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Celtic Astrology

Irish Astrology and Modern Celtic Astrology

The existence of an ancient Celtic astrological system evokes a heated debate among scholars. Some claim there was none, while others turn to references made in ancient Irish texts. Others cite ancient Greek text acknowledging the Celts’ accomplishments in astronomy as proof that an ancient astrological system once existed. It’s documented that the astrology practiced by the Irish between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries was a form of Arabic astrology.

Celtic astrology, as known today, was created by the poet Robert Graves in his book The White Goddess (published in 1946). According to Graves, the Celtic lunar calendar comprised of thirteen months was the basis of Irish astrology. Graves’s book gave birth to a new astrology commonly accepted by the general population as the ancient Celtic astrology. Scholars claim that his tree zodiac is a misrepresentation of the ancient Celts’ belief systems. You must decide for yourself if Graves’ astrology has value.

Lunar Power

In Celtic (Druid) symbolism, the moon represents the subconscious mind and hidden matters while the sun represents the conscious mind. The moon is the repository of the subconscious mind where true knowledge of past lives resides. Using the lunar calendar, Celtic astrology unlocks your past life memories and other hidden mysteries.

Lunar Months Signs

Each lunar calendar month, thirteen in all, is assigned a tree symbol. The trees’ energies are said to be revealed through the Tree Alphabet.

Tree Alphabet

The Ogham (commonly pronounced Oh-m) glyphs are the only written form left by the Druids. Graves created an alphabet by assigning a different tree for each of the twenty letters (a series of markings).

Tree Spirits

Druidism respects nature and your place within the world. Like other tribal cultures, the Celts lived in harmony with nature. They believed in energy and that all living matter had energy. This belief stretched beyond the physical world into the supernatural world. Druidism espoused the ideology of creating balance between opposites. This oneness is symbolized by the joining of male and female energies.

The Celtic Astrological Signs

According to scholar, Peter B. Ellis, the Celtic calendar was similar to the Vedic one. Another aspect of Celtic astrology is the animal symbols used to depict the conscious mind. When the animal symbols are used in conjunction with the tree signs, a bridge is formed between the conscious and subsconscious mind. In Western Astrology, the animal zodiac would be called the rising sign.

Below are two charts. The first depicts the Celtic tree, alphabet, dates and meanings. The second gives the Celtic animals for each sign:

Celtic Astrology Signs Dates
Tree Sign Tree Alphabet Dates Meaning
Birch Tree Beth Dec. 24 – Jan. 20 Achiever
Rowan Tree Luis Jan. 21 – Feb. 17 Thinker
Ash Tree Nion Feb. 18 – Mar. 17 Enchanter
Alder Tree Fearn Mar. 18 – Apr. 14 Trailblazer
Willow Tree Saille Apr. 15 – May 12 Observer
Hawthorn Tree Uath May 13 – June 9 Illusionist
Oak Tree Duir June 10 – July 7 Stabilizer
Holly Tree Tinne July 8 – Aug. 4 Ruler
Hazel Tree Coll Aug. 5 – Sept. 1 Knower
Vine Muin Sept. 2 – Sept. 29 Equalizer
Ivy Gort Sept. 30 – Oct. 27 Survivor
Reed Ngetal Oct. 28 – Nov. 24 Inquisitor
Elder Tree Ruis Nov. 5 – Dec. 23 Seeker
Animal Symbols and Dates
Sign Date
Stag (Deer) Dec. 24-Jan. 20
Cat Jan. 21 – Feb. 17
Snake Feb. 18 – Mar. 17
Fox Mar. 18 – Apr. 14
Cow Apr. 15 – May 12
Seahorse May 13 – June 9
Wren June 10 – July 7
Horse July 8 – Aug. 4
Salmon Aug. 5 – Sept. 1
Swan Sept. 2 – Sept. 29
Butterfly Sept. 30 – Oct. 27
Wolf Oct. 28 – Nov. 24
Falcon Nov. 5 – Dec. 23

Celtic Signs and Meanings

The meaning of each sign is specific according to the energies it attracts and bestows to you.

Tree Signs

  • Birch: Achiever – Motivates you to achieve and become a leader
  • Rowan: Thinker – Sharp-thinker, visionary, original, creative
  • Ash: Enchanter – Free thinker, imaginative, psychic, artistic, loner
  • Alder: Trailblazer – Born pathfinder, explorer, risk-taker, doesn’t suffer fools
  • Willow: Observer – Patient, intelligent, information collector, modest
  • Hawthorn: Illusionist – Passionate, well-spring of creativity, sense of humor
  • Oak: Stabilizer – Protective, nurturing, needs to feel in control, family-oriented
  • Holly: Ruler – Noble, high ideals, academic, confident, leader
  • Hazel: Knower – Organized, attention to detail, scientific
  • Vine: Equalizer – Unpredictable, empathizer, charmer, artistic
  • Ivy: Survivor – Giver by nature, spiritual, charismatic
  • Reed: Inquisitor – Investigative, victim of gossip and mystery, seeks truth
  • Elder: Seeker – Freedom-lover, thinker, bluntly honest
Muiredach's Cross

Muiredach’s Cross

The following information is from ‘Mythical Ireland’.. in my search for relevance, I’ve found it to be an absorbing website: ie: all links will take you to their website, to denounce any ‘ownership’ of their informative site, have just offered a mere ‘snapshot’ of what is available there. Enjoy!

Old Irish Zodiac Constellations

MoonEcliptic star groups in the Irish languageMoon

Symbol

Zodiac name

Old Irish name

Meaning

Aries

Aries

Réithe

Ram

Taurus

Taurus

Tarbh

Bull

Gemini

Gemini

Castor & Pollucs

Castor & Pollux (The Twins)

Cancer

Cancer

Portán

Crab

Leo

Leo

Hound

Virgo

Virgo

Óigbhean

Young Woman

Libra

Libra

Scálai

Scales

Scorpio

Scorpio

Scorpion

Scorpion

Sagittarius

Sagittarius

Laoch Caithte Saighead

Hero of the thrown arrows

Capricorn

Capricorn

Pocán

The Goat

Aquarius

Aquarius

An tUisceadóir

Water Carrier

Pisces

Pisces

Dá Iasc

Two fishes

This old Irish zodiac was obviously heavily influenced by Greco-Latin ideals, and translated straight into Irish, although it is interesting that Leo is called ‘Cú’, The Hound, and not Leon, the Lion. There is some evidence to suggest constellation groupings like the bull constellation were perceived in ancient Ireland. Other constellations which were recognised as groupings include Orion (which was known in various forms, most notably Nuadu of the Silver Hand) and Cassiopeia and the Northern Crown. Cygnus, The Swan, was probably recognised as a constellation too. The Milky Way was known as ‘The Way of the White Cow, and has led Mythical Ireland to believe the ancient ‘river goddess’ Boann (illuminated cow) was in fact meant to be the Moon, and that Newgrange, which is known in Irish as Brú na Bóinne, is not just a construct designed to capture Winter Solstice sunrise, but also Full Moon rise at certain times of the lunar cycle. Brú na Bóinne could mean ‘womb of the moon’.

WEB LINKS:

Early Irish Astrology – An Historical Argument: Interesting article by Peter Berresford Ellis. Note references to Milky Way, Bealach na Bo Finne.

Dark Skies - Unraveling the cosmic vision of Ireland’s Ancient Astronomers. An article by Anthony Murphy published as the cover story in the July 2008 issue of Astronomy & Space magazine. With some wonderful images by Declan McCormack. The article looks at some of the issues affecting our appraisal of the capabilites of the astronomer builders of 5,000 years ago and examines some of the evidence pointing towards a more complicated knowledge than is currently acknowledged. From Newgrange to Ireland’s Stonehenge to the mountains of Sligo, we follow the cosmic trail left by our ancient ancestors. Click here to see the article.
Galaxy2
STAR SYMBOLS - Is the meaning of Stone Age symbols astronomical? Here we take a detailed look at some of the interpretations.
Moon
THE LUNAR NODES - Understand how the Moon’s path is inclined to the Ecliptic and a few lessons which can be learned from watching its movements.
Moon
METONIC CYCLE - An illustrated lesson on the Moon’s 19-year cycle which was observed by the Neolithic astronomers.
Galaxy
AZIMUTHS - The horizon positions of the rising and setting Sun on the solstices and equinoxes.
Luna
ZODIAC POSITIONS - The housing of the Sun on the key astronomical dates for both the present day and for 3000BC.
Star
STAR RISINGS - The rising and setting positions of all the major stars for the year 2,800BC. These positions are calibrated for the Boyne Valley area.
Star
ASTRO CHARTS - Some helpful illustrations and diagrams showing important sunrise positions and lunar standstills, plus the ancient astronomical calendar of events.
IRISH ZODIAC - the constellations of the Zodiac as they are known in the Irish language.
CELTIC ASTROLOGY - Searles O’Dubhain breaks the ice on the subject of whether the Celts studied astrology. NEW!!
ANCIENT ASTRONOMERS - A comprehensive article about the astronomy of the ancient sites. Text of a lecture given to Astronomy Ireland in 2002 – 10,000 words (80k).
BOYNE CALENDARS - Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth: calendars for the Sun, Moon and stars?
Some helpful illustrations
MoonThe ancient astronomical calendar – important datesMoon

The ancient astronomical calendar


MoonSunrises for important calendar eventsMoon
Sunrises for calendar events


MoonSun events plus Lunar standstills chartMoon
Important sunrise events plus lunar standstills


MoonSunswing – how the sun acts like a pendulumMoon
Sun swing

SWEEPING THE HORIZON

The Sun acts like a kind of giant pendulum as it moves from its winter rising position through the equinox towards its summer rising position. At the solstices, the Sun is rising in virtually the same place for a few days as it stands still – hence the word ‘solstice’, which comes from latin ‘solstitium’ which means ‘Sun standing still’. As the weeks go by its rising position on the horizon changes more rapidly, and at the equinoxes, the Sunrise position is moving along the horizon at a rate of about half a degree per day – which is the equivalent of about one width of the Sun each day. The effect is that of a giant pendulum, swinging from one solstice to the other, slowing and stopping at each solstice, and moving quickest at the equinoxes. The above diagram is not accurate to scale, but gives a visual impression of the phenomenon. See this nice site for information about the solstice.

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