This is the Moonwise newsletter for Birch Moon 2020/21
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Moonwise newsletter for Birch Moon 2020/21
Moonwise Calendar and Diaries for 2021
Many of you have ordered these already, and thanks ever so much for that. If you haven't, there is still time to order for the Solstice and Christmas.
Whenever you have a clear evening, do look out for Jupiter and Saturn in the south-west as soon as the sky gets dark. They are moving towards the far side of the sun and are becoming a little hard to see as they approach the sunset, but they are very close together as we see them from Earth. Jupiter is quite a bit brighter than Saturn. On the evening of 16 December, as seen from Europe, the very thin crescent moon is below the pair, and on the 17th the slightly thicker crescent is just above them. On Monday 21st, the day of the solstice, the two planets will be so close that they may appear to shine as one. They’ll be about twelve Jupiter widths apart, just over six minutes of arc, and won’t be that close again until March 2080. If you look at them through a telescope or good binoculars, you should be able to see both discs in the field at once, along with some of their moons. The conjunction is at 18:21 GMT, just before they set in Ireland and south-western parts of Britain, but they will be very close for several hours either side, so if you have a clear south-western sky you’ll still be able to see the phenomenon from much of our planet just after sunset.

Mars continues to be bright, in the south-east just after sunset, as seen from our northern lands, and at the end of the lunar month Mercury appears low down in the evening sky, close to Jupiter and Saturn on 10 January.
What a year this has been! Let's hope that the sun turning back towards the north marks the continuation of the change that started around Samhain with the US elections and the announcement of the new vaccinations. I very much hope we get to celebrate being alive together, and to work properly once more on tackling the climate emergency, building a resilient future for us all.
Over the next couple of weeks, you may notice a change in the Edge of Time website. Because of new regulations, we are reluctantly moving from our own hand-crafted site to one based on WordPress. The postage will unfortunately be calculated differently, but we'll discount the calendar and diary to make up for that. The priority is to get the replacement pages functional. We’ll look to add beauty afterwards! The web address will stay the same. 

Birch, the first tree of the Irish tree alphabet, is a tree of beginnings and boundaries. In the Moonwise Calendar it is the tree of the winter solstice month. Make a besom broom from its twigs: tie them tightly in a bundle with wire, and push a sharpened hazel stick down the middle as a handle. Its twigs are used to drive out the spirit of the old year, and for beating the bounds. In April, bore-holes can be made 2-5cm deep in older trees; juice is extracted and fermented to make birch wine or birch sap beer. Silver birch prefers drier surroundings; the white birch likes wetter land. It is the earliest of the native trees to come into leaf.

from the 1994 and 1998 calendars

Mistletoe grows as a parasite on other trees, usually apple. It is most sacred when found on oak. Believed to be fertile and healing: kiss under it; hang pieces around your neck. Keep it indoors during the winter to encourage life and fortune. Said to have once been a tree, but was used for the cross, and so doomed to be a parasite. Mistletoe symbolises both suffering and difficulties overcome. Druids cut it from the tree with a gold-handled sickle, and handed it to the people, calling “Wassail” (All-Heal) in thanks for the end of the darkening. To grow it insert ripe berries on the underside of a branch, and cover with matting. It grows very slowly at first. 

from the 1998 calendar
Many blessings for the Solstice, Christmas and the New Year!

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