The Importance of Trees in Ireland
This week was primarily dedicated to researching historical ideas of Celtic Spirituality for both inspiration for a Samhain-themed shoot, and to begin piecing together more of a narrative for the business. Upon analyzing where most of the online sales were coming from, we found that the majority of people buying from either the store’s website or Etsy had either met Regina in person at a market stall, or discovered her through Instagram. We found this incredibly interesting, because she had recently hired a Google-marketing team to help with ads. It became clear that no level of traditional marketing strategies can compete with the ability to communicate your products’ narrative for yourself. So, I’ve set about piecing together all the themes present in Celtic Fusion’s products and stringing together a story or image that people can experience for themselves when they visit the website or the Instagram page.
While searching for common themes in the shop’s products, trees were the most obvious – ranging anywhere from tree of life artwork, oak-themed brooches, products that incorporate hawthorn, and tops named after the hazelnut tree. After experiencing present-day culture here in Ireland, I was completely confused by the absolute obsession with trees. For a country that has very few trees, it seemed like a curious thing to dwell on. But, after beginning a bit of research on the significance of trees in pre-christian, Celtic society, it began to make total sense. Like many pre-christian spiritualities, the tree was seen as a human connection to the earth for the Celts. This seems to have been particularly poignant for the Irish given evidence that the entire island used to be saturated with ancient oak forests from coast to coast. Because of their history of colonization, those forests are long gone, but the cultural memory of them is not.
Many Irish stories and traditions still cite trees as being crucial to a connection to both the earth and the otherworld. Traditions that include tying an item of a departed loved one to a tree next to a holy well to insure that they are cared for in the afterlife, using Ogham sticks (made of very specific branches from very specific trees) to look into the future, tying wishes to faerie trees (usually hawthorn), and more have kept the connection to the old way of Ireland alive in its present day culture.
After connecting all the dots, it made total sense to me that Moy Hill Farm put so much emphasis on creating native forests around Ireland with Hometree, and why it was so important for Regina to help them do so with her sales at Celtic Fusion. The idea of reviving the forests that used to exist in Ireland is symbolically, a way to revive the ideas and traditions that have almost been forgotten so many times before. In this way, the sales of Celtic Fusion are now helping to not only physically plant those forests, but to also revive the interest in those aspects of Irish culture through its narrative and designs.