Origin: a Latin derivative
meaning "Gift of the Earth."
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Today we're excited to talk to you about the amazing history behind Birch and about the exclusive way you can get your hands on a bottle! Remember, if you're interested in learning more about Birch make sure to click on the link in the episode description.
Now, today we’re going to talk about some internal historical uses for birch, but we want to remind you that the Birch essential oil is for aromatic or topical use only and any internal benefits discussed are not applicable to aromatic or topical use.
Facts About Birch
All around the world you can find a beautiful, fragrant, and resilient tree that has been prized for centuries—the incredible birch tree. Betula lenta, also known as sweet birch or spice birch, is a fine-grained, pale-wooded tree that can grow to be hundreds of years old.
Birch is what’s known as a pioneer species. A pioneer species is one of the first species that returns to a cleared, eroded, or otherwise damaged land. In addition to being one of the first to return, they are among the most resilient of trees. In the strongest of storms and even under the weight of freshly fallen snow, they bend but rarely break.
Birch in Native American Mythology
Throughout history the birch tree and its attributes have become a symbol of many different things in many different cultures.
In Native American culture, the birch tree is strongly associated with guidance and protection. According to an Ojibwa legend, a spirit-boy named Winabojo searched for the feather of a Thunderbird to make his bow and arrow. After taking the feathers from a baby Thunderbird in a nest, he tried to climb out of the next to return to his village.
The Thunderbirds were angry when they saw the feathers had been taken and chased after him as he sought shelter in the hollow trunk of a birch tree. He was saved and he safely returned to his village.
Since the birch tree was strong enough to protect him, the Native Americans regard it as a strong and trustworthy matter, and they use it to create many cultural objects. They also consider the tree to be a guiding symbol, as it guided Winabojo to safety.
Birch in Celtic Mythology
In Celtic mythology, the birch tree is regarded as one of the most sacred trees, symbolizing new beginnings. This association predates the written word when the birch was associated with Brigid, the
Celtic goddess of healers. The tree was used to start fires in celebration of the Celtic festival of new beginnings which was held to ensure abundant, healthy crops.
The Birch was seen by the Druids as the tree of birth—a symbol of new beginnings. This may be why “Beth,” meaning birch, is the first letter in the ancient Irish alphabet Ogham and the first month in the Celtic Tree Calendar.
Birch trees are also seen as a symbol of good luck in life. On Midsummer’s Eve, the Celts would hang birch branches around their doors, hoping to guard themselves against evil misfortune and bring good luck.
Legend has it that a weak and wounded prince once lay under a birch tree to rest when he saw a princess passing by. She saw the prince and healed his wounds. Afterward, they fell in love and lived happily ever after. It’s believed that this story shows how the birch tree came to be associated with healing and good luck.
Birch in Eastern Europe Mythology
In some countries, such as Russia, a birch tree is planted for every newborn child, and it’s believed to bring the child good luck throughout their life.
In Slavic culture, the birch tree represents femininity as well as happiness and blessings for women. This symbolism is associated with an ancient Slavic tale that tells of a golden-haired mermaid who came out of a lake on a moonlit night to play. As the weather was very cold, she went inside a hut that she’d found nearby. She was completely unaware of her surroundings and did not realize that the sun god had brought daytime with him.
The sun god was smitten by the mermaid’s beauty and fell in love with her. Although he tried to woo her, the mermaid rejected his advances and tried to run away from him. However, he held on to her, making it impossible to escape. The mermaid began to weep and as her tears fell on the ground, a beautiful, slender tree began to grow. The mermaid was turned into a beautiful white birch tree.
Today, the birch tree is known as the ‘Lady of the Woods’ and has strong associations with feminine energies.
Birch in Cultural Traditions
The birch tree also has its place in many other cultural traditions. It was often used to make May poles and start the fires at Beltane, the Gaelic festival of new beginnings, due to a highly combustible tar inside its bark.
Brooms were often made out of birch twigs as birch was believed to have protective qualities. The birch brooms were used to drive away the spirits of the old year in a protective ritual called “beating the bounds.”
Babies’ cradles were often made of birch as well for these same protective qualities, and it’s said that carrying a piece of birch will protect you from fairies.
Many Native Americans in the United States and Indigenous peoples in Canada prize the birch for its bark, because of its light weight, flexibility, and the ease of which it can be stripped from fallen trees.
Birch in Modern Times
In modern culture birch has proved to be very useful. Despite Howard Hughes’s famous plane being known as the “Spruce Goose,” it was actually made mostly of birch wood. And birch plywood was specified by the BBC as the only wood that can be used in making the cabinets of the famed, long-lived LS3/5A loudspeaker.
Birch in Traditional Wellness Practices
Over the centuries birch bark has also been highly used in traditional wellness practices. North American indigenous people applied the bark directly to the skin and splints made from the birch bark were used as casts for broken limbs in the 16th century.
In Scandinavia, birch is used in saunas to enhance the process, and in Russia, birch branches are beaten against the skin at steam rooms for the same purpose.
Birch and doTERRA
Today, extracts of birch are used for flavoring, or leather oil, and in cosmetics such as soap or shampoo. It is highly valued. However, producing a pure Birch essential oil has proven difficult. One of the biggest reasons is that birch has a very low yield, meaning that it takes a lot of raw material to get a small amount of essential oil.
The distillation process for birch has also proven itself to be quite difficult, which has meant that most companies avoid attempting to distill it at all, instead choosing to use synthetic birch for their products.
Finally, the low yield and cumbersome distillation process combine to create a high price point for a bottle of birch. doTERRA has been working for years to overcome these challenges and bring you a CPTG Birch Essential Oil. And this year there is an exclusive way for you to get a bottle of Birch. When you buy a convention kit in person at the 2022 doTERRA Connection, you will get the amazing gift of a free 5 mL bottle of Birch oil.
You won’t want to miss this incredible opportunity; we know you and your family will love having this oil as part of your collection.
Thanks for joining us and congratulations on living a healthier lifestyle with essential oils. If you want to try any of the products you learned about, click on the link in the episode description or find a Wellness Advocate near you to place an order today. And remember, if you liked what you heard today, rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen.