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The Alder

3/18 - 4/14: The Alder was believed by the Druids to link both male and female principles, thus helping to create a balance between the two within each individual. It is also associated with courage and represents the evolving spirit. Considered to be a tree of death and resurrection, it may have been used (along with the Poplar) in the fe rod which was kept in pre-Christian cemeteries for the measuring of graves and corpses. The fe rod was handled only by an appointed official and was believed to have been carved with an Ogham inscription. Resistant to the rotting element of water, wood from the Alder was often used in the making of bridges, boats, clogs and milk jugs. It was also frequently used in the making of magical whistles, flutes and pipes. It was once a crime to fell an Alder since the angry tree spirit was believed to take revenge by burning down houses. If felled, however, the tree literally "bleeds" by turning from white to red. Red dyes were once made from the bark, brown dyes from the twigs and green dyes from the flowers of this tree. The Alder is a Faery tree sacred to Bran and, therefore, oracular in nature and often used for divination. Medicinally, it would be used to rid people of fleas and boils. In Irish legend, the first human male was created from Alder (the first female being created from Rowan).

The Common Alder is a somber, deciduous tree with a dark bark. It is water-loving and most comfortable along lowland rivers and streams, often in the company of Aspens, Poplars and Willows. Like the Willow, the Alder sprouts from a stump, which allows this tree to regenerate after heavy flooding. In protected areas, Alders may grow to be 65 feet tall. European Alders are not widely cultivated in North America (where they are often sold under the name of "Black Alders"). Alders are members of the Birch family. The timber of the Alder is oily and used extensively for underwater of Venice and many medieval cathedrals were built on Alder pilings. On the Continent, Alder is used extensively to make cigar-boxes and the branches make good charcoal...valuable in the manufacture of gunpowder. Alpine peasants are often reported to have been cured of rheumatism by being covered with bags filled with heated Alder leaves. Horses, cows, sheep and goats are said to eat of the Alder, but swine refuse it and it is thought that it may be bad for horses, turning their tongues black.

There are two distinct types of Alder individuals (a division which relates to all Celtic Tree Signs). The "new moon" character is associated with the first two weeks of a sign and the "full moon" character is associated with the last two weeks.

The "new moon" Alder individual is perhaps the most restless and indecisive. While personal courage and sincerity may never be in doubt, such an individual might be well-advised to slow down every now and again in order to reconsider the cosequences of any actions. The "full moon" Alder individual is the most persuasive, exuding a more confident approach to life in general, but can lack the apparent vibrant energy associated with the "new moon" Alder. Nevertheless, such individuals can become extremely successful by being strategically placed in the right position to take full advantage of any crisis situation.

In general, Alder individuals are powerful, adventurous people prepared to make their own way in the world, often leaving friends and family behind. They possess a great deal of courage and make for wonderful allies, but usually prefer to fight their own battles. They have a restless spirit and, on occasion, can be foolhardy in pursuits due to their sense of adventure. Since they are also very competitive by nature, they are likely to do everything to the limit of their being, but often direct their energies entirely for the good of others...frequently to their own detriment. Alder people are inclined to break down barriers and explore new territory. Their enthusiasm and bravery makes them excellent leaders. They can, however, be selfish and display a quick temper which may earn them enemies. The Alder individual has a well-honed sense of humor (sometimes considered to be barbed or even satirical) and will often "play the clown" when in the midst of a group. Being extremely physical people, Alders are full of energy and have a deep-seated need to be active almost 24 hours a day.

Impetuous and self-reliant, Alders enjoy risk-taking and are tenacious workers. Being affectionate, gentle, charming and usually accommodating, they inspire great loyalty in others. Magnificent as entrepreneurs, Alder individuals are often flamboyant and frequently attracted to dangerous occupations. In friendship, their personal ego rides high but they possess a need for recognition which often makes them vulnerable. They are great competitors but, if on the losing end, have the tendency to quit and try something new instead. If an Alder can be convinced to channel his or her energy into humanitarian causes, then he or she will be the type of person who is not easy to forget. Psychologically, the Alder is uncomplicated and will usually express any opinion quite openly. With a passionate nature and an inherent desire for love, they are apt to marry quickly but usually make better sweethearts than they do spouses, given their need for personal freedom. As parents, however, they rank among the best than can be found. It is important for Alder individuals to learn the art of diplomacy or they are prone to waste energy in fruitless disputes.

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