415 The Appealing AutoPortraitist


This name originates from the Northern, temperate regions. Here lies the artistry of the Birch, a tree with talent in its barks, but not the bite….

This hard-edged creative produces its work through strong, pale, finely grained wood with bright, silvery white bark coating. Some varieties maybe tinged with light golden tints and others mottled.




Born a natural blonde and slender yet hardy, a distant relative to the Swedish au-pair, this silvery tree has hidden depths to its surface.

Throughout the year, its character is defined by the constant shedding of bark. As a result, its unusual skin complexion could quite possibly be the most attractive eczema one could wish for. Although reliably genderless, Birch can appear to be in constant menopause;  this constant layering up and peeling off day and night, altogether looking a bit of mess, is an image one can have total sympathy with.


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It might appear a birch’s life is sadly somewhere between a constant mid-life crisis and 24 hour allergy alert, yet unlike ourselves, we treat this natural disintegration and upheaval as a beautiful aesthetic.  For the birch, this ritual is a dichotomy of self-preservation. It layers up, wearing many sensible “coats” to protect its inner core.

However, all birches will wrinkle fast. In doing so, they create the most spectacular self-portraits of a face which has truly lived.  Somehow the older a birch gets, it becomes better practiced at regenerating a brand new and flawless skin. How does that technology work,  and how does the name Birch come define two opposing characteristics?


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The secret of the Birch is through its physical ability to transform and thus deal with change.  And not only does it present an image of youthful ageing, but also ethnicity, ask any birch mid-peel on the job, if its racial background is White/Mixed/Black/Green,  and the response could be all four at the same time. Whilst a confusion of identity might ensue,one can see how in this day and age of total head transplants, changing skin colour is most avant-garde.


According to the mystic sites:

“Listen closely and you will detect whispers of transformation and growth in the midst of the birch groves within your soul”.

The birch is highly adaptive and able to sustain harsh conditions with casual indifference. Proof of this adaptability is seen in its easy and eager ability to repopulate areas damaged by forest fires or clearings.

Bright and beautiful, the birch is a pioneer, courageously taking root and starting anew to revive the landscape where no other would before.

This is a powerful metaphor for our lives. The birch asks us to philosophically go where no other will go (voluntarily or otherwise). The birch asks us to take root in new soils and light our lives with the majesty of our very presence. The birch sings to us: “Shine, take hold, express your creative expanse, light the way so that others may follow.

Paradoxically, while the birch is a brilliant symbol of renewal, it is also symbolic of stability and structure. The druids also held the birch as the keepers of long-honoured traditions.”



Furthermore, according to the soothsayer, the Birch symbolises:

“…..Growth, Renewal, Stability, Initiation, Adaptability..”

“Associated with the sun, the birch is a solar symbol. It facilitates passion, energy, as well as growth. This solar association is paralleled when we learn the druids carried birch bark with them as kindling. Birch serves as a perfect igniter as it will start to burn even when damp. This makes it a prized fire starter over most other wood types.

……. The birch asks us to serve our fellow man with a fire in our hearts. … the birch reminds us that even if our spirits are dampened by the set backs in life, we can always catch fire from the spark of passions that drive us to divinity.”

 Funny isn’t it, how on a walk one can intuitively feel that there is something quite special about certain trees. I have a rule of thumb that if something appears  too many times for coincidence, one should take notice. But where does birch watching get us?



So finally whilst the Birch literally grows its eyes for detail, its simple sounding name comes from Beithe, the celtic Birch, first letter of the “tree alphabet”. The birch was celebrated in the ancient festival of Samhain, which preceded Western style Halloween to celebrate purification and renewal.

So the actual pronounced sound of the Birch….It is mono-syllabic, and a simple, but very effective word.  Along with its pale colour, its name has a ripeness, it is a whole word and retains a cool essence. With a “Bha” at the start, its name will start with a wonderful vibration from the lips, whilst its soft and swishing ending sound of “irrr-chchch”,  completes the motion. The sound is almost as if the wind had quickly met the tree’s surface landscape and just as swiftly, been absorbed to meet that vibrating “Bha”.

Can any birch produce its artistry as I speak its name?  One must say it frequently.. birch, birch, birch…


© 2016 La Floralie 3


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