October: The Ivy
Ivy is the Celtic Tree for Sept. 30 - Oct. 27.
The symbolism of Ivy fits well with this time of year. Though it is not a tree, it has remarkable resilience and intimacy with its host trees, as it spirals up in the primordial double helix pattern. This spiraling movement of ivy, like our own DNA, symbolizes the soul’s sojourning, seeking experiences though life both within, through introspection, and outwardly in the world. The Celts considered this the time of the Ivy Moon.
Each night, as the air cools, she rises up growing round as a mother’s pregnant belly. Even as we go about our waking and sleeping, she travels through the endless space, pulling at the ocean waters to make the tides, shadowing the conifers, and gliding through fields of grain and corn with her yellow skirt. Ivy is often seen in the graveyards of Great Britain, climbing on the old walls. It is dark and has the energy of shadows, the unconscious, the unseen.
Yet at this time of year, we can also see ivy as a potent symbol of life, for it is one of the last plants to keep its green leaves. It can cling to almost anything, climbing up toward the sky even as it roots deep into the earth. Its stems, flexible and narrow, represent the power of bending in order to find a way forward. The leaves, pointed, like a triangle, represent clear intent and movement forward. Its intertwining with its host also symbolizes the need for community. Another quality of ivy we need to be reminded of this time of year is resilience.
Consider how hard we have worked in order to bring ourselves the harvest. Many of us have faced tremendous obstacles and challenges. We may feel tired, or as if we have been trying to grow in a time of minimal support. In New Mexico, where I live, ivy I planted ten years ago which I have not watered has survived the worst drought in over a hundred years, remaining green when so many other plants shriveled up and died. Ivy is not always kind. The plant is known to actually smother their host, illustrating how we can use our own power.
If you are an ivy person, you may employ dominating tactics and strong will to overwhelm an obstacle that stands in your way. On a personal level, the Ivy moon is a time of seasonal transition. The intense community interaction spurring summer growth has waned. The light is decreasing and we are moving toward the darkness. We get to look at what the harvest of the year has brought, and begin to contemplate the results of our decisions over the past ten months.
The ivy moon reminds us that it is time to focus more on our own individuality, and prepare for the winter, the time of stories, the warm hearth, the landscape of with skeletal trees in their stark and silent beauty.