The Wren and Yule



The wren is considered a sacred bird by the Druids.  Even the name of the bird, drui-en or Druid bird in Irish Gaelic, or in Welsh the word Dryw means both druid and wren. The wren symbolized wisdom and divinity. It is difficult to actually see a wren thus catching a glimpse of one carried enormous spiritual significance.  At Yule, apprentice Druids would go out by themselves into the countryside in search of hidden wisdom. If they spotted a wren they would take that as a sign that they would be blessed with inner knowledge in the coming year.  Finding a creature so small and elusive to the point of invisibility was a metaphor for finding the elusive divinity within all life.

The wren was sacred to Celtic druids, and to the Welsh poet-magician Taliesin, making it unlucky to kill the wren at any time of year except during the ceremonial “Hunting of the Wren,” around the winter solstice. In this curious custom still practiced in some rural areas of the British Isles and France, “Wren Boys” dress in rag-tag costumes, bang on pots, pans and drums, and walk in procession behind a fake wren mounted upon a pole decorated with oak leaves and mistletoe.  Accompanied by traditional céilí music bands, the wren boys parade through towns and villages.

Theories about the origins of Wrenning Day, celebrated on December 26th range from a
midwinter sacrifice and/or celebration, as Celtic mythology considered the wren a symbol of the past year.The tradition may also have been influenced by Scandinavian settlers during the Viking invasions of the 8th to 10th centuries. Various associated legends exist, such as a wren being responsible for betraying Irish soldiers who fought the Viking invaders by beating its wings on their shields.  Carrying on the tradition of renaming an existing celebration with all its accompanying imagery, the Church took the story of the wren and attached it to a martyr, Stephen, for whom the day is now known.

In Druid lore, the wren’s chirping was an augury of both weather and impending events; the direction of the call being highly significant.  A stealthy, cunning and adaptable bird, the wren can soar to heights while also navigating hedges and underbrush.

Wrens are protected by powerful beliefs and folklore.  “I never take away their nest,  nor try to catch the old ones, lest a friend should die.  Dick took a wren’s nest from his cottage side.
And ere a twelvemonth past his mother dy’d!”  Gaelic Poem.    A home with a wren’s nest was considered protected from lightning.  The Thunder God, Taranis, often inhabits oak trees and is the patron protector of wrens.  Folklore decreed that whoever tried to steal wren’s eggs or baby wrens would find their house struck by lightning and their hands would shrivel up. 

Compiled by Kamberlyn.   When not writing for Ravenhawks,  Kamberlyn works with clients seeking a more spiritually centered life.  In her work, she helps people realize the relationship, career and finances that belongs to their soul.  She can be found on KEEN at Kamberlyn Divine Love or through her website,