Celtic Tree Month of Reed: October 28 to November 24

Celtic Tree Month of Reed: October 28 to November 24

What is the Celtic Tree Calendar

In simple terms the Celtic Tree Calendar is the representation of the changing year tracked by trees not months! The changing of the trees is linked to the lunar cycle of 28 days. So, 13 tree months rather than 12 'Roman' months.

The tree calendar focusses our attention on the changing seasons through nature, we might think this is an ancient method of marking the passage of time but the tree calendar is actually a relatively modern interpretation of something very, very ancient.

In 1946 Novelist and poet Robert Graves wrote his study on Celtic mythology ‘The White Goddess’ in 1946 and it was published 2 years later in 1948.

Graves took the idea of the early-medieval Irish ogham alphabet, which was believed to be based on trees, and re-arranged it to suit his idea of a Celtic Tree Calendar, naming 13 months after trees.

The ogham alphabet itself, which looks rather rune-like with branching lines (like trees) dates from the 5th and 6th centuries. It’s a form of lettering that can be found carved on monumental stones (stones used for personal monuments).

The ogham letter for reed.

The letter that symbolises the reed plant is called 'pethboc' which became the letter 'P' in later written English.

Reed symbolism.

The reed was carried by Egyptian Pharaohs who formed it into a sceptre.

It was holy to the druids and they made sacred darts and arrows.

The reed symbolises fertility, protection, love and family concerns.

The reed is also taken to symbolise the warning of the power of the wind as the reed sings when the wind blows, for this reason it also symbolises music.

Nutritional and medicinal uses of the reed.

The Common Reed (Latin name: Phragmites australis)
Synonyms: Arundo phragmites, Phragmites communis, Phragmites vulgaris
Family: Gramineae (Grass Family) is a grass that commonly grows in wet and acidic soils especially by water.

"The leaves are used in the treatment of bronchitis and cholera, the ash of the leaves is applied to foul sores. A decoction of the flowers is used in the treatment of cholera and food poisoning. The ashes are styptic. The stem is antidote, antiemetic, antipyretic and refrigerant. The root is antiasthmatic, antiemetic, antipyretic, antitussive, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge, lithontripic, sedative, sialogogue and stomachic. It is taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, fevers, vomiting, coughs with thick dark phlegm, lung abscesses, urinary tract infections and food poisoning (especially from sea foods). Externally, it is mixed with gypsum and used to treat halitosis and toothache. The root is harvested in the autumn and juiced or dried for use in decoctions."

Edible parts of common reed: 

Root - raw or cooked like potatoes. It contains up to 5% sugar. The flavour and texture are best when the root is young and still growing. It can be dried, ground coarsely and used as a porridge. In Russia they are harvested and processed into starch. Young shoots - raw or cooked. They are best if used before the leaves form, when they are really delicious. They can be used like bamboo shoots. The partly unfolded leaves can be used as a potherb and the Japanese dry young leaves, grind them into a powder and mix them with cereal flour when making dumplings. The stems are reported to contain 4.8 g protein, 0.8 g fat, 90.0 g total carbohydrate, 41.2 g fiber, and 4.4 g ash. Seed - raw or cooked. It can be ground into a powder and used as a flour. The seed is rather small and difficult to remove from the husk but it is said to be very nutritious. A sugar is extracted from the stalks or wounded stems. A sweet liquorice-like taste, it can be eaten raw or cooked. The stems can be boiled in water and then the water boiled off in order to obtain the sugar. A sugary gum that exudes from the stems can be rolled into balls and eaten as sweets. A powder extracted from the dried stems can be moistened and roasted like marshmallow.

Just as with so many plants we live with and around the ancients had an intimate knowledge of how to use them to help improve their physical and spiritual existence.