See the latest rune picture from Frida Widlund: Rune 18 The Birch Tree

And read this excerpt of Frida’s beautiful Rune wisdom that comes with her art when you buy the picture, which will shortly be for sale on her Druid Forest School Art website page:

The name of the rune Berkana refers to the birch tree.

Frida writes:

One of my first memories of the birch comes from early childhood. I remember lying in a hammock in a birch grove. White stems rise to the sky, above a sea of bright green small leaves.

Perfect round trunks with flaky white bark that here and there turns into small gray or black spots. The white and black give a graphic impression that stands out in an almost unnatural way against the dark green background.

Because back there, the fir trees are close and the forest takes over, we are in Tiveden. Tir’s forest!

I remember liking those nice white trees so much, and really that’s the impression I still get when I see a birch. It exudes a kind of lightness and beauty that feels good. The birch is kind! And in spring as one of the first trees to set its leaves. Its crown shimmers, and sparkles in the sun with a light green color that seems to promise only one thing:
”All is fine”

And in that context, with a birch tree full of poetry and good news, one cannot but feel hope for the future.

If I had to teach someone about tree personalities, someone who hadn’t thought along those lines before. That the different trees are different personalities with different skills, then I would begin with the birch. First, because it’s so easy to like. Even on a gray and rainy day in the cold season, it brightens up in the dark. It stands out, and it’s easy to recognize. Starting with the characteristic bark, it has been used for various purposes since ancient times. People have made household utensils, both beautiful and necessary in the home, such as jars and baskets for storage. Of course, here there are different kinds of birch. We have, for example, the masur birch which, due to a genetic abnormality, has a strong lumpy bark. The masur birch is used, among other things, for furniture, bowls, knife handles. The birch grows rapidly, up to half a meter a year. And can be used for all kinds of woodwork and flooring. Everyone who makes a fire knows that it is a favorite in the fire, as it burns quietly and evenly without crackling and gives a good warmth. Then my apprentice would get to taste the birch. In late spring, just as the first leaves are about to break out, the sap rises in the birch.

Birch sap, a nutrient solution of equal parts water, sugars, and magic! If you ask the tree for permission, and know the technology, you can drain the tree of some of this liquid for your own pleasure. And that’s a health cure.

Some people make syrup from the sap. It is of course incredibly good with ice cream and pastries. Personally, I think it is a shame to boil the raw sap that is bursting with potent life force, an elixir that precisely in spring when we need it most after the long dark winter, gives us an extra boost to be able to hold the high-frequency energies that spring brings.

And speaking of elixir. When my student has tasted the sap and experienced its effects, she gradually understands how unique the birch is. Her curiosity has awakened, and she wonders if more gifts are available.

That’s when I bring out the chunk of chaga, which I harvested from the birch last winter. Not to be confused with vril or masur tuber or other ticks. Chaga, which is a fungus, almost resembles bark or wood. The color is a mixture of brown, orange to almost black and it can, if left in place, grow large. It is not a parasite, but the birch and the chaga mushroom live in symbiosis. The birch becomes even stronger and viable, and if you harvest the whole piece, the birch risks dying. So best be cautious. Also, a chaga mushroom that still sits on a birch that has died is not nearly as potent as one that grows on a living host.

The explosive chaga mushroom is the subject of an entire book and personally I have read several and has become enormously fascinated and fond of this magical organism. Although it is an entity of its own, I do feel it belongs here together with the birch story. I could teach my student everything I know about it, but here I will briefly describe its valuable health benefits.

According to those who have researched chaga mushrooms, they are the single food that contains the most antioxidants that we know about. One measures its FRAP value, its antioxidant power.  The higher the FRAP value, the more antioxidants the food contains. Its ability to neutralize a certain free radical. If the blueberry, which is another food that is considered to have the highest FRAP value known, measured as 9.2 mmol, then the value that the Chaga has is over a hundred times higher! (David Wolf) Which is pure knockout value. But on the contrary, because it is antioxidants we are talking about, and they keep free radicals away that are a direct cause of the development of cardiovascular and cancer diseases. The ability of Chaga to destroy cancer cells is probably its most important explosive force. Scientists agree on its anticancerogenic ability. Strange, however, that you do not hear more about the research on the subject.

If you want to know more about it and be convinced, you should read “Cancer Ward” by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. This admirable man who writes books that, despite their humor and warmth, makes one`s neck hair stand up and one forever understands the complete evil of totalitarian regimes and their absolute capacity for the destruction of man’s inherent human and spiritual values. However, Stalin’s regime failed to destroy A. Solzhenitsyn who survived many years in captivity in the Gulag. Perhaps due to his hardship in Gulag, he soon found himself a victim of malevolent cancer. When the doctors of his days had no more tools in the box and assured him that his cancer was incurable and there was only one way to go and it led downhill, he took matters into his own hands. A. Solzhenitsyn healed himself completely free of cancer with the help of chaga mushrooms, harvested from birch trees in in the forests of Mother Russia, and lived to be 90 years old.  The book was of course banned in the Soviets but was published in many other countries. And he eventually also got the Nobel Prize in Literature for his life work.

This tribute to the birch now leads me to rune number 18, Birkenau, which means birch:

Through my understanding of the birch, I think I know something about this rune. Perhaps one can say that I interpret the rune through my love for birch tree. The leitmotif of Birkenau will then be for me: Hidden powers, lifeforce and a fresh start. In its power is youthfulness, inherent potential, hope and faith in the future. Its high-frequency energy gives life and health even to those who suffer depression and lives under the impression that “it is all over”. Birkenau comes with word of the opportunity to start anew, new life, new projects.  And it goes without saying that women benefit greatly from connecting with the birch rune. Fertility, childbearing, nursing. A rune for children and adolescents. But also, the rune of the old and the sick.

Could it be that, like the previous rune Tiwas, Birkenau is also the rune we should now, in this day and age, turn to. It is said that our earth is now bombarded with special energies that will transform both us and the earth if we can tolerate it. Humanity stands at a crossroad. Our abilities being put to the test, will we manage to go up to the next level in our development?

If one wants to change oneself radically one needs to be fully conscious in the present moment and become self-aware.  “Know thou self.”  Are we ready for that or would we rather stay on track continuing our lives with the blinders on, straight down the sinkhole.

In any case, Birkenau’s energy is helpful to us. The transformation that now awaits us is so powerful that it can only be compared to the butterfly emerging from the pupa into the imago state. To live in darkness, with limited mobility to transform in to a winged being with unlimited freedom, unlimited possibilities, that is some big shift.

What can be done to prepare for such a journey? Purification and purging are words that immediately pop up in my mind.  Clean out the closet and all the nooks that you can possibly find.  Purify the body from the inside out. Dare to face your demons that appears along the way. What can my shadow side teach me about myself that makes the transformation easier. Fasting or changing eating habits and routines around eating is a powerful way to have to meet yourself, to get to know yourself.

Drum journey

As usual, I traveled through the oak tree into the underworld, into the darkness. Wandered around until I saw a light and walked towards it. The ground seemed to slope upwards and suddenly a vast plateau opened in daylight. It seemed I was above ground again. Eventually a rock wall caught my eye. I followed its surface with my fingers until it began to glow with a yellow glow and the mountain opened and invited me in. I entered what turned out to be an underground cave. Dark. Quiet. Was I now back in the underworld? Confused, but not afraid, I slowly groped my way forward. Repeating the rune’s name in my head. My intention with the drum journey was to connect to Birkenau and I had not forgotten that despite my deep relaxation in the drum meditation.

A strong feminine energy enveloped me. The spirit of Birkenau spoke within me. I understood that this rune represented nothing less than a supreme divine power. The infinite power and strength of this energy I was not prepared for, but I immediately understood the magnitude of it and the unambiguity of its true essence. This is where the earth mother lives. Here her power dwells as everything’s potential. It is the energy of the moment before it happens. Everything is possible.

I saw something that can be described as a dark tunnel and then a small opening out to the light. That’s how it starts.

The journey of the seed, so much like the journey of the fetus.  Something grows, takes shape and is born into the world. I received a gift in the form of a message. – “Plant a seed, recreate yourself. New angles, new perspectives. Become a child every time. There is no aging.”

She nurtures everything that grows, for our sake, because we so much want to be on the surface. We feel free and can breathe. But it has its price.

We are vulnerable. It is better to live inside the earth, she said, and we are welcome whenever we want. But while we insist on being out there, she does everything to ensure that we have the right conditions to be able to live.  I felt a sting of shame when I thought about everything going on out there, mining, trawling, blasting, nuclear testing……

Then I felt how the rhythm of the drum cleansed me on the inside and I understood on a deeper level what purging, purifying the inside, means. That is, I was reminded that it is not only waste products in the form of fat and chemicals, pollution of the body that one can in different ways and advantageously clear out, but also thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns, beliefs systems, that have a negative impact on the physical body, and by extension on one’s surroundings and interactions with one another. And that deeper realization took me beyond the body to the soul’s journey through ages. My ancient soul has memories and experiences from countless lives, that are not so good. I am sure we all do. These can be healed, transformed in the present. It’s alchemy.

You can buy a copy of my picture of Berkana on my ART page on the Druid Forest School Website: