her ferocity and tenacity, and her ability to control events to ensure the desired result are all displayed repeatedly in the myths. As a Liminal Goddess the Morrígan connects not only the different realms of earth, sky, sea and otherworld, but also the myths of the British Isles through her different guises.”

- Sorita d'Este & David Rankine
The Guises of the Morrigan - The Irish Goddess of Sex & Battle
http://amzn.to/1GhnreA

Image Credit: Aly Fell

“Service is essential to the living of a magical life and the ability to listen intently to the wonders and mysteries of our universe. It is by serving the gods of tradition and mystery and lending our ear to those who may need us to listen that we inspire the world. Through our magic we cause change, and the primary change must be what occurs to the magician. And this occurs because of servitude, by working our magic for the benefit of our communities, our tribes, be these family and friends, work colleagues, or far-flung people on distant shores.

Magic teaches us to listen to the subtle forces of the universe. And it is by listening to our communities and reaching out when people are in need that we swim with deep honor and integrity.

Living a magical life is a frame of mind; it is seeing the potential in all things and being able to act on that. It is the subtle yet powerful ability to observe the natural world and see signs and omens in places that few others do. It is taking responsibility for your own actions and having the ability to respond to that when things do not go quite as planned. A magician is, above all else, humble and wonderfully inspirational. A magical life is a life that lives with magic, seeing it in all places, not just in times of great need.”

- Kristoffer Hughes
The Book of Celtic Magic: Transformative Teachings from the Cauldron of Awen
http://amzn.to/1cIsrNe

Image Credit: Nisachar @ DeviantArt