|366 Australian Birthdays|
Pan's Script and the Ogam Alphabet
This is a highly specialized piece of work yet one that will interest those of you who love Druid Lore, as I do. This essay begins with a description of my research techniques, which you can skip by clicking into one of the boxes below. Part 1 moves through the Ogam as a Tree Alphabet. You'll find the Pan's Script correspondences, a very brief description of each tree and its seasonal cycle, notes from various books that I have read on the subject, a commentary on how these relate to the correspondences, and my thoughts on the similarities between the Ogam Alphabet and the Runes. In Part II I attempt the difficult task of relating the Northern Hemisphere plants with Southern Hemisphere plants. Part III is my personal journal as I visited each of the plants associated with the traditional Ogam Alphabet. There are several photos in there and so it may take a few moments to download, and if you are thinking of printing this document out, be warned that there are over 80 pages here!
Original Draft: 2001, with Part III beginning in August 2006. In 2014 I completely overhauled the essay, restructuring so that it's a lot more reader-friendly.
© Copyright Elkie White, 2006: You may use this work in your personal research projects provided that you acknowledge the source, and please send me an email if you want to quote anything on your website or in your published material.
|LETTERS DIAGRAM||PART 2: Melbourne Plants||PART 3: A Healing Journey|
(All spellings per The Book of Ballymote, as cited in Celtic Tree Mysteries, page 36, Table One, List One )
APPLYING PAN'S SCRIPT TO THE TREES AND OTHER PLANTS OF THE OGAM ALPHABET
A profound and subtle system of symbols, the Ogam encodes the logos of life. I call the model I work with Pan's Script because it is intrinsic to all other models, just as Pan is intrinsic to everything that lives. The staunchest ally of Mother Earth, Pan is the personification of the universal life-force energy, which druids call Nwyfre. Pan, as champion of all things wild and free, stands ever ready to escort you into the deeper layers of knowledge that the Ogam codifies.
The Ogam is sometimes called the Druid's Alphabet. Its system of letter correspondences includes not only trees but colours, birds, water-places, arts and animals. But given the fact that the letters themselves are called 'fidh', which means 'tree', and the stemline is called the 'flesc', which means 'twig', and the consonants are called taebomnai, which means 'side of the tree', you can see how the Ogam became called the tree alphabet. The Ogam is a universal language spoken through nature.
The original Ogam Alphabet comprised twenty letters to which a further five were added to accommodate languages other than Gaelic. The original twenty were divided into groups of five called Aicme, meaning group. They were simply 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 straight lines that intersected a stem line, like the branches of a tree trunk. The first three Aicmi were consonants and the fourth group was vowels. They were inscribed on hard surfaces such as wood or stone.
The Wheel of Life and the Druid Grove are essentially the same phenomena. The word “Ogam”, which begins with a Circle, is intrinsic to both. In Modern Irish Ogam is pronounced ‘oh-m' which sounds much like the sacred sound “ Om ”. According to the yogis, “ Om ” is the building block of the universe. It is the Word that was in the beginning and from which everything has evolved (and is still evolving). The Wheel of Life, the Grove and the Ogam, represent a pattern that underwrites the Whole of Life.
If the Ogam can be placed within the Wheel of Life, then it becomes easier to arrange the plants that are local to any particular area in a Circle too. In the second part of this project I will attempt to apply the principles discovered in the first part to the place where I live in Australia, as an example.
The 7 different ways I initially went about this project
1. Between 1999 and 2005 I wrote a book called Pan's Script, a detailed study of a system of correspondences with palmistry, astrology and numerology. The correspondences included placements for the Letters of the Alphabet around the Wheel of Life, and it occurred to me that perhaps these could be matched with the Ogam Alphabet. It looked promising, so I spent a couple of months exploring the idea. As the idea progressed, I naturally looked for any leads in relation to Australian plants. By the end of the second draft, I knew that I had something worth putting more time into but also that I had much to learn. And so I let it lie fallow for almost four years whilst I undertook that learning.
2. For one thing, I had to learn about the plants that were indigenous to the area in which I lived, so I joined the local environmental society, helped out the local Friends Groups, went on guided walks with the Ranger, bought lots of plants, observed their development, listened and took notes.
3. It soon became apparent that an understanding of the evolutionary history of Australian plants was necessary and I found lots of helpful websites to this end. These, along with books on Ancient Australia, gave me a better understanding of how Australian plants have evolved, and I was delighted to discover that many ancient species still exist. This study alerted me to the fact that certain plants merit special attention because they hold a vital place in the evolution of Australian plant life.
4. Conversely, I also needed to learn more about the Ogam Trees in their native environment. A second trip to the British Isles in 2005 helped with this. I returned with a pile of books and several sweet memories, eager to resume the project. Among other things, I discovered that Celtic scholarship presents a strong repudiation of Celtic astrology as presented by Robert Graves. Peter Berresford Ellis suggests that Celtic astrology may actually be closer to its Vedic counterpart than previously realized. Indeed there have been scholars who have noted connections between the Vedic-Sanskrit and the proto-Celtic languages. From 'The Ogham Tract' in The Scholar's Primer I learned that 'It is from the trees of the forest that names were given to the Ogam letters metaphorically'. In other words literal interpretations are insufficient, and we must delve into the realm of metaphor to understand the Ogam. From the beginning, I suspected that the Ogam Trees as a Whole, provide a Master Key to a vast body of Knowledge. Another significant statement from The Scholar's Primer is this: 'Ogam from Ogma was first invented in respect to its sound and according to its matter'. One way to interpret this is that Names have two vital characteristics: their Sound and their Form. An extended translation by Edred Thorsson further clarifies this. He calls Sound and Matter the Father and Mother of the Ogam and writes: 'With respect to Sound, Ogham comes from Ogma, its inventor. But as far as Matter is concerned, ogam is og-naim – “perfect alliteration”' (The Book of Ogham, 12). Thus the Ogam system becomes a 'cosmic index' within a system of classification that links the Head-Letter of Words. Objects with the same First Letter and Resonance are thus linked. All of this scholarship is exciting but must accord with the reality of the plants.
5. Linking the Hemispheres: Some members of the Ogam don't match Australian plants at all and so I keyed their botanical name into the internet with the word Australian in front, to see if any matches would come up that way. For example, the Birch belongs to the Betulaceae family, so I keyed in Australian Betulaceae plants. I gained heaps of information from doing this, and gradually became more familiar with the scientific names. Sometimes all I got were the noxious weeds sites, but even these often provided useful information.
6. Promising leads were then checked with the essential meanings ascribed to the British Trees. For example the Birch is one of the first to grow in an area that has been stripped bare, as in the peat bogs. Hence its association with beginning something new. And so I had to consider if this association was evident in the possible candidates. This type of work made me think very hard about the metaphorical meaning of each plant. I had to formulate questions that would help to link the hemispheres. Here are some that kept me on track: In its natural setting, what is the most striking feature of this plant? Can its colour, form, properties and overall appearance be interpreted symbolically? What is the tree's timetable (when it comes into flower and fruit) and at what time of year does it do something that stands out from other plants? How does this affect other life forms? The correlations established for the Wheel of Life and the plant must agree. It is perhaps through them, that we will come to understand the Language of the Plant Kingdom.
7. The Ogam is a system of communication and so I used a ritual to facilitate communication between myself and the trees. Although it can be applied to any tree, if you want to use it to help you understand and apply the Ogam to your local area, look for the plants in your local arboretum or botanical garden. Once you have become familiar with the traditional European plants you will have a basis of comparison with your local ones. Before beginning, select a journal that you will use solely for this purpose. Ensure that you have sufficient room for your field notes, journey work, photos, drawings or sketches. Date each entry so that later on you will be able to note the seasonal patterns. The following ritual was inspired by a similar one in Celtic Tree Mysteries by Steve Blamires (61-3). I've adjusted it for the Southern Hemisphere and so the ritual moves in an anti-clockwise direction.
Step 1 is to establish an area of ground upon which you will commune with your selected tree/shrub/plant. This area has two parts: a circle around the plant and another circle adjacent to it. Think of the symbol of infinity. The tree is in the centre of the right-hand circle, and the candle is in the centre of the left-hand circle. (If there is a risk of bushfire, consider using a clear quartz crystal instead of a candle). Beginning in the circle with the candle (or crystal), call in the Spirit of the Place, the Spirit of Pan, and Great Spirit, and ask for their inspiration, guidance and protection. You can then attend to delineating your working area and acknowledging the four directions.
With something that represents, to you, a Wand of Light, draw a circle in a sunwise direction. Start in the East and when you've finished, leave your ‘Wand of Light' in the East. Repeat the process with something, which to you, represents the Sword of Truth. This is a metal implement that can cut through the jungle of psychic substance in the atmosphere. Whereas the Wand correlates with the Element of Air, the Sword correlates with the Element of Fire. Begin this second circle in the North (or South for the Northern Hemisphere). Draw the second circle over the top of the first and leave your 'Sword of Truth' in the North (or South). Repeat the process a third time with something, which to you, represents the Cauldron of Plenty. Begin in the West and when you are finished, leave your 'Cauldron' in the West. Finally, with something that represents to you, the Stone of Authority, draw a fourth circle over the other three. Begin in the South (or North in the Northern Hemsphere) and leave your Treasure there. This Stone links the twin circles of the sign of infinity.
Step 2 : If it is practical to do so, light the candle in the centre, and if not, imagine doing so. Sit down and focus your intent on why you are here. Face the tree trunk and ask the dryad of the tree for a sign that it's okay to proceed – and wait!
Your feelings will let you know when you've entered into a friendship with the tree.
Step 3 : Touch your Stone and consciously enter the second circle as if the stone were a dolmen doorway. Cast the second circle in a similar way to Step 1 but this time ask the Spirit of the Tree and the Name of the Ogam it relates to, for its guidance, inspiration and protection. Similarly, use local objects instead of your regular tools in this circle. For example, if you can find a feather nearby, use this to represent the East, and if there's water nearby use that to represent the West. Sometimes I use my backpack or my shoes to represent 'Earth'. Once you've cast this circle four times and put everything in place, face the direction that the tree corresponds to on the Wheel of Life, per Pan's Script . This means face East when working with Ailm, and West for Ruis, for example.
Step 4 : Align your spine with the trunk of the tree, close your eyes, and relax. Become conscious of your breath and bring it into alignment with the tree's breath through the power of your imagination.
Step 5 depends on what happens in Step 4. There are no rules or guidelines other than to follow through with whatever you receive from your communion with the tree.
Step 6 : You may like to ask for a representation of the tree/bush/plant to keep and work with. If something 'comes', hold it in your non-writing hand and voice the intent to care for this gift. With your other hand take notes and perhaps carve a sign, if appropriate. You might like to offer a gift in return.
Step 7 : When finished, thank the Spirit of the Plant and the Ogam you have been working with, and gather up the objects you placed in the East, then South, then West.
Step 8 : Walk though the doorway to the West in the other circle. Retrieve your 'Cauldron of Plenty', 'Sword of Truth' and 'Wand of Light' in that order. Pause in the East to give thanks to the Spirit of Place, the Spirit of Pan and Great Spirit for their inspiration, guidance, and protection.
Step 9 : Thank and retrieve your Stone of Authority and leave in peace.
THE LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET PLACED AROUND THE WHEEL OF LIFE
Instead of A, B, C…the Ogam runs: B, L, F, S, N; H, D, T, C, Q; M, G, nG, St, R; A, O, U, E, I. Tracking that path around the Wheel reveals a 9-fold spiral. This spiral moves inwardly so that it finishes at the Yew, near the Centre. This idea will be explored in Part III where it will be shown that the Ogam symbolizes a Journey to Wholeness and can be applied to healing. In Part 1 we will largely ignore this and focus on exploring the letters of the Ogam one at a time.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Beith, position 1
Gaelic Pronunciation: "BEH"
Scientific Name: Betula pendula plant family: Betulaceae (Birch)
Correspondences per Pan's Script and the Wheel of Life:
The sound B (8th harmonic)
Number : 2
Astrological Placement: mid- Taurus, forming a 45 degree angle to the starting point at 0 degrees Aries, called the waxing semisquare, which is associated with the kind of frustration that builds up until action becomes necessary in order to resolve it. Taurus is ruled by Venus.
Moon Phase : Cusp of New Moon and Waxing Crescent
Age : 10-11
Midpoint of the First Quadrant of the Wheel: (Thinking Quadrant)
Waxing Sun and Waxing Moon
Chakra : Sacral
Colour : Orange
Ogam : 1 stroke to the right or downward from the stemline
Time of Year : Beltane
Birch is a slender, fast growing tree that is tall rather than wide. It can grow up to 18 metres in height, but 12 metres is more common. The Silver Birch has a distinctive silvery-white bark that sheds periodically, like a snake sheds its skin. With its drooping branches, graceful stem and fine twigs, it appears delicate, yet it can endure higher altitudes than most trees. Birch is a self-propagating tree with male and female flowers on the same tree: long golden catkins for the male flowers and brown woody cones for the female. Birches make a striking display of foliage in autumn, and as the outer bark peels away, it exposes a yellow-orange inner bark. This tree is rarely seen singly, and often has flowers growing around its base.
The Silver Birch is a deciduous tree. In spring, the male catkins, and then the leaf-buds, open. During summer the seeds are pollinated by the winds, and the female flowers ripen to form hanging catkins. By autumn the leaves have turned a golden-brown and the seeds are completely gone. The male catkins appear on the top of each new shoot. They remain there, dormant throughout winter, until around Imbolc. Shortly afterwards, an incision can be made in the tree and the sugary sap collected and made into cordial for the Spring Equinox.
Observations and Comments by various authors:
The Ogam Tract (per G Calder) : Word Ogam of Morann Mac Main here: ‘ Feocus foltchain , faded truck and fair hair, that is for birch, b, in the Word Ogham, because names which Morann gave of himself to the Ogham letters, these are they which take the effect of letters in the Word Ogham. Feocus foltchain for b, for these are two aspects of the birch, and it was hence put for the Ogham letter which has taken a name from it'. Alphabet of word-oghams of Mac ind Óic: ‘Glaisium cnis, most silvery of skin, that is the birch of the Ogham from the birch of the forest, for hence birch, b, was put for it'.
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : In the Word Ogam of Con Culainn, B equates with ‘beauty of the eyebrow'. The three Word Ogams describe the visual qualities of the tree. Most varieties of birch have bark ranging from white to a light grey- describable as withered, silvery, or grey – and their leaves turn a beautiful light yellow-gold colour in autumn, leading to the fair-hair description. ‘In divination, Beith's appearance may indicate a need to purify yourself or your intentions before beginning a new project' (61-3)
The Book of Druidry : ‘Silver Birch signified the young Druid, or Bard in training' (154)
Celtic Tree Mysteries : The name Beith has two meanings in Irish. It can mean ‘being', in the sense of the verb to be, and it is also a noun meaning ‘a being', in the sense of an entity. ‘The birch's place at the start of the Tree Ogam serves to set everything else in motion and in its correct order'.
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : Birch assists in clearing out the old and birthing the new. The Storylines reinforce this, their essential theme being: ‘from the soil of the old, the new emerges'.
Trees for Healing: Harmonizing with Nature for Personal Growth and Planetary Balance (a Newcastle Guide) : The work of Pamela Louise Chase & Jonathan Pawlik was done in the United States and relates to the trees native to America , yet has some general applications. When they meditated with the Paper Birch Deva they received much about ‘Reconciliation in Relationships'. Here are some extracts: “When you of the Human Kingdom substitute cooperation for competition, you will find that your relationships flow in a more natural rhythm, based on acceptance of others…I can teach you about the process of reconciliation…The key to reconciliation is the movement of energy…” (177-8)
The Living Wisdom of Trees by Fred Hageneder
Symbolism: Renewal and protection
Astrological association: Venus
‘Tea from the young leaves or leaf buds stimulates the gall bladder, kidneys and liver, and can be drunk over three weeks as a spring “detox”. The leaves are collected in April or May (October or November SH) and then dried'. Named after the whiteness of the bark, the birch shares its name with the goddess Brigid, both names deriving from the Indo-European word bher(e)g , “shining white”. ‘The first versions of the ancient Indian wisdom teachings, the Vedas, or “leaves” (of the Tree of Knowledge), were written on birch bark. The full spiritual strength of the birch shines through in Siberian shamanism. Here it is udesi-burchan , the “deity of the door” to the spirit world' (42-45)
Tree Wisdom : Silver Birches may be dainty, yet they are also the hardiest of the broadleaves. They can live for up to 100 years. They have supple twigs and branches that always seem to be in motion. The name Birch is thought to have been derived from the Sanskrit word bhurga, which means ‘a tree whose bark is used to write upon' (97) . The Gaelic name means ‘shining one'. Birch is associated with innocence, inception and purity. It burns with a clear blue flame and scents the air. It makes a potent magical parchment. Broomsticks were also made from birch twigs, and used to clear debris.
Warriors of the Heart : ‘…They were digging this hole to plant a birch tree, a “beriozka”, the Ukrainian symbol of peace…' (176)
Irish Tree Oils and Essences : Birch is for expansion when a person feels a lack of energy due to being stuck in a rut. Affirmation: “I move forward with ease and grace”
Grant Lambert uses Silver Birch as a Tree Bark Essence to protect and establish boundaries. He has found it useful when a person is working on a relationship issue. He also uses it as a Falling Leaf Essence to release the notion that life wasn't meant to be easy. He prescribes it to open up a more positive flow of energy.
Blue Feather's Herbal : In the Native American tradition, Birch is one of the 7 Sacred Grandmother Trees. Grandmother Birch was used to make all sorts of useful goods such as wigwams, canoes, baskets and boxes, fish traps, coffins and paper. Because it resists rotting, leather was tanned in birch sap. Folded into a cone, the bark made torches that burned through the night. It was also used as a fine scalpel to scrap cataracts from the eyes. Heated, it was wrapped around a fracture and left to harden. The sap, which has a similar taste to maple syrup, was used to combat consumption. The leaves make a tea that aids in the treatment of dysentery. The bark acts as an astringent for infections. Gargled, it will relieve mouth ulcers. It contains the essential ingredient in aspirin and can thus be used for colds, flu and headaches. The smoke from the cones was inhaled to reduce menstrual pain and restore calmness and balance. As an anti-inflammatory it eases rheumatism and arthritis.
A Druid's Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman:
Parts used: leaf, bark, and twig
The white birch makes a leaf tea that dissolves kidney stones if taken for a long time. Steep two teaspoons of leaf per cup of water for twenty minutes. The dose is ~ one and a quarter cups per day. Birch twigs and leaves can be simmered and added to bath water for itchy skin and falling hair. Taken before bed, the tea is a sedative. The young shoots make a tonic laxative. The inner bark can be simmered and used in fevers (in this way, birch combines well with willow bark). Simmer the bark and twigs for twenty minutes – two teaspoons of plant per cup of water. The dose is one-fourth cup taken four times a day. NB: the leaves must be used fresh and not after midsummer (187) .
Associations that support placing Beith at 45 degrees of the Circle (Southern Hemisphere, where it correlates with Beltane)
In years gone by, Birch was used as a living maypole at Beltane, and the twigs from the Birch tree are still used to light the twin fires
Birch is radiant in spring, as if reflecting the burgeoning joy of the growing sun
In regard to Venus, the deities associated with the Silver Birch are typically love and fertility goddesses.
In both the Ogam Alphabet and the Wheel of Life, B is the first consonant. As such it signifies the first step taken towards the materialization of something. The Sign of Taurus, which is an Earth Sign, further supports this interpretation.
'Over 10 000 years ago almost the whole of Europe was covered by vast primeval forests of pine and birch' (Michael Vescoli The Celtic Tree Calendar ). Pine as A and Birch as B represent the first and second letters of the English Alphabet just as pine and birch were 'the first two trees to move back into the regions freed from ice' (same source, p.128). As a pioneer tree that drops branches, the Birch enriches the soil and offers nourishment to the trees that follow.
There is a rune that looks like the letter B, which Ralph Blum calls “Berkana”. It represents the Birch Tree, thus making it the equivalent of Beith. ‘This is a “leading to” Rune, in that it leads to blossoming and ripening'. In a reading it can signify the need to go into things deeply, with care and awareness. Berkana is concerned with the power of influencing development and with the flow of things into new forms. Its action is gentle, penetrating, and pervasive.
Tony Willis calls it “Beorc” and associates it with fertility. It indicates a physical birth, either of a child or an idea and a tangible result.
This is Tom Cowan's translation of an Old English Rune Poem traced back to the 11th Century: no seed, no sapling, this tree/ shoots into shining branches/ without flower or fruit /but still a bright beauty/her leafy helmet high in the sky
I think this Rune Poem is telling us that we are not dealing with a physical tree as such, but an Otherworld Tree that doesn't need to conform to the rules of the physical world. In Siberia the Birch is the World Tree, and in the shamanic world, it can put forth shoots without seeding and touch the sky. I like what this shamanic ‘World Tree' interpretation means for Beith as the head-letter of the Ogam. Tom Cowan writes: The name of this rune means birch…The rune says that one can grow, flourish, and exhibit great power in non-ordinary and non-traditional ways…
For Neil Giles this rune teaches us that for new life to come, old life must come to and end and be cleared away. For the Teutonic peoples, the birch was not simply a tree but the spirit of the mother taken form in the forest...Berkana calls us to beauty and the search for beautiful things to enrich and enhance the quality of our lives (that's the Venus influence). As Berkana rules appearances so she also rules the shamanic art of shape-shifting. Here is the magic of running with the creatures of the forest, flying with birds, the magic that frees your spirit to know the spirits of other species. ...Whatever the birch tree brings, prepare to take your initiation at the doorway to the underworld.
To the work done by authors such as those quoted above, I will now add some notes from my own book Pan's Script . By so doing I will be representing the English Alphabet as I have researched it in relation to its impact on people who have certain letters in their names. It is vital to note that I have approached the letters of the English Alphabet as a progression, with each stage from A to Z reflecting an aspect of the human striving for empowerment (rather than acquiescing to powerlessness).
B contain the tension of opposition and therein, the potential for growth. Within the Cycle of the Name, the letter B tends to create nervous tension as dreams and desires push from within for expression externally. These dreams and desires are fertile and highly potent thoughts, partly formed. They can elicit a sense of purposefulness, but also the feeling of frustration held inwardly. Such ambivalent emotions seek clarity and ultimately resolution through real-life experience. If your motivation is uncertain, you will hesitate before acting. You will feel that you need to gather and absorb more and more information before you can move forward. B is the first of the letters that effect a transformation via the emotions but unlike such letters later in the Cycle, here the whole process represents an intensely personal dialogue between ego and soul. Much depends on how well you are able to strike a b alance between self-restraint and self-expression, and throughout this process stamina will need to be actively maintained: physically, mentally and emotionally. ‘As a consonant, letter B contains the first tone within the 8th harmonic. Thus, it contains the pressure that we feel when our talents awaken and our comfort zones shift'.
It remains to comment on how the above notes and personal observations relate to the Ogam and Runic Alphabets. Does a consistent pattern emerge? Before beginning, the reader needs to be aware that I have subjected the rune alphabet to the sequence of the Ogam because I have come to believe that these simple 'tally marks' and associated 'mantra' represent the primary sequence. I understand the runic sequence currently adhered to may be a 'recent' invention and that the runes may not originally have been intended to act as a sequential alphabet. Marijane Osborn and Stella Longland put it this way: ‘The individual “all-round” view of the runes indicates that they are more closely allied to ideograms than to linear alphabets which must be read in a certain direction'. Contrary to this, I have approached the Ogam Alphabet as a sequential journey that facilitates the integration of a person's inner and outer worlds.
Themes that suggest a relationship between Beith, Berkana/Beorc and the letter B
Beorc is a 'leading to' Rune in that it leads to blossoming and ripening just as Beith 'opens energy up '. Birch as a shaman tree is the ‘Deity at the Door'. The affirmation is “I move forward with ease and grace”.
Birch assists in clearing out the old and birthing the new : 'from the soil of the old, the new emerges' (Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees ); and 'In divination, Beith's appearance may indicate a need to purify yourself or your intentions before beginning a new project' (Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom )
Birch enriches the soil and thus offers nourishment to the trees that follow. In human beings this is mirrored by the ability to create from your own inner resources and then nurturing what you have created. Our inner journeys revealed inner resources and relationships that will need nurturing if their potential is to fully materialize. Such inner resources may thus be tested. ‘Birch calls the other Trees to life…a 'nurse' tree that provides shelter and nutrients
Birch can teach the process of reconciliation , the key to which is the movement of energy .
The letter “B”, the Rune Beorc, the Ogam Beith, and sitting quietly under a Birch Tree can served to illuminate our choices.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Luis, position 2
Gaelic Pronunciation: "LOOSH"
Scientific Name: Sorbus aucuparia plant family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound L (3rd harmonic)
Number : 5 (it initiates the 5th Segment of the Wheel)
Astrological Placement: Cusp of Cancer and Leo
Moon Phase : First Quarter
Age : 28
The Second Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Sensing Quadrant
Waning Sun and Waxing Moon: the sun is just beginning to wane and the moon is just over half-strength
Chakra : Throat
Colour : Sky blue
Ogam : 2 straight strokes to the right or downward from the stemline
Time of Year : The lead up to Lughnasadh
The Rowan is a smallish deciduous tree that grows to around ten metres in height. Provided there is enough light, Rowan can grow almost anywhere, tolerating poor soil and high altitude (to ~750 metres). It is thus associated with mountains. Although sometimes called mountain ash, the Rowan is not an ash tree, nor does not belong to the ash family. It was given that name due to the similarity of the leaves. It belongs to the Rosaceae family and its immediate relations include the pear, crab apple and rose. The flowers of the Rowan are small and creamy coloured with 5 petals and the fruit resembles clusters of minature red apples. The word rowan relates to the word red (Encarta dictionary). Inside the berry is a 5-pointed star, like one finds inside an apple. Like rosehips, the ripe berries of the Rowan tree contain Vitamin C. They can be made into cordial, jam and jelly as an aid for sore throats and inflamed tonsils but don't let children eat them raw.
Rowan blossoms at Beltane but as with all of the trees this depends somewhat on location, weather patterns etc. Cross-fertilization occurs around the time of the Summer Solstice and then the petals fall, making way for the fruits. Gradually the berries ripen to a bright orange-red colour, so that by Lughnasadh, the tree is at its most splendid and the songbirds are at their most joyous. By autumn they have eaten most of the berries, and the leaves are changing colour, although the scarlet leaves often cling on until Samhuin. By then the new leaf buds are evident, although the tree looks bare throughout winter .
Observations and Comments by various authors
The Ogam Tract (per G Calder) : ‘Word Ogam of Morann Mac Main here. Lí súla , delight of eye, that is luis, quicken tree, l, to wit, the flame'. (My note: the Sorbus aucuparia in the Pirianda Gardens looks like a giant flame in winter). Alphabet of word-oghams of Mac ind Óic: ‘ Cara ceathra, friend of cattle, elm. Cara , dear to the cattle is the elm for its bloom and for down. Hence it was put for the Ogham luis, quicken tree, l, for hence was quicken tree, l, put for it'.
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : In the Word Ogam of Con Culainn, L equates with ‘attraction of cattle, sustenance of cattle'. The rowan tree is frequently associated with this letter. Other associations include protection from malignant magic. Rowan twigs were bound into equal-armed crosses with red thread, and twigs were tied to the horns or tails of cattle to protect them from illness and harm. This links nicely with the word-ogam that tells us that Luis is a 'friend of cattle'. In divination Luis may be an instruction to seek inspiration in regard to the issue surrounding the question. Magically Luis can be used in rituals for seeking inspiration, or for protection from negative magic and energies. Due to its association with fire, Luis may be useful for warming someone with chills (64-67) .
Celtic Tree Mysteries : Steve Blamires tells us that Luis means “swarm” or “a great many”, and relates this to the fact that warriors once used the Rowan as a place of assembly. Luis also means “flame”, just as fires made entirely of Rowan were sometimes lit before battles. In some stories, Lugh was said to have destroyed the Evil Eye of Balor with a Rowan Spear. Other Celtic legends link Rowan trees with the procurement of hidden knowledge through an enchanted state of mind (and protection whilst in that state)
The Celtic Tree Oracle Colin and Liz Murray tell us that the rowan helps us to retain control of the senses so that we can repel enchantment.
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : According to Paul Rhys Mountfort, Rowan is a tree-letter of supernatural protection, and as such was commonly placed near doorways.
A Druid's Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman:
Part used: fruit
‘The berries are gathered when ripe and then dried or made into jam. The berries are very high in vitamin C and are useful for sore throats and tonsillitis. Take one teaspoon of the fresh berry juice or a quarter cup of the tea made by simmering one teaspoon per cup of water for twenty minutes…Rowan is primarily an herb of protection and healing. Wear a tiny cross of rowan wood somewhere in your clothing. The branches make magic wands. The leaf and berry are used in incense to increase psychic powers' (62) .
Irish Tree Oils and Essences: Rwan is recommended for immune deficiency.
Grant Lambert uses Rowan as a Falling Leaf Essence to resolve the belief that we cannot carry on our life's journey, and to generate a more positive self-belief. This follows on from his Silver Birch Falling Leaf Essence, which he prescribes to open up a more positive flow of energy.
Tree Wisdom : The Rowan is generally considered the feminine equivalent of the Ash tree, and is strongly associated with two ancient sun-goddesses: Brigit of Ireland and Brigantia of England. Both were protectors of the pastoral folk and their animals. Rowan trees and dragons offer each other mutual protection.
Associations that support placing Luis at 120 degrees of the Circle:
At the time of Lughnasadh (the Pan's Script correspondent), the Rowan tree looks magnificent. From Jacqueline Memory Paterson : 'we are presented with the vivid splendor of their leaves and fruit. Nothing could be so “dressed” and not be full of power'. (This showy quality also corresponds with Leo).
The association with fire and warriors further enhances the connection with Leo because people who have the Sign of Leo strong in their horoscope are typically courageous, and unafraid to champion what they believe in.
In The Book of Ogam , Lugh Lamfadha is named the God that corresponds to Rowan, (and there is an obvious connection between Lugh and Lughnasadh). Lugh Lamfadha is a skilled magician-king and chief warrior and is responsible for the success of the harvest (Lughnasadh corresponds to the first of the harvest). Apparently this Lugh is a reflection of Bridget, and we note that her special time of year (Imbolc) lies directly opposite Lughnasadh.
We are in the Sensory Quadrant of the Wheel of Life, and the Rowan helps us to retain control of the senses so that we can repel enchantment.
We are also on the Cusp of Cancer and Leo, and as Cancer is ruled by the Moon, so Leo is ruled by the Sun. As well as being connected with Lugh, Rowan is also connected with Sun-Goddesses' such as Bridget who has elsewhere been described as a Goddess of the Moon, clothed in the raiment of the Sun. Another way to think about this Moon-Sun Cusp position is that the Rowan symbolizes our capacity to shake off the enchantment of the moon so that we can experience the evolutionary influence of the sun. The Moon can make the imagination go wild at times, especially as the Full Moon draws near. The Rowan helps us to apply our mental strength to keep our senses when we are in danger of losing them.
Within the material world, Number 5 manifests through sensory experience and engenders vitality. These words from Glennie Kindred (The Sacred Tree) are thus relevant: The message of the Rowan is to not give up, ‘but to hold strong to your life force and what you believe in. The Rowan is a potent symbol of positive life energy' (20). And from Ogam: The Celtic Tree Oracle by Faye Sorbet: Rowan 'encourages us to be open to creative inspiration. It reminds us that we can draw on the power of nature, the life force, to heal ourselves and others. It also encourages us to turn adversity into creative opportunity for growth'. Finally, from The Book of Ogam: 'The Luis describes a vast sea of flooding vitality waiting to be tapped'. Such descriptions also accord with the fiery Sign of Leo.
Luis and Lagu
The closest Rune to the form of the letter L is “Kano”. However although Kano (more commonly known as Ken or Cen) does resemble the English letter form for L, the rune correspondent of Luis and letter L is more likely to be Lagus (aka Lagu), which also resembles the letter L albeit upside down. Inverting the Rune Form would seem to be legitimate. From Rune Games : ‘… in rune carvings runes are often inscribed upside-down or back-to front'. I will therefore assume that Lagu is the equivalent of the English letter L and offer some notes about Lagu from the sources at hand.
Ralph Blum writes ‘Unseen powers are active here, creative and fertile powers of nature. The attributes of this Rune are water, fluidity, the ebb and flow of tides and emotions, of careers and relationships. This Rune often signals a time for cleansing: for revaluing, reorganizing, realigning'.
Tony Willis writes ‘since water represents fluidity, Lagu frequently indicates that the querent should not be afraid to “go with the flow”'.
In Rune Games the verse about Lagu is translated as: ‘Water to landsmen seems overly long, if they must go on the galloping ship, and the sea waves scare them excessively, and the horse of the sea heeds not his bridle'. The authors interpret this as: Man is a land animal forced to go into an alien environment on a horse-ship which is often uncontrollable. This verse seems to be telling us to brace for a watery experience which might be scary and uncontrollable at times. Lagu means water and the image of a lagoon comes to mind. This lagoon may be referring to the astral world through which we must journey. We might travel on the back of an astral horse or in an astral boat.
In Pan's Script I write about the letter "L" like such: L” gives form to mental concepts. Its resonance facilitates the ability to perceive cause and effect. The problem for people in an L-Cycle is that they are dealing with a dynamic that is larger than the personal self. The social structure that it takes to create such things as language evolves through an exchange of ideas by all of its members. Similarly, people who are in an L-Cycle typically find themselves in the midst of the 'market place' of life trying to make sense of it all. Although this resonance is mental in nature, it is love that stabilizes it. “L” precipitates a new way of looking at Life.
Themes that suggest a relationship between Luis and Lagu and the Letter “L”
“He felt very masculine and safe and protective”
“He embraced me and told me that he would lend me his strength until I find my own”
Pan was visible to some: could he be a personification of your etheric-health-vital body?
I've seen people come out of the Rowan Grove positively radiating. In other words, their etheric body was glowing.
In the light of the above consider this comment: “the energy was more luminous that anything I have experienced before; like heaven…I felt moved to sing; I was in a sacred temple of light”.
Rowans and dragons are said to offer each other mutual protection and during our journey-work some people had some remarkable encounters with a dragon. Could the dragon be another personification of the astral-etheric body?
One person remarked: “We can draw on the power of nature – the life force – to heal ourselves”. Is not the ‘power of nature' and our own vitality one and the same?
Luis and Lagu then become our own vast sea of flooding vitality.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Fearn, position 3
Gaelic Pronunciation: "FAIR-n"
Scientific Name: Alnus glutinosa, plant family: Betulaceae (Birch)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound F (7th harmonic), and the second Septile
Number: 4 (because it lies within the 4th Segment of the Wheel)
Astrological Placement: Cancer
Moon Phase: First Quarter (aka Waxing Half)
Age : 24 years
Second Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Sensation Quadrant
Chakra : Heart
Colour : Green
Ogam: 3 straight strokes to the right or downward from the stemline
Time of Year : Summer (post Solstice)
Typically found growing along riverbanks, Alder is of the same plant family as Birch and Hazel, but unlike them, its leaves don't have 'wings'. Instead of relying on the winds, Alder uses the waterways to carry its seeds. Alder is usually a small tree but can grow more than twenty metres in height. It is fast growing and can live for up to 150 years. Alders tend to have long trunks and narrow crowns, resembling thus a cone shape. They have short branches that tend to stretch out horizontally. The Alder is the only broadleaf tree to produce cones. At any given time four stages of productivity can be seen on the Alder: old cones, new leaf buds or leaves, male and female catkins. The female catkins are roundish and cone-like and have threads dangling from them to catch the pollen of the male catkins, while the male catkins are longer overall than the female ones.
Alder is a deciduous tree. Its red-brown catkins form in autumn but remain dormant throughout winter . They begin opening around Imbolc - before the leaves. In Norse tales March (ie spring in the northern hemisphere) was known as 'the lengthening month of the waking alder'. The ripe seeds fall from the flowers in autumn, to germinate below the tree or float away and grow elsewhere. Some of its black cones remain on the tree during winter.
Observations and Comments by various authors
The Ogam Tract (per G Calder) : 'Word Ogam of Morann Mac Main here. 'Airinach Fian , i.e. shield of warrior bands, i.e. shield for fern , f, with him owing to their redness in the same respect: or because the alder, the material of the shield was from fernae given to the Ogham letter which has taken a name from it. Airinach Fian i.e., shield, that is fern , f, with him'. Alphabet of word-oghams of Mac ind Óic: 'Comet lachta, guarding of milk, that is the Ogham alder, f, from alder of the forests, for it is it that guards the milk, for of it are made the vessels containing the milk'
Celtic Tree Mysteries : The Word Ogam of Morann Mac Main refers to two qualities of the Alder. One is that when it is cut, the wood ‘bleeds', i.e. it turns a blood-red colour - hence the association with warrior bands. Secondly, the Alder makes a good shield because it can withstand solid blows yet remain pliable to work with. Likewise, in the Word Ogam of Cuchulain, F protects the heart, and is a shield. Because it has a tendency to stand in water, Alder symbolizes the warrior-magician who is aware of things both above and below the surface of life. It is clear from various textual references that warriors' shields were made from alder wood, and although appropriate on the mundane level, Fearn actually means “to protect” or “to take care of”. ‘What the text is really saying is that it was not so much the physical wooden shields that protected the warrior bands, but the spirit of the tree itself. This protective quality of alder can still be used today, despite the fact that we no longer need to carry shields of alder wood. When we feel threatened, we can invoke the spirit of the alder, using our knowledge of its spiritual aspects to aid us. Beware however, of thinking that a deep knowledge of magical associations is all you need to get out of dangerous situations; you must still use the same methods and resources of this world as would anyone else in similar circumstances. The difference for you is that you are aware of higher forces at work for your benefit and safety'.
As Steve Blamires suggests, although we don't use physical shields much these days, we can invoke Fearn when we feel threatened. Just as a shield goes before a warrior, Alder's place is at the front of the battle. It comes early in the Ogam sequence so that we can learn when it is appropriate to take up the shield and when it is more appropriate to take up the wand, spear or sword. In this regard, we take note that Fearn is protective only when you are on the defense. If you feel attacked, you can imagine yourself bearing an alder shield strapped around your heart, and invoking the Spirit of Fearn for protection and guidance.
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : Paul Rhys Mountfort comments on the Word Ogam of Mac ind Óic: F equates with the ‘guarding of milk' (or a milk container). Being water resistant, Alder wood was used to make milk buckets but there has to be a reason why a milk container was selected over, say, a water container. Perhaps it is because a milk container symbolizes the Cauldron of Plenty. As a divinatory tool, Fearn draws our attention to the need to be receptive to nourishing advice. This implies listening to the wisdom of the heart, and also the counsel given by those who care about us.
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : Erynn Rowan Laurie's keyword for Fern (alternative spelling) is ‘protection', and she includes those people who act as a shield for others in her interpretation, as well as people who use force to protect others such as the police. ‘Fern is also a fid that implies emotional shelter and protection. The warrior protects what is loved, and the container protects what is held within it. The word ogam “protection of the heart” powerfully links this fid with emotional strength and guarding yourself or others from potential emotional harm. ‘Fern enjoins us to look ahead and be prepared for defense when necessary'. Magically it can be used for the protection of people in dangerous places. In healing it can be used to ward off illness, to stabilize emotional imbalance, and when dealing with physical heart problems. (69-70)
Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids: Linguists, Howard Meroney (Early Irish Letter Names ) and Damien Mc Manus ( A Guide to the Ogham ) agree that the kennings do point to the alder tree. To Skip Ellison the keyword for Fearn is ‘guidance' due to its association with Bran the Blessed. One of the riddles of Taliesin is “Why is the alder purple?” And the answer is “Because Bran wore purple”. Due to this association, Skip uses alder in oracular and protection spells (17-18).
In The Book of Ogham , F is linked with the warriors Fintan and Fionn mac Cumhail
In The Frenzy of Suibhne , Sweeny writes: “O alder, thou art not hostile/delightful is thy hue/thou art not rending and prickling/in the gap wherein thou art”.
Irish Tree Oils and Essences specify Alder for self-expression.
Jacqueline Memory Paterson's magical associations are: Protection of self and country, and also divination
In Britain , Alder and Willow are King and Queen of the waterways. They enhance the water and thereby, the land. They are 'social' trees that provide an approachable, safe and enjoyable haven for many species of life, including humans.
Associations that support placing Fearn at 103 degrees of the Circle :
Fearn lies in the fourth sector of the Wheel of Life, and Alder demonstrates "four-ness" in a number of ways. As well as revealing 4 stages of productivity at any one time, it actively engages the 4 Elements. Fire: Poor fuel, but prized by metal workers and smiths for its hot charcoal. Air: Renowned as the best wood for whistles and pipes. Water: It lives by water and resists rotting in water. Earth: Alder is beneficial to the land and enhances life on Earth. Alder would seem to represent the balance of the 4 Elements. The astrological Sign of Cancer introduces Water into the Wheel of Life. Prior to that we had the Fire of Aries, the Earth of Taurus and the Air of Gemini, but no Water. Just so in Fearn, we have the 4 Elements working in harmony.
In astrology, Cancer is a Water Sign and Alder grows by the Water. Alder has the reassuring, nurturing and protective qualities that are associated with Cancer. Furthermore, a shield is a defensive weapon and just as Alder is associated with shields, so Cancer is associated with defensiveness.
The Word Ogam of Con Culainn specifies that Alder is the shield that protects the heart, and in the Pan's Script model, the Cancer segment of the Wheel of Life corresponds to the heart chakra.
The correlation with summer brings out the fiery qualities of Alder, and perhaps, between Cancer and Leo, Alder represents the power of fire to free Earth from Water.
In Theosophy, the 4th Ray is the one that creates harmony out of chaos. It is associated with magic, such as discussed above, including: the magical warrior.
In mythology, Fodla is patron of music and in the research done for Pan's Script a correlation was established between the Number 4 and music.
Like Number 4, Alder provides a structural foundation. It was used to build bridges, platforms and piles. And from The Book of Ogam : 'the F indicates the very founding principle of all tradition' (124).
Our time in Fearn was considerably easier that it was in Luis and was mostly social. It was a very busy time for all of us. One person remarked that “Fearn felt like an anchor in the midst of all the excitement generated by starting a new journey”. Its message that the strongest shield is a peaceful heart sits in the Centre of the First Aicme. Some of us experienced tasks being set, which when accomplished left us wealthier within (and financially too in some cases).
Fearn and Feoh (or Fehu)
There is a rune with a similar form to the letter F and it's called “Ansuz” however I soon learned that the letter F is consistently attributed to “Fehu”, which also looks like the English letter F but the two strokes off the stem line point upwards. The likeness is not strong yet I must bow to convention because the Runic alphabet is now called ' futhark' after its first six letters. Marijane Osborn and Stella Longland write: It is to be noted that with few exceptions the opening sound of the rune-word represents the phonetic value of that rune (Rune Games ). So let's explore “F for Fehu”.
Ralph Blum calls it a Rune of fulfillment, possessions and nourishment, of ambition satisfied, rewards received, and love fulfilled. ‘This Rune calls for deep probing of the meaning of profit and gain in your life…It urges vigilance and continual mindfulness, especially in times of good fortune, for it is then that we are likely to collapse into our success on the one hand, or behave recklessly on the other'.
Tony Willis calls this Rune “Feoh”, and says it means cattle or wealth. ‘In English we retain the word fee, which the dictionary defines as a sum payable to officials: fee is the modern pronunciation of the Anglo Saxon feoh, the Viking fe, and must at one time have been paid in cattle. Key phrases from Willis include ‘expenditure of one's own energy: a conquest rather than a gift', and ‘something fought or struggled for, a significator of opposition successfully overcome'.
For one rune reader who I know personally, Feoh is about success through negotiation.
In Rune Games , the verse about F (“feoh”) is translated as: ‘Wealth is a comfort to one and all, but he must share it who hopes to cast his lot for judgment before the lord.' The authors note that Feoh is the first rune and as such places the concept of wealth in the top spot of the Runic Alphabet, making the advice to share such wealth a leading statement
Tom Cowan: Wending your Way: The prosperous person/ Gives away gladly/ The wonder of wealth:/ The cost of casting one's fate/ Beyond credit and comfort: The verse suggests that one's fate, ie how you will be judged at the end of your life, depends less on accumulating material possessions than on how you shared them with others. Choosing how you want to be judged at life's end is an informative place to begin the Runes!
What do Fearn and Feoh have in common?
Keeping in mind that these symbols are not isolated from one another but in the Ogam Alphabet follow a definite sequence, Beith has set things in motion and then Luis has given this greater vitality, bringing the best of our intentions to life. Our intent and integrity protect us. Fearn now takes the form of a shield over the heart so that we can proceed from here with a glowing aura and strong conviction. Feoh informs us that what we receive at this point is a conquest rather than a gift out of nowhere. We have expended our energy and over countless lifetimes we have fought the good fight. We are in the process of overcoming the lower aspects of our human nature. As integrity increases so does our shield become increasingly impenetrable. We know that as we gain strength, so that strength is tested in order that further adjustments can be made. Feoh reminds us that we have a wealth of inner resources beyond measure and allies a-plenty to help and guide us. As they share themselves with us so we share ourselves with others.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Sail, position 4
Gaelic Pronunciation: "SAHL-yur"
Scientific Name: Salix Alba , plant family Salicaceae (Willow)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound S (the seventh member of the 12th harmonic)
Letter S transforms emotional energy
Number: 8 (it initiates the 8th Segment of the Wheel)
Number 8, as the form suggests, integrates the 'lower and the upper' parts of ourselves. The form of the 8 is quite similar to S. Astrological Placement: Where Libra and Scorpio meet: astrologically, 210 degrees is called the Waning Quincunx, which is also known as the Death Quincunx because it brings about correctional activity that causes a permanent change in the psyche. A deeper integration of the Self can come at this point.
Moon Phase: The Moon is still Full and both Sun and Moon are Waning
Third Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Feeling Quadrant
Energetic Structure: Ida & Pingala
Ogam: 4 straight strokes to the right or downward from the stemline
Time of Year : Late Autumn, approaching Samhuin
Willows are not self-fertile, which means that each tree produces either the long golden-yellow male anthers or silvery-green female catkins. All species are extremely fast growers and can reach up to 24 metres in height. The wood is very pliable. In fact the Anglo-Saxon root word for willow means pliancy. The roots are aggressive in seeking water and little grows beneath these trees.
The Willow is deciduous, the catkins emerging around Beltane. Wind and insects carry the pollen from the male catkins to the female ones. The seeds ripen in shortly before the summer solstice, and the long narrow leaves are also full by summer. The author of The Celtic Tree Calendar writes: 'In autumn, from 3 to 12 September, the willow stems are full of sap. This is the best time to cut them, for they will then remain supple enough to weave for a much longer time' (134). (The time referred to is just prior to the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere).
Observations and Comments by various authors
The Ogam Tract (per G Calder) : ‘Word Ogam of Morann Mac Main here. Lí n-aimbí , hue of the lifeless, i.e. hue of one dead, to wit, so that he is not living but is dead. Lí n-aimbí again, to wit, that is sail , willow, s with him, and hence it was put for the Ogham letter'. Alphabet of word-oghams of Mac ind Óic: ‘Luth bech , activity of bees, that is willow, so, for its bloom and for its catkin. Hence it is put for the cognate Ogham letter'.
Celtic Tree Mysteries : In the Word Ogam of Morainn S equates with 'hue of the lifeless'. At one level, this is about the actual colour of the White Willow, and on another, that when cut down, it appears lifeless for a while. The Word Ogam of Cuchulain states: 'S equals beginning of loss, willow'. There comes a point in one's life when material things begin to loose their grip. Indeed, in order to gain connection with the Otherworld, one must be prepared to loosen connection with this one. A part of this process involves the giving up of unhealthy habits, attitudes, relationships and beliefs. The Word Ogam of Aonghus offers a third kenning: S equates with 'strength of bees'. Steve Blamires notes that to the Celts bees provided an image of an orderly society, in which each individual instinctively knows his/her part in the whole.
Blue Feather's Herbal : Willow is a Grandmother Tree. The seed fluff, (in the air around autumn), is occasionally used in spinning. In autumn the energy of the summer's warmth goes into the bark, so autumn is a critical time in the formation of the tree's medicine. In spring this transformed energy is released, so that is when the Native Americans harvested the bark. This bark can then relieve headaches, and lower fevers. As a dressing, willow slows bleeding and cools inflammations. In a bath it calms and deodorizes, and smoked, it aids asthma. Willow unblocks emotions so that they can be taken to a higher level. Blue Feather says that willow has transformational power because it helps us to tap into buried emotions. This can present a profound healing crisis. We come to see what is really important and by so doing, we learn to bend, like the willow.
A Druid's Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman:
Part used: bark, collected in spring
The white willow is used for rheumatic complaints, arthritis, and headaches as well as diarrhea and dysentery. Fevers, edema, and the aftereffects of worms are treated with willow bark. To make the tea, steep three teaspoons of the bark in one cup of cold water for two to five hours, boil for one minute, and strain . (162)
The White Goddess : Robert Graves associates the Willow with the moon, particularity the death aspects of the Moon Goddess. He calls it the tree of enchantment.
In The Celtic Tree Oracle the Murrays associate willow with night vision.
The Tree Ogham : The Willow helps to bring emotional numbness to the surface so that the sadness can be felt and released. In this way disease may be avoided. Sail teaches us to move with life rather than resisting it. When a branch falls from its parental tree it will strike out on its own if the soil is sufficiently damp. Willow connects us with our buried emotions and body illnesses through our dreams, longings, imagination and intuition.
The Book of Ogham : S correlates with the god Semias ‘master of wisdom and the original keeper of the cauldron of knowledge in the otherworldly city of Marisa to the west', also the goddess, Scathach, teacher of CuChulainn, and the hero Setanta, pre-initiate name of CuChulainn. The divinatory meaning of Sail is the unfoldment of clairvoyant abilities or other mental powers that facilitate your goals (127-8).
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : Erynn Rowan Laurie's keyword for Sail is 'flow'. ‘Sail indicates what needs to be purified or what is being resisted or denied...In divination, Sail can suggest a need to connect with or listen to the ancestors or to honor them in some way. It might mean that the dead are speaking, but it can also be living ancestors such as grandparents. The fid may also tell you to pay attention to timing in your endeavors. Ask yourself if you are moving with the tides or trying to struggle against them.' (71-2)
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : For Paul Rhys Mountfort Willow pertains to Sight and seership as highly developed powers of perception.
As a Bach Flower Remedy Willow is prescribed for self-pity, resentment, jealousy, and blaming others for one's own mistakes
Similarly, Irish Tree Oils and Essences prescribe willow when empathy is needed.
Tree Wisdom: Willow has always been associated with funerals and with assisting the passage of the soul at death. Willow garlands are an emblem of grief in the Celtic tradition.
Jacqueline Memory Paterson's magical associations are:
Ruling Planet: Moon
Abilities: Dowsing and night visions
Seasons: Spring and Autumn (Samhuin)
The vision producing aspect of Willow is strong at Spring and Samhuin, the latter being particularly suited to the work of contacting departed loved ones. Willow heals deep emotions, and allows insight to come. Incense of White Willow assists this work.
The Living Wisdom of Trees: The sphere of the willow encompasses activities that are receptive and reflective. (180).
Associations that support Sail's placement at 210 degrees:
Robert Graves associates Willow with the death aspects of the Moon Goddess. Similarly, this point on the Wheel of Life is called the Death Quincunx. It engenders correctional activity that brings about a permanent change in the psyche, and a deeper integration of the Self. Naturally, this affects one's relationships with other people. All of this is completely congruent with the entry point into the 8th House.
Number 8 and the Death Quincunx are about Self-Mastery.
Willow wood is used to make musical instruments such as the harp because it can absorb tension and remain vibrant. In a human being this symbolizes self-mastery, and is pertinent to its Libra/Scorpio placement
Another point relevant to the cusp of Libra and Scorpio, and the cusp of Numbers 7 & 8 comes from The Living Wisdom of Trees : 'The tree essence of the white willow enhances the awareness of our deeper selves and has a spiritually cleansing effect' (178) .
In The Celtic Tree Oracle the Murrays associate willow with night vision, which within the Pan's Script model correlates with Owl Medicine. The owl can see what others cannot.
In Sail we turn away from the demands of worldly life as symbolized by the lower hemisphere of the Wheel in order to ponder its meaning; we are heading towards Samhuin and the necessary preparations for winter.
Regarding the late autumn placement: If you want the Willow to strike roots, the best time to push a branch into the ground is late autumn or early winter because the soil is damp. Metaphysically damp and receptive soil correlates with the power of a strong and fertile emotional life.
Autumn is also the time when the tree is internalizing the sun's warmth and forming its medicine
Blue Feather says that willow has transformational power because it helps us to tap into buried emotions. This brings latent health issues to the surface. If we do not back away from this but allow the pain to transform us, insight and courage come. Willow symbolizes emotional pain transforming into deep understanding and clarity of action. This has much in common with the co-rulers of Scorpio: Mars and Pluto.
The word S-word "surrender" is vital to comprehending the metaphysical mysteries of the Willow Tree.
Sail and Sowelu (or Sigel)
There is a rune that resembles the letter S and is equivalent to the sound “S”. Ralph Blum calls it Sowelu and equates it with the sun's energy and life force. The name Sowelu reminds me of Sulis, the Goddess of Bath, and the word Sulis is sometimes translated as Sun. Ralph Blum writes: ‘A Rune of great power, making life force available to you, Sowelu marks a time for recharging and regeneration right down to the cellular level. You may actually experience power surges, for the energies involved can be dramatic…At times you may see fit to withdraw, to retreat in the face of a pressing situation, especially if events or people are demanding that you ‘spend' your energy now. Know that such a retreat is a retreat in strength, and that it can mark a voyage inward for centering and balance. Timely retreat is among the skills of the Spiritual Warrior. At the same time, for some, this Rune counsels opening yourself up, letting the Light into a part of your life that has been secret.
Tony Willis calls this Rune “Sigel” and agrees that it means Sun. He writes ‘In one form or another, the ability to vanquish evil is almost universally awarded to the Sun…Sigil, therefore, is a Rune of victory, and its appearance in a runecast is a promise of success and achievement. This Rune is never reversed.
For Jonathan Dee the Sun rune casts a warm glow over all other runes present.
Related to the letter "S" these words from Pan's Script: S stimulates the powers of the mind through the powers of the heart. Once the flow between these two great forces has been established not only is prodigious achievement possible but also self-healing (i.e. Self healing self). S-Cycles are transpersonal in nature. During the time that the letter “S” is active, your soul will undergo a review of its journey in the material world and attempt to heal its wounded ego. Take your feelings and the insight that issue from them seriously. Akin to the path of the serpent, you may need to periodically shed whatever obstructs the flow of your creativity. Self-mastery is required to maximize the potential of the intense desire and wilful emotions that can come with “S”. The letter S catalyzes long-lasting adjustments to one's feeling life, and in turn, results in a more healthy and creative exchange of energy with other people.
Themes that suggest a relationship between Sail and Sowela and the Letter “S”
Willow unblocks emotions so that they can be taken to a higher level. Blue Feather says that willow has transformational power because it helps us to tap into buried emotions. This can present a profound healing crisis for some people. We can come to see what is really important and by so doing, we learn to bend, like the willow.
“Sail teaches us to move with life rather than resisting it” (The Tree Ogham ). After sitting with the willow in a public park for some time, one student of the Ogam remarked: “I felt deep peace where I sat, the noisy people around me adding to that sense of peace rather than distracting from it. I felt a part of the whole, connected to everything and everybody.”
Similarly, the Sowela Rune counsels opening yourself up, letting the light into a part of your life that has been secret or shut away (RB). For all of us who engaged with the willow trees this included letting the inner child out to play. There was something about the willows that evoked pleasant childhood memories.
Likewise, the experiences that came from Tree Mothers meditation for Willow support the Sigel interpretation of Sail: Willow is playful and light hearted, even when things going on around you are serious or stressful.
The time between Sail and Nion brought up issues that required ‘going deep' or going back to childhood to resolve something. For example one person noticed that “unresolved love issues appeared and I was given the opportunity to do something about them”. Another person remarked that “Sail helped me to make peace with myself…I felt cleaner after I'd been through Sail”.
This is as far as I have progressed with typing up my notes on the correlations between the Ogam and the Runes. From here you will find only my original research into the Ogam.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote: Nion, position 5
Gaelic Pronunciation: "NEE-arn"
Scientific Name: Fraxinus excelsior, plant family: Oleaceae (Olive): Fraxinus means firelight, Aesc meant spear (Anglo-Saxon) and Askr refers to 'a great fire' ( Iceland), and is related to the First Man (like Adam).
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound N (fifth member of the 12th harmonic)
Number: 6 (it initiates the 6th Segment of the Wheel)
Astrological Placement: cusp of Leo and Virgo: astrologically, the Waxing Quincunx. It is also known as the health quincunx because it rearranges energy patterns on the physical level. This necessitates a mental adjustment and brings about an evaluation of progress thus far. Growth is rapid once the affinity between apparent polarities is realized and orchestrated. Until then there is strain because this vibration presents contradictions. It presents them so that they are acknowledged and eventually reconciled. Thus the letter N is mental and transforming.
Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous Moon
Age : 35:
Second Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Sensation Quadrant
Chakras : Throat (Leo) and Third Eye (Virgo): enhancing our perception
Colours : Sky blue (Leo) and Deep blue (Virgo)
Ogam: 5 strokes to the right or downwards from the stemline
Time of Year : Late summer, post-Lughnasadh, approaching autumn
Straight, with a well-formed crown, ash trees are tall, rugged, resilient and adaptable. Unlike some of the other forest trees, Ash lets the light in. The ash is a relative of the privet, lilac and olive but without the beautiful flowers or edible fruits. Most, but not all, Ash trees contain flowers of both sexes. The Ash has a distinct leaf-pattern: two or four pairs of leaves, tipped by a single leaf. The Ash also has deeply penetrating roots, which can strangle other forest trees. It also tends to sour the soil, making it difficult for other vegetation to grow beneath it. Because of its elasticity, ash wood was used for catapults. Its shock-absorbing quality also lent itself to wheel making. Ash makes excellent fire wood and will burn green without smoke.
The flower buds open in spring during the approach of Beltane. At the same time, or shortly after, the leaves appear. A few weeks later the stamen-flowers shrivel and fall off, revealing the seed vessels. These resemble a bunch of old keys. The foliage is full during the summer months and the samaras are mature by the solstice. Viable seeds are shed around the time of the autumn equinox, however most of the 'keys' cling to the tree throughout winter . By then the leaves are long gone, having been shed around Samhuin.
Observations and Comments by various authors:
The Ogam Tract (per G Calder) : ‘Word Ogam of Morann Mac Main here. ‘Cosdad sida , checking of peace, that is nin , ash, n: it is the maw of a weaver's beam as applied to wood: a sign of peace is that. A checking of peace with him is that from the ash of the weaver's beam' . Alphabet of word-oghams of Mac ind Óic: ‘Bag ban , fight of women, ash, n, of the weaver's beam...Hence for its cognate letter.'
Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids : The meaning of this letter name is one of the hardest for both Meroney and Mc Manus. The latter says:“The kennings on this letter-name and the name itself present a number of difficulties which I cannot solve”. In the end, he feels that its original meaning is ‘letter', and that the kennings were derived from meanings that were not often used such as ‘fork'. To Skip Ellison, Nion is about ‘ancient knowledge and the weaver's beam...In our magic we can use ash any time we need strength or courage. It can also be used in protection, healing or creation spells' (21-22).
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : Erynn Rowan Laurie's keyword for Nin (alternative spelling) is 'Connection'. 'Weaving is the work of Nin, in both the physical sense of making fiber and in the social sense of weaving together individuals and energies into a greater tapestry of cooperation and peace…Nin is the fid of the friend who lends a hand when needed, and weaves connections, creating community...Nin's magic is that of weaving and community creation. It can be used to help bring people together for a common cause, and is good for working on peace projects and other tasks that bring disparate people and communities together'. ‘Nin brings connections through communication, and urges you to look for deeper meaning.' (75-77)
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : Ash is associated with Gwyddyon, the master magician, who presides over the process of transformation, shape shifting and coping with the cycle of change in general. Ash signifies the tools needed to this effect, such as the arrow, which can symbolize the art of taking aim and striking at the centre.
The Celtic Tree Oracle : The Murrays align Ash with the World Tree, symbolizing the connection between the macrocosm and the microcosm'.
The Book of Druidry : Nuin, himself, calls it the tree of rebirth.
The Book of Ogham : Deities and Heroes that correlate with the N-few include Nuada Airgetlam: King of the Tuatha De Danann, who had a silver arm made to replace the one he lost in battle, and Niamh, who lured Oisin into the Land of Youth, and Niall, who became King of Ireland once he had passed the test of facing his shadow-self. Like Niall, the Ash-few portends that we must discern and do what is noble within a greater context.
Celtic Tree Mysteries : The word Nion comes from a root word meaning “a thing produced”. Ash spears were used as an offensive long-range weapon by the Celts, and metaphorically, the Ash tree symbolizes the willpower to use our 'magical abilities to create change'.
Irish Tree Oils and Essences : Ash is recommended when a person is unable to cope with change
Grant Lambert uses Ash as a Summer Leaf Essence for emotional strengthening. It eases transitions and generates a feeling of optimism about the future.
'A symbol of good health' – Morgan Llewellyn
Tree Wisdom : In some legends the Ash tree is associated with scourging and dispensing judgment. In Nordic tales the Ash represents the World Tree, Askr Yggdrasill (several authors say this). As World Tree, it provides an axis around which the universe finds harmony. Ash is a guardian tree, above all guarding the sacred knowledge of the interconnection of all things. At all levels it removes unhealthy energy, thus helping to balance our inner and outer worlds. By interpreting and aligning energies, Ash promotes emotional health. The Ash tree helps us to transform assimilated knowledge into practical outcomes.
Jacqueline Memory Paterson's magical associations are:
Ruling Planet: Sun
Abilities: Inner and outer worlds linked; marriage bed of opposites
Season: Summer: Healing wands made from Ash are best cut at midsummer
The Living Wisdom of Trees by Fred Hageneder
Symbolism: mastership and power
Astrological association: Sun
Natural Healing: In Europe the ash has been praised in herbal medicine texts since the fourth century BCE, when the Greek physician Hippocrates used it as an infusion for gout and rheumatism. Tea made from ash leaves collected in spring or early summer and dried has a laxative and diuretic effect. It increases the flow of urine and the excretion of uric acid and also stimulates sluggish bowels, thus helping the body to detoxify…The tree essence enhances a sense of strength and flexibility.
The ash had nothing to do with the Norse World Tree Yggdrasil, as has been commonly believed. The Eddas describe this poetically as the “evergreen needle-ash”, which is a metaphor for a conifer, the yew tree. The ash in neither evergreen nor has it needles. The myth of a “World-ash” is a 19th century misconception that, unfortunately lingers on' (103-105) .
Blue Feather's Herbal : In the Native American Tradition, Ash is one of the 7 sacred Grandfather Trees. Because it doesn't splinter, it was used for kitchen utensils. The Native Americans also made bows, arrows, spears and tool handles with it, as did other peoples. Apparently it keeps snakes away, and so was used to make walking sticks. Spiritually it is considered a powerful protector not only against snakes but also evil influences and emotional vampires. As the roof over a house, Ash creates a haven from the stresses of life.
A Druid's Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman, Fraxinus Excelsior and Fraxinus Americana
Parts Used: Bark and leaf
Herbal Uses: The bark of the ash can be used as a substitute for quinine in intermittent fevers. It is reputed to clear obstructions from the spleen and liver. Simmer two tablespoons of bark for twenty minutes in one cup of water; take a quarter cup four times per day. The leaves are laxative and can be used as a substitute for senna (tree leaves are gathered before midsummer). Steep two tablespoons of the leaf in one cup of water for twenty minutes; take quarter cup a day.
Homeopathic uses: Fraxinus excelsior is used for gout and rheumatism (33).
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M Grieve
A ley from the ashes of the bark was used to cure scabby and leprous heads. In the treatment of gouty and rheumatic complaints, an infusion of the leaves, 1 oz to the pint, may be given in frequent doses during twenty four hours. The distilled water of the leaves, taken every morning, was considered good for dropsy and obesity. A decoction of the leaves in white wine had the reputation of dissolving stones and curing jaundice. The leaves should be gathered in June (December, Southern Hemisphere), thoroughly dried, powdered, and kept in well-corked bottles. The keys will keep all year round if gathered when ripe and were used as a substitute for capers. They can be preserved in salt and vinegar and eaten as a pickle to relieve flatulence (66).
Associations that support placing Nion at 150 degrees of the Circle:
Leo is ruled by the Sun and several authors correlate the Ash tree with the Sun.
Number 5 is also relevant. According to the Pythagoreans 5 is the marriage number because it unites the first even (2) and first odd (3) numbers. And so on the one hand we have Number 5 representing the 'marriage of opposites', while on the other hand we have ‘inner and outer worlds linked', which is what Number 6 is about. On the cusp of Number 5 & 6 we have these two themes uniting as one in the Letter N and the Ash Tree.
Nuada did not let his affliction end his career but thought around the problem and came up with a unique solution – that's Numbers 5 and 6 working in co-operation with each other
The Ash is also inclined to purge unhealthy thought-forms, which is also a characteristic of Number 6 and the Sign of Virgo.
The correlation with the Quincunx of astrology is quite striking. At this cusp position the salient issue is to use change in a constructive way. Ash would have us view our circumstances as a window of opportunity rather than an excuse for inertia. By interpreting and aligning energies, Nion promotes health on all planes of existence – provided the necessary adjustments are made to the way we think.
Its Pan's Script placement is late summer when the seed pods are strongest. This is when they can be picked and preserved as food and medicine during winter.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Huathe, position 6
Gaelic Pronunciation: "(H)OO-ah"
Scientific Name: Crataegus laevigata or oxyacantha , plant family Rosaceae (Rose)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound H (the third member of the 5th Harmonic, the first being Q at 72 degrees and the second E at 144 degrees). This position is called the upper Biquintile, E being the lower Biquintile. In the old alphabets, H and E are placed together as "HE" and equivalent to Number 5.
Number 8, as the form suggests, symbolizes the integration of the 'lower and the upper' parts of ourselves
Astrological Placement: Scorpio: the Co-Rulers are Mars and Pluto
Moon Phase: The Moon is still Full and both Sun and Moon are Waning.
Third Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Feeling Quadrant
Chakra : Ida & Pingala: the current between the chakras
Colour: a rich earthy brown
Ogam: I straight stroke to the left or upwards from the stemline
Time of Year : Late Autumn, approaching Samhuin (just nine degrees away)
The hawthorn is a small, deciduous tree with dense, twisty branches and scalloped leaves. Its impenetrability meant that it was used as a hedge. Like Blackthorn, it is a member of the Rose family and a tough survivor. The bark is gray-brown and covered with hard sharp thorns. The leaves provide a medicinal tea for people with heart and circulatory problems. Its flowers are small and round with 5 petals and the subsequent berries are small and oval shaped. Like blackthorn's sloes these fruits are edible but are not particularly tasty. Rosehips and sloes are best gathered after the first frosts and haws are probably the same. They can be made into jam and provide Vitamin C through winter.
The Wheel of Life places the Hawthorn in a direct line from its flowering time to its fruiting time: Beltane to Samhuin. It flowers during Beltane and is therefore called the May because in the northern hemisphere Beltane occurs in May. Its flowers are white or pink, which gradually darken into fleshy fruits called haws during autumn .
Observations and Comments by various authors:
Dancing with the Wheel : Sun Bear associates Hawthorn with love: 'Like love, hawthorn strengthens your heart helping it to be healthy and open…hawthorn gives you the strength to be vulnerable enough to maintain loving relationships on a consistent basis in your life'… 'Hawthorn's greatest ability is that of creating love and strengthening every aspect of the heart be it in the physical body or on the emotional or spiritual plane' (p. 161).
The Celtic Tree Oracle: The Anglo Saxon word haegthorn means hedge thorn. Within an oracular context the Hawthorn symbolizes a period of restraint, and the advice given is to 'Concentrate on mental rather than physical activity as a prelude to spiritual fertilization'.
The Tree Ogham: For Glennie Kindred the Hawthorn is about: 'Healing the inner child and resolving with love any areas where you might be manifesting a victim complex that will keep you vulnerable and lacking in power and energy…As fear is released, great psychic energy is liberated, primarily in the heart centre' (p. 25).
Ogham: The Celtic Tree Oracle: From Faye Sorbet: Hawthorn 'represents sexuality, love and laughter. It opens the heart and releases blocked energy, relieving stress, letting go of fear and bringing renewed trust and capacity to love' (p. 9).
The Book of Ogam: H does not occur at the head of Irish words therefore there were no divinities or heroes expressed by it. The H-few councils cleansing and self-discipline. It augers the need for patience.
Celtic Tree Mysteries: Within the Tree Ogam, H has special significance. This letter does exist in Gaelic text but only as an indication that ‘the letter succeeding or preceding it will change sound' (p. 40). ‘The letter H has a distinct function within the rules of Gaelic grammar as neither a consonant nor vowel' (p. 111). Magically it also has a distinct function. It warns the magician to be prepared for the backlash of something that she or he initiated in the past. Thus it portends a brief period of difficulty. As the H increases the power of the other letters in a grammatical context, so can accepting the cause of your problem as emanating from yourself increase your personal power in the long term. In the Word Ogam of Morainn H equates with a 'pack of wolves' (the word wolves being interchangeable with warriors). In the Word Ogam of Cuchulain H equates with a 'difficult night', Hawthorn. And in the Word Ogam of Aonghus H equals 'whitening of face'. The word Huath or Uath means frightful, which suggests that the whitening of the face might be due to fright. Because of its thorn, the Hawthorn can be regarded as hostile or protective depending on your point of view. It is associated with the power to harm through satire.
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : 'Part of the challenge of this fid is to remain strong and not give in to our fears. We must examine how fear sometimes works to protect us and decide whether this fear is functional of no longer serves a useful purpose and must be overcome.' (79) 'At its best, with highly favorable feda around it to mitigate its problematic powers, this current might suggest the transformation of pain through facing adversity.' Magically it can be used 'to turn negative forces against themselves, but should be used with extreme caution if at all'. 'Like the Norse rune Thurisaz, which means “thorn”, h-Úath can sometimes successfully be used to break through negative situations or to construct a powerful barrier against intrusions.' (81)
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : As a divinatory tool: A magical barrier stands in your way but if you refrain from using force, the end result could be better than you expected. Keep your goal in mind and do not become disheartened.
Irish Tree Oils and Essences associate the hawthorn with cleansing.
Tree Wisdom : The chapter about the Hawthorn is packed with brilliant information. Here I will mention just one critical point that confirms what indigenous peoples have always intuited: 'Modern science shows that hawthorn contains chemical components which are sedative, anti-spasmodic and diuretic, and this makes the plant a remarkable natural regulator of arterial blood pressure. Known as ‘valerian of the heart', hawthorn is most valuable as a heart stimulant, especially if the treatment is to be lengthy, because it lacks toxicity and does not accumulate in the body. It therefore brings a sense of tone and health to the heart, making the patient feel more alive and vital' (131).
Jacqueline Memory Paterson's magical associations are:
Ruling Planet: Mars (Traditional Ruler of Scorpio)
Abilities: Fertility. Guardian. Cleansing. Door to the Otherworld
Seasons: Spring (Beltane); Autumn
The Living Wisdom of Trees : 'Recent research also indicates that the hawthorn can have a positive effect on the heart and the circulation in less than one minute, thus supporting its traditional use as a quick-acting tonic to counteract fainting caused by low blood pressure'. To Fred Hageneder, who wrote the above quote, the hawthorn symbolizes purification, sacred marriage and male-female unity'.
Bridhid's Healing : Gina McGarry
Hawthorn likes to grow near people. It is completely non-toxic and is complementary with allopathic drugs. ‘Hawthorn strengthens the metaphysical heart and opens the passageways to get love flowing. She protects vulnerable emotions and imparts the courage to risk intimacy. Incorporate hawthorn in your rituals as incense, flower essence, tea and bath herb to heal and strengthen the heart, increase magical vibrations and invoke the blessings of the Good Folk.'
Tree Medicine Tree Magic : Ellen Evert Hopman
'Holy thorns grew near sacred wells where pilgrims would tear off bits of their clothing and hang them on the trees (a practice that continues to this day). These bits of clothing might be left as an offering after a cure or they might serve as prayer flags wafting their prayers for health and healing to the breezes…An interesting side light is that solitary hawthorn trees growing on hills or near sacred wells were considered to be markers that showed an entrance to the world of faery. The prayers were thus being offered to the fairies as well.'
And in A Druid's Herbal Ellen writes: ‘Cholesterol problems and valvular diseases benefited. The berries also strengthen the appetite and digestion. Extended use lowers blood pressure. Hawthorn berry is a good remedy for the nerves and for insomnia…Simmer two teaspoons of berries per cup of water for twenty minutes. The dose is a quarter cup four times a day'.
Associations that support placing Huathe at 216 degrees of the Wheel of Life
In numerology ambition is a key theme associated with the letter H, and at 216 degrees, it correlates with Mars, the traditional Ruler of Scorpio. Scorpio is Yin Mars, so the process is primarily internal, but from it can arise, personal initiative and genuine enterprise. Also in keeping with Mars, Hawthorn seems to strengthen the resolve to live.
'Hawthorn is the tree of Mars' – Ellen Evert Hopman
Erynn Rowan Laurie correlates Hawthorn with Pluto, which is co-ruler of Scorpio, and thus equally relevant to this position. She writes: ‘Pluto is the planet of subversion and transformation, bringing submerged pain and power to the surface, sometimes with volcanic force. Properly directed, Pluto can express great strength, but it is also capable of inflicting immense damage, and its energies must be used with care, just as with the energies of h-Úath (an alternative spelling of Huathe)
Like love, hawthorn strengthens the heart. Love and the heart are consistent themes that crop up with Hawthorn. Metaphysically this placement correlates with the Heart of the Earth Mother. Number 8 was known as the Ogdoad to the Pythagoreans (i.e. Gaia). The specific numerology involved here is 2 x 22 = 44 = 8. The 2-factor implies duality and so we can expect Love in both its sweetest and harshest of forms here.
As we approach Samhuin, we can also expect some die-hard beliefs to be challenged
By virtue of its natural timetable, hawthorn represents the energy-line from Beltane to Samhuin.
The forms of 8 and H suggest (albeit in different ways), the integration of the 'lower and the upper' parts of ourselves. Suggesting something similar are certain keywords as offered by the various authors quoted above such as 'reconciliation', 'sacred marriage', and 'the unity of male and female'.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote Duir, position 7
Gaelic Pronunciation: "DOO-r"
Scientific Name: Quercus robur, plant family: Fagaceae (Beech)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound D, for durability and determination
4th Harmonic (square to the 0 Aries point)
Number : 4 (because it initiates the 4th Segment of the Wheel)
Astrological Placement : Cusp of Gemini and Cancer
Moon Phase : First Quarter (square of Sun and Moon/aka waxing half-moon), the First Quarter Moon is associated with consciousness assuming a mortal form
Age : 21 years: key to the door!
Start of Second Quadrant of the Wheel: This is the Sensing Quadrant
Waning Sun and Waxing Moon
Chakra : Heart
Colour : Green for growth
Ogam : 2 strokes to the left or 2 strokes upwards from the stemline
Time of Year : Summer Solstice
Oaks can grow up to 35 metres in height, with a girth of between 9 and 12 metres to match. Well rounded and sturdy, this is a tree of great longevity.
The English Oak is a deciduous tree. Throughout winter the bare branches carry the closed buds of next year's leaves and catkins. As Beltane approaches, the new leaves and male catkins appear. These are followed by the female catkins, which will later become acorns. By mid-summer the leaves have darkened and thickened. As autumn approaches, the acorns ripen, changing colour from green to pale yellow to dark olive brown. Also during this time, the 'Lammas shoots' appear. These are new leafy pinky-gold shoots that turn green as they harden.
Observations and Comments by various authors:
Robert Graves calls June ‘The Oak Month', taking its name from Jupiter, the Oak God (176-177) . (This includes the Summer Solstice). In The Battle of the Trees, the Oak is swift and mighty; before him trembled heaven and earth.
From the Song of Amergin : D : I am a god who sets the head afire with smoke (inspiration); D is ruled by midsummer oak. (210). In keeping with Graves , The Celtic Astrology Chart places the Oak between June 10 and July 7 on the lunar calendar, and associates it with Dagda, king of the Gods, who carried a club made from oak, and a harp that could summon the seasons.
The Grove of the Druids, Chapter 7: Oak is a living embodiment of 'as above, so below' stretching from earth to heaven. Upon its acorns feed the swine, symbols of the Great Mother, known as Ceridwen in her sow form. The symphony of the great tree is one of three alchemic forms. Firstly the mothering quality of its great mass, and secondly the leaves bear a red gall, which relates to Mercury. Thirdly, the Oak also bears the mistletoe, which is closely linked to the Moon Phases. The Oak is then preeminently a Mother Goddess, Moon and Mercury Tree. (Comment: In Pan's Script this relates to its position on the cusp of Gemini, which is ruled by Mercury, and Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon). The ‘golden' acorns represent the Sun and also Jupiter, which purge this 'stone of matter'. Sky = Crown, it is masculine; Earth = The Chalice-shaped Root System, which is feminine. In the Oak, the two meet.
The Book of Ogham : Deities and Heroes whose Names begin with D include a pair of foundational deities: Dagda, the archetypal father and Danu, the archetypal mother.
Celtic Tree Mysteries : The oak is home to a large variety of bird, animal, and insect life. In the Word Ogam of Morainn, oak is called 'the highest of bushes'. In the Word Ogam of Cuchulain, oak is associated with 'kneeling work, bright and shining work.' In the Word Ogam of Aonghus, D equates with craft work, or perhaps a carpenter's work.
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees: 'Oak is a sign of progress, as if a door stands ahead of you... (and)...you also become a doorway for others…'Oak is one of the eight chieftain trees listed in the Book of Ballymote and was valued not only for its wood but for its sheltering role in woodland and field' (86-7). Oak has a tendency to attract lightening, and so one of the main storylines relates to the Celtic God called Taranis, who used the metaphorical powers of thunder and lightening to protect and further the human cause. Keywords include: Endurance, established strength, strong foundation and responsible vocation.
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : Erynn Rowan Laurie divides her interpretations into 3 strands: chthonic , which equates with the physical body and the here-and-now world, oceanic , which equates with the depths of the sea, the heart, emotions, and misty places, and celestial , which equates with the sky realm and expresses the way that Spirit interacts with the physical.
In divination, the chthonic strand of Duir evokes stability, firmness, and endurance. It presages strength and longevity in people, institutions, and ideas.
The oceanic current speaks of great effort, pushing through with all your strength and your will. The liminal places within the mist are indicated; gateways and thresholds. Duir can also represent a grove or nemeton, where deity and humanity meet between the realms.
The celestial strand relates to truth and skill. People indicated by this fid in a reading are usually trustworthy and the circumstances surrounding them will be reliable.
In healing, Duir lends strength and endurance to muscle, bone, and the internal systems. 'With those in hospital, it can be used to work for strength to endure surgery, chemotherapy, or other physically exhausting treatments' (85).
Blue Feather's Herbal: Randall White names the Oak as another one of the seven Native American Grandfather trees, relating it to a time when Magic and Medicine were one art. Mature acorns can be peeled, roasted and ground into coffee or leached of bitterness and used as bread dough. They are full of protein. Both bark and leaves have up to 20% tannin, which can be made into tea and can tan hides. It has astringent qualities – a compress for inflamed eyes and a gargle for throat infections – a decoction of inner bark will bring up phlegm from the lungs. Blue Feather says: “Oaks are great communicators”.
A Druid's Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman:
Parts used: inner bark (cambium) and young leaves (gathered before midsummer)
For the leaf use two teaspoons per cup and steep for twenty minutes
For the bark use one tablespoon per cup and simmer for twenty minutes
English Oak (Quercus robur) can be used both internally and externally. The tea brings down fevers, treats diarrhea, and makes a wash for sores. Up to three cups a day may be safely taken. As a gargle, it treats mouth sores and sore throats. Being an astringent, it helps to stop internal bleeding.
As a Bach Flower Remedy it is used for strong people who are struggling, beyond the limits of their endurance
Irish Tree Oils & Essences associate oak with the digestive system and the ability to learn from life, and also the power of endurance
Tree Wisdom: A tree of great longevity, oaks can live for more than 700 years. The roots are deep and wide, giving the tree a good grip on the earth. Oak leaves make a good tonic wine. Because the wood is so hard, closely grained and water resistant, it was used for bridges and ships. As well as strength, the wood has beauty and adds warmth to a home. It was therefore used to make doors and furniture
Jacqueline Memory Paterson suggests these magical associations:
Ruling Planet: Jupiter
Abilities: Inner strength, and solid protection
Seasons: Summer and autumn
Associations that support placing Duir at 90 degrees:
The Oak is at the height of its strength at the Summer Solstice: the Godhead of the oak was regarded as akin to the Godhead of the Sun, and the energy of the oak, like the sun, is at its height around midsummer (Tree Wisdom,191)
‘At the Summer Solstice when the sun is at its height in the heavens, the oak represent its strength and its powerful ability to ripen the harvest that will feed the people. This is the time of the sacred marriage between heaven and earth, when the power of the sun-god impregnates the earth-goddess with its future self' (Tree Wisdom,185-6)
'in his leaves shines full the summer's bliss' – Anon
Across the whole of Bronze-Age Europe, Indo-Europeans cultures associated the oak tree with their weather gods, particularly those of thunder and lightning…Zeus (the Roman Jupiter) was a lightning god who became the principle deity in ancient Greece . His career started in the famous oracular grove of Dodona, and his tree was the oak (The Living Wisdom of Trees by Fred Hageneder, 175). Jupiter is exalted in Cancer, which is where the oak is placed in Pan's Script .
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote Tinne, position 8
Gaelic Pronunciation: "CHIN-yuh"
Scientific Name: Ilex aquifolium, plant family: Holly
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound T (the third member of the 4 th harmonic)
Linguistically T and D are somewhat interchangeable, especially in Dutch and German. They sound so alike that small children often confuse them.
Number : 10 (note the similarity between the words Ten and Tinne)
Astrological Placement : Cusp of Sagittarius and Capricorn
Moon Phase : Last Quarter Moon (aka waning half-moon), which astrologically symbolizes a crisis of consciousness
Age : 63 years
Start of Fourth Quadrant of the Wheel: This is the Intuiting Quadrant
Waxing Sun and Waning Moon
Chakra : Higher or Universal Heart
Colour : Grey
Ogam : 3 strokes to the left
Time of Year : Winter Solstice
Holly trees are evergreen and can grow to 25 metres in height. They have prickly leaves. From Steve Blamires: ‘The male and female trees both bear small, lightly scented flowers, but it is only the female tree that bears the distinctive red berries. Its bark starts out smooth and green, but grows gray and rougher as the tree ages.'
The Holly blooms at Beltane : tiny pink flowers with white centers. The leaves are soft in summer but harden in the winter months to prevent animals eating them. In this way the holly protects the new spines coming through. As autumn approaches, the female flowers transform into red berries, which are poisonous to people, but not to birds.
Observations and Comments by various authors
The White Goddess : Graves speaks of Tinne-Holly as central to the Trilithon in one tradition, replacing the Oak. He describes them as twins and suggests that Tannus/Tinne/Tinnus relieves his oak-twin of the burden of carrying life on his shoulders (280) .
The Book of Druidry : Holly is associated with winter's blood (156)
Natural Magic : The Holly and the Ivy are celebrated as Winter Solstice Trees, along with the Mistletoe
In The Book of Ogham , Edred Thorsson associates the T-few with Trefuilngid Tre-Eochair: a primordial deity associated with the natural order of things, and Tigernmas who is associated with the crafts of metallurgy and the weaving of tartans as clan insignia
Celtic Tree Mysteries : In the Word Ogam of Morainn, T equals a third of a wheel. In the Word Ogam of Cuchulain, T equals a third of weapons, an iron bar. In the Word Ogam of Aonghus, T equals fires of coal. Steve Blamires comments on the metaphorical significance of the wheel and weaponry, that the former helps us to progress while the latter removes obstacles.
Compare this with the same texts as interpreted by Erynn Rowan Laurie in Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : In the word ogam of Morainn, T equates with 'a third of a wheel, i.e. axle'. In the word ogam of Con Culainn, T equates with 'a third of a weapon, i.e. a bar of iron or metal blade'. In the word ogam of Mac ind Óc, T equates with 'fires of coal, i.e. iron, marrow of charcoal i.e. molten ingot'. Thus, Erynn associates Tinne with 'ingot' or ‘bar of metal'. She selects 'mastery' as her keyword, and in healing situation invokes it for hand-eye coordination.
'In its most general sense, Tinne deals with issues of creativity, work, and material prosperity' (86). Tinne's oceanic current is the creative force that can be harnessed to manifest new inventions. 'This current is also the transforming fire of the forge, and what is being forged, still brilliant and glowing' (87). 'The celestial energies of Tinne are concerned with the ideals of making, and with breaking through blocks in your creativity, allowing you to achieve mastery over technologies, whether they are magical, spiritual, metaphorical, or physical' (88).
(In case you are confused: the Word Ogam of Cuchulain = the Word Ogam of Con Culainn, and the Word Ogam of Aonghus = the Word Ogam of Mac ind Óc; they are different ways of saying the same thing. Generally speaking, the Word Ogam of Morainn is more literal & physical, the Word Ogam of Aonghus Mac ind Óc, the Celtic God of Love, more oceanic & heart centred, and the Word Ogam of Cuchulain (Con Culainn), the Celtic warrior, son of Lugh, God of Light, more celestial in nature (i.e.about the way the otherworld and this world interact).
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : 'Holly…is named in Gaelic, tinne, originally derived, according to (Damian) Mc Manus, from the Old Irish words tend "strong" or tind "brilliant" (23 ). Holly is also associated with weapons and wounding, challenge and self defense. Keywords include testing, trials, transformation and tempering. 'Oak represents the power of the waxing half of the year that comes to fruition with the Summer Solstice, while Holly, with its aura of challenge and darkness, marks the beginning of the waning half, culminating in the Winter Solstice. This is why, to this day, holly is associated with Christmas, whose date corresponds to midwinter (December 22-25) in the northern hemisphere' (94) . The similarity in the sounds of the consonants D and T is noted (Duir and Tinne). There are two storylines that shed light on the metaphorical significance of the Holly. The first is about Gawain: 'In one of his hands he had a spray [club] of holly, which is at its greenest when the woods are bare'. And from the second story, about Gogmagog: ‘in his hand he had three spears of Hollywood scorched and blackened' Paul Rhys Mountfort intuits this as spears scorched and blackened by the fires of transformation. A third story line invites us to contemplate the Word Ogams more deeply, relating the wheel to the wheel of life as spun by the 3 Fates/Norns/Weaving Sisters: ‘The three women went then to the opening of a cave that was in the hills, and there they sat down together, and they put three strong enchanted hanks of yarn on crooked holly sticks, and began to reel them off…'
Bach Flower Remedy : Holly is prescribed for oversensitivity, anger, aggression, jealousy, envy, irritability and bitterness. Holly helps to open the spiritual heart.
From Glennie Kindred The Sacred Tree : 'Holly is a herb of protection, from disturbed spirits or elementals, and from lightning strikes. It also protects us from ourselves if our emotions have become out of control with feelings of jealousy, envy, hatred, thoughts of revenge or suspicion, if we have become over sensitive, finding faults with others and being very irritable. Using a holly flower essence or meditating with a holly tree will help transform these emotions so that you can move beyond them to feel love towards others and yourself'.
Irish Tree Oils and Essences : Holly is associated with the skeletal system
(Comment: Saturn is also associated with the skeletal system and Saturn correlates with this position in the Pan's Script model. This implies that Holly would be useful when we need to stand strong in the world).
A Druid's Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman:
Part used: Leaf of English Holly ( Ilex aquifolium ) The leaf is dried and used as tea for fevers, bronchitis, bladder problems, and gout. Steep a half ounce of the chopped leaf in boiled water for twenty minutes; take up to one cup a day. The juice of the fresh leaf is helpful in jaundice; take one tablespoon per day.
Homeopathic uses: Holly can be used as a substitute for quinine…for intermittent fevers, spleen pain, and eye symptoms, especially when the symptoms are better in winter.
Magical uses: Holly, with its warrior-like bristles, is known as an herb of protection. Cast it about to repel unwanted animals and spirits. Sprinkle newborn babies with “holly water” (water in which holly has been soaked, especially if left under a full moon overnight) to keep them happy and safe. Holly is one of the evergreens brought into the home by Druids. It symbolizes a willingness to allow the nature spirits to share one's abode during the harsh, cold season (35-6).
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve :
Collect leaves between Beltane and the Summer Solstice.
'They should be stripped off the tree on a dry day, the best time being about noon, when there is no longer any trace of dew on them. Any stained or insect-eaten leaves must be rejected' (407). Drink regular infusions of fresh or dried leaves to treat catarrhal coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia and influenza - it is an expectorant (loosens accumulations of phlegm in lungs, sinus cavities & bronchial passages, so it is easily coughed up). The leaves are also a useful diuretic (stimulates the flow of urine, cleansing & promoting the health of the kidneys; allows waste and toxins to flush through the body).
Culpepper: 'the bark and leaves are good used as fomentation for broken bones'
The Oak and Holly Kings embody the seasonal forces associated with the light and dark periods of the year, respectively. Whilst the oak courts the lightning flash, the spikes of the holly act like miniature lightning conductors, granting the tree immunity. In a magical sort of way, holly protects against evil spirits, poisons, angry elementals, thunder and lightning. Holly wood burns hot and was used by the smith to forge weapons. The Holly and the Ivy represent the male and female forces of nature: the fiery outward-seeking of the male, and the tenacious inward-seeking of the female. As Holly relates to Mars, so Ivy relates the spiraling cycles of the Moon.
( Comment: Astrologically, Mars is exulted in Capricorn, where the Holly is placed in the Pan's Script model, and the Moon is exalted in Taurus, where Ivy is placed in the same system)
'Most of holly's healing qualities are on the subtle planes, where by its presence or by taking its remedies it helps us transform our 'prickly' bits and improves our reaction to the world'. Holly helps us to look on the world with a more generous eye.
Jacqueline Memory Paterson suggests these magical associations:
Ruling Planet: Mars
(NB: Mars is exalted in Capricorn, which is ruled by mid-winter Saturn)
Abilities: Protection, clear wisdom and courage
Element: Fire (Tinne means fire)
Associations that support placing Tinne at 270 degrees:
In Tree Wisdom, Jacqueline Memory Paterson presents a strong case for the placement of Holly at Midwinter. She believes that the Midsummer placement (advocated by some authors) exacerbates the prickly, martial and volatile energies of the holly and should be avoided.
'According to the old traditions, the sun-god has traveled through the Underworld since he gave his life to the crops the previous autumn and he is now “reborn”, the sun's appearance from under the horizon symbolizing the birth (from the earth-goddess). So his birth begins the new solar year and thereafter he enters the Land of Youth until he is strong enough to climb up into the heavens….Yet at the moment of the Winter Solstice the sun-god is weak, like any other newborn, and he and the earth-goddess need a strong and protective guardian. What tree is a better guardian than the holly?' (43)
As the Holly wanes in power, the power of the Pine waxes, thus, within the circle of life, we may perceive the Holly as a guardian of the energies of life in the midst of death
Oak is King of Summer or worldly existence whilst Holly is King of Winter, and spiritual existence. They guard the extremities of life. The Pan's Script model reveals that Duir and Tinne operate as a polarity – Libido and Thanatos - the twin gatekeepers of life and death.
If Duir represents the affliction of the worldly life such as disease, then Tinne represents the tests and trials of the spiritual life. And if Duir represents the glory of worldly life then Tinne represents the glory of the spiritual life: the triumph over death in particular. Thus Duir is deciduous whilst the Holly is evergreen.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Coll, position 9
Gaelic Pronunciation: "KWALL"
Scientific Name: Corylus avellana, plant family: Betulaceae (Birch)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound C (6th harmonic)
Number: 3 (it initiates the 3rd Segment of the Wheel)
Astrological Placement: On the cusp of Taurus and Gemini: the angle formed between this position and the starting point is called a Sextile and denotes a harmonious exchange of energy
Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent Moon
Age : 14
First Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Thinking Quadrant
Waxing Sun and Waxing Moon
Chakra : Solar Plexus
Colour : Yellow
Ogam: 4 straight strokes to the left, or upwards from the stemline
Time of Year : Early Summer (between Beltane and Summer Solstice)
The Hazel Tree grows to an average height of six metres. Suited to cool climates, it thrives in damp places. Plentiful in copses, its smooth reddish brown stems are tough and elastic. It has alternating leaves that are roundish in shape and deeply veined.
During late winter, and heralding spring, the long yellow male catkins fill with pollen and hang like golden tassels on the bare branches. Then in early spring , the beautiful lime green leaves begin to appear. The small, red, star-shaped female buds catch the wind-born pollen released by the male catkins and carry it to the seeds. Gradually these transform into hard green nuts, which are ripe by the Autumn Equinox . (They are edible as soon as they can be easily removed from their covering). Scarcely has the Hazel lost its nuts when the male catkins begin to re-form. The leaves stay on the tree longer than most deciduous trees, quite often hanging on until winter.
Observations and Comments by various authors
The Celtic Tree Oracle associates the Hazel with meditation and mediation, poetic skill and generally acting as a channel for the type of creative activity that increases our capacity to help others. The Hazel acts as a catalyst that brings ideas to the surface. (Comment: the entire above relates to being on the cusp of Numbers 2 & 3).
The Book of Druidry : the hazel nuts belong to the 'otherworld' as much as this one (156).
The Book of Ogham : The C-few portends that you will become a facilitator of self-discovery in another, or an arbitrator in a conflict. Alternatively, you will receive knowledge from another, or will have your own conflict mediated. Deities and Heroes whose Names begin with C include the Cailleach. Edred Thorsson provides an excellent account of the adventures of Cormac who went to the Otherworld in order to bring back his wife, son and daughter. They had been abducted by Manannan mac Lir. Whilst in the Otherworld, Cormac sighted a spring with nine hazels. As their nuts fell into the water, exquisite music was heard. The salmon in the pool separated the fruits from their shells, sending the husks down five streams. These correlate with the five senses through which knowledge comes. 'Manannan says that to become one of the “people of many arts” one would have to drink both directly from the spring as well as from the streams' (149).
Celtic Tree Mysteries : As usual the Word Ogams are cryptic but the textual reference is clear: Coll, fair wood that is Hazel everyone is eating of its nuts. In the Word Ogam of Morainn, C equals fairest of trees. In the Word Ogam of Cuchulain, C equals sweetest of woods, a nut. In the Word Ogam of Aonghus, C equals friend of cracking. The modern Gaelic name for the Hazel Tree is Calltuinn, which means ‘the loss of something'. Among other things, and particularly relevant to its position within the Wheel of Life, Steve Blamires associates Hazelnuts with a means of attaining ‘lost' or ‘hidden' knowledge. Likewise, fork-shaped Hazel branches are favored by dowsers in their search for waterways and missing objects. In the sequence of the Ogam, the Hazel is the first tree where the fruit plays an important role in its own right. Steve Blamires links this tree with Bridget. (Comment: Bridget is also associated with inspiration, which in one sense is the ‘fire in the head' and in another ‘a process of drawing water from the hidden places within our ancestral memory').
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : Paul Rhys Mountfort offers a number of key phrases for divining the meaning of the Hazel including the 'springs of knowledge', and 'grounding knowledge'. From the storylines: In wisdom poetry ‘the flesh of the hazel is a metaphor for spiritual nourishment and illumination. This universal theme has a specifically Celtic twist: the cracking of the shell relates to the penetration of the poetic kennings…and the kernel becomes its inner truth or meaning' (97).
Tree Medicine, Tree Magic: Ellen Evert Hopman tells us that 'The hazel tree was venerated by the ancient Celts for having a special association with sacred springs and wells. To the Celts, water was seen as the entrance o the Otherworld and offerings could be made to the Gods by dropping hazel-nuts into lakes and wells. Connla's Well is described in the Dindsenchas, an early Irish poem. It was located near Tipperary, under the Nine Hazels of Poetry that gave their flowers (beauty) and fruit (wisdom) simultaneously. Sacred salmon swimming in the well swallowed the nuts as they fell into the water and developed one bright spot on their skin for every nut they consumed.These nuts were said to give birth to all the knowledge of art and science' (p 67)
The Living Wisdom of Trees
'In Welsh myth, King Arthur and his companions search for the divine child, Mabon ap Modron, the “Son of the Great Mother”. After a long journey, a magic salmon eventually takes them to the mythical well where they find the boy under a hazel tree. The Celts considered the hazel to be a “tree of knowledge”. This myth demonstrates that the wisdom of the hazel is not the wisdom of great age and experience, but that of simplicity and innocence'
To Fred Hageneder, author of the above, the Hazel symbolizes playfulness and enchantment. Like others, he associates the Hazel astrologically with Mercury. (Comment: this quote adds weight to a youthful age correspondent).
From Cormac: the Seers : ‘Cromlach had a forked rod of Coll, the strong sapling of the hazel branch, and with it, he proceeded to demonstrate to her the means of detecting the Earth-paths of the Mother. “These are the spirit lines of the Great Mother…You see how the branch jumps? …stand and walk back towards that point again…hold the rod in front of you, straight out like so…slowly…you have found a path…this spirit-path is directly in line with the Koad…now you know why the Elders chose that particular place…These lines spiral across the Earth and cocoon the Mother energy' (pp 189-190)
Deep in the salmon pool of forgetfulness
Lie the nuts of knowledge from the hazel tree
And little by little the salmon of wisdom nibbles
And little by little she remembers the sea (Dwina Murphy-Gibb in Cormac: the Seers, p 239)
Irish Tree Oils and Essences associate Hazel with intuition.
Tree Wisdom: The Hazel was called the 'poet's tree' because its presence stimulates the intuitional senses. It can catalyze leaps in thinking and perception just as the mythical salmon of wisdom leaps through the water on its journey home. Pilgrim's staffs were made from Hazel. ‘The greatest healing provided by hazel is found in its atmosphere. Being near hazel trees or meditating upon a piece of hazel brings the spirit alive and allows us to quickly cast off the old and move on to the new' (69).
Jacqueline Memory Paterson's magical associations are:
Ruling Planet: Mercury (nuts); Sun (plant)
Abilities: Intuition, divination and dowsing
Seasons: Spring (Imbolc) and Autumn: the Hazel is powerful in spring when its energy is surging outwardly and again in autumn when its energy is contained within the nuts.
Associations that support placing Coll at 60 degrees of the Circle:
During early summer there is a transformation occurring within the seeds. We can't see it anymore than we can see the transformation of a thought within the brain, yet during this time the red styles of the female flowers, having already caught the pollen, are disappearing, as the pollinated seeds are becoming kernels that will support the continuation of the tree in the future. In other words the energy of the Hazel is active inwardly during the time correspondent of late spring/early summer.
The nuts are associated with wisdom borne of inspired thought, just as within the Wheel of Life, the Hazel is placed in the Thinking Quadrant
The Hazel is associated with Mercury, which rules Gemini. Both are associated with the Element Air and mercurial or rapid thinking.
This placement reinforces everything written in Pan's Script about the Letter C. Sitting on the cusp between Numbers 2 & 3, "C" catalyzes conflict (2 as duality) and conciliation (2 as bringing opposing ideas together). The former can lead to the latter, which in turn leads to a deeper consideration of the matter at hand. Eventually this can bring fresh insight about 'self and other'.
The Hazel Nut is often linked to the Salmon of Knowledge, and both salmon and hazelnuts are prized sources of protein. This metaphorically relates to brain food, mental strength and agility, as well as the development of the imagination by tapping into ancestral memories.
The association of the Hazel Nut with Mercury/Gemini/and Number 3 reinforces the connection between the Hazel and the exercising of the imagination in the quest for forgotten wisdom.
The 60 degree position at the portal of Number 3, sits well with the Hazel being the 9th letter of the Ogam Alphabet. 3-6-9 is a well established concord in numerology and in Pan's Script is associated with spatial intelligence: knowing one's way around (either physically or metaphysically or both).
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Quert, position 10
Gaelic Pronunciation: "KWAIRT"
Scientific Name: Malus sylvestris, plant family: Rosaceae (Rose): this is the Wild Apple or Crab Apple, native to Britain and ancestor to the cultivated varieties
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound Q (5th harmonic)
Number: 3 (because it lies within the 3rd Segment of the Wheel)
Astrological Placement: Gemini, after G, C & Kat 72 degrees : the angle formed between this position and the starting point is called a Quintile, and is associated with the endowment of a specific creative gift
Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent Moon
Age : ~ 17 years
First Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Thinking Quadrant
NB: The entire 1st Quadrant is a time of Quickening
Chakra : Solar Plexus
Colour : Yellow
Ogam: 5 straight strokes to the left or upwards from the stemline
Time of Year : Early Summer, approaching the Solstice
The Wild Apple closely resembles the cultivated varieties, differing mainly in the flavor of the fruit, which is bitter. It is a bushy tree that under the right conditions can grow up to ten meters tall. Along with the Rowan, Hawthorn and Blackthorn, the Apple belongs to the Rose Family of Plants and as such, the truly wild Crab Apple has thorns on its branches. Its large bisexual flowers have five heart-shaped white petals, which are often tinged with pink.
The Apple is a deciduous tree. Bare in winter , its leaf buds unfold in early spring . During the season of Beltane, the flower buds open and exude a fragrance similar to Honeysuckle. These blossoms attract large numbers of bees and other insects, which facilitates cross-pollination. By autumn the flowers have transformed into fruits: bunches of yellow apples, flushed with red. Around the same time, the leaves turn brown or a ruddy gold colour, and sometimes the leaf stems become bright red.
Observations and Comments by various authors
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve : Apples are a good diuretic and neutralize the acid that causes gout and indigestion. The acids within apples make it helpful in the digestion of other foods (and relieve constipation)
The White Goddess : Quert refers to the wild apple, and this connects it with Olwen, as the laughing Aphrodite of the Welsh tradition (42). The Apple was one of the 7 Irish Chieftain trees and considered highly sacred. The reason for this is because of the pentagram of pips one sees upon cutting it crossways. On page 258 Graves writes that Curoi's soul was hidden in an apple. In other words, the 5-pointed star is an emblem of immortality.
The Book of Druidry also names the Apple as the fruit of autumn, kept through winter for food in the dead time of the year. Ross Nichols alludes to the profound significance that it was the Apple, which tempted Eve to attain the knowledge of good and evil. (Comment: The knowledge of good and evil relates to Gemini & Mercury and we are in their segment of the Wheel of Life)
Mara Freeman: Bird song, women, a heavenly fragrance and enchantment are images associated with the apple. The longed-for Land of Light, these days called Avalon, was once known as Avallack, the place of apples: ‘The apple tree is associated with the magical isle across the seas presided over by an Otherworldly Queen'. Ms Freeman has found some wonderful stories associated with the apple as nourishment: ‘A magical apple once aided the hero Cuchullain who was given one along with a wheel to help him cross the “plain of ill-luck”; the wheel helped him cross the first half, and the apple guided him safely across the rest'. Another story tells of a quest ‘to bring back three golden apples of health that grew on a crystal tree in the middle of the king's garden. Conn-eda was successful and planted seeds from the apples in his garden at home. A huge tree bearing similar apples sprung up and caused all the trees around to bear fruit, and all crops in the vicinity to flourish'.
The next story relates the Garden of Hesperides and the colour gold: ‘the colour of burned gold, and they are the size of the head of a child a month old, and there is the taste of honey on them, and they do not leave the pain of wounds or the vexation of sickness on anyone who eats them, and they do not lessen by being eaten'. (Personal Comment: I once had a meditation wherein I saw an apple that never diminished, no matter how bites many you took from it, and so I have come to associate it with the bounty of the Mother Earth).
Book of Ogham tends to emphasize the connection between the Apple and the sweet music of the Otherworld. In the Land of Promise , the warrior spied a silver branch from which hung three golden apples. 'This branch, called the cradbh ciuil in Irish, made sweet music which inspired joy' (153).
Celtic Tree Mysteries : The connection between Q and the previous letter is made clear in the Scholar's Primer : ‘Where C stands before U it is Quert that is to be written'. Steve Blamires notes that the two letters together C and U form the word cu which means “wolf” or “hound” and was synonymous with “warrior” as in Cuchulain. He believes that when we read the tales of such warriors we should therefore mentally substitute the word Quert, and realize that such stories were as much magical combats as physical ones. The Apple Tree thus correlates with the warrior-magician who has to work in more than one world at a time. ‘This is the “force of a man” referred to in the Word Ogam of Aonghus' (144). The other Word Ogams can likewise be understood in terms of shamanic journeys and powers. In the Word Ogam of Morainn, Q equals 'shelter of hind, lunatic, death sense, the time when a lunatic's senses come back to him', and thus 'shelter of lunatics'. And in the Word Ogam of Cuchulain, Q equals 'excellent emblem; protection'. Steve Blamires points out that lunacy might refer to the ability to travel in the Otherworld and to the ability to shape shift. During such Otherworld sojourns, the magician dies to this world until the senses related to this world return. Furthermore: 'Shamen and poets carried apple branches as symbols of their office' (as well as an emblem of protection).
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : ‘This tree-letter is an embodiment of health and vitality, the “force of man” or woman…it often signifies healing, regeneration and wholeness after suffering'. Paul Rhys Mountfort offers a beautiful visualization that unites several themes: ‘An apple tree with branches of silver and fruits of gold in a grove on an island in the sea, illuminated by the rays of the sun' (100).
Bach Flower Remedy : Apple assists the curing of self-dislike, over-anxiety and fastidiousness (Comment: over-anxiety in particular, relates to Gemini)
Irish Tree Oils and Essences associate the apple with decisiveness and the nervous system. Its affirmation is: “I trust the pulse of life”.
Tree Wisdom: Apples famous and infamous are associated with women. In tales related to the Isles of the Blessed, 3 sacred apples grew upon the Tree of Knowledge and these 3 relate to other magical three's including the 3 Drops of Inspiration and 3 Rays of Light.
The Living Wisdom of Trees
Symbolism: health and fertility
Malus is a genus of the large rose family, which also includes the pear (Pyrus) and the plum (Prunus). Apple with honey has been a remedy for heart problems since ancient times. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, apples are categorized as cool, sweet and sour, and tone yin. They produce fluids, lubricate the lungs, enhance digestion and detoxification, and increase the blood sugar level. In Ayurveda, apples are regarded as sweet and astringent.
Many writers referred to every type of golden or red fruit as apples; hence the “apples” in some legends may be the red fruits of the yew trees or golden quinces of the Hesperides. The original Hebrew text of the bible mentions a fruit in the Garden of Eden, not specifically an apple. - Fred Hageneder (124 & 127)
Associations that support placing Quert at 72 degrees of the Circle
The Pan's Script correspondences match with the colour of Crab apples, which are mostly yellow, and yellow is associated with the mind. During summer (the time correspondent) the flowers are in the process of being transformed into fruit. The yellow colour suggests mental ‘fruit' while the metaphysical golden colour, per the Garden of Hesperides, suggests spiritual ‘fruit'. Gemini & Mercury (the astral correspondences), further imply that what is being transformed at a metaphysical level, is one's attitude or perception of life. Being an apple (rather than some other plant), tells us that upon this transformed attitude hinges the nourishment or lack of it that one will feel during the winter months, following the harvest. In other words, knowledge can sustain us when the going gets tough. The association of the Apple with Love suggests that the quest for knowledge and inspiration is ideally inspired by Love.
3 sacred apples grew upon the Tree of Knowledge: Note the association with Number 3 and Knowledge. Inspiration in general and poetic inspiration in particular, also correlates with Mercury/Gemini/Number 3.
The 5-pointed star within the Apple correlates with the 5th Harmonic and the Quintile. The Quintile is renowned for showcasing talent, just as the Apple Tree showcases its beautiful fruit.
Notice how the quest for knowledge continues on from the previous tree. In both cases this quest accompanies the desire to bring forth edible fruits. If we think about the symbolism of this it could mean that the quest for knowledge is inspired by the desire to bring forth, from the soul, something that is life-sustaining. This 'something' is our gift to the current generation and the generations to come.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote: Muin , position 11
Gaelic Pronunciation: "MUHN"
Scientific Name: Vitis vinifera, plant family: Vitaceae (Grape)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound M (third member of the 8th harmonic)
Number: Numerologically speaking M is complex. It sits in the heart of Number 5's segment on the Wheel of Life, yet it is our 13 th letter and 13 reduces to 4 (significantly this whole Quadrant is ruled by the 4 th Ray). In the Hebrew Alphabet M corresponds to Number 40, which also reduces to a 4 and in the Kabala the letter M is called a Mother letter. This suggests that M is the feminine aspect of the Sun: its mothering or nurturing qualities. Seldom is Leo recognized as having this side to his/her nature but it certainly fits our model.
Astrological Placement: 15 degrees Leo , forming a 135 degree angle to the starting point, called the waxing sesquisquare, which is associated with creative struggle.
Moon Phase : Cusp of First Quarter and Waxing Gibbous
Age : 31-32
Midpoint of the Second Quadrant of the Wheel: (Sensation Quadrant)
Waning Sun and Waxing Moon
Chakra : Throat
Colour : Sky blue
Ogam: 1 diagonal stroke across the stemline
Time of Year : Lughnasadh
Although most commonly seen in cultivation, the grape vine still grows wild near the edge of forests in America . It grows to about 35 metres in length. From Steve Blamires: 'It has many long, meandering branches, which are incapable of supporting their own weight, and relies on long, thin, but strong tendrils, which sprout from the main stem and entwine themselves around trees and other structures' (Celtic Tree Mysteries p. 147). The fruit of the vine hang in characteristic bunches.
The sprouting of the new buds takes place around the Spring Equinox. This causes the development of the leaves, the resumption of photosynthesis and the production of sugar. From the beginning of Beltane, the flowers begin to bloom. By the Summer Solstice, these blossoms are pollinated, and the berries are beginning to develop. From Lughnasadh, these begin to ripen and change colour. Autumn is the harvest time. After harvesting the vine rests, having absorbed sufficient carbohydrates in its trunk to survive the winter.
The vine is a robust and tenacious plant that has a remarkable ability to adapt to many different environments and climates. It grows best in a tempered climate but can survive the cold. Over 99% of wine comes from Vitis vinifera . During the fourth or fifth year in the vine's age, the grapes are suitable for wine production. Peak productivity is recorded between 12 & 25 years, after which productivity lessens but quality continues to increase.
And from other websites: The origin of the Vitis genus belongs to the Tertiary era (65 – 1.6 million years ago). It began as a mere creeper and evolved into the magnificent fruit that we enjoy today.
Observations and Comments by various authors
The White Goddess : Relevant to our model are the associations that Robert Graves makes with Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, and the Muses. The golden vine is thus associated with joy, exhilaration, ecstasy (Dionysus), and wrath. Graves correlates the vine with September 2-29, which is the harvesting time, and one month after Lughnasadh.
The Book of Druidry : 'The vine represents inspiration' (p 156)
The Book of Ogham : Deities associated with the M-few include Manannan mac Lir, Lord of the Land beneath the Sea, who shaped the underworld realm of the Sidhe, Morfessa, “Master of Great Knowledge”, and Morrighan, “Queen of Phantoms” and leader of warrior-goddesses who have mastered the art of magic. The divinatory meaning of Muin is the intertwining of the conscious and subconscious mind and the release from the constraints of logic (Comment: this correlates with Number 5).
Celtic Tree Mysteries : In the Word Ogam of Morainn, M equals strongest of effect, ARDAM MAISI, highest of beauty and MUIN equals back of man or ox for it is they in existence that are strongest as regards effort. In the Word Ogam of Cuchulain, M equals pack of wolves with spears, and TRE MUIN, three vines. In the Word Ogam of Aonghus, M equals the condition of slaughter. Another meaning of Muin is to teach. ‘This is an extension of the properties of the apple, which is also closely connected with divine inspiration'. The Vine is also a uniting tree because it ‘spreads itself across to join another tree, and so on without limit'. ‘The Ogam notch for the vine is the first to straddle the central stem-line, as if the notch is meandering off in search of others upon which to rest and grow' (pp 149-150).
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : 'Muin, vine, is a tree letter of work completed and consequent celebration' (pp 104-5). Muin is widely identified with the grape, a vine that was introduced to Britain in the Bronze Age. ‘There were also liquor-producing vines other than the grape cultivated in the old Celtic world for their intoxicating qualities…Some commentators identify this tree-letter as “bramble” (blackberry) or mulberry'. The mystery of the fermenting of the honey or fruit was a metaphor for the transformation of the initiate (p. 106). Paul Rhys Mountfort suggests that the 'condition of slaughter' may refer to the plying of warriors with intoxicating liquor before battle. (Metaphorically, this might also be relevant to the pack of wolves with spears).
Bach Flower Remedy : Vine is used when someone is continually overriding the thoughts and feelings of others.
Irish Tree Oils and Essences associate the vine with the circulatory system and allowing the flow of love: “I allow love to flow freely through me”. (Comment: this theme relates to the Sign of Leo)
Associations that support placing Muin at 135 degrees of the Circle:
Although Autumn Equinox is the designated 'Harvest Time', the period just prior to the harvest is critical to its success. Lughnasadh signals the beginning of the veraision phase, when the fruits ripen and change colour. During this time, the sugar and tartaric acid inside the berries becomes increasingly concentrated. The actual time of the harvest varies, depending somewhat on the use to be made of the fruit, whether it is for jelly, juice or wine. During the pre-harvest phase the grapes are continually checked for taste, colour, aroma and texture. Grapes do not mature evenly, and so the harvest time varies somewhat for this reason as well.
The light-filled grape accords with the brightness of Leo.
Adaptability is a key word associated with Number 5 and the Vitis genus has adapted to more global climates than any other.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Gort, position 12
Gaelic Pronunciation: "GORT"
Scientific Name: Hedera helix, plant family: Araliaceae (Ginseng)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound G (7th harmonic) and G is the 7th letter in the English alphabet.
G can be soft like J and hard like C. Thus it has a 2-prong nature
Number : 2 (because it lies within the 2nd Segment of the Wheel)
In the Hebrew Alphabet G as Gimel is associated thus with Number 3, which suggests that in the Letter G the Numbers 2 & 3 mix and mingle. We are only 9 degrees away from Gemini and Gemini corresponds with Number 3.
Astrological Placement: Taurus 22
Moon Phase : Waxing Crescent
Age : 12
First Quadrant, which is the Thinking Quadrant
Waxing Sun and Waxing Moon
Chakra : Sacral
Colour : Orange
Ogam : 2 diagonal strokes across the stemline
Time of Year : Beltane has just past, it is high spring, and summer is approaching
English Ivy is an evergreen vine that can grow up to 30 metres in height by attaching itself to a host. Alternatively it will run along the ground. It has an extraordinary range of survival strategies. Its juvenile growth is more shade tolerant than most plants. It can persist in this juvenile phase indefinitely, and when it needs to, can revert to its juvenile phase at any stage of its life. When a juvenile vine comes in contact with a vertical surface it will begin ascending it, sending out rootlets that secrete a glue-like substance, which attach the vine to the host. As it climbs towards the light, the ivy moves into its mature phase, stops producing rootlets, and develops a bushy spiral leaf arrangement that maximizes exposure to the sunlight. In this way, Ivy flourishes in light and in shade. If it continues to spiral up a host tree unchecked, it will eventually strangle it. English Ivy has dark green waxy leaves that are arranged alternately along the stem. They start out thin but become woody and can grow to a foot in diameter. When ivy enters a new area it rapidly monopolizes the light, nutrients, space and water, replacing native ground cover with a monoculture. Few plants can compete with it, and Ivy is very difficult to destroy because it is resistant to environmental stresses.
Ivy is one of the only plants to produce its seeds during winter . When most understory plants are inactive, Ivy is able to keep growing, which allows it to procure space and nutrients. By taking advantage of this otherwise dormant time, Ivy can make it more difficult for other plants to get going again in the spring. Ivy's umbrella-like clusters of small, bisexual greenish-white flowers appear around Samhuin . The berries, which are initially green and later purplish black, follow between Samhuin and mid-winter . They can ripen as early as Imbolc or as later as the Spring Equinox. These flowers and berries are only produced during the mature phase of the plant, when it has claimed the sunlight.
Observations and Comments by various authors
The White Goddess : Robert Graves mentions that ivy wreathes honored Dionysus as the God of Ecstasy, and that ivy ale was a highly intoxicating medieval drink. The Celtic Astrology Calendar, which applies the same dates as Graves, associates the Ivy with Guinevere.
The Celtic Tree Oracle link ivy with the labyrinth and the wanderings of the soul, and the nourishment that the soul attempts to procure from the material world.
The Book of Druidry : Like other writers, Ross Nichols acknowledges the dual nature of the ivy by informing us that it made the drink of madness or ecstasy.
The Book of Ogham : A deity whose Name begins with G is Goibhniu: the Smith (or alchemist). Edred Thorsson writes that the challenge of this character is to differentiate between the tools of the transformation process, and the process itself.
Celtic Tree Mysteries : Although the Word Ogams are confusing, Steve Blamires cites a textual reference that leaves no doubt that the intended meaning of Gort was Ivy: ‘Gort, that is Ivy, greener than pastures is Ivy'. In the Word Ogam of Morainn, G equals greenest of pastures, sweeter than grasses, due to association with corn fields. In the Word Ogam of Cuchulain, G equals pleasing oil, corn. In the Word Ogam of Aonghus, G equals size of a warrior. The word gort means “green field”, “garden” and “standing corn”. ‘The Ogam notch used to represent the ivy is…twice the number used to represent the vine'. The metaphorical relationship of the tenacious ivy plant and the warrior is also acknowledged.
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : Paul Rhys Mountfort further acknowledges the warrior theme: 'A tree-letter of tenacity, or the raw survival instinct which enables you to triumph over circumstances, establish roots, and put forth new green leaves out of the stoniest of soils' (108). Classified as a chieftain tree, its ruthlessness was respected by the warrior Celts. 'When ivy attaches itself to objects it can exploit the most minimal advantages to support its own needs'. ‘It is a basic archetype of growth and endurance'.
Irish Tree Oils and Essences associate ivy with freedom, and the respiratory system, and the affirmation is: “I speak my truth”.
Associations that support this placing Gort at 52 degrees of the Circle:
Ivy's love of the material world is obvious. It will cling tenaciously to life like few other plants will. This enjoyment of the material world is also associated with the astrological Sign of Taurus, which is a Fixed Earth Sign.
Ivy correlates with Number 2 because it is in the second segment of the Wheel, and several writers have noted its dual nature. Its twin growth patterns (juvenile and mature) represent this. Taurus is ruled by Venus, the Goddess of Love, and the mystic who seeks the Great Love as fearlessly as the Ivy climbs its host, is sure to attain it. In this way, Ivy can symbolize the bloodthirsty warrior or the spiritual warrior.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : NGetal, position 13
Gaelic Pronunciation: "Natal"
Scientific Name: Cytisus scoparius, plant family: Fabaceae (Pea/Legume)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound N (fifth member of the 12th harmonic)
Number: 6 (because it lies in the 6th Segment of the Wheel)
Astrological Placement: 3 degrees Virgo
Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous Moon
Age : 36
Second Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Sensation Quadrant
Chakra : Third Eye
Colour: Indigo blue
Ogam: 3 diagonal strokes across the stemline
Time of Year : Late summer, approaching autumn
Indigenous to the British Isles, central and southern Europe and northern Africa , Scotch Broom is a perennial shrub that grows to about two metres in height. The leaves are trifoliate (have 3 leaflets), and the flowers are mostly bright yellow but the lower petals may be brownish red. The fruits are flat, hairy green-brown-black pods. This is a tough and virulent plant, which sends up numerous erect green or brown branches with a thick main stem. The seed coats are very hard and can remain viable in the soil for up to eighty years. Broom is competitive in low-fertility soil. Like Ivy (G), it can dominate a plant community, but unlike Ivy it will not grow in deep shade.
Scotch Broom is deciduous and the stems often appear to be bare. The flowers appear from late spring to early summer, but may also appear sporadically throughout the year. The fruit-pods ripen during summer then burst open to eject the seeds.
Observations and Comments by various authors
The Book of Ogham : ‘The NG-few is an archaic vestige of the original Oghamic series which predates the sound systems of either Irish or Cymric'. The name may refer to the common reed or to the broom, both plants noted for their straight and flexible stems. The NG-few signifies the union of the conscious and subconscious realities. At best, inner direction and outer manifestation flow together harmoniously, which brings health to body and mind. There are no Irish Gods or Goddesses whose names begin with NG.
Celtic Tree Mysteries : There has been much confusion over this letter combination yet the Book of Ballymote states: nGetal, Broom or Fern, a physician's strength is Broom. Similarly in the Word Ogam of Morainn nG equals a physician's strength, panacea. GETAL equals BROOM . From the Word Ogam of Cuchulain: nG equals the beginning of heroic deeds, healing, and from the Word Ogam of Aonghus: nG equals robe of physicians. For Steve Blamires NG symbolizes the combined effect of Ash as N and Ivy as G, thus indicating the need to attend to magical hygiene, which means recognizing incorrect or malicious thoughts that could eventually escalate out of control.
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : 'nGetal, or broom is a tree-letter of well-being and healing. It counsels you to tend to the health of your mind, body and spirit…nGetal stresses the importance of clearing away negativity'…‘The full Ogam Elaboration line actually reads “broom or reed”. Robert Graves chose reed or “water elder” but the Word Ogams all name this letter as broom'…'Mythologically, the broom's yellow flowers link it to the sun'.
Associations that support placing NGetal at 153 degrees of the Circle:
As the 13th Letter of the Ogam, NG stands for a complete transformation of negative thought forms.
This is supported by the fact that it is placed in the Sign of Virgo. The natural propensity therein is to think 'healthy thoughts' but as we all know the attainment of harmony is seldom accomplished without adjustment. Mercury rules Virgo and so it is primarily mental adjustment that is necessary. Yin Mercury/Indigo Blue implies some deep soul-searching to find and weed out thought-patterns that are causing harm.
We are still close to the health quincunx at 150 degrees suggesting an extension of any health issues associated with the N-few
If the N-few portends that we must discern and do what is noble within a greater context, then the NG-few extends this theme via the G-resonance, which signifies, at best, the spiritual warrior that lets nothing stand in his/her way.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Sraibh, position 14
Gaelic Pronunciation: "STRAHF"
Scientific Name: Prunus Spinosa , plant family Rosaceae (Rose)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound Z (the fourth member of the 7th harmonic, G being the first and F the second)
Neither Irish & Scots Gaelic nor Welsh has a Letter Z, but Pictish, Breton & Cornish do. Like the other Combined Letters (Qu and NG), this one will not be found in manuscripts. It is the resonance of these combinations rather than their written form that is the critical factor.
Number: 7: the power of reflection
Astrological Placement: 26 degrees Libra, approaching the cusp of Scorpio
Moon Phase: Full
Age : 47/48
Third Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Feeling Quadrant
Chakra : Root to Crown: the entire energetic structure of the head and torso
Colour : Violet
Ogam: 4 diagonal strokes across the stemline
Time of Year : Autumn
The most potent feature of the Blackthorn is its long, thin, razor-sharp thorns, which take the place of twigs at the end of its branches. Growing to about 4 metres in height, the Blackthorn has wildly twisted angular branches that form a dense impenetrable thicket. Because the thorns can inject a cut that typically goes septic, the Blackthorn would have been deadly to humans in the past, yet it has always been a protective haven for birds.
The Blackthorn is deciduous, shedding its leaves by winter . Its white flowers open early, before its new leaves appear, blossoming as the cold winds blow. From Imbolc through spring these exquisite blossoms develop. During summer and autumn , these transform into shiny, deep purple berries called sloes.
Observations and Comments by various authors
In The Celtic Tree Oracle the Murrays associate Straif with the strong arm of fate. With it comes the feeling that you have no choice but to go along with things.
The Tree Ogam : From Glennie Kindred: 'The lesson to be learnt from the Blackthorn is to recognize when not to fight against fate, but to go along with it…' (42) .
Ogham: The Celtic Tree Oracle : Faye Sorbet writes: 'Blackthorn helps us face our own shadow side, our deepest fears and weaknesses, suppressed feelings and memories. It has the ability to move deep blockages, piercing the barriers.' (13) .
The Book of Ogham : Similarly, Edred Thorsson equates its divinatory meaning with forces at work that are beyond one's control. He advises that rather than striving against the experience, the person could try directing the energy produced to positive ends.
Celtic Tree Mysteries : From the Book of Ballymote: 'Where S stands before D it is Straiph that is to be written', the letters D and T being interchangeable in this context. Continuing: 'Straiph, that is Blackthorn, the hedge of a stream is Sraibh'. In the Word Ogam of Morainn St equals careful effort, strongest of red, STRAIPH equals sloe which gives strong red dye on metal. This refers to the warrior's sword, and death by the sword. Likewise, the Word Ogam of Cuchulain equates St with an arrow's mist and smoke drifting from a fire, which are both kennings for death. To Steve Blamires the combination of letters ST implies combining the meaning of S (Willow ) with T (Holly) or D (Oak). 'The spiritual lesson of the blackthorn is to accept the inevitability of your own death, and to prepare for it...It doesn't mean that you are about to die but Blackthorn can alert you to the fact that you may be taking life for granted'.
Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids by Rev. Robert Lee “Skip” Ellison
Both Howard Meroney (Early Irish Letter Names ) and Damien Mc Manus (A Guide to the Ogham ) agree that this letter-name means 'sulphur'. Meroney feels that Morann's kenning pertains to the alchemical nature of sulphur. Skip Ellison associates Straif with trouble and negativity. 'This tree has always had a reputation for problems and trouble. There is an old English verse that goes “Green grows the leaves on the Blackthorn tree, we jangle and we wrangle and we never can agree”…We can use it in our magic for protection, repelling and dissolution spells. For protection, it can be added to incense or put into a protection bag placed near a bed or in your room. For repelling, it can be used as the wood a talisman is drawn on or by tying three of the sticks together while reciting the spell' (39-40) .
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom: Erynn Rowan Laurie's keyword for Straif is 'transformation'. 'Straif is sulfur, linked in western history with alchemy and transformation. It was used as a mordant in dyeing to create a variety of colors inexpensively, and so transforms cloth in dull natural colors to brighter, more valuable shades…Straif is a fid of secrecy and mystery, but also of exploring those mysteries and revealing them'. Its chthonic strand refers to the preservation of occult mysteries. 'Sulphur burned for intense purification and exorcism may be a part of this current'. Within the oceanic current, Straif warns that things are in a state of flux and might change in unpredictable ways. 'Shapeshifting and transformation are a part of this current'. 'Revelation and transcendence are part of Straif's celestial current. Intense spiritual work often comes with this fid, along with important shifts in perception'. Whenever this fid appears in a reading, change is on the way and things will never be the same. 'Such changes may be guided and predicted, given enough study and depth of practice with firm intent' . In healing, Straif is ‘good for work with the emotions and for transforming deep seated issues that have strong roots in the past, changing things without destroying the vessel' (106-109) .
Ogham, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : 'Straif is a tree-letter associated with pain, wounding and damage…Yet it is not all bad, for straif also offers initiation into the mysteries of self-conquest and transcendence...Bizarre as it may be, we often become habituated to our wounds and consequently manifest situations where our worst expectations are confirmed. Thus disappointment breeds disappointment and we can come to live in a perpetual mode of damage control…remember that you can never control external events but you can change your reaction to them! Seek to cultivate peace within and resolution of the cycle without will naturally follow. Your health may depend on it' (118-119 )
The Living Wisdom of Trees: Ancient shamanic societies cultivated world views that assigned value to both sides of the dualistic opposites, such as life and death, light and darkness, mind and body, and so on, and the blackthorn was a guardian of the balance between them. But with the advance of dualistic religions such as Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, which separate the world into “good” and “evil”, came the demonization of the blackthorn tree. Where once it had provided magical protection against negative influences, it now become the emblem of evil forces…However, some rural customs that employ the blackthorn as a protection against evil still survive today, particularly in eastern Europe' (166-7).
The Nature Doctor: Dr H. C. A. Vogel writes: 'As far back as antiquity this shrub was widely used. The flowers were picked and the essence made from them was used to cleanse the blood…anemic persons will find sloe syrup to be a good and natural remedy' (508) .
Irish Tree Oils and Essences associate Straif with the issue of surrender.
Tree Wisdom : Blackthorn helps us face our negativity…(and) burst through any damned up emotions, rather like lancing an emotional abscess so that the area can drain and heal.
Jacqueline Memory Paterson's magical associations are:
Ruling Planet: Saturn (plant) and Mars (fruit)
(Comment: Saturn is exalted in Libra)
Abilities: The cleansing of karmic issues; you may not have a choice, yet hope rises from the depths
Seasons: Spring (Imbolc) and Late Autumn (Samhuin). Imbolc-Blackthorn helps us to rend our wintry cocoon whilst Samhuin-Blackthorn leads us back into the darkness. By bursting through our blockages, it helps us gain clearer passage into our inner worlds.
Associations that support placing Straif at 206 degrees of the Circle:
Z corresponds to Number 8 in the English Alphabet and 7 in older alphabets. Number 8 raises the issue of personal power but Number 7 is enigmatic and force will simply not work when it holds sway. Humble acceptance may be a hard pill for some people to swallow, but when you're in the thicket, you may have little choice. Numbers 7 and 8 in collusion suggest that when the limits of our personal power stand before us, we may have no choice but to surrender to something that we do not yet understand.
In Astrology the 7th House is sometimes called the place of ‘open enemies', which relates directly to one of Paul Rhys Mountfort's key words: adversity. He advises us to look carefully to see whether the origin of the current strife lies in the outer world or your own mind. You may not be able to control external events but you can change your perception of them, and your reaction to them. Like a scalpel, the mind dissects, and when the mind applies such skill to people, and love for them is absent, it can inflict subtle but toxic wounds upon them. Venus is the natural ruler of the 7th House, and she would have us balance discernment with love.
Within the context of personal relationships Blackthorn teaches respect. 'By understanding and calming our emotions, and by being aware of the capacity of our negativity (to inflict pain), we can ease our suffering…' (Tree Wisdom, 89 )
The Full Moon is illuminating the parts of self that snare the ego.
The Pan's Script time correspondent is between autumn equinox and Samhuin, which is when the fruit ripens.
The Word Ogam of Aonghus equates St with 'increasing of secrets', which within this model might suggest insight.
The Sabian Symbol for Libra 26 - An eagle and a large white dove turning into one another – suggests transformation, shape-shifting, and self discipline, all of which pertain to Sraibh
Libra is symbolized by the scales and the concept of balance and so the concept of blackthorn as guardian of the balance between good and evil is appropriate.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote Ruis, position 15
Gaelic Pronunciation: "ROOSH"
Scientific Name: Sambucus nigra , plant family Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle)?
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound R
2nd Harmonic (opposite the 0 Aries point)
Number : 7: (because it initiates the 7th segment of the Wheel of Life)
Astrological Placement : Cusp of Virgo and Libra
Moon Phase : Full, illuminating the contents of the psyche
Age : 42 years
Start of Third Quadrant of the Wheel: This is the Feeling Quadrant
Waning Sun and Waning Moon
Chakra : Crown to Base: it empowers all the chakras
Colour : Purple
Ogam : 5 diagonal strokes, crossing the stemline
Time of Year : Autumn Equinox
The Elder is a small tree that rarely exceeds nine metres in height. Its trunk is not formed in one upward mass like the Pine and the Oak. It grows by producing stems from its base, constantly replacing dead wood with fresh growth. The stems grow upright for a time before bending over. Buds grow from the top of the drooping stems, then just like their host, these proceed upward for a while before drooping over, and so on
All Elders are deciduous. By early summer, the creamy white, edible, and fragrant blossoms are visible. And then by late summer, those that are fertilized begin to develop into berries. As summer turns to autumn , these ripen and turn purple or black, becoming lush and juicy as they do so. The Elder can hold on to these fruits until winter solstice.
Observations and Comments by various authors:
Blue Feather's Herbal
Elder is one of the 7 sacred shrubs or vines of the Grandmothers. People had a healthy respect for it because it could make you well or violently ill. As a purgative plant, the amount used had to be carefully measured. Elders prefer a moist environment with some shade. Small and bountiful, the Elder yields almost the full spectrum of colours: green dye from the leaves, red, blue or purple dye from the fruit, black dye from the roots and brown from the bark. Its red berries are considered toxic but the blue and purple fruits are generally safe to eat. These are high in Vitamin C and can be made into wine, jam and jelly. They can also be gargled for sore throats or made into cough syrup, or brewed for constipation. The dosage is critical because as a tea it may sweat out a fever, and very weak it can be used for colic, but a stronger dosage will induce vomiting. The flowers can be used for respiratory problems or as a poultice for infections, bruises and sprains. In the sacred pipe Elder is smoked to turn a person away from evil thoughts and deeds. Likewise, it was cultivated near dwellings to ward off evil and lightning. The leaves were used for protection against spells. To relieve insomnia, leaves were placed under the pillow. Elder wood was used to cut the sacred umbilical cord.
In The Book of Ogham Edred Thorsson correlates the R-few with several deities: Ruadh Rofessa: “The Red-one who knows all”, Rigru Roisclethan: Otherworldly Queen of the Irish, and Rigantona: “The Great Queen” and also Rhiannon, patron of horses . (Comment: On the cusp of Libra, which is ruled by Venus, these Queens may be Celtic counterparts of this Greek deity).
Celtic Tree Mysteries : In the Word Ogam of Morainn, R equals 'intensest of blushes'; it is the reddening that grows on a man's face through the juice of the herb being rubbed on it. In the Word Ogam of Cuchulain, R equates with arduous anger and punishment. In the Word Ogam of Aonghus, R equals 'redness of faces'. Steve Blamires cites a poem from the Lays of Fionn called ‘The Headless Phantom', in which Fionn finds himself spending the night in a strange house, where the owner is burning elder logs. Throughout the long night, Fionn is forced to face all sorts of horrible, taunting creatures. ‘This is an allegory for facing up to those aspects of yourself that you have previously tried to repress, but that, if you are to progress at all, you must challenge and deal with as necessary'. (Comment: This relates directly to Number 7 & Libra).
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : Ruis is an ogam of regret…it can also involve matters of revenge…‘Take action to purge yourself of these emotions, they are unhealthy and attract retribution'. To help us understand the metaphorical significance of the Elder, Paul Rhys Mountfort offers an interpretation of the story from the Fenian Cycle in which Elder wood is smoked and the heroes must endure all manner of ghoulish sights and sounds. 'The fact that the elder appears here in the Valley of the Yew (that is, the land of the dead) points to its role as a signal of unsettled business with the past…the soul is confronted by the shades of his or her actions or “faces the music”, as it were' (125).
Irish Tree Oils and Essences associate the Elder with change.
From Tree Wisdom:Elder Mother, sometimes called Lady Ellhorn, dwelt within the tree. The Elder was known as the cure-all tree because every part of the body benefited from it, and because it could regenerate itself when damaged. The white pith inside the branches induces sleep.
Jacqueline Memory Paterson suggests these magical associations:
Ruling Planet: Venus
Abilities: Regeneration, Cauldron of Rebirth
Seasons: Summer (early) and Autumn (late)
Associations that support placing Ruis at 180 degrees of the Circle:
Elder is associated with the waning sun and the waning moon, which matches the Pan's Script system of correspondences (Note that the Full Moon is also classified as waning)
The best time to pick the flowers and berries is at the full moon (and in Pan's Script this is the Full Moon position).
The bark, leaves and roots have a purgative quality, and the flowers and berries are a gentle laxative, just as Number 7 is associated with letting go of something in order to move into a more harmonious state of consciousness
Number 7 is also associated with Vision Questing and once upon a time a crown of elder twigs was used to aid clairvoyance. Elder was also used on the funeral pyre, and Vision Questing is undertaken in order to ‘die' and be reborn.
'Elder is a tree of perfect balance and wholeness, her flowers representing the Bright Goddess, her berries, the Dark Goddess' - Gina McGarry, Brighid's Healing
Libra is ruled by Venus, and the Elder is a feminine tree. 'The elder is an herb of Venus' - Ellen Evert Hopman
Several challenging R-words are associated with Elder, such as regret, retribution, revenge and rage, and with Libra-7 comes a lot of internal 'fighting', which reflects in the outer world if not dealt with in other ways. On the astral wheel, the 180 degree position is both Yin (Venus) and Yang (Odd Number). It is where Yin and Yang must be brought into balance before moving on, because one way or another, everyone is going to notice (Full Moon).
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Ailm, position 16
Gaelic Pronunciation: "AHL-m"
Scientific Name: Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine), plant family: Pinaceae (Pine)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound A (1st letter, 1st harmonic)
Number 1 (1st number)
Astrological Placement : Cusp of Pisces and Aries
Moon Phase : New (conjunction of Sun and Moon), waxing Sun and waxing Moon
Age : Birth
Start of the First Quadrant of the Wheel of Life: This is the Thinking Quadrant
Chakra:Root (first or base chakra)
Colours: Red for vitality
Ogam : One line straight across the stem, like a cross
Time of Year : Spring Equinox
The Scots Pine is the only Pine native to the British Isles . It is distinguished by its tall straight trunk and horizontal or upward-pointing branches. Like most conifers, it is evergreen. Its bark is copper-red in colour. Rather than leaves, pines have needles. Their fruit is the cone, in which develop the winged seeds.
In early spring each pine tree produces two kinds of single-sexed flowers. The male flowers are catkin-like and tend to cluster, while the female ones are cylindrical, red and bud-like, and are positioned on the tip of the new spring shoots. Further into spring, the male flowers shower their pollen profusely. The female buds grow bigger each year until towards the end of their second summer , the cones crack open and the little brown seeds take flight in the wind. In autumn the empty cones fall from the branches. Three generations of cone can be found on a pine tree at any given time.
Observations and Comments by various authors
The Celtic Tree Oracle : The Murray 's select the Silver Fir, Abies alba, as their representative of Ailm. They tell us that the root of this word is Abire, meaning to go away. The Wheel of Life suggests that this is the time that the soul leaves one existence and enters another.
In The Celtic Tree Calendar Michael Vescoli calls the Pine 'the mother of wisdom' and the Fir 'the guardian of all births'
The Book of Ogham : Deities & Heroes whose names begin with the Letter A include Aedh, a primeval Fire-God. Similar to Aries, and relevant to this thesis, Aedh is 'raw basic force of health and vigor' (178).
Celtic Tree Mysteries : Steve Blamires' advice is: 'Go into the woods, find whatever species of fir you can, and get to know it on all three levels' (physical, mental and spiritual). His commentary on the Word Ogams provides insight into the connection between the letter A and the Pine Tree. For example, from the Word Ogam of Morainn we learn that “A” was associated with the loudest of groans as when struck by a sudden pain. “A” is also the sound we make when we stand in total awe of something. And so it signifies the extremities of human experience. From the Word Ogam of Cuchulain we learn that A signifies 'the beginning of the weaver's beams' and similarly from the Word Ogam of Aonghus, 'the beginning of answers'. (Comment: The weaver's beam is a kenning for a spear, and in the Pan's Script system of correspondences, the spear of light relates to the rising sun in the East). The Old Irish name for the fir, Ailm, comes from a root that can mean “that which goes forward” and also “will or desire”. (Comment: Going forward correlates with Aries/Mars).
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : ‘Ailm is the “ah!” cry of birth and death. It is the fid of initiation, where birth and death are one, a passage from one state to another…This fid also suggests the rush of epiphany; the “a-ha!” moment of discovery'. ‘When Ailm appears in divination, a new thing is coming into being'. Healing-wise it is useful for work with children, and to help with labour and giving birth. ‘With Gort it is a good fid to use for dealing with pregnancies in all their phases. Its energy can also help with expulsion of things that have been blocking healing, and it is useful to work with this fid when beginning new phases of treatment of longstanding problems' (113-5) .
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : Related to the meaning of this fid, Paul Rhys Mountfort writes ‘The ogam also marks the dawning of understanding…' and further along: ‘Realizations of great significance can also be mingled with pain'. His keywords for Pine or Fir are: elation, enthusiasm, wonder and awe (127-8) . One of the storylines offered to enrich the reader's understanding of the metaphorical significance of the Pine is about the hero Yvain. ‘As soon as the storm passed, I saw…so many birds gathered on the pine that there was not a branch or leaf to be seen that was not completely covered with birds, which made the tree still more beautiful. And these birds sang together in harmony, though each sang a different song....'
Tree Wisdom : Ms Paterson provides a careful description of the Scots Pine and some of its evolutionary history. It is thought to have been prevalent in the Boreal Period of the coniferous era. Conifers are known to be direct descendants from the primeval forests, pre-broadleaf trees. Ms Paterson has noticed that when a pine tree is situated in open space it will begin reproducing after 20 years, but when it lives in damp or crowded conditions it may take twice the amount of time to begin reproducing. (Comment: This could be interpreted astrologically as being held back by Pisces and moving forward in Aries). Her magical associations mostly match the Pan's Script model:
Ruling Planet: Mars
Abilities: Foresight, birth and purification
Seasons: Winter; Spring
The Living Wisdom of Trees : Fred Hageneder associates the pine with vitality and continuity. His astrological association is also Mars. ‘Shoot or needle preparations (ointments, teas, baths, and inhalations) are disinfectant, diuretic and relaxing. They can soothe coughs; clear the head of congestion, stimulate the lungs, and improve circulation' (146).
Bach Flower Remedy : Pine is used to treat despondency. It helps to rid guilt and self condemnation
Irish Tree Oils and Essences : Silver Fir is offered to people who feel cut off from the Spirit World. Pine is associated with peace and the affirmations that support its use include “I accept with courage the divine flow”. Relevant to its placement at the Equinox is the affirmation: “I am balanced between Spirit and Matter”.
Blue Feather's Herbal : Pine is one of the seven sacred grandfather trees. Grandfather Pine has a sticky resin, which boiled in water, provides safe syrup for upper respiratory problems. Pine tar is also an antiseptic. Several Native American tribes use pine needles as smudge to clean the air, and some place the Pine to the East in the Medicine Wheel.
From Tree Medicine, Tree Magic (by Ellen Evert Hopman): ‘To the Iroquois, the pine symbolizes a balanced life existence. Its shape, which reaches for the sky like a pair of praying hands, suggests the search for Truth. Pines grow in a circular shape. Circles symbolize energy cycles like the year's seasonal wheel, the motions of the planets, tars, and of life and rebirth. Pines reach a great age reminding us of the links between generations. Their wood is soft, symbolizing a strength that is gentle yet firm. The even texture of the bark reminds one of an intelligence consciously directed towards a clear purpose in life. Pine needles grow in bundles, symbolizing strength through unity. The cones are curved, representing adaptability, while the sticky sap that holds the seeds reminds us of the importance of cohesiveness. Pine trees carry a message of concern for future generations and a dream of peace for all beings. In bygone days, many Native American tribes would gather at a yearly congress. To commemorate these important gatherings, it was the custom to plant a pine, the tree of peace'.
In the world of magic, pine is valued for its association with fertility, purification, and immortality. It is known as the tree of Mars, and it is representative of the elements of Earth and Air. The Spirit of the Forest is recognized in many places throughout the world as a being who dwells in pines.
Crushed and dried pine needles can be mixed with juniper and cedar and burned to purify and scent the home. Cones can be carried as a fertility charm and pine nuts are eaten for the same effect. Pine nuts from the White Pine can be ground and added to soup.
It is an old custom to place fresh pine boughs on a coffin during funeral rites and at burials - the evergreen symbol of immortality.
And from A Druid's Herbal (same author): ‘High in Vitamin C they (the white pines) helped our ancestors get through the long winters' (37) .
Associations that supporting placing Ailm at 30 degrees Pisces/0 degrees Aries
Pines grow tall, reaching strongly and surely for the light just as Mars and Aries represent single-mindedness.
The Names of the Greek Ares and his Celtic counterpart, Aedh, both begin with A, and both are warriors.
Up in the skies, Pine associates with the winds, and within the Wheel of Life Ailm is placed in the Thinking/Air Quadrant
Pine seeds have delicate wings, and the cones that bear them open only under dry conditions. This is because the seeds do not scatter as far when they are wet. Correlating with Air & Thought, this implies moving away from the undifferentiated consciousness of Pisces into the survival-consciousness of Aries
These words from Blue Feather further support the placement of Ailm on the cusp of Pisces and Aries: “These majestic trees are the mystics of old that have come back, forever to look upwards in silent worship of God”.
Within the Wheel of Life, the Aries segment represents the child from birth to seven years of age, adding to the significance of this remark from Blue Feather: “We can learn from them how to see once again as children see”.
Pines came early in the evolution of trees, just as this position correlates with the early years of life. The keywords - elation, enthusiasm, wonder, and awe – are also relevant to this time of life.
Supporting the Spring Equinox placement is the fact that spring is a significant season for the pine because that is when it scatters its pollen. From Tree Wisdom , p.56 : The Pine is at its most powerful after the Winter Solstice, when it acts as sentinel and guide to the creative forces that are moving towards birth, as represented by spring.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Ohn, position 17
Gaelic Pronunciation: "UHN"
Scientific Name: Ulex europaeus , plant family: Fabaceae (Pea/Legume)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound O (the seventh member of the 15th harmonic)
“O” generates energy through the emotions
Number: 6: integration of the material and spiritual worlds
Astrological Placement: near the centre of the 6th House and Virgo
Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous Moon: it looks almost full
Age : 40
Second Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Sensation Quadrant
Chakra : Third Eye
Colour : Indigo blue
Ogam: 2 straight lines straight across the stemline
Time of Year : approaching autumn equinox
Gorse is a yellow-flowering shrub that grows to about 3 metres in height, and a real favourite with the bees. Its leaves are generally shorter than its conspicuous spines. This plant is a real survivor – it produces ~ 8000 seeds annually and can lay dormant for up to forty years. A prolific plant, it doesn't let much grow underneath it. Burning destroys the hard thorns leaving soft shoots for the animal fodder. Its wood burns fiercely. The flowers have a strong coconut-like fragrance, and make a beautiful yellow dye. Like Broom, gorse grows well near the sea.
Gorse is evergreen but its leaves frequently fall. Its perennial flowers can appear throughout the year, even in winter . These small, yellow pea-like blossoms gain visibility from early spring and by summer cover the moors and hillsides. These sunny flowers develop in clusters on the ends of its branches becoming hairy black seedpods by late summer . Like Broom, the seed-vessels burst with a crackling noise in hot weather.
Observations and Comments by various authors
The White Goddess : Graves links the Gorse with the Spring Equinox. 'The furze is not well behaved until he is tamed' goes the verse and Graves interprets this to mean that it was tamed by the spring fires, which made the young shoots edible for sheep. From the Battle of the Trees : 'Great was Gorse in the battle' (37) .
The Book of Ogham : The deity associated with the O-few is Ogma: god of eloquence, speech, linguistics and the written word. Similarly the Hero associated with O-few is Oisin, who was a bard and word-magician. Edred Thorsson equates its divinatory meaning with the synthesis of valuable things (material, information, people, etc) for a great purpose.
Celtic Tree Mysteries : From the Word Ogam of Morainn O equates with helper of horses, wheels of a chariot, and wounding. The Word Ogam of Cuchulain equates O with strength of warriors and fierceness. Horses, chariots, wounding, fierceness and warriors 'all serve to emphasize a military aspect to the gorse'. Steve Blamires notes that ‘following on from the Broom, Gorse does the heavier clean-up work'.
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : For Erynn Laurie the keyword associated with Onn is movement, as in a wheel. 'Onn is anything in motion'. Within the chthonic current, travel is often indicated. Within the oceanic current, Onn's travel becomes a pilgrimage. Within the celestial current, Onn 'can indicate a need for or regular engagement with spiritual and Otherworld journeying'. Magically, it can protect any journey you intend to undertake. In healing, it can help to move energy and get things flowing. 'When Onn appears in a reading, it can indicate that you need to examine the direction of your life'.
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : In contrast to the other two Word Ogams, the Word Ogam of Aonghus equates O with the gentlest of work, which Paul Mountfort relates to the harvest of its nectar and also to love-making. 'This ogham encourages you to have a healthy rapport with your body…Onn relates to being-in-your-sexuality'. His keywords include health and vitality, eros and arousal. Gorse is associated with the fires of passion.
Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids : To Skip Ellison, Onn is about 'collecting things to you'. 'Gorse is a favorite import to both coasts of the US, because of its property of holding sand together and drawing things to it with is roots…In magic, we can use gorse in love spells and in spells that draw things together'. Ellison cites Fenius Farsaidh as saying 'Onn , that is furze'
Ogham: The Celtic Tree Oracle : Faye Sorbet writes: 'Gorse is a very potent symbol of optimism and faith…By flowering all year round and remaining evergreen gorse carries with it the sun's life giving force, even through the darkest months of winter…a sign of encouragement and a promise of good things to come' (7) .
The Tree Ogham : To Glennie Kindred the Gorse is the epitome of a good harvest. 'Use your Ogham Stick to meditate on your harvest and what you would like to do with it now' (50) .
Bach Flower Remedy: Gorse is recommended for people who have lost hope and who need its sunny radiance to restore their faith in life.
Irish Tree Oils and Essences associate this affirmation with Furze: “I accept the sweetness and abundance of life and acknowledge my gifts”.
From A Modern Herbal : 'The plant has never played an important part in herbal medicine. Parkinson tells us that “some have used the flowers against the jaundice”. An infusion of the blossoms used to be given to children to drink in scarlet fever'
Associations that support placing Ohn at 168 degrees
Gorse is often associated with the skill of collecting and Mercury is associated with the gathering of information. In Virgo it is useful information we are after; information that can be put to practical use. Collecting whatever you need to accomplish a goal is also congruent with the waxing phase of the moon.
In numerology, the synthesis of valuable information for a great purpose correlates with Number 6, specifically 33/6
Astrologically this position represents the seventh member of the 15th harmonic. The Letter O is equated with 7 in the older alphabets but it is also the 15th letter in the English alphabet. In placing it at this spot, I have combined these two facts. The Number 15 tends to excite and attract every experience imaginable with a view to reconciling everything . The process of trying to reconcile the beautiful (such as the sweet and lovely flowers of the Gorse) with the painful (such as its horrid prickles), eventually brings us to the realization of the deeper significance of life and an appreciation of all of its moods. We are in Number 6's part of the Wheel and heading towards Number 7's.
The battle aspect of Gorse relates directly to Number 15, which is very much about fighting the good fight within the everyday battlefield of life.
In the process of learning to discriminate, we risk becoming lost in the detail. This relates directly to Number 6 and Virgo; Virgo being notorious for ‘prickliness'.
Following on from the Broom, which in this model is just 15 degrees behind Gorse, the cleaning up of anything that is toxic in our psychic atmosphere intensifies. (One of the old names for gorse was ‘prickly broom'). In Virgo, ruled by Mercury, the cleaning-up relates specifically to thought-forms that do not belong within the environment that one is trying to cultivate. Such thought-forms, which may be perfect within another environment, are essentially weeds, just as Gorse is a weed in the Southern Hemisphere. If not removed, gorse as a weed can take over a landscape that has been cultivated through eons of evolution for other plant-forms. The Virgo/6th House position focuses on the task of bringing to fruition those thoughts/attitudes that are most conducive to your mental health and sense of well-being, and weeding out the rest.
In Virgo, Ogma and Oisin represent the perfection of the language arts
During later summer/early autumn (our time correspondent) the seed pods are full or almost full (like the equivalent moon phase).
As a symbol of a good harvest, Gorse relates to the hard work of cultivating a spiritual path. We are in the harvesting time of the Wheel of Life and so the time is right to gather together the various resources you need to attain a specific purpose. The Full Moon Phase, in which your efforts become visible outcomes, is just around the corner.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Ur, position 18
Gaelic Pronunciation: "OO-rah"
Scientific Name: Calluna vulgaris plant family: Ericaceae (Heath)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound : U (seventh member of the 8th harmonic)
The letter U is intuitive and transforming in nature
Number : 11 (because it is within the 11th Segment of the Wheel)
Astrological Placement: mid-Aquarius forming a 45-degree angle to the starting point. Called the waning semisquare, it is associated with the resolution of tension.
Moon Phase : Cusp of Last Quarter and Balsamic Moon Phases
Age : 73/74: fourth return of the lunar nodes to their natal position
Midpoint of the Fourth Quadrant of the Wheel: (Intuiting Quadrant)
Waxing Sun and Waning Moon
Chakra : Universal Sacral
Colour : Silver
Ogam : 3 straight strokes across the stemline
Time of Year : Imbolc
Evergreen, Scotch or Ling Heather is a robust plant that stays close to the earth, growing as wide as it does high. Heather is usually dense and compact until it grows old. It takes about five years for the Heather to grow from a seedling to a fully formed bush. It then continues to build itself up and live as a mature bush for a further twenty-five years before declining. The flowers vary in colour: white, purple, and pink being common.
Depending on the species, Calluna vulgaris can bloom anywhere between summer and Samhuin but nearly every variety flowers at Lughnasadh . During autumn the onset of the cold weather changes the colour of the foliage to bronze, yellow, red, dark green, silver or grey, again depending on the particular species. Typically the fruits mature in late autumn .
Observations and Comments by various authors
The Celtic Tree Oracle links the Heather and the Mistletoe together: Heather as Ur and Mistletoe as Uchelwydd. They act as a symbolic gateway between the fertile earth and the spirit world.
The Druid Plant Oracle : Because of its association with bees, Heather symbolizes the power and joy of community. And so when it arises in a divination, it can indicate an increased awareness of community.
The Book of Ogham : The deity whose Name begins with U is Uscias: master of wisdom. Ur signifies the gateway between inner and outer worlds, and portends a time when a person must act on their passion
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : A favorable omen for lovers, Ur tends to signify love that is meaningful and lasting. For Paul Mountfort a key phrase is 'flowering together'. In folklore, the theme of the hero who has to mate with an ugly hag only to find that she turns into a beautiful lady, is associated with Heather. In this way, Heather becomes associated with the transmutation and integration of the shadow self.
Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids : Scholars Howard Meroney and Damien Mc Manus agree that the original meaning of this letter-name was earth, soil, or humus. Ellison also cites Fenius Farsaidh as saying 'Ur, that is heath'. For Skip, Ur is about 'healing and homelands'. He uses heather ale in spells dealing with friendship and ancestral homelands, and its sweet smelling bloom in incense and in spells involving the Fair Folk.
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : ' Úr is the land itself'. Its link with the land also bringing it into close accord with the local land spirits of the place you live. 'The chthonic current of Úr can be taken literally as caves, graves, burial, and the earth'. The cycles of life, death, and rebirth express themselves through the oceanic current, emphasizing the need to let go of what has passed and move forward. In some cases, the celestial current suggests the embodiment of spiritual principles, bringing them out of the world of intellectual theory and grounding them in everyday life and physical practice. 'This fid is powerful magic for ending things and for cutting away what is unwanted in your life. Its power is finality and laying things to rest. It can also be used to aid communication with the land spirits'. Healing-wise it is ideal for helping those who are dying to go peacefully.
Bach Flower Remedy : Heather is recommended for people who are so self absorbed that they have lost their connection with other people.
Irish Oils and Essences associate Heather with the word simplicity and recommend it for nervous complaints.
A Druid's Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman:
Part used: flowering shoot
Fresh or dry, Heather strengthens the heart and slightly raises the blood pressure. Simmer the shoots, four teaspoons to a cup, and drink half a cup per day.
Associations that support placing Ur at 315 degrees of the Circle:
Number 11, the numerical correspondent, tends to play havoc on the nervous system when it is strong in someone's numerology. And so it is appropriate that as a medicinal plant, Heather is used in the treatment of nervous disorders such as insomnia and cardiac palpitations. Simply walking among heather can help in this way. Complementing this, in Celtic Reiki the Symbol of Ur is used to uplift the spirits and induce a calm state of mind.
The 11th House of astrology is about our associates, making the phrase 'flowering together' highly appropriate. Within this context, Heather is about thinking about oneself in terms of the bigger story of humanity, and getting excited about this.
In Celtic Reiki, Ur is also used to connect people with Gaia and the Devic Community. Similarly, Liz and Colin Murray claim that Ur links the fertile Earth and the spirit world.
Paul Mountfort speaks much about Ur as helping to overcome the psychological barriers that separate people. His story lines are about embracing the shadow qualities of those who would love each other. This theme is mirrored in Sabian Symbol as two aspects of the Self united as One.
Aquarius, the astral correspondent, is an Air Sign, and so we can associate this fid with inspired thoughts that have room to come into one's mind when former misconceptions or outmoded ideas are ‘laid to rest'. Typically, an enormous amount of passion associated with this process.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote: Edhadh, position 19
Gaelic Pronunciation: "EH-yur"
Scientific Name: Populus tremula (Aspen) and P. alba (White Poplar) , plant family: Salicaceae (Willow )
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound E (5th harmonic, second member)
Number: 5: the Number of growth and evolution in the material world.
Astrological Placement: Leo: at 144 degrees this spot is called the Biquintile, which means it is the second member of the quintile family. Q is the first member, at 72 degrees but whereas Q transforms energy, E generates energy
Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous Moon
Age : 33
Second Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Sensation Quadrant
Chakra : Throat
Colour : Sky Blue
Ogam: 4 straight strokes across the stemline
Time of Year : Late summer, post-Lughnasadh
Alders, Willows and Poplars are often seen together. Aspen is a member of the poplar family and in turn, the poplars are members of the willow family. Like willows, poplars are slender, fast-growing trees. Known as the Quivering Tree, Aspens are rarely still, their leaves trembling in the slightest breeze. Their waterproof, oval, heart-like leaves are flattened in a direction that is right angled to the blade of the leaf, hence their constant movement. Smaller and not so fast-growing as other poplars, Aspens average 20 metres in height. Aspens are common in northern Scotland , whereas White Poplars are found mainly in southern Britain . Both are native to the British Isles (and Europe) and the Grey Poplar is a cross between them. Poplars have a relatively short life but profuse suckering means that as one generation dies, it is replaced by another. Poplars thrive in moist lowlands and valleys. Because they have the ability to tap into any underground water source, they are best suited to water tables. Poplars never produce male and female flowers on the same tree. Recent research reveals that poplars suck up contamination from soil and water and release the byproducts as vapour. Because of this, they are being used to clean up highly polluted industrial sites.
Poplars are deciduous trees. The Aspen in particular has a stunning leaf show in autumn as the leaves turn from green to red to golden yellow. Aspens flower before they leaf, and spring is the time when the light brown male catkins or green female catkins are produced. Fertilization of the flowers occurs at Beltane when the female catkins turn white and fluffy. During summer the poplar stands in the fullness of its foliage.
Observations and Comments by various authors
The Celtic Tree Oracle : The poplar is the tree most concerned with the earthly and material aspect of life. Yet it can also grant the spiritual strength and endurance needed to face the harsh realities that life sometimes presents. (Comment: This is significant to this placement within the Wheel because coping with constant change is a theme associated with Number 5. Like 5, Leo and the Sun, the poplar is pro-life).
In The Book of Ogham , Edred Thorsson associates the E-few with Esras, who gave a spear to the God Lugh, and Eriu, after whom Ireland is named. The E-few grants inner strength in the face of adversity. ‘You are advised to seek in some creative way for the source of this strength' (190) . The E-few is a sign of being able to overcome something you dread through the welling up of inner reserves of strength. You might strike opposition to what you want to do, but you have the ingenuity to deal with it.
In The Sacred Tree, Glennie Kindred reminds us that the poplar grows by sending up new suckers which generate a whole community of interconnected trees, all joined at their roots. When meditating on the Edhadh keep in mind this interconnection.
Celtic Tree Mysteries : In The Word Ogam of Morainn E equates with 'a distinguished man' or 'wood', and Steve Blamires notes that in Old Irish the words for wood and knowledge came from the same root. In this way, E suggests someone with distinguished knowledge. In the Word Ogam of Cuchulain, E as aspen, is 'kinsman to the birch'. The birch is the first tree in this magical sequence and so the juxtaposition of birch and aspen might act as a warning to a proud warrior to not forget his/her humble beginnings. The other name for the aspen is “Test Tree”, because it invites the person who is already competent in a specific field of endeavour, to experiment and be prepared to take calculated risks. (Comment: This relates directly to Number 5, with its keywords – enterprise and evolution – and Number 14 – breaking new ground, and Number 50 – exploring the potential of one's unique genius).
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : In the Word Ogam of Aonghus: E provides 'an additional name for a friend'. Paul Mountfort equates this additional friend with fear because fear highlights a weakness that can be wrought into strength. Thus aspen represents the conquering of fear. (Comment: as a Vowel, “E” resonates predominately in the astral world, and so the conquering of fear alludes as much to fearing what one may encounter in the Otherworld as much as this one). 'Aspen's use in the construction of shields has lent its magical associations as a ward against fears and dangers. Its close connection with the spirit world seems to have given it a role as a type of inoculant against supernatural menaces, similar to that of rowan (note the proximity of rowan and poplar in the Wheel of Life). ...Whether as a tincture, magical stave, or used as an ogam in inscription, eadha has a clear magical function: as a ward against fear and to attract the qualities of courage and strength in the face of adversity.' (143)
Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom : ‘Edad is a word that has no meaning in Irish' (Comment: to me this implies that it comes from another language)…but the word ogams can be used as a guide to potential meanings:
Word Ogam of Morainn mac Moín = érgnaid fid = discerning tree, distinguished wood
Word Ogam of Mac ind Óc = commaín carat = exchange of friends, synonym for a friend
Word Ogam of Con Culainn = brátahir beithi = brother of birch
Edad's chthonic current cautions discrimination between illusion and reality. 'Oceanic Edad may refer to the process of divination itself…In divination Edad often appears when you are being enjoined to examine the tools you use to access Otherworldly wisdom. Perhaps it is time to learn a new skill, or pay closer attention to your dreams or those moments when you receive impressions from spirit or your inner self'. Edad in magic can be used as an aid in creating relationship with the Sidhe and other spirits, and for the blessing and proper use of tools for vision seeking practices. 'It can be used to enhance dreamwork and meditation as well'. 'Celestial Edad suggests the possibility of enlightenment through the applied practice of vision seeking and dream incubation'. In healing Edad can aid the interpretation of dreams and vision where the healer makes journeys into the Otherworlds as part of the healing process. (123-6)
Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids : For Skip Ellison the keyword is communication: 'Aspen can be used in our magic for healing and communication spells' (50)
Tree Wisdom : The word Ehadh is Aspen in Irish and means 'most buoyant of wood'. As well as Whispering Trees, Aspens were known as Shield Trees. 'In legend crowns made of poplar leaves were not only worn by heroes, but also allowed heroes to visit the Underworld and return. This may explain why aspen crowns were placed in burial mounds, to enable the spirits of the dead to be safely reborn'. In this way the aspen is a shield tree, and a symbol of hope. Healing-wise, Aspen absorbs fear and dissipates its energy. This allows fresh vitality to enter the aura of places and persons.
Jacqueline Memory Paterson's magical associations for Aspen are:
Ruling Planet: Mercury
Abilities: Eloquence, and also the prevention of illness
Bach Flower Remedy : Aspen is used for dissipating the darkness that accompanies fear.
Irish Tree Oils and Essences associate the Poplar with faith and the ability to go with the flow.
Blue Feather's Herbal : In the Native American Tradition, Poplar is one of the 7 sacred Grandmother Trees. Blue Feather sources the word poplar to the Romans, noting that poplar and popular are related. Its name means the tree of the people because it provided cool shade that helped them mellow out. Poplars are a veritable cornucopia of medical and food value. Within their natural environment, poplars are a generous host to numerous other life forms, including humans. The beaver has a symbiotic relationship with the poplar.
In Dancing with the Wheel , another Native American, Sun Bear, writes of the bell-like song of the aspens' quivering leaves.
Tree Medicine, Tree Magic (another book with much information about Native American practices): 'Poplar is the sacred World Tree of the Lakota nation. For the sun dance ceremony, a poplar is carefully cut and lowered to be re-erected in the center of the dance circle'. Medicinally, 'Poplar is similar to willow in its therapeutic use and is considered superior in the treatment of intermittent fevers such as malaria. Like willow, it is rich in salicin…Tea made from poplar bark makes an excellent gargle for sore throats'. Magically, ‘place the buds and leaves in sachets to attract money or burn them as incense to create financial security' (128- 131) .
And by the same author (Ellen Evert Hopman): A Druid's Herbal
Parts used: bark and buds
'The bark of Populus tremuloides is used in decoctions for fevers, urinary infection, and gonorrhea. The sticky, resinous winter buds of all poplars are used internally as tea…To prepare bark or bud as tea, simmer two teaspoons of plant per cup of water for twenty minutes, strain, and take one-fourth cup four times a day' (159)
Associations that support placing Edhadh at 144 degrees
•The relationship to the word popular is significant to Number 5. Of all the Numbers, 5 is the most congenial, and people with this Number strong in their charts are usually well-liked and often quite magnetic.
•As the number of evolution, growth and diversity, 5 is associated with abundance, and in various native traditions, poplar leaves and shavings are used to attract material abundance
•The Irish word Ehadh meaning 'most buoyant of wood' reminds us that Number 5 is also associated with buoyancy, and the ability to ‘go with the flow'.
•Aspens are intolerant of being in the shade of other trees, preferring to grow in open fields. Likewise, a characteristic of Leo is the need to radiate its own light and not hide behind others.
•Also related to its Leo/Fire position is that fact that the poplar is one of the best woods with which to start a fire, and provides a cool but bright fire in the summer months
•Blue Feather calls the poplar a personification of the 5 Elements: Earth by virtue of its deep connection with it, and Fire as providing a light that will kindle brightly but not burn. The Poplar represents the winds (Air) through its whispering, and Water by its ability to draw it up and release it for the benefit of all beings. Blue Feather classifies Love as the fifth Element and claims that if you doubt the existence of Love, try sitting under an Aspen for a while. The Poplar, Number 5 and Leo, share a benevolent attitude to life.
The Tree Alphabet Name per the Book of Ballymote : Ido, position 20
Gaelic Pronunciation: "EE-yoh"
Scientific Name: Taxus baccata , plant family Taxaceae (Yew)
Correspondences per the Wheel of Life:
The sound Y (the twenty-third member of the 24th harmonic)
Like the Letter U, Y is classified as intuitive and transforming in nature
Number: 12 (because it lies within the 12th Segment of the Wheel)
Keyword for Number 12: Regeneration
Astrological Placement: in the middle of Pisces
Moon Phase: Balsamic
Fourth Quadrant of the Wheel, which is the Intuiting Quadrant
Waning Moon, Waxing Sun: Although Moon-Mother has turned inward, the Mabon-Sun is gaining strength. Understood metaphysically, this combination describes the incubation of a whole new idea within the universal mind.
Energy Centre : Universal Third Eye
Colour: Vibrant pink
Ogam: 5 straight strokes across the stemline
Time of Year : Approaching the Spring Equinox
The Yew is an ancient type of conifer yet with its red fruit and lack of resin, it is not a true confer. Nor does it have cones, like conifers. Males and female flowers are usually born on separate trees. The female flowers are small and green, the male flowers slightly bigger and yellow. Once the female flower has caught the pollen of the male one, fertilization takes place and the fruit begins to grow. These fruits have but one seed each. The needle, bark, sap and seeds are all poisonous to humans. Its scientific name, Taxus, means bow because bows were made from the supple green branches. The flat waxy needle-like leaves are dark green on top and light green below. The yew has reddish, flaking bark that offers little protection from the elements and so yews are often hollow in the centre. Recent research indicates that some yews, still alive today, are over 4000 years old. They gain their great age through self-regeneration. Like Banyan trees, their branches can take root in the ground. These shoots then cluster around the parent trunk and eventually grow into it. The Yew is water resistant and throws out a great heat when burned. It has an exceptional weight-bearing capacity and was thus used to make crutches.
The Yew is an evergreen tree. It is one of the first trees to flower in spring . When the male flowers mature, the stamens open and the pollen fly with the winds. By autumn the flesh of the fruit has completely covered the seed.
Observations and Comments by various authors
The Celtic Tree Oracle: To the Murrays ' the yew symbolized the strength of the soul.
The Tree Ogam : The Yew can help those who are living on this side of life to make contact with their ancestors and guides in other worlds.
The Book of Ogham : Yew is 'the eternal root of the self' and 'the central reference point by which time and life are measured'. As a divinatory tool, it refers to movement from one state of being to another. The chief challenge is the inner feeling of loss or sorrow (194-5) .
Celtic Tree Mysteries : In the Word Ogam of Morainn Ido equals 'oldest of woods', 'service tree, Yew'. In the Word Ogam of Cuchulain Ido equates with the 'strength (or colour) of a sick man, people or an age'. And in the Word Ogam of Aonghus Ido equates with 'abuse for an ancestor' or ‘pleasing consent'. The meaning of the first Word Ogam is obvious and like the majority of the Word Ogams of Morainn refers to observable facts. The other two Ogams are far more cryptic. Steve Blamires tells us that the old word for yew, Eo, is also an old word for “salmon” and in Celtic lore the salmon was believed to contain the sum of all knowledge within its body. Yet the toxicity of the Yew warns that there are no shortcuts on the spiritual path. If you try to take shortcuts you will be abusing your ancestral pathway, but if you take one step at a time (and experience each tree in turn) you will receive pleasing consent from the ancestors.
Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids: Skip Ellison's key phrase for Ido is 'death and rebirth', and his animal equivalent is the salmon (Iach in Irish). 'In our magic we can use the yew…for its power to cast an arrow a great distance and with strength' (51-52).
Here are the Word Ogams as translated in Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom :
Word Ogam of Morainn mac Moín = sinem fedo = oldest of woods, oldest tree, oldest letter, older than letters
Word Ogam of Mac ind Óc = caínem sen = fairest of ancients
Word Ogam of Con Culainn = lúth lobair = energy of an infirm person
Additional Word Ogam = cáined sen no aileam áis = lovely wood, most pleasant of growth
Additional Word Ogam = crinam feada no cláinem = most withered of wood, crookedest of wood
Additional Word Ogam = claidem = sword
Tree: iúr, ibar = yew, and crann soirb = service tree
'The word Idad (alternate spelling) has no translation in Irish, but it is most often associated with the yew and with concepts of age and longevity'. Erynn Laurie associates it with the ancestors, history, and tradition and for those reasons her key word is 'memory'. To her, it also suggests reincarnation, legacy, inheritance, and the links between lives and generations. 'With the oceanic current we see an expression of the bond between generations…through lore passed from elders to children...The celestial current speaks of memory and history and of the gifts these things give us...Ido challenges us to look at our past as we determine our future, and to lay foundations of wisdom for the generations to come...Magically it can help you link with the spirits of your ancestors, and it may be of assistance when doing past life work. In healing it is good for working with the elderly and may be used as an aid for those whose memories are failing (127-9) .
Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees : From Paul Mountfort: 'Yew is a tree of transition…One aspect of your life is fading away, ceasing to be…Yet Idho also signifies that which is about to be reborn...Yew traditionally stands as a gateway tree in Celtic thought. Its dark hollow trunk marks it as an exit into the realm of the departed (and) a portal to a new life...It takes you through and beyond whatever is ending…to the domain of that which is genuinely new' (144-5) .
Tree Wisdom: 'In the cold regions of the north wind the yew is associated with faerie wildmen and Pictish deities, most of whom are said to have the ability to conjure up a faerie darkness in order to disappear. This may refer to the yew's ability to make things invisible for protection' (28).
Irish Tree Oils and Essences associate the Yew with renewal. The affirmation offered is: “I am one with my creative source”.
A Druid's Herbal Ellen Evert Hopman warns that this plant is poisonous and should not be used by non-professionals. It is available as a homeopathic remedy for detoxing. Magically it can be burned to contact the spirits of the dead. Some Celtic tribes regarded the yew as a symbol of stability and thus made it their 'World Tree'. They made wands and staves with its wood.
Associations that support placing IOHO at 315 degrees
Ido is typically associated with the letter I yet in the old systems of letter-number correspondences, the Letters I and Y were interchangeable. (Both are equivalent to Number 1 such systems). Just as in English, in at least two of the Celtic languages the word for the yew tree begins Y. It is Ywen in Welsh, and Ywenn in Cornish, and in both Wales and Cornwell, Ogam have been found.
The way that the Yew regenerates itself enables it to occupy the same site for centuries. This symbolizes fresh growth rising out of old growth, which is congruent with the Sign of Aries at the beginning of the Astrological Wheel arising from the Sign of Pisces at its end. The Yew demonstrates that the source of life constantly renews itself.
The reference to the Salmon is especially relevant to the astrological Sign of Pisces.
Number 20, its ordinal position, is about realizing the potential of the soul, and so it is significant that to the Murrays ' the yew symbolized the strength of the soul.
The time correspondent, which is between Imbolc and the Equinox, is when the pollen from the male flowers is adrift on the winds. On a warm day it produces a golden shimmer in the atmosphere.
'Yew represents the sum total of all that has gone before it' Celtic Tree Mysteries (209). At 345 degrees, the Yew represents the final stage of one level of learning and the preparatory phase for the next.
Summary of Placements around the Wheel of Life
Ailm, Pine at 1 degree
Beith, Birch at 45 degrees
Gort, Ivy at 51.4 degrees
Coll, Hazel at 60 degrees
Quert, Apple at 72 degrees
Duir, Oak at 90 degrees
Fearn, Alder at 102.8 degrees
Luis, Rowan at 120 degrees
Muin, Vine at 135 degrees
Edhadh, Aspen at 144 degrees
Nion, Ash at 150 degrees
nGetal, Broom at 153 degrees
Ohn, Gorse at 168 degrees
Ruis, Elder at 180 degrees
Z as Sraibh, Blackthorn at 205.6 degrees
Sail, Willow at 210 degrees
Huath at 216 degrees
Tinne, Holly at 270 degrees
Ur , Heather at 315 degrees
Y as Ido, Yew, at 345 degrees
Reference Books used in Part 1:
Edred Thorsson, The Book of Ogham (1992)
Ellen Evert Hopman, Tree Medicine Tree Magic (1991) and also A Druid's Herbal (1995)
Erynn Rowan Laurie, Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom (2007)
Faye Sorbet Ogham, The Celtic Tree Oracle
Fred Hageneder, The Living Wisdom of Trees (2005)
Gina McGarry, Bridhid's Healing (2005)
Glennie Kindred, The Tree Ogham (2003)
Jacqueline Memory Paterson, Tree Wisdom (1996)
Leigh Gadell Barret, The Tree Mothers: Living the Wisdom of the Ogham Trees (2010)
Liz & Colin Murray, The Celtic Tree Oracle (1988)
Paul Rhys Mountfort, Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees (2001)
Sandra Kynes, Whispers from the Woods (2006)
Randall White, Blue Feather's Herbal (no date supplied)
Robert Graves, The White Goddess (1961)
Steve Blamires, Celtic Tree Mysteries (1997)
PART II: Matching the Ogham with the plant life in Ferntree Gully (Melbourne, Australia)
Native Grapes and Vines
|LETTERS DIAGRAM||PART III: A Healing Journey||PART I|
At the outset it must be said that I am not thinking that an oak is the same as a gum tree! An oak is an oak, and a gum is a gum, in their own right. Each plant has its unique role to play in the web of life. I am seeking to match certain principles. The set of correlations provided by Pan's Script , which informed Part I of this thesis, are a part of this but not all it. Some matches are much better than others. And finally please note that the plants that I have selected are not the last word in the matter but simply suggestions. I am continually seeking further ideas.
Beginning with Beith let's explore the possibilities...
"The Australian White Birch"/The Betulaceae Family and the She Oak/Casuarinaceae Family/ 'Nurse Trees' and Composite Representations
There is a tree commonly called "Australian White Birch" because of the pale blond colour of its timber. It is a large rainforest tree, widespread throughout the warm-temperate rainforests of New South Wales. It is also found in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. It's not really a birch but belongs to the Schizomeria family, its scientific name being S. ovata.
Another line of thought: The Casuarinaceae Family evolved in Australia during the Paleocene Period, from 65 to 58 million years ago. Because it is botanically related to the Betulaceae (Birch) Family we can place the She Oaks in the Birch, Hazel or Alder positions. Birch and She Oak work particularly well together. In winter they look somewhat similar with their slender branches, although the trunks are quite different. Both are small trees that are usually neat and compact. Both appear delicate but are actually hardy. Both are associated with the feminine and both are beneficent to their respective environments. The Allocasuarina genus will grow in soils that are markedly deficient in nutrients, and conserve moisture loss. Birch is self propagating, and some species of Allocasuarina are also monoecious (plants that bear both male and female flowers) although some are dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). One important difference is that Birches are deciduous whereas Allocasuarina are considered evergreen. These three grow in my area…
Swamp She Oak, scientific name: Allocasuarina paludosa
This variety of She Oak forms a neat bush that grows to 2 metres in height. It flowers through autumn and winter. Like the Birch, it is usually monoecious, the male flowers being terminal spikes and the female cones dark red globular heads.
Drooping She Oak, scientific name: Allocasuarina verticillata (formerly Casuarina stricta)
This She Oak grows up to 6 metres in height, and has dark green and deeply ridged branchlets. It is also monoecious. The male flowers are slender yellowish spikes and the female cones reddish in colour. During its flowering period, the Drooping She Oak takes on a sandy colour appearance and as the name might suggest, has an attractive drooping quality. In common with the Birch it is fast growing and makes good firewood.
Black She Oak , scientific name: Allocasuarina littoralis
This is a graceful tree that can grow to 8 metres in height. It has numerous straight dark-green branchlets and a fir-like appearance. This species is dioecious, the male flowers appearing on some trees as fluffy brown spikes and the female flowers on different trees as crimson coloured cones. It flowers from March to June (autumn/winter). By their ability to survive in poor conditions, She Oaks prepare the environment for further vegetation and support other forms of life in general .
A mature She Oak could probably be used as a living maypole just as the Birch was in days gone by. She Oaks are renowned as good firewood and could be used to light the Beltane Fires.
Extending this line of thought, which Australian trees could be called 'nurse trees' like the birch?
The birch was called a nurse tree because it was one of the first trees to return after the Ice Age. It nurtured the soil and paved the way for further vegetation. There are many parts of Australia that are currently under threat from soil salination, including my own State of Victoria, although not my own part of it. At the top of the list of management strategies is the planting of salt-tolerant plants. If you lived in an area where salination was a problem you might consider the River Saltbush (Atriplex amnicola) a 'nurse tree'. Endemic to Western Australia, it is used throughout Australia as an aid in the rehabilitation of saline areas. It is also fairly drought tolerant and tolerates waterlogging once established. It recovers well from over grazing. A hybrid gum tree called 'Saltgrow' is also beeing usally successfully to reduce salinity. In just a few years the Saltgrow trees have transformed many sites from barren, soggy wastelands into productive lands. There are two Saltgrow hybrids, both based on the River Red Gum ( E. camaldulensis), making it a contender for this placement in some parts of Australia. The rule of thumb with assisting regeneration is to look to the plants that originally grew there and so 'Beith' in such an area might be exactly that plant that will help all of the others to return.
Rather than thinking in terms of a single plant to represent Beith in your area, consider a composite representation, or creating an altar to Beith if you prefer. You could then include a plant that resembles the birch and/or your local 'nurse tree'. Among the comments about the birch in Part 1 is the observation that it is rarely seen alone; it usually has flowers around it. Applying the Pan's Script correspondence system, I have planted a Grevillia that has bright orange and gold flowers among my representations of Beith in the garden. However you choose to represent Beith in your garden, it must feel 'right' for you.
Rowan, Lilly Pilly, and the Rose Family
There are no native rowan trees and this is a really hard one to match up. The closest I can come to it is the Lilly Pilly. Attractive small trees they occur naturally in moist gullies and rainforest area but they are very adaptable. Lilly pillies belong to the Mytaceae family of plants. Australia has about 52 different varieties of which 47 are native. The most common varieties in Australia are Acmena, Syzgium, Waterhousea, and Egenia. Lilly pillies have colourful eye-catching new growth. Their fluffy pink, red, white or rust-coloured flowers attract nectar-feeding birds. Almost all lilly pillies produce fleshy succulent fruits which are edible and are used in making jams and jellies. The fruits range in colour from white through shades of pink, red, and mauve, and just like the rowan berries, the birds love them.
I have a Szygium luehmannii in my garden which I affectionally call "Szygi Lew". It's not indigenous to my area but doing very well. I chose it because I was told that its fruits are tasty but it's still quite young and so I'm yet to verify that. Apparently its berries have a tart, cranberry-like flavour, with a hint of cloves. They are used to make a distinctively flavoured jam and is also used in sauces, syrups and confectionary. These Riberry fruits are red and pear-shaped, growing to 13 mm long, 4mm in diameter and cover a single seed. They be eaten and enjoyed straight off the tree. Apparently emus and the Australian Figbirds love them.
If you were to create a composite representation of Luis you might want to (also) include a local representative of the Rose Family because Rowan is a member of the Rosaceae (Rose) Family. Australia has eight indigenous species of the Rose Family. From an article by Tony Bean in ‘Australia on line':
(i) Rubus probus , with its 5-petelled flowers and bright red fruits, is widespread in Queensland and also New Guinea
(ii) Rubus rosifolius extends from China to southern Australia , and there are two varieties, which have a different number of petals. Both have red fruits that are somewhat conical in shape
(iii) Rubus queenslandicus is endemic to the coastal ranges of northern Queensland . Its red fruits are rather dry in texture
(iv) Rubus gunniarus , called Mountain Raspberry, has a distinctive red blackberry-like fruit but no prickles. It is native to Tasmania
(v) Rubus mooreir is a vine, which can reach tree canopy height. There are separate male and female plants. Its fruits are born in summer and are black and succulent at maturity. It grows near the New South Wales/Queensland border
(vi) Rubus nebulosus is also a dioecious vine that bears fruit in summer. It is widespread in New South Wales
(vii) Rubus moluccanus is a shrub that grows to 3 meters in height. Its natural range extends from Queensland to Southeast Asia . There are five varieties of which at least two have red, succulent and tasty fruit
There is also a natural hybrid, Rubus x novus that is a cross between R. moluccanus and R. parvifolius...
Native Raspberry , scientific name: Rubus parvifolius , Plant Family: Rosaceae
Rubus parvifolius is not the only one of the above to be called 'Native Raspberry' but it is the only one that grows in my area. Actually it is widespread: it can be found in Japan, southern China and North Vietnam as well as the whole of southeastern Australia, including Tasmania. It is a small-leaved prickly plant that is easily mistaken for the invasive blackberry. The leaves are bright green, wrinkled, and silver-white on the underside. It has 5-petalled bright pink flowers from October to December (spring/Beltane/early summer), followed by globular red berries that are edible but rather tasteless. I grow it near my lilly pilly.
Rubus parvifolius has edible red berries like the Rowan. These appear about a month prior to the Lughnasadh, which matches the time correspondent. Rubus parvifolius has hooked thorns, which have a protective quality.
Australia has no natives alder tree in Australia. Robert Graves claimed that Dogwood was sometimes used as a substitute because it yields a red dye and has white blossoms in spring. The Dogwoods comprise a group of about 40 deciduous woody plants in the Cornaceae Family. Three species are circumboreal to the Arctic Circle and there are several species in North and Central America, one or two in South America and one in Tropical Africa. In Australia, 'Dogwood' refers to a variety of unconnected plants, such as Jacksonia scoparia, which grows in the milder and mountain parts of New South Wales and Queensland, and Acacia coriacea, which is native to Central Australia. Supporting the placement of this 'Wattle Dogwood' in the Cancer-4 Segment of the Wheel is the fact that its seeds provide a nutritious bush food. It also provides shelter in which other species can grow. As Alder has an obvious connection with water, so the Acacia coriacea can hold on to water within itself like few plants can. It is both drought and frost resistant, and thus a survivor in a land that is prone to extremes of temperature.
Common Cassinia, Dogwood , scientific name: Cassinia aculeate , Plant Family: Asteraceae
Locally, the term 'Dogwood' refers to the Common Cassinia, a fast growing and hardy shrub that grows to four metres in height. About the only thing it has in common with the Alder are its white flowers. In keeping with its plant family, these flowers are daisy-like, yet unique to the Common Cassinia, they resemble little cauliflowers (but are not edible). Their flowering period is between November and March, which means high spring to autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Prior to opening, the buds are sometimes flushed with pink. Its seeds are wind dispersed and it is often a pioneer species after fire or other disturbance. When crushed, its foliage has a distinctive spicy fragrance, which is a common characteristic of Cassinias. This particular Dogwood is widespread throughout Australia , growing in Victoria , New South Wales , the Australian Capital Territory , Tasmania and South Australia, in many forest types from the coast to the ranges. Both Alder and Cassinia aculeate flower in summer. If the idea of substituting Dogwood for Alder is too fanciful for you, consider our 'Shield Trees'.
Shields were made from alder wood and so we can ask: which Australian trees were used by the indigenous people to make shields? One tree, native to my area, was the 'Blackwood' (Acacia melanoxylon). The fine hard wood of this beautiful wattle tree made strong shields as well as more offensive weapons. People soaked the bark in water to bathe painful joints and the inner bark was used to make string. Like many wattles and like the alder, the Blackwood is beneficial to the environment. It has nitrogen fixing root nodules and it can play a part in stabilizing the soil where necessary. Blackwood has a high quality timber, which is used in house construction and furniture making.
"The Australian Willow"/River Bottlebrush/River Wattle
The Native Willow is a small tree native to arid regions all over the mainland. More commonly known as 'Wilga' (Geijera parviflora), it features a profuse canopy of long, thin, drooping leaves, which resemble a willow. Wilga is a shade, fodder, and medicine tree: sheep like to graze on its lower branches and indigenous Australians used to chew the aromatic leaves to alleviate toothache. Wilga is known to have been used ceremonially.
Other 'willow-like' plants:
River Bottlebrush , scientific name: Callistemon sieberi, previously known as C. paludosus, Plant Family: Myrtaceae
This bottlebrush flowers from November to May, or Northern Hemisphere Samhuin to Southern Hemisphere Samhuin. Like the willow, it has silky new growth that spreads into long pendulous branches. As the name suggests, it likes to be close to water and so, like the willow, can be found growing by rivers and streams. It can grow up to 10 meters in height. Its nectar-rich flowers are popular with birds, and are followed by clusters of small woody fruit. River Bottlebrush is native to Victoria , the Australian Capital Territory , New South Wales , Tasmania and South Australia . The Bottlebrush as a Bush Flower Essence supports the process of life-transition, supports the placement of these plants near Samhuin
River Wattle, also known as Bower Wattle, scientific name: Acacia cognata (syn. Acacia subporosa)
This is an very pretty small tree with weeping branches of drooping narrow grey-green foliage. It resembles the weeping willow.
. "Ash Trees" and the Olive Family
There is a rainforest tree called Moreton Bay Ash which grows in some of the tropical and subtropical regions of Australia, but it is no more of an ash tree than the so-called Mountain Ash which grows locally. The former is a member of the Myrtaceae family and the latter is a Eucalypt. There is also a Red Ash (Alphitonia excelsa) and a White or Pink Ash (Alphitonia petriei), which are native to more northern parts of Australian but neither is truly an ash tree.
The Ash is a member of the Oleaceae family, which includes about 600 species of trees and shrubs from many different parts of the world. I believe West Australia has 4 native species but could not find any further information about them. There is also at least one in Queensland: Olea paniculala, a tree that grows to 18 metres in height and yields hard and tough timber. Growing near Sydney is the Notolaea longifolia, or Mock Olive, which grows up to 8 metres in height and has small yellow flowers. The one closest to my home has a similar name: Notelaea lingustrina, and is commonly called the Tasmanian olive.
Tasmanian or Privet mock olive, scientific name: Notelaea lingustrina, Plant Family: Oleaceae
This is a small and very beautiful tree that prefers wet forests to dry ones. It has distinctive reddish stems and bark. The leaves lie opposite each other. Its fruits resemble berries but are not edible, hence the name 'mock olive'. This is the closest I can get to matching the Ash with a tree that grows locally.
Hawthorn, Comprosma quadrifida, and Prickly Moses
Australia has no indigenous Hawthorn trees and so I turned my attention to prickly little trees with red berries and found the Coprosma quadrifida. Commonly known as the Prickly Currant-bush, this local Coprosma is a member of the Rubiaceae family. Its fruits are small, sweet and edible and it's about the same size as the hawthorn. It's obviously a bush tucker plant but I don't know what the medicinal qualities of the fruit are. A question to ask in regard to the hawthorn is: which Australian plant was used as a heart tonic by the indigenous people? Apparently the Native Sassafras (Atherosperma moshatum) has been used for various ailments including heart disease.
There is also a prickly wattle, Acacia victoriae, which has been shown to inhibit inflammation and cancer in laboratory studies. Known as 'Bramble Wattle' it grows in the arid parts of South Australia. Closer to home is another small prickly wattle called Prickly Moses, a name that applies to several different plants throughout Australia. It is generally agreed that the Moses part of the name is a corruption of mimosa, by which the Acacia species is known in India and other parts of the world. The Acacia species of plants evolved in Gondwanaland when India, South America and Africa were still joined to Antarctica , and so Acacias are native to all of these countries. And there is usually at least one prickly variety. Arizona has one actually called 'Whitethorn', by which the Hawthorn tree is also named. The 'Whitethorn Acacia' forms thickets that are as difficult to traverse as a Hawthorn thicket. Its spines are long, straight and white although their incidence varies.
Prickly Moses, scientific name: Acacia verticillata, Plant Family: Mimosaceae
Acacia verticillata is our local variety of Prickly Moses. The sharp, almost needle-like spines radiate from the branches like six spokes of a wheel (described as verticillate). It grows to about 4 metres in height, providing a refuge and food source for birds. Its yellow, cylindrically-shaped flowers appear from July to November (late winter-late spring), and are followed by narrow brown seed-pods. This Prickly Moses prefers a moist shady environment.
In his book The Living Wisdom of Trees, Fred Hageneder associates the Acacia with the Sun and Pluto. In the Pan's Script model, the Hawthorn and Acacia verticillata are placed in Scorpio, which is ruled by Pluto. The Pluto overtones remind us of the Acacia's importance in ancient Egypt. 'To the mind of the ancient Egyptian, a boat was not only a physical object but also a mirror of the barge of consciousness on which the soul floated through life...In five of the boat burials discovered near the pyramid of Cheops the boats were made from acacia and cedar. Most importantly, the original sacred barge of Osiris at the temple of Thebes was made from acacia...The ancient Egyptians' spiritual goal was to transcend the boundaries of the personality and merge with Osiris. The acacia was the guardian of this promise' (The Living Wisdom of Trees, p 19).
Queenslanders beware: there is a plant with heart-shaped leaves that forms red berries, which look deceptively tasty but are in fact poisonous. It's Alcasia brisbanensis and you probably know more about it than I do.
"Oaks", Eucalyptus Trees and Beech Trees
"Sheoaks" are not really oaks but members of the Casuarinaceae Family, for example the River Sheoak (Casuarina cunningharmania) is found along some of the riverbanks in Australia . Likewise, the "Desert Oak" (Allocasuarina decaisneana) is found in the dry desert regions of Central Australia . Nor is the "Silky Oak" really an oak, but the largest member of the Grevillea Family. There are several species of tree marketed as Silky Oak, all of which are grevilleas. And don't be fooled by the term " Tasmanian Oak", which refers to a blend of 3 species of Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus oblique is commonly called "Australian Oak" or "Tasmanian Oak" but it is not an oak tree, nor is it found exclusively in Tasmania. It also grows in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, and southern Queensland. Typically E regnans and E oblique are combined in a timber called Tasmanian Oak and used in house building, joinery, flooring, and furniture. Although none of the above is an oak, if one of these trees grows in your area and it feels oak-like to you, then you may want to explore how it relates to Duir.
The Mountain Ash , Eucalyptus regnans, Plant Family: Myrtaceae
In my travels through England I observed that the oaks stood in fields in the same sort of way that the eucalypts stand in our paddocks. It was as if one stood in the place of the other. Just as there are oak forests so are there eucalypt forests. And there are eucalypts in the tropical north of Australia that are deciduous in winter just as oaks are deciduous. But the one that I would like to focus on is the magnificent Mountain Ash, which grows, in the Dandenong Ranges, to which my place is foothill territory.
Firstly it is not an Ash, it is a Eucalypt, and where the name Ash came from I do not know. Eucalyptus regnans is Australia 's tallest hardwood and the tallest flowering plant in the world. Regnans means 'reigning'. It grows straight up, sometimes to a height of over 100 meters, and it is hard to resist raising your head in the presence of one in order to look up and see just how high it grows. Although a popular name, strictly speaking 'gum trees' are only one group within the genus called Eucalyptus. Eu-Kalyptos means ‘well covered'. There are over 500 species of Eucalyptus in Australia and so you should be able to find one to represent your particular area. It is the bud-cap ('gum-nut') that characterizes all members of this genus. After fertilization, the seeds mature in this fruit-capsule, which changes in shape as it develops into the form characteristic of its species.
The 'gum tree' holds a similar place in the hearts of the Australian people as the oak holds in the hearts of British folks.
They are both medicinal plants that nurture their respective environments
Both flower in summer and both have male and female flowers on the same plant
The 'gum nuts' are to Australia what the acorns are to the British Isles
Eucalyptus regnans is firm and steadfast like the English oak. It has a deep taproot anchoring it to the land just as the oak has roots that mirror and balance its crown. Both have a very firm grip on the Earth and both live to a great age.
Like the Oak, the Eucalypt represents the strength of the Land and the Sun at the Summer Solstice: a sacred marriage between Heaven and Earth.
Although there is no oak tree native to Australia, oak is a member of the Beech Family (Fagaceae) and we do have beech trees. Whereas conifers originate in the Jurassic Period of evolution, from 208 to 144 million years ago, the first Nothofagus (Southern Beech) developed in Antarctica around 80 m.y.a. At one time Nothofagus species were dominant in southeast Australia . Currently, Nothofagus is a genus of about 35 species of beech tree that are native to Chile, Argentina, southeast Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, New Guinea and New Caledonia. Strictly speaking they are genetically distinct from the Northern Hemisphere beeches but they may be the best representation of the oak that we have.
The deciduous quality of the ancient Tanglefoot Beech likens it to the northern hemisphere trees. It was named Tanglefoot by early European settlers because of its intertwined branches which are rigid laterally but flexible vertically. Its scientific name is Nothofagus gunnii . Rarely more than 2 metres in height, it grows in some of the alpine and sub alpine regions of Tasmania . In autumn its broad leaves change from their summer green to a burnt gold colour. The local people call it the ‘turning of the fagus'. Its flowers are yellow-green catkins and its fruit is a capsule that contains three winged nuts. Its survival is threatened by fire, yet it thrives on other forms of environmental disturbance such as land slips and earthquakes.
The closest Nothofagus to my area is the Myrtle Beech , scientific name Nothofagus cunninghamii, which grows in the mountain gullies of south and east Victoria, including the Strezelecki Ranges, which are about one hour's drive from my home. During its evolution the Nothofagus tree developed into four sub-genera, of which N. gunnii belongs to the Fuscospora group and the evergreen N. cunninghamii belongs to the Lophonozia group. This species varies from a small stunted shrub at high altitudes to a large tree in sheltered valleys, where it can reach up to 50 metres in height. Its new shoots and leaves are a reddish-bronze color and its timber reddish-pink. Its flowers are small and unisexual (i.e. male flowers and female flowers grow on different trees).
Our Australian Holly
Australia 's only native holly: Ilex arnhemensis holds the honour of being the first flowering plant to appear in Australia – and it still exists! During the Cretaceous period from 144-65 million years ago, Africa and India left Antarctica, then Africa separated from South America, and then New Zealand separated from Australia . During this time, flowering plants migrated to all continents and began competing with the gymnosperms (conifers etc). Ilex arnhemensis now only grows in the lowland forests of northern Australia but fossils of this species have been found all over the continent, which supports the theory that Australia was once covered in rainforest. And so this holly belongs to the Gondwanaland rainforests with their sub-tropical vegetation. In a sense, Ilex arnhemensis blazed a trail for other flowering plants.
Ilex arnhemensis does not grow where I live so I had to look for an alternative to represent this point. I came across "Holly Lomatia". It is not a holly, but a Lomatia, a small genus of twelve species in the Proteaceae Family. Nine species occur in Australia and the other three in Chile . It may not be as ancient as the holly yet the Lomatia is also a Gondwanaland plant, so it is another ancient survivor. In fact there is one species of Lomatia that is so ancient, rare and precious, that it is protected by a special act of Parliament. Found in only two tiny locations in southwest Tasmania , Lomatia tasmanica is also called King's Lomatia after the person who discovered it and King's Holly because it has holly-like foliage. Scientists have aged one particular specimen by studying nearby fossils of the same type of tree and determined that it is over 43 000 years old. Thought to be the oldest known plant clone in the world, the total population comprises only 500 plants which appear to be maintained vegetatively by root suckering (it sends out long root stems from which new trunks arise). One strand has spread over 1.2 km, making it the second longest such clone in the world. It has zero genetic diversity (every plant is identical), and it appears to be sterile (it bears flowers but yields neither fruit nor seeds). Lomatia tasmanica is a spindly plant that grows up to 5 metres in height. Typical of other Proteaceae it has clusters of rusty colored flowers that resemble one of its relatives: the Grevillea.
Holly Lomatia, scientific name: Lomatia ilicifolia
My local Holly Lomatia may not be as rare and precious as King's (Holly) Lomatia, but it is still a member of this ancient plant species. Holly Lomatia grows to about two metres in height and is usually stiffly erect with slender stems and leathery dark green holly-like leaves, although sometimes it straggles along the ground. It has creamy colored flowers followed by brown papery capsules. Each fertilized flower produces a dry fruit that splits along one edge to reveal winged seeds that can be carried by the wind.
If no species of Lomatia is indigenous to your area, you might consider one of its close relatives: the grevilleas, banksias and hakeas, to represent this position.
2013 update: Holly Lomatia has proved impossible to grow; it's a very sensitive little plant and as such does not represent Tinne well at all. I switched to Holly Grevillia and with its bright red flowers I initally found it a much better match although it also died not long after I planted it.
Hazel and Macadamia
Australia has its own nut-bearing trees including the Candle Nut (Aleurites moluccana) and the Bunya Nut (Araucaria bidwillii), but its most famous nut is the Macadamia. Macadamia integrifolia is indigenous to southeast Queensland while M. tetraphylla is indigenous to southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales . At the point where the two species meet, there are several natural hybrids. Macadamias are evergreen trees that can reach up to 15 metres in height and almost as wide. Their bark is rough, brown and dark red when cut. Growth in mature trees occurs in two flushes, in spring and midsummer. The flowers are typically a creamy white colour, like the nuts that grow from them. Macadamias can self-pollinate, although there are variations. The edible nuts have a very hard seed coat enclosed in a green husk that splits open as the nut matures. Interestingly, the Australian Macadamia is related to the Chilean Hazel (Gevuina avellana). Although native to southeast Queensland, the Macadamia is now cultivated all over the world.
Australia has no indigenous apple trees that are members of the Rosaceae (Rose) Family, so we will consider 3 native plants that bear the name ‘apple' for one reason or another. These are the Common Appleberry (Billardiera scandens), Muntari, (Kunzea pomfera) , and the Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare).
The Common Appleberry , Plant Family: Pittosporaceae
This dainty climber produces one of the more palatable Australian bush fruits. It has dark green leaves with wavy edges. Its yellow-green, bell-shaped flowers transform into cylindrical olive-green berries that are about three centimetres long.
A similar species called Purple Apple Berry (Billardiera longiflora) also flowers from August to January (i.e. all of spring and much of summer), and then, as the name suggests, produces purple berries. There are actually about twenty species of Billardiera in Australia, some of which are edible.
Muntari , Plant Family: Myrtaceae
Muntari is a beautiful ground-cover. Its flowers have fluffy white stamens from which come fuzzy purple fruits. These are shaped like immature apples (hence the name pomfera). They can be preserved by drying, or they can be made into jams, which taste and smell like dried apples.
Kangaroo Apple , Plant Family: Solanaceae
Like the Appleberries, the Kangaroo Apple is indigenous to my own area (Muntari is not). Appleberries grow in parts of Victoria , New South Wales , the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania , Muntari in coastal regions of Victoria and South Australia , and Kangaroo Apple in parts of Victoria , New South Wales , Tasmania and Queensland (also New Zealand ). Of the three, the Kangaroo Apple is the only one that is tree-like. Actually it is a bushy, fast-growing shrub. It is called Kangaroo Apple because its leaves suggest the shape of a kangaroo's footprint while the its fruits vaguely resemble small apples. Visible from September to March (i.e. most of spring and all of summer), its flowers are a violet colour, and from these come green egg-shaped fruits that are initially poisonous. They are only edible once they have fully ripened to a deep orange colour. To a person who appreciates both plants, the Kangaroo Apple does exude something of the quality of the Crab Apple. It's a peaceful feeling yet also one of persistent wildness, which resonates deeply within the mind and soul.
Native Grapes and Vines
Australia has several indigenous vines and some members of the Vitaceae (Grape) family. For example, in the Northern Kimberly region there is a species of the grape family called Vitis trifolia, which contains calcium oxalate in the fruits. This can cause severe mouth irritation and so it doesn't substitute well for the luscious grape vine. Another member of the Vitis Family that grows in Australia is Cissus opaca, which is the only native grape west of the Great Dividing Range. Commonly called the Pepper Vine, its fruits are edible but not necessarly tasty. Another example is Cissus hypoglauca, commonly known as Five Leaf Water Vine or Five-leaf Native Grape, a common climber in moist areas of eastern Australia. Also called 'Jungle Vine', this Native Grape is a tall evergreen woody climber with edible dark-blue berries. The fruits can be crushed and mixed with water as a gargle for a sore throat.
Ivy is classified as a noxious weed in Australia and so we must definitely look for a substitute. There is a local plant called Elderberry Panax (Polyscias sambucifolia), which is a member of the same family as ivy (Araliaceae) but bears no resemblance to it. While ivy is a climber, Elderberry Panax is a small tree. To represent Ivy, I would prefer one of our local climbers: Hardenbergia violacea. The cultivated variety of this plant is called 'Happy Wanderer', which seems a suitable name.
Happy Wanderer, scientific name: Hardenbergia violacea , plant family: Fabaceae
Hardenbergia violacea is an evergreen climber with twining stems. It has dark-green leaves that are almost heart-shaped. Its pretty purple flowers are visible throughout the whole of spring. Like ivy, Hardenbergia violacea is a vigorous climber. No other plant has the survival strategies that Ivy has, but Hardenbergia violacea could stand in as a spiritual warrior.
Broom is a member of the Pea Family of Plants and there are lots of them in Australia . Locally we have varieties of Bitter-peas, Flat-peas, Bush-peas, a Wedge-pea, and a Parrot-pea to name a few. And there is one member of the Fabaceae Family that is called 'Native Broom', a plant uniquely Australian. Viminaria Juncea is the single species in the genus Viminaria, a name that comes from the Latin word vimen, meaning pliant twig.
Native Broom, scientific name: Viminaria juncea , Plant Family: Fabaceae
Native Broom grows in the more moist and temperate parts of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. A tall shrub, it can grow up to 6 metres in height. It has a slender trunk with dark fibrous bark that contrasts with its soft green crown, which is a mass of slender vibrant green branches that give it a willowy appearance. Unlike the non-native species, these are neither stiff nor rigid. Native Broom has smaller and brighter flowers than English Broom, and is more resilient. A rapid-grower, it is frost-hardy, sun tolerant, and because of its pliancy, can ride out severe storms. Ordinary leaves are absent except in seedlings and young stems, and so it is generally thought of as leafless. In November (early summer), the branches become thickly lined with small lemon-coloured pea flowers that have a light clover-like fragrance. These flower-spikes can be over 20 cm in length. In cool climates and conditions, the flowers can remain on the branches until mid-December (mid-summer). By flowering at this time, the Native Broom provides an important food-source for various beneficial insects. As summer progresses, the flowers are followed by semi-succulent fruits.
To some extent, Native Broom combines the qualities of the Broom and the Reed. Juncea means 'rush-like', and like reeds, Viminaria juncea grows extensively in swamps and by streams. As noted by Edred Thorsson in The Book of Ogham , both the Reed and the Broom have straight and flexible stems, and so this is one of the keys to understanding this position and letter combination.
If you prefer to work with NGetal as Reed, you might like to work with a different species of juncea: Baumea juncea - also known as 'Twig Rush'. It is an erect rush growing to about one metre in height with cylindrical leaves and small brown seed heads at the top of the stems. Like Viminaria juncea it flowers in spring.
Another very good match is Juncus sarophorus, which is called "Broom Rush". This is tufted perennial rush with hard green culms grows to the average height of a human being. Its leaf sheaths are dark yellow-brown, or dark red-brown, and are sometimes black at the base. It flowers from Beltane to Lughnasadh in dense fan-shaped clusters. I was delighted to find these plants living in damp areas beside the tracks of my local forest.
"Native Blackthorn"/Black Plum/Sweet Bursaria
Locally there is a plant nicknamed 'Blackthorn' because of its prickliness: Sweet Bursaria, scientific name: Bursaria spinosa , Plant Family: Pittosporaceae: Like the Northern Hemisphere plant from which its nickname comes, this is a dense and prickly shrub that grows to about 4 metres in height. Its spindly branches bear stiff, sharply pointed, black spines. It has shiny, dark green leaves that are usually broader towards the tips than the bases. Dense clusters of small sweetly scented creamy flowers adorn it throughout summer, providing a haven for nectar-feeding insects. These pretty blossoms are followed by clusters of papery brown fruit in autumn. Sweet Bursaria is native to Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. As with real Blackthorn, the Bursaria's flowers are sweetly perfumed, reminding us of the spiritual reality behind the apparent reality.
The Australian Black Plum, scientific name: Diospyros australis, referred to in earlier days as Cargillia australis
Plant Family: Ebenaceae
Diospyros means 'fruit of the gods' and is a large genus of tropical rainforest trees. Specifically Diospyros australis is a small slow-growing tree with shiny, dark green leaves. It produces small white flowers from mid-spring to summer, followed by large black edible berries, which supply a vital food source for fruit-eating birds. The Australian Black Plum provides a good match for the Northern Hemisphere Blackthorn, but unfortunately for those of us in Melbourne, it only grows in the coastal rainforest from the south coast of New South Wales to north Queensland.
If all else fails, you might have a wild cherry plum tree growing nearby: Prunus cerasifera, Plant Family: Rosaceae, like the Blackthorn. Cherry plums are classified as naturalized in Australia.
From the Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: 'Elder or Elderberry (Sambucus) is a genus of 5-30 species of fast-growing shrubs or small trees…formerly treated as members of the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae, but now shown by genetic evidence to be correctly classified in the Moschatel family Adoxaceae. The genus is mainly native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with two species in the Southern Hemisphere'. These two are: Sambucus australasica (Yellow Elder: New Guinea , eastern Australia), and Sambucus gaudichaudiana (White Elder: shady areas of south eastern Australia ). I will comment on the latter because it is indigenous to my area.
White Elderberry, scientific name: Sambucus gaudichaudiana
A deciduous shrub, the White Elderberry grows between 1 and 3 metres in height. It requires moist soil and prefers an open location with dappled sunlight. It can tolerate strong winds and a polluted atmosphere. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs). Their heads are a mass of tiny white waxy 4-petalled flowers curled in to touch at the center of each flower. The berry-like fruits come in creamy-translucent clusters which are easy to harvest. They are pleasant enough to eat, albeit slightly bitter. They can cause stomach upsets in some people but any toxin they might contain is destroyed when they are cooked. Like their northern hemisphere counterpart they have multiple stems from a perennial rootstock. These stems die back each winter to be replaced by new stems in spring. Thus the yearly cycle of the White Elderberry is similar to the northern hemisphere varieties.
This photo shows the two Elders: the British one to the right and the local one to the left. It was taken at Spring Equinox and you can see that the local one is already putting forth its flowers. The cat's name is Tigger and her favourite sleeping place was between the Elders.
Australia is home to three of the world's seven conifer families. The Araucariaceae Family is particularly well represented with unique species such as the Norfolk Island Pine, the Hoop Pine, the Bunya Pine, the Kauri Pine and the Wollemi Pine. Each is indigenous to a particular part of the country. Tasmania has some ancient pine communities still in existence: Huon Pine, King Billy Pine and Pencil Pines. 100 million years ago pines dominated the southern hemisphere with conifer forests extending almost to the South Pole. Twenty-six species of primitive conifer have been found in fossils.
The highly unique Wollemi Pine grew in the area in which I live until about 2 million years ago. It was a great day when it was discovered that they were not extinct but hanging on to life in just one small part of the Wollemi National Park in New South Wales. Representing Ailm, the Wollemi Pine, Wollemia nobilis , certainly demonstrates a unique impulse of Creation as a tree in this position should. In fact, it is so unique that botanists had to come up with a special genus for it. Its most striking feature is its conical spear-like crown. The month of October is the busiest and most dramatic time in the life of the Wollemi Pine for this is when the pollen cones release their clouds of minute grains. In Australia, October follows the Spring Equinox and so the Wollemi Pine is an excellent representative of Ailm and this position on the Wheel of Life.
Where I live in Melbourne there is no indigenous pine tree but the White Cypress Pine comes close. Although it is not strictly a part of the ecosystem of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne , it is native to the northwest suburbs and the northern parts of the State of Victoria in general. In fact, the White Cypress Pine is native to at least one part of every mainland State of Australia .
White Cypress Pine, scientific name: Callistris glaucophylla
This Pine can grow up to 30 meters in height. Its bark is brown, rough and furrowed, and its leaves are a blue-grey colour. Tiny brown male cones arise at the end of the branchlets while the larger and rounder grey female cones arise further in from the tips. These cones, with their six woody valves, are the most distinctive feature of the Callistris group of Pines. Although Callistris is a softwood, the White Cypress Pine is the world's hardest coniferous timber. Like most pines this one flowers throughout the springtime.
Gorse is a member of the Pea Family, which provides a wide variety of choices for this position. Locally we have a plant actually called 'Gorse Bitter Pea'.
Gorse Bitter Pea , scientific name: Daviesia ulicifolia, Plant Family: Fabaceae (Pea)
Like the English Gorse, this is a prickly spreading shrub. It grows to 1.5 metres in height, which is only half the size of its namesake. Gorse Bitter Pea has stiff, spine-tipped and tangled branches that are offset with dark green heart-shaped leaves. From August to November (i.e. right throughout spring), it also has masses of yellow and brown pea-shaped flowers, which are followed by small triangular pods. Gorse Bitter Pea is widespread throughout Victoria , the Australian Capital Territory , New South Wales , Queensland , Tasmania , South Australia and Western Australia .
Photo: Gorse Bitter Pea in flower at the Spring Equinox
Victoria 's Floral Emblem is the Common Heath. It grows wild around where I live and so this is an easy one for me.
Common Heath , scientific name: Epacris impressa , plant family: Epacridaceae
Widespread in Melbourne and throughout the States of Victoria , New South Wales , Tasmania and South Australia , the Common Heath prefers open forest, woodland and heathland. A slender shrub, it grows to about one meter in height. It has sharply pointed narrow leaves. The flowers are usually white but shades of pink and red are not uncommon. These are tubular in shape and rich in nectar. Its flowering period is long: from March to November (autumn to high spring). The Common Heath is pollinated by birds.
To what has been written about the Northern Hemisphere Heather, we can add that the Common Heath is actually flowering during the time of Imbolc and makes a suitable offering at that ceremony.
The Australian Poplar (Codonocarpus cotinifolius) is a tree that can grow up to ten metres in height. Its bark is smooth, often greyish, but occasionally cream-coloured like the true poplar. It strongly resembles the European poplar. Short-lived, it grows rapidly to its full height. Its shape is described as pyramidal or conical. The leaves have a flavour like mustard and were chewed to relieve toothache. The Australian Poplar is considered native to Western Australia, which is a long way from where I live. To date I have been unable to find any local plant that could represent this fid of the Ogam Alphabet in my area.
Ferns seem to have originated in Devonian time (408-360 million years ago) when Australia was drifting towards the South Pole. Then during the next evolutionary phase, the Carboniferous phase (360-286 m.y.a.), giant clubmosses, which had evolved with the ferns, began being replaced by smaller but hardier seed-ferns. These were among the first plants to reproduce with seeds. Seed-ferns are not true ferns but gymnosperms, which would evolve still further into cycads, ginkgoes and conifers. True ferns rely on primitive asexual cells called spores to reproduce. They are part of a large group of plants that develop roots, stems and leaves (called fronds) but not flowers or fruits. Water is vital to their complex reproductive cycle. A characteristic of ferns is the uncoiling of new fronds at their growth points. Our local forest has several species of fern, the most spectacular being the Rough Tree Fern, and the similar Soft Tree Fern. The former is much taller and more common than the latter…
Rough Tree Fern, scientific name: Cyathea australis, Plant Family: Cyatheaceae
Occasionally taller than 12 metres in height, the Rough Tree Fern is so named because the base of its old fallen fronds persist on the upper parts of the trunk, giving it a rough appearance and making it rough to touch. It grows very slowly and so you could be looking at a tree that is hundreds of years old and not realize it. The trunk-base eventually becomes buttressed with layers of fibrous roots. The broad tripinnate fronds, which can grow up to 4 metres long, form a large pretty green umbrella at the top of the plant. The pith at the top of the trunk is edible and nutritious. The roasted stalks of young fronds provided an invigoting tonic for the indigenous people of this aread. These young fronds unfold during August and September (Imbolc/early spring), which is our time correspondent. I realize that a tree fern looks nothing like a yew tree yet with its ability to re-generate itself, it is as close as I can get to a representation of IOHO.
Spot the frond unfolding at the Spring Equinox
If I lived in Queensland, I would probably select the Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) to represent IOHO because of its yew-like leaves.
Summary of Placements around the Wheel of Life per the Pan's Script model
A ilm, Pine at 1 degree
Australian varieties of Pine
B eith, Birch at 45 degrees
"Australian Birch", She Oaks, and Nurse Trees
G ort, Ivy at 51.4 degrees
C oll, Hazel at 60 degrees
Q uert, Apple at 72 degrees
Common Appleberry, Muntari, or Kangaroo Apple
D uir, Oak at 90 degrees
Australian "Oaks", Eucalyptus and Beech trees
F earn, Alder at 102.8 degrees
Dogwood and Shield Trees
L uis, Rowan at 120 degrees
Lilly Pilly and local varieties of the Rubus family
M uin, Vine at 135 degrees
Native Grapes and Vines
Edhadh, Aspen at 144 degrees
N ion, Ash at 150 degrees
Tasmanian (mock) olive
nG etal, Broom at 153 degrees
O hn, Gorse at 168 degrees
Gorse Bitter Pea
R uis, Elder at 180 degrees
Z as Sraibh, Blackthorn at 205.6 degrees
Bursaria spinosa and Australian Black Plum
S ail, Willow at 210 degrees
Australian Willow (Wilga), River Bottlebrush or River Wattle
H uath at 216 degrees
T inne, Holly at 270 degrees
Ur , Heather at 315 degrees
Local variaties of Heath
Y as Ido, Yew, at 345 degrees
Local Tree Ferns
PART III: THE OGAM AS A JOURNEY TO HEALTH AND WHOLENESS
The Ogam, when placed within the Pan's Script model of correspondences, reveals a spiral of 9, outer to inner. What this means is what I will explore next. If you feel inspired to research the idea yourself, please send me an email to let me know your thoughts.
One of our sources of information about the cryptic meaning of the Ogam is The Battle of the Trees . It's a baffling piece of work until you substitute the word trees for 'states of consciousness'. Read it again with that in mind and you might just have the world's story. If the battle of the trees encodes the struggle between one state of consciousness and another, as some scholars suggest, then the task is to discern what state of consciousness each tree represents so that we know what is rubbing up against what. It's not simply a matter of applying Numbers and their correspondences because 'Trees' are full-bodied beings with an evolutionary agenda. The Numbers and their correspondences will help us, but a deep and conscious connection with each tree is also mandatory.
Another seed thought to appear prior to the journey beginning was this one: the spiral is the Eye of the Goddess and the Goddess has 9 facets to her nature. Could these be the nine turns of the spiral: nine States of Mind like the nine Neters (Number Principles) of Old Egypt, with significant sub-states represented by the letters that occupy each turn of the Spiral?
THE OGAM ARRANGED AS A SPIRAL
9 Turns of the Wheel:
I undertook the first journey on Monday October 16 2006. It was an inner journey and it followed a weekend of shamanic training at the Caerleon Centre. But prior to this journey, on the Saturday, I had visited an ancient billabong in the forest and rested under a Tree Fern . Now in Part 2 of this thesis we correlated the Tree Fern with the Yew. I didn't realize until after the inner journey on Monday, the significance of this. As I sat with my spine against the old Tree Fern, my thoughts drifted back to my childhood, stirring up old feelings and dreams that I'd forgotten about. Much like a Vision Quest, I was awake for most of the night (following this experience), reflecting on the choices that people have made. I was thinking especially of the choices my mother had made, and why, and what had worked in her favour. It wasn't hard thinking but rather gentle reflection. I knew that I now had to make similar choices and they would be critical to the final stages of my life.
On the Monday, I did all the preparation via my ovate training, and shamanic training, and found myself (in my mind's eye) near our Beltane site. There's a Birch tree near the Villa Toscana that I remembered admiring once. It welcomed me and as I pressed my spine against it told me that “Every journey begins with passion”. It said its name was “Bay" to highlight the fact that it combined the B and A sounds. It said it was a tree of passion and that all of the correspondences were as they should be. B was for believing in yourself, and your hopes and your dreams. The age correspondent of 10-11 was an important time for this. At that age, you believe, quite rightly, that you are entitled to the best that life can offer. Similarly, the Birch believes in itself. Its passion to live and its physical vitality are so strong that it can grow where others have failed. It wants to pioneer something– but not alone – this journey begins with a trusted friend. You want to share the excitement with someone and you will always have a special bond with this person. You should be able to feel the kundalini flowing strongly and fearlessly through your body as you set out; this is what the druids called Nwyfre. You value this journey. You don't know where it is going to lead you but you want to undertake it anyway. You sense that something wonderful will come from it, simply because you believe it will. I guess this is where I'm at right now.
Birch at Beltane
Before doing the outer journey the next day, I happened to launch my website. I hadn't known that all it took was a phone call and there it was on the worldwide web.
A couple of hours after the website launch, I set off to commune with the actual birch tree, however when I got to Villa Toscana I noticed that the position of the tree made it unsuitable for meditation work. I found a pair of birches close by and felt myself drawn to the one with the straighter trunk. They were beautiful trees, both full of leaves, with fascinating etchings on their bark. I offered a gift of silver to the tree, which it seemed happy to accept. Initially I sat with my back to the picnic area because there were people there but I accomplished little apart from aligning myself to the directions. I realized that I wanted to align this outer experience with the inner one I did yesterday and so imagined the circle that I created yesterday transported to this site. I cast circle with the same wand and consecrated it with the same tools that I used the day before. When the people left, I moved around to the tree's Beltane position and found that a lot more comfortable. I tried to further prepare myself but then became aware that emotions were beginning to well up. I felt like I was about 10 years old. Two people that I know and that I look up to had arrived (etherically), and I felt inadequate in their presence. I sensed the split between ego and soul that leaves one feeling weak. How to heal and strengthen? I already knew the answer: to place my spiritual routine as top priority, over and above everything else, instead of just whenever I feel like it. I thanked the Birch for reminding of this at the outset of the journey. I then uncast the circle and gathered my things, including a stick of birch that lay on the ground. I felt unsettled for about three hours afterwards, no doubt exacerbated by the fact that I had just launched my website. Was I up to what lay ahead? At home I placed the Birch stick in my Druid Grove in the Beltane Position.
The next day I suddenly intuited the energy-lines that run through my Druid Grove. One came from our local hill-top, and the other from our local spring. Tor (hill-top) and Well (spring) are the symbols of Beltane: they represent the One become Two.
A couple of days later I studied an image of the Green Man, which I had recently been given. Recognizing the connection between this gift and the experience with the Silver Birch, I researched one then the other. Beith means ‘being'. As the first tree in the Ogam, it initiates whatever needs initiating, in the most natural way. In 'being', we are in the Green Man's territory, which is also Pan's territory. At this point I wrote an invocation:
Pan, Spirit of Nature, Spirit of Wild Life,
Human-kind's connection to the Earth,
Embodiment of Passion and Desire,
Untamed Protector of Universal Freedom,
I invoke thy Name, and beseech thy help as I journey through the Ogam.
I awoke the next day with a dream strongly imprinted on my consciousness. I had witnessed warring factions: a rebel force led by a young man from a hill top, and a vast, nebulous force whose leaders were faceless. The energy was masculine on both sides. By way of contrast, I wandered into this landscape as a young woman, ignoring all warnings that it was dangerous. I simply wanted to find a place where my animal could graze. I actually strayed quite close to the rebel leader and got a good look at him. His supporters were wary of me but he saw no harm in me wandering the hill side. I found a sheltered place that had lush green grass and flowing water for my animal, which was white in colour. The instant I awoke, I realized that I had had a vision of Pan. Here he was up against the massive, nebulous, faceless, form of fear. That is, all that keeps us subservient to the forces of greed and selfishness, here revealed to me, as an immense, grey smog-polluted, death-inducing landscape. Against all of this Pan stood naked and fearless. His skin was dark brown like most tree trunks, and his hair was long and black. His face was youthful, much like the immortal Babaji. Around him were folks dressed in woody greens. Shorter than he was, they looked like walking trees that have become stump-like over eons of time. Yet they were full of vitality, like Pan. I got up and greeted the day, as I usually do, but this time I added the words “As Pan champions all that is wild and free, so will I champion Pan. May the Earth, my Mother, bear witness”. I now know, with absolute clarity, that Pan champions freedom of choice and responsible, fearless action, and that is what I stand for too.
This same day a friend showed me where to find a Rowan tree in the Pirianda Gardens . Like the Birch, the Rowan is a beautiful little tree, which I will return to and observe as the cycle of the year turns. As well as two Rowan trees, there were several varieties of Birch in this garden, including one that shed a paper-like bark. The same friend, who showed me the Rowan, also loaned me three books: The Watchers Series by Caiseal Mór. These books are not exactly historical fiction but well-researched stories based on the root races of Ireland and it is plausible that the Fir-Bolg, Danaans and Gaedhals were originally kin from the Land of Murius, to the west of present day Ireland. Before it was submerged, a Quicken Tree of exceptional beauty grew there. This first Rowan was a Tree of Life and a brew of nine berries from it could heal the injured and restore life to the dead. This original Rowan became the symbol of the kindred spirit between the races. The various tribes met under it to swear oaths and make judgments. It was a place of sanctuary.
October 26 2006: A Rite of Allegiance to Pan: my formal Promise to stand by him in his quest to champion our Earthly Mother.
At this ceremony I also blessed my Birch and Rowan Sticks. I used Steve Blamire's guidelines for making the Ogam Divining Sticks and cut each twig the length of my hand. Since my professional name is White, I painted the Ogam on them with white out.
At this first stage in the 9-fold spiral, I perceive Beith and Luis as stimulating Nwyfre (prana/ki/lifeforce energy). Beith by virtue of its placement at Beltane relates to the Green One, lush growth and potent sexual energy. The Celtic hero, Lugh, used a Rowan Spear to curb the destructive side of this force. Once this tremendous energy is redirected from wanton acts upon the physical world to the goal of enlightenment, as well as getting the adrenalin pumping, it increases the speed of the chakra wheels. Beith and Luis represent the beginning of the journey: The Promise. This is my first insight into the first spiral.
Today I discovered the Ogam thread on the OBOD message board, and a wealth of new information. Several of the suggestions stirred me to work more creatively with the Ogam. I was aware that this feeling was probably signaling the turn in the Spiral. At the beginning of Part 3 of this essay, I had a hunch that I would be exploring ways of using the Ogam as a healing tool. To this end I was delighted to find at least one person using the Ogam-Words as healing mantrum. For example, let's say a person needed encouragement to take a new step forward in life, the Beith-Luis-Fearn could be sung as a chant. Another link led me to Celtic Reiki, which was set in motion by Martyn Pentecost in December 2004. Being a Reiki Master, I was naturally curious about this and delighted to find a practitioner here in Melbourne . I immediately undertook the necessary training to become a Celtic Reiki Master.
During a shamanic healing session, the person who seems to have become my companion in this work, asked me if I was interested in teaching Celtic shamanism. Initially I was reluctant because I didn't think I knew enough. But then I remembered my training and all of the connections I have made, and realized that I would be guided. For some time now I have wanted to create journeys that deepen people's experience of the 8-Fold Year. I now suspect that these journeys will come when I have completed the Ogam, which is itself a series of journeys.
October 31: Beltane Eve: As I placed the 'Blessing of the 20' onto an object of great significance to a friend, I received the message: “The Ogam is the Green Man's Script: Pan's Script, if you like”.
This morning I undertook the first 'Cave Journey' in relation to the Ogam. I entered my cave, as usual, and headed straight to its Ancient Guardian to seek blessings and guidance. I told her that I would like to journey to the door on which the Beith Ogam was inscribed. She instructed me to return to the front of the cave and take the first turn on the right. This brought me to a small flight of stairs, and the door I was looking for was at their end. I knocked and waited. A lady answered inviting me to come in and rest. Her room was just a small cell, yet cozy. I felt safe. After a few moments I found myself (third-eye vision) inside a car with throngs of people around it. Although they were not menacing, I wasn't sure what to do. From inside my mind, Beith instructed me to get out of the car and greet the people. Lesson 1: There is nothing to fear but your own dark thoughts. These people are parts of your Self. Your old patterns of thinking need revision. Lesson 2: Our way is one of hospitality. Beith laid our tables of food and drink for the weary travelers. Apparently, these folks had recently ended a cycle and were in need of nourishment before undertaking another. Beith was providing them with a place to rest and revitalize their weary souls. Whilst in the car, the thought had crossed my mind that perhaps a warrior-sentinel should be standing at the mouth of the cave, rather than this amazing lady. Beith instructed me that her way was to disarm through charm, but her charm is not manipulative. This is the charm of real and enduring love. I gave thanks to her for the invaluable lesson she had given me and asked her: 'How would you like me to pronounce your Name?' Her answer: 'Bay, as in May, and Way'. Later it occurred to me that the path that begins with Mars/Aries is different to the Ogam Path, which begins with Beith/Venus/Taurus. The former is a journey cast upon us all by virtue of our physical birth, whereas the latter journey is a choice made by the soul.
This morning I undertook the inner journey to the door inscribed with the Luis Ogam. As before, I sought permission and guidance. This time I was to seek the second door on the right, near the front of the cave. A dwarf answered, introducing himself as King Ferdinand, Iberian-Celt. His cell was small like Beith's and he explained that he only used it for sleeping and meditation. He took me outside the cave and I immediately noticed that it had become more formed. It now resembled the façade of Brú na Bóinne. He encouraged me to have a good look around, and so I took my bearings and worked out where Mother Grove was, and then flew to the highest tree to observe Visioning Hill, the Twin Peaks, and BatGrove/HorseHill. Lesson 1: For your own protection, study your surroundings from every angle. Know where you stand in your immediate environment. Lesson 2: You are as invincible and immortal as your powers of thought. And Lesson 3: The human species is not the only species with these powers.
Today I also bought a scrapbook to keep bits and pieces related to each tree in. I have some papery bark from a birch tree to begin, and I would like to add some photos.
Rowan, late summer/pre-Lughnasadh
I think I would prefer to teach Celtic Mysticism rather than Celtic Shamanism because my temperament is mystical. Shamanism is a part of Celtic Mysticism. Following this decision, I remembered a course that I had begun writing in 2003. I had called it Practical Mysticism and it had three parts: Reiki, AstroNumerology and Druid Craft. If one adds Celtic to the Reiki then the three parts meld together as a whole because the druids were astronumerologists who knew how to conduct energy. My work is being steadily defined. That night I underwent my first Celtic Reiki Attunement. It was my first experience of distance attunement and I was surprised by how powerful and effective it was.
November 10: Celtic Reiki Attunement, Level 2
I stopped the journey around the Spiral until I completed my Celtic Reiki training because neither Rowan nor Alder are included in the course. I thought it odd that several of the Ogam plants are omitted, but then Celtic Reiki is ‘new' and the people who practice it realize that it is incomplete. Maybe Pan's Script will make a contribution. If my experience with Pan's Script over the past seven years is anything to go by, it will never be complete but continue to grow and adapt organically just as all things in nature do. As it is, there is no doubt in my mind that the Attunement Process that I experienced is effective. It brought powerful, tangible, wonderful, outcomes. The first brought an invitation from Pan to fly with him, and the second bestowed the presence of three druidesses from former times: Bridget, Branwen and Boudica. With allies like that, I had every reason to feel confident that the journey into the spiral would prove productive.
November 4-17: I used the time between attunements to prepare an Ogam Scrapbook, noting which of the Ogam are used in Celtic Reiki and why.
November 17: Celtic Reiki Attunement, Level 3
These attunements took me into the five supplementary Ogam, and I can attest to their effectiveness in the attunement process. The Celtic Reiki, and also the novels based on Celtic history, have stirred dreams that I'd long forgotten. My human heart, which cared so deeply about the plight of humanity, was once again propelled into action.
As you can see, it took just over a month of constant focus to journey through the first spiral, yet the first and second spirals overlapped. On October 25 I had asked a new friend where I might find an Alder tree, and she suggested the Alfred Nicholas Gardens . My regular companion and I did not find one there but we did meet a couple of Rangers who gave us very specific instructions: we would find a whole strand of Alders in the Hamer Arboretum. However I did not undertake this journey until I had completed my Celtic Reiki Attunements on November 17.
The Second Spiral
November 18: Alder
Today I visited the Alders in the Hamer Arboretum. Just as the Rangers had told us, they are on Simmons Avenue , near where it branches off from Mathias Road . My friend was happy to accompany me and it was a beautiful day. My experience with the Alders confirmed that Fearn was a social energy. The trees were generous with what they gifted me, although I was careful to only take from the branches nearest the track, the ones that would have to be pruned back anyway. The old black cones were plentiful on the ground so I brought some home to use as a smudge when I need heart-strength. I pressed some leaves onto my forehead and felt the heat go into the foliage, leaving me cool and relaxed. I took a number of photos, and then we sat as near to the trees as we could, and talked for ages about things that are meaningful to us. We were delighted by the presence of a hawk flying directly over us. It felt good to be alive.
Alder in Summer
In the evening, I introduced myself to the Celtic Reiki Federation, hoping to learn more about this healing modality.
November 19: A flood of inspiration about Fearn
Following my experience with the Alder trees, I returned to Part 1 of this thesis. In the process of revising the part about the Alder, an abundance of new information came in, which I can include here. I gained a deeper understanding of why Fearn works on the frontline of the battle (as written in the Battle of the Trees). If this battle is between states of consciousness, then at this point we are warring with our emotions. When in conflict, we attract similarly adverse emotions from other people, and this can lead to feeling attacked. Fearn's shield is the defensive weapon one needs on such occasions.
I also gained a deeper understanding of Fearn's placement in the Ogam, and within the Pan's Script spiral model. Beith and Luis are motivators. They bring light to the mind. Fearn and Sail now move that motivation though the realm of feelings and emotions. They can protect us from the emotions of others while we get in touch with our own feelings. As the second hoop of the spiral, we note that in their native land, Alder and Willow are King and Queen of the waterways, and symbolically water is associated with emotions and feelings, and also our soul-life. We have moved from the Birch with its association with the Fires of Beltane, and the Rowan, with its emphasis on the fiery qualities of light, into the Element of Water. The waterways, and what they mean at all levels of existence, are now important to our journey. Waterways, energylines, and ancient tracks, have an intimate connection with Alder and Willow .
In the evening of the same day, I undertook the inner journey to the door with the Fearn symbol inscribed on it. I had to wait some time before the door opened, partly because my mind had become dreamy and I was having trouble concentrating on what I was supposed to be doing. Even as I write this, my mind is wandering. Anyway, after I had walked down the stairs of the third passage on the right, turned a corner, knocked, and then sat for a while outside the door, it opened, and I entered a room that was completely dark. Through my mind's eye I could see the outline of a black bird-man who lit a candle for my benefit. I was not at all frightened because he had a beautiful energy and I knew him from another existence. We were friends. Fearn offered me one important piece of advice: The best protection against the wrath of other people, is a peaceful heart.
Beith and Luis are about embracing the present situation, such as it is, and being aware of the pluses and minuses that accompany that situation. Fearn and Sail take this awareness to a greater depth, offering to reveal what lies behind the current situation. I suspect that some people do not venture beyond the first cycle.
I made my Fearn Divining Stick, keeping in mind, as I did so, that the best shield is a peaceful heart. I didn't make an actual shield, as recommended by Steve Blamires, but placed the bits and pieces of alder that I had gathered in a beautiful round dish with hearts engraved on it, to remind of this lesson. Initially I worried about the frailty of the dish but then realized that the glass reminded me how fragile this lesson was. I smudged my bedroom with one of the black cones and left my 'shield' by the bed for a couple of nights. There were no profound dreams, visions or journeys, but instead, a sublime sense of peace.
November 21: Willow
I knew exactly where to go for my ‘willow experience' because I had already bonded with a willow grove in the Knox Arboretum. This was actually the first time that I performed the ritual as outlined in the introductory section of this thesis, and much of what is written there, took place under the willow. Although I performed the ritual alone, I had plenty of company. A man was pacing round and round the lake, a woman was walking her dog, and a mum was walking with her child. A mudlark was nearby and ducks, gulls and dragonflies were also getting on with their business. I positioned myself so that I was leaning comfortably against the tree at about 210 degrees anticlockwise from the East, which correlates with autumn becoming Samhuin, and accords with the correspondences in Part 1 of this thesis. It was a fortunate position because it overlooked the lake. It was going to be a hot day, but I'd come early, so the temperature was just right. Meditation came easily, and the insight was profound. My thoughts were focused on times gone by and of the prayers that people would have prayed for peaceful coexistence. In several parts of the world, these prayers have found resolution and people now live peacefully in places that were once traumatized. It may have taken several lifetimes for these thoughts to find resolution, yet they must, for every thought makes an imprint on the etheric fabric of life. Sail then taught me something deeply magical. If during one of our lifetimes, we wished someone harm, the energy behind that thought had to find resolution, but not necessarily by harming the person involved. It was the passion, frustration, pain and anger behind the desire to harm them that needed resolution rather than the deed itself. You could go back in your mind to something you had done, in this life, that needed sanctification, and with focused intent heal that deed. You could then ask that if you had ever thought ill of someone in the past (and had now forgotten doing so), that it find resolution through the prayers that you were currently offering. I gave thanks to the Spirit of the Willow for this awesome lesson, and asked if I could have a twig for my Ogam Stick. The message received was to visit all of the willows in the arboretum and that one would have what I needed, on the ground. This was indeed the case.
Willow , a couple of weeks before Samhuin
Using a bit of imagination, I created a ‘coracle' for my willow. It is a plain calico bag, shaped to resemble a coracle. Inside it, I placed some of the pieces of wood I picked up off the ground under the willow trees. It has replaced the 'alder shield' near my bed. Coracles were made of willow in Celtic times and used for both inner and outer journeys across the waters. My mind suggested two ways of initiating an inner journey. I can stand between my willows and plunge into the waters of the lake and swim across to the island. This is quite safe because I can swim and the lake is shallow, yet it symbolizes trust and opens up a wealth of possibilities: what will the island look like when I climb onto its shores? A safer way is to slip inside the coracle and float across. Harps were also made of willow and so I played some harp music before slipping into the dream world.
All of my efforts led to a disturbing dream, which initially felt like a disappointing start to the day, but when I analyzed the dream, I realized that Sail had given me a wonderful gift. The dream took me to one of the dark worlds, a place in my mind that I had not shone light into before. One thing I notice about Fearn and Sail is that they confront you with issues you have refused to deal with. Sail had dredged up an old habit of mine of ignoring people that I'm angry with, and shown me how harmful this is. Fearn had taught me that the best shield is a peaceful heart, now Sail offered the counterpoint to this lesson: that the weakest shield is a dark heart, that is a heart that is secretly wanting revenge. Ignoring people fits into this category because you want to hurt the person by withholding your affection. A peaceful heart is welcoming and unafraid; it is not naïve, but contra-wise, fully mature. I was beginning to understand this ‘battle of the trees' as the battle that goes on with the human heart. The person with a peaceful heart is not someone who has stood outside the fray, but rather one who has run the gauntlet of human emotions, and understands. .
Numbers-wise, I was beginning to see some remarkable patterns. Fearn corresponds to Number 4, and Sail, to double-4 = 8. Both are foundation numbers, which concurs with Steve Blamire's observation that Fearn and Sail are foundation Ogam. Alders were once used as bridges. They could stand half submerged in water and not rot. Similarly people can attain a state of consciousness where they feel at home partly submerged in the watery realm of the human heart. Once they are able to maintain this state of awareness over an extended period of time, they are ready to sail forth in their willow coracle on otherworldly adventures. Hence, Fearn and Sail provide the foundations of magical work.
In theosophy the 4 th Ray is about harmony through conflict, and that would seem to be the lesson that is presented by this pair of Ogam. In Pan's Script , Fearn's part of the Wheel corresponds to the human heart; the place where the battle of the trees is fought, and eventually won. In astrology this is the 4 th House, the place of our roots and heritage. We are looking at what we have inherited from our ancestors and our common need for security and stability. It is also a place of magic, wherein we can learn to use these forces in a constructive way. These are powerful, subconscious, ancient forces that will not lie down but erupt like volcanoes and tidal waves, if we do not apply our mind to understanding them, and directing their awesome energies to something useful.
I note also that Beith corresponds to Number 2, and Luis to Number 5, which are the first two numbers in the line of interpersonal intelligence (this will not make any sense unless you've read Chapter 6 of Pan's Script ). Sail, which corresponds to Number 8, completes this line. It means that the first 4 Ogam activate interpersonal intelligence. This takes place at two levels: learning how to get along with actual people, and learning how to get along with the conglomeration of people within ourselves.
In the evening of November 22 I decided to quit waiting for my webhost to get my site happening, and attempt it myself. To my delight I discovered that I could do most of what still needed doing, and I upgraded everything onto the server. This was a big step forward for me. There were still problems with the pictures but at least this journal was now available to my family and friends.
Later that same evening I undertook the journey to contact Sail on the inner planes of existence. I was not surprised to find myself taking the fourth passage on the right but I was surprised to no stairs, but rather a gradual decline. This passage was very long, leading deep into the heart of the mountain, and instead of leading to a door, it led directly to a willow tree by the side of a lake. The Ogam was inscribed on the tree, which in every other way resembled the tree that I had visited the day before, in the arboretum. Indeed the whole setting was the same except that there was an otherworldly light instead of sunlight. So I leaned against the tree as I had done the day before. The first message was "don't expect me to appear in human form; my form is the tree". Next: "I'm giving you a taste of what it's like when you die. In the otherworld your longings manifest instantly. This is the scene that you are comfortable with, and so this is what you see". I remembered that Sail had the power to manifest what seemed impossible and so I asked if I could meet my first son here, the one who had passed over as a baby, and who would have been 30 tomorrow. I knew it was a huge ask, and I had trouble steadying my emotions. We agreed that I would swim to the island and meet him there. Sail encouraged me to think that the water was warm and it would be. That much was successful but our meeting was less so because of my excited emotions. At least I know that I can return here anytime and try again.
November 23: Elemental Reiki Attunement
As with the Celtic Reiki, this Attunement was done by agreement with an Elemental Reiki Master, across a distance, and like the former it was no less effective for that. During the Attunement I was inspired to use Elemental Reiki in conjunction with Health Astrology and I will certainly explore that idea. I then remembered that I was currently learning from Sail and returned to the vision of the night before. The heightened state of consciousness that I was in enabled me to enter the tree and feel at one with its energy. What I felt was a very deep peace; no longings and no agenda.
November 25: Wallaby
I have lived in Ferntree Gully for twenty-five years yet never expected to see a wallaby in my garden. I live on half an acre in the foothills but still a few streets away from the forest. There was no major disturbance to indicate that it had charged over a fence, just a gentle rustling just outside where I was sitting. I was reading Brighid's Healing and making some major decisions about the course in Celtic Mysticism. I have a lovely spot where I can see up the driveway and beyond into the hills. Suddenly the rustling became a wallaby bounding across my line of vision and into my Grove Garden . Not wanting to frighten it, I stayed indoors but moved across the house so that I could observe it. After a period that I wish was longer, it slowly moved towards the road. I then walked up the driveway to follow it, but it had gone. Conscious that I was still in Willow-energy, I remembered that sometimes I wished that wildlife and people could live together, just like this. And so here, once again, we witness the power of Sail to manifest one's wildest dreams. A very enchanted energy this one and probably not one you should stay in for too long.
November 26: The Healing Power of Sail
Today I participated in a shamanic healing session. I found Sail to be the appropriate energy for the person involved and was shown a true vision of the situation, but to write about it here would be unethical. Suffice to say that I witnessed that not only were the Pan's Script correspondences as given in Part 1 accurate but that they could be readily applied to helping very sick people, once heart-felt, full-body contact is made with the energy.
November 27: Bridget
I have been doing a short counseling course with a woman who is also interested Celtic spirituality. She is writing a thesis on Bridget and asked if I had any poems or stories that speak of one's personal experience of Bridget. Next morning I lay in bed for a while wondering what I could offer her. In the process, my mind wandered into my personal experience of Bridget. What exactly did she represent to me? Her name evoked the image of a bridge, and she does indeed provide a bridge between pagan and Christian spiritualities. In like manner, she facilitates healing between parts of ourselves (personally and globally) that have splintered off. I was wondering if she was Earth Mother herself when I received the inspiration that Bridget is Pangaea. She is the Wholeness of the World.
November 27/28: Spider
About the time I began working with Sail a huge golden orb spider entered my life. It ran across the floor at tremendous speed, into the bathroom. The next day I discovered it in the bath. I didn't want to frighten it and so I decided I would skip having baths until it left or died. I figured it might have come into the house to die because I've witnessed spiders do that several times before. A friend pointed out to me that perhaps it had fallen in and couldn't get out of the bath. Now I've taken huntsman spiders out before using the cardboard and glass trick but this spider was larger and livelier than I've encountered before, and I didn't like the idea that I might miss the mark and have it crawl on me. I was also concerned that the birds would peck at it if I put it outside. I poured a little water in the bath daily to check that it was still alive and to give it a drink. I marvel at its stamina and dignity, and feel ashamed that I made it suffer for so long. I really look forward to my bath at day's end, so missing out felt like penance. Finally it dawned on me that I could create a bridge by laying a towel from the bottom of the bath to the floor, that way the spider could climb up and down and hopefully disappear. On the morning of the 28th I checked, and sure enough, the spider was gone. Bridge – Bridget – Golden Orb Spider – She is surely the Integrity of the Web of Life. Later, under the willow tree in the arboretum, I was able to relate this incident to the matter of counseling and healing. Applying a little creative ingenuity, you can create a 'bridge' for people so that they can move from where they are to where they would prefer to be, and then it's their call. I also realized that the people I had been angry with when I entered this hoop, I was no longer angry with. I had found inner peace on the matters involved.
In Pan's Script, Sail is the first Ogam on the other side of the hemispheres, and it certainly took me to a very profound place within myself. It showed me my weaknesses and convinced me that the time had come to heal. The Willow is an Otherworldly Tree, and I was actually feeling weary after a week in this intensely magical energy. It was thus with a mixture of reluctance and relief that I made my way back to the Knox Arboretum to give a huge thanks to the Willow before making my way to the Ash grove in the Hamer Arboretum. I had been just ten days in the second spiral but that was enough.
The Third Spiral
November 28: Ash
I soon found where I wanted to be and cast the first circle. It was a hot day and so I used a clear quartz crystal as my candle. I waited for a sign that it was okay to proceed and this time it came as a kookaburra call, and so maybe Kookaburra is associated with Nion, as Spider is with Sail. Butterflies represented the East in the second circle. Rather than lean my spine against the tree, I lay down in the luscious grass, with just my head touching the truck, and my feet aligned with another Ash, close by. It was roughly a north-south alignment. My towel doubled as a pillow and a shield from the sun and the dust of passing cars. I soon realized that I was going to do the outer journey and the inner journey at the same time.
The Ancient One was busy when I approached her, but directed me to the fifth passage on the right. I noticed that it was quite close to where she sits, in the centre of the cave. This time there was neither slope nor steps, but a narrow passage like that at Newgrange. It brought me to a door embossed with Nion's symbol and the embossed wood resembled my staff. The door opened of its own accord and I entered. I was surprised to find that instead of a room, I had entered a garden – an Ash Grove to be exact. I explained to whoever might be hearing my thoughts that I had no idea of protocol here, and asked if I could meet with the guardian. I intuited that what initially seemed boundless about this place was in fact bounded by a 'drum' that lay beneath the grove. The grove was its circumference therefore whatever happened in the grove set up a resonance that impacted on everything around it. This image reinforced the need for correct protocol. As I was wondering what I should do, an inner voice said, “Human, do what you would normally do in a sacred grove”. Human eh, I was beginning to feel like a large and clumsy thing, but decided to give it my best shot. And so I called in Spirit, the Guides and the 4 Directions, offered peace to the Quarters, cast and consecrated the Circle. The opening work done, I sat down to contemplate what might come next. It came to me that this was a healing grove and that I could invite someone who was ill to come here and receive healing energy. My mother came and I drew the Nion symbol down her spine 3 times. She then lay north-south, and I placed my hands on her belly. I could feel the Reiki energy in my physical body. I remembered she had sore knees and was about to change position when I noticed that others were already working on her knees. I could see them clearly now. They were light beings with wings, and I was working as part of a team! This inner journey was demanding intense concentration and my mind wanted to cut loose. Nion again addressed me as 'Human' and asked me to please try to settle down and be fully present. I was wondering how this healing session would end and was promptly told to do as I would normally do: ask the person how they were feeling, and whether they would like to go home now – that sort of thing. Nion was simply asking me to be the best human being I could be. The Sprites took mum home and told me that I could bring others to this healing grove, but only one at a time. I thanked them for the privilege of being a part of this, and set about to close the grove in the usual way, now becoming aware that my regular grove friends were assisting me. The prolonged period of concentration was difficult to maintain, and I believe they were there to encourage me. I returned through the door and down the passage, thanked the Ancient One and opened my eyes. I touched the young ash tree behind my head then sat up and drank some water. The minute I uncast the circles the energy was noticeably cooler and I was fully present in this world. I knew that I was going to enjoy being in this energy. When I returned home my health astrology assignment was waiting for me, with corrections and further homework to be done.
Ash in Summer
My first impression of this third spiral of the Wheel is that it integrates the first and second spirals. It knits together the outward-bound tendency of the first hoop with the inward-bound tendency of the second. Perhaps this is Nion-specific and Huathe will have something quite different to offer, but I'm not in a big hurry to return to the other hemisphere of the Wheel. I'd like to stay with Nion for a while and practice what I've learned.
The ash tree next door has been there the entire time that I have been living here, yet today was the first day that I had noticed it! I had observed a tree there but until today didn't know what it was.
I also studied Steve Blamire's suggestions for working with Ash:
Because ash is associated with spears, and Lugh of the Long Arm is Keeper of the Spear of Gorias, I need to seek his guidance on how to make and use a magical spear. The suggested invocation includes these words: “Teach me all that I need to know of ash, of spears, and of my ability to go forth to destroy inertia and bring true peace where it is needed” (105).
Significantly, one of the first things I noticed about the site I selected yesterday was a long, spear-like piece of ash on the ground. I didn't bring it home because it was too long, but before I left I lay it on the place where I had undertaken the journey. I will return and see if it's a suitable spear.
Once I have created my Nion Divining Stick, I can contemplate the Beith-Luis-Fearn-Sail-Nion as a group (107).
I could then undertake an otherworld journey to further deepen my connection with the first group of five Ogam (108).
This, plus the healing experiences, is going to keep my busy for a while!
"The willow gave us the ability and the confidence to sail forth into our own unknown. Now the ash is giving us the willpower, and the Magical Weapons should we need them, to use our magical abilities to create change on all three levels" (physical, mental, spiritual) – Steve Blamires, Celtic Tree Mysteries , (104)
December 1-5: Healing Events
Three big events: The first involved a family member. This person brought to my attention the suffering he had experienced as he grew up (suffering I wasn't aware of). He made the decision to bring closure to the matter. It was a water-shed moment that I felt privileged to be a part of, and it deepened a friendship that prior to this event, was in danger of dissolving. The second event brought together old and new friends; a joyous reunion of like-minded souls who care passionately about the environment. The third witnessed the completion of a short course in which a small group of people had come together to learn how to be more effective when in a counseling role. Each of these events had a healing aspect to it. The first and third were about healing from start to finish, and during the second, we offered healing to a woman in pain. I silently returned to the Ash Grove and asked assistance from the Light-Beings. Unobtrusively, I drew the Sign of Nion along her spine three times, and while the others sang “ Om ”, I sang “Nion”.
I notice that my heart is gaining confidence. I'm feeling more capable in my interactions with people. Because I am more confident that I can be of assistance, I'm more inclined to walk side-by-side with people now, rather than keeping a distance. As Fearn facilitates the process of attaining a peaceful heart, so Nion cultivates a confident heart. It looks like the Ogam is the journey of the human heart. In a book called The Holy Science , Swami Sri Yukteswar identifies four stages in the development of the human heart. The first is the dark heart: the person thinks that material existence is all there is and that there is nothing else besides. The second is the propelled heart: the person begins to question former assumptions and seeks to learn the real nature of the universe, in order to clear away doubts. This is an anxious stage in which the person recognizes that we need to help each other. The third is the steady heart: the person remains immersed in the holy stream (Awen). The Ogam Journey would seem to be about reaching and stabilizing this third state of consciousness. Maybe it will detail the sub-stages between the propelled heart and the steady heart. I suspect the trees are already there.
Throughout this Nion phase, my dreaming life has been intensely active but I have deliberately not brought this activity into the physical world. To do so would have felt like unnecessary clutter. Each of these inner-world experiences has had the quality of an intense interaction with one or more people, and has felt sufficient unto itself. Throughout some of these evenings of intense multi-dimensional activity with other people, I have chanted a mantra that sanctifies all that is happening. For example: “We are one Voice, one Song, one Heart, beating” (source uncertain). Nion has a way of bringing to our attention things that have been overlooked, forgotten or repressed – in our dealings with other people – you will notice that it's consistently about our interactions with other people.
I saw a photo of one of my former students in the local paper, and found myself thinking that if all of my students had been like her, I'd probably still be teaching. This seemingly innocent thought really spun me around. I'd spent these 'Nion-days' reviewing my final year of teaching, within the context of the Personal Months research that I'm doing, and so the topic was very much on my mind. I'd walked away from a well-paid job, dangerously close to burn-out. Now I found myself thinking: what if it hadn't been so hard? The answer is that Pan's Script would probably not have been born! The work that I'm currently doing, wouldn't have happened. See how Nion brings unfinished business to our attention, so that the heart can find its ease – finally I can see that those students who wore me down, actually served a higher purpose, and I can let go of the resentment.
I've also been applying Nion to pain management. During this Nion-phase I've had a pain in the neck! When I lie down in the evenings, I've visualized the Sign of Nion on my neck and intoned the Name, three times. The pain receded; there is now just a dull ache to remind me that the neck still needs to be put back in place.
December 10: Summarizing the first set of 5 Ogam
I now have a set of 5 Divining Sticks and feel ready to contemplate the B-Aicme of the Ogam. When I began I knew it was going to be a long journey into unknown terrain, and that I might gain some useful, magical powers in the process. What I didn't know was that it would raise repressed emotions from my past as a part of that process. Today, as part of this review process, I turned to Pan's Script , (the book) to see what I had written in there about the Letter B. From Chapter 9: the letter B tends to create nervous tension as dreams and desires push from within for expression externally. These are fertile and highly potent thoughts, partly formed, which elicit a sense of purposefulness yet also the feeling of frustration held inwardly. Such ambivalent emotions seek clarity and ultimately resolution via actual experience...B is the first of the letters that effect a transformation via the emotions but unlike such letters later in the cycle, here the process represents an intensely personal dialogue between ego and soul.
Luis: A feeling of delight washed through me as soon as I saw the rowan tree and has remained with me since. I had suspected that the alphabet encoded a healing modality and I began experiencing the truth of this. What Beith began, Luis shone light into, and gave it form. From Chapter 9 of Pan's Script : Like the letters themselves, L ‘gives form to mental concepts'. It also 'facilitates the ability to perceive cause and effect' and 'precipitates a new way of looking at life'. Although this resonance is mental in nature, it is human love that stabilizes it.
Fearn enhanced this feeling of stability. The Alder has an unassuming energy that encouraged me to dump all agenda and let the journey carry me. Fearn felt like the 'anchor' in the midst of all of the excitement generated by starting a new journey. Its message that 'the strongest shield is a peaceful heart' sits in the centre of this Aicme. Re-reading Pan's Script I remembered that F facilitates the flow of ideas within the mind. It aids synthesis and can thus strengthen the mind.
Fearn gave me the inner tranquility necessary to pass through the enchanted world of the willow and emerge even more tranquil. In Sail's realm unresolved love-issues appeared and I was given the opportunity to do something about them. Sail helped me to make peace with myself, even my dark, angry, ignorant, immature bits, and in the process to make peace with the dark, angry, ignorant, immature bits within other people. I felt cleaner after I'd passed through Sail. From Chapter 9 of Pan's Script : S stimulates the powers of the mind through the powers of the heart. In this way it facilitates self-healing. The soul undergoes a review of its sojourn in the material world and attempts to heal the wounded ego. This process helps us to shed psychic garbage and can bring forth deep insight.
At the conclusion of the B-Aicme, Nion tidies up the loose ends in our social interactions. Whatever has been churned up by the other Ogam, is now given a new spin, sanctified and blessed. At the time that I began the journey, my website was downloaded onto the server, and at the time of ending, it is complete in all its details. Who I am is out there for all to see! What I'd written in Chapter 9 concurred with what I'd experienced within the energy of Nion (which I am still in). It is a mental and transforming energy that aids discrimination. It stimulates a heightened sense of social awareness: a heart-felt recognition of one's responsibilities within the greater body of humanity.
Today I re-visited the ash trees in the Hamer Arboretum to express my appreciation for the experiences I had been given. The long stick I had thought might be my spear was not straight or strong enough and so I decided to leave the spear-making project for now. As I left a gift by the tree, a solo kookaburra called, and I knew that signaled the completion of this phase of the journey. I felt a bit like a child who has to leave their primary school friends in order to go on to secondary school.
For the past three nights I have slept with my 5 Divining Sticks close to the bed. The first night I did a re-run of an experience I'd had with someone many years ago. The re-run demonstrated my improved social skills, but I still felt annoyed about the whole thing. Likewise, my physiotherapist had trouble easing my neck pain.
Between farewelling Nion and meeting Huathe, there was a space of one evening and I had a fascinating dream. Parallel with the work I am doing in the physical world, I was working on this project in one of the astral worlds, and writing up my experiences on a computer. I then attempted to download the information from the astral computer to my physical computer. I don't think I resolved the matter and I suspect it will roll over into the next Ogam.
Dec 13: Beginning the H-Aicme
The first thing that's happened in the H-Aicme is that the information I've shared is giving me feedback. I'm finding that other people have encountered 'our otherworld families', as my friend put it. We seem to share a common difficulty with putting these experiences into words. Perhaps this is how Robert Munro felt when he first began sharing his out-of-body-experiences?
My friend has a hawthorn tree in her garden. It's summertime here and so when I visited it today, the flowers had withered and it was undergoing the internal processes that will bring forth its fruits in autumn. I too drifted within, to the place of my central cave. The Ancient One told me to figure out where I thought Huathe would reside in the cave complex. Apparently it was my call and my responsibility. I decided to place a beautiful hawthorn tree at the entrance to my cave, on the left side, opposite the entrance to Beith's passageway. There's always been a tree there and finally I could identify it. Huathe guards the entrance to the cave, complementing the role of Beith. They represent two aspects of the feminine and they sit opposite each other on the Wheel of Life (Beltane/Samhuin). One is ruled by Venus while the other is ruled by Mars. Huathe is akin to a lioness; protector of her progeny. This was the insight that I received whilst in the company of the hawthorn tree.
That night I dreamed of a wedding. The couple was middle-aged and the marriage took place by a waterway lined with fir trees. Prior to the wedding, I had been informed that ‘this person' and 'that person' don't speak to each other, but after the wedding they were speaking as though there had never been a problem.
Hawthorn in autumn
December 14: Applying all of the above to healing
At the beginning of the second Aicme and the end of the third spiral, I took stock of where I was in the journey. Huathe sets the tone for the next group of Ogam, so I needed to pause and think carefully about what I was setting in motion. In tandem with this psychic reality is the physical reality that you can't charge through a hawthorn bush. You have to stop and think about what you are doing or you are going to hurt yourself, and there will be no-one to blame but you. It's pointless blaming the tree! Huathe will help you to accept responsibility for your actions. If you are not ready to progress further into the Ogam, it will stop you at this point until you are.
I felt inspired to do something practical with what I'd learned. I knew that it should be personally meaningful and arrived at through dialogue with Pan and other close guides. However I also knew that I should not wait for them to initiate the ideas. They want my contribution. What am I prepared to offer and take responsibility for? I now had to put the desire to heal into action. Here is what came to me. It is something that I know I can follow through with.
Firstly – whatever needs doing - begin by intoning “Beith” and continue through the sequence of the Ogam until you reach the letter you are after. Don't skip to the one you want. Keep the wholeness of the Ogam intact by intoning each sound. The entire team is needed. The Ogam is organized to provide a culminating effect. When you reach the desired Ogam, visualize that symbol on the person who needs it. Then visualize accompanying them to the place where the energy of that Ogam is strong (as per your journey work). Wait until they have completed their experience and then escort them back into their body and close up both of you. All of this can be accomplished during a regular treatment such as Reiki without a sound, because it can be done through the powers of the mind.
If someone came to me and asked for assistance with making a new start, I would intone “Beith”, and visualize the Sign of Beith on their front torso. I would then escort them to meet Beith and talk with her. I would also ask them to spend some time sitting with a birch tree so that its magic could permeate their mind and heart.
If someone had already taken the first tentative steps and was seeking further guidance, I would intone “Beith, Luis” and visualize the Sign of Luis on their front torso. I would then escort them to meet Luis (internally and externally) and advocate that they spend some time with an actual rowan tree. I have come to regard the Rowan, as the Tree of Golden Opportunity.
If someone was ready to give their all to the project at hand, I would intone “Beith, Luis, Fearn”, visualize the Sign of Fearn on the person's heart, and escort them to meet Fearn. I would ask them if they would like to go for a walk to meet the birch, rowan and alder.
If someone asked for help with a major transformation, one that involved a death of some sort (not necessarily physical). I would then intone “Beith, Luis, Fearn, Sail”, visualize the Sign of Sail on the whole person, and accompany them to the Willow Grove .
If someone felt that they needed ‘knitting together' following a life-changing transformation, I would intone “Beith, Luis, Fearn, Sail, Nion”, visualize the Sign of Nion on their front torso and face. I would then introduce them to the inner healing grove. I would also want them to spend time with an actual ash tree so that its energy works into their aura.
If the person were ready to accept a deeper level of responsibility for their choices and activities, I would intone “Beith, Luis, Fearn, Sail, Nion, Huathe” and draw the Sign of Huathe on the whole person. I would also offer to accompany them to a hawthorn tree because the experience needs to be real. I might also suggest that they drink hawthorn tea for a while.
December 15: Pan
Pan now meets me in the cave with The Ancient One. Her staunchest ally, Pan is the personification of the universal life-force energy. He is the Awakener that arouses us from our torpor and thaws the ice around our soul. Astrologically Pan is similar to Mercury and is exalted in Aquarius.
December 15 – 20: Circles of Existence
During these six days, I wrote the first six lessons for the Celtic Mysticism course that I will offer in 2008. It was round-the-clock work, but satisfying. I found Huathe a bit of task master, which reminds me that in the old system, Number 8 is ruled by Saturn (Huathe is positioned in the 8 th segment of the Wheel). These first three hoops have been very much about interconnecting the three Circles of Existence in the Celtic Tradition. They are called Abred, Gwynedd and Ceugant and their rough translation into past, present and future, works within this context. These Circles of Existence are interwoven, just as in Celtic Knotwork, telling us that whatever you do in the physical world, here and now, impacts on every other level of your existence. I read The Circle and The Cross during this time. The horror described in Caiseal Mór's trilogy depresses me, yet I have felt compelled to read them. How do they relate to the Ogam, as surely they must? Caiseal Mór delves into the motivations of his characters and so I think that Huathe is teaching me about what motivates people. Let's face it; a good healer has to understand people. Reading about mercenaries and evangelists who disguise personal ambition under the banner of religion, rattled my personal ‘hate chains'. I believe we cannot evolve beyond a certain point if we hold hate in our hearts, and so here is my attempt to come to terms with what Huathe has brought to my attention. Thrill killers, such as those described in these stories, might resemble a human being but are in fact only the outer casing of one, like the shell of a nut. If you opened them up, metaphorically speaking, you would find them devoid of nurturing fruit. None-the-less they are a part of the greater body of humanity and so must evolve along with the rest of us. You cannot help wondering about their karma. Those who were guilty of such atrocities would surely have struggled in subsequent lives, if for no other reason, than because their hearts were so heavy and dark. And so H for me has been about hate, healing, and honour. I was again drawn into my personal past with a phone call from someone I grew up but have not heard from for over a decade. And – I was shown a glimpse of the future, via a letter from an interstate friend. It included an account of two miracles she had witnessed. As I painted the Ogam on my Hawthorn Divining Stick, I focused on the thought that the H-Aicme will help me to bring forth, from the past, that which will benefit the present and future. The stroke to the left ‘looks back' in a manner of speaking, and brings what it sees into the central pole of the present.
I had enjoyed the third spiral of the wheel, but eight days into it, I knew it was time to move on.
The Fourth Spiral
December 21: Oak
There is a magnificent historical oak nearby and so it was my first choice. It was planted in 1873, giving me the opportunity to experience being with a tree that is one hundred and thirty years old. Now people in the Northern Hemisphere may not think much of this for they have much older oaks, but this was planted from an acorn by one of the first settlers, so it's an old oak by our standards. The timing could not have been better. My arrival at Duir coincided with the summer solstice, so I decided to run with the correspondences presented and conduct the ceremony at noon. The fires in the high country were so bad that although a long way from Melbourne, blanketed the city with smoke. And it was hot. So rather than light my candle in the centre, I imagined candle light. By now I fully understood that it was what each item represented in my mind and heart that mattered, not whether the circles were exactly the same size or the directions exactly correct. You just do your best in the given circumstances. This oak lives by a small spring-fed stream, and despite the day, had a cool and peaceful atmosphere. I began by placing the rubbish that people had carelessly tossed about, in a bag to take home. A magpie feather presented itself for circle casting and a young magpie eyed me curiously. While waiting for a sign that this particular oak was willing to help me, I was asked to place any harmful thoughts I was still harboring in an imaginary boat and cast them into the stream. I did so. Sitting under these giant limbs, I began to drift to days gone by. The idealism that powered my teaching years surfaced and I realized that it came from a former existence. A horse snorted nearby (although I never saw it), and I knew that was my cue to begin. In the Celtic Tradition, the White Mare represents the Soul of the Land, and I was not surprised she was a totem of the Oak. It was Duir who gave me the image of the Trilithon for the stone, and so when I passed into the second circle, I passed through an ancient stone gateway. The circles cast, I sat facing the equator. I was in my cave for a while, then outside it, then down the Hawthorn Well. There seemed to be many ways that I could connect with Duir and each at a different level. I was aware that Luis was on the opposite side of the cave and that both Luis and Duir related to the Number 2: the number of duality. Indeed duality and Duir are similar words. Light (L) and Dark (D) was the especial focus and, as I write this, I realize that it takes both to create a form. I had a strong sense that I was in the ‘be careful what you ask for' zone, and so I was. I asked for a strong heart, mind and body. The oak and I agreed that the passing cars were not conducive to deeper work and I should return home with some of the wood that was lying around, and resume the journey there. I was slightly disorientated when I stood up, but you wouldn't have known I'd been out in the scorching sun for nearly two hours.
Oak on the day of the Summer Solstice
December 22: Inner Experiences
Something unexpected happened today: my husband's flight was delayed and I had another evening on my own. I recognized immediately the opportunity to conduct the meditations related to Duir. The Solstice brought rain – blessed rain, for a parched and anxious land – and it was delightful to listen to the rain on the roof as I let the CD take me inward. I was surprised by the audience: several other druids were vitally interested in the work being done. I didn't go to the cave at first but to the mighty oak I'd worked with the day before. I saw its face, and its arms enfolding me. And I saw the White Mare drinking at the stream. I felt safe. It occurred to me that the acorn from which this tree grew was a part of another old oak, which in turn, was the offspring of another one further back in time. In this way, this oak connected me to the ancient oaks that my ancestors would have gathered beneath. Here was a place we could meet. During one of my Celtic Reiki Attunements, I had meet some druid ancestors and also been shown how the chakra points of the Earth's body and the Human body, correspond with the various parts of the Oak. The meditation I was currently doing provided further details and deepened the connection.
Aware that this experience was distinct from the cave sojourns, I conducted a second meditation. This one focused on finding the door with the Duir Symbol on it, and it was exactly where it should be in the scheme of things (second passageway to the left, mirroring the one to the right). I instinctively opened the door and found the cell empty. This was a bit disappointing but not totally unexpected because of what had happened with the Hawthorn. I was asked by someone unseen: “Who would you like to see in here?” Following on from Huathe, I was being asked to call the shots and conjure the vision. I immediately thought of my welsh grandparents. They have been helping me with my shamanic work, and grandma was the one who facilitated my first mystical experience when I was twenty-seven. Together we set about constructing a cozy atmosphere, complete with roaring fire, stew pot and kettle, collie dog, couch and rocking chairs. Here was a place I could come to rest and seek advice. By the time I'd left, my grandparents were engaged in an early form of chess. In between moves grandma was knitting and grandpa was writing his life-story.
December 23: Summer Solstice Ceremony
Today I celebrated the Solstice, in tandem with my Grove. I had deliberately not prepared or rehearsed, allowing Duir the reigns instead. There is a part in our druid ceremony that gives people the opportunity to make a dedication, and other parts where people can speak for love, the land, the people, and peace, honour the Oak, and also the giants who live in a world unseen by mortal eyes. I was looking forward to the last-mentioned part in particular because I was hoping to be given an understanding of their connection with the trees. The answer that came today is this: there is a symbiotic relationship between giant trees and the giants that take an interest in this world. I could get no more than that on this occasion. The dedication was more successful. I had spoken from my heart about love, the land, the people, and peace, in the process affirming that we must begin with inner peace if there is to be peace in the world. Establishing peace within oneself is a necessary prerequisite to global peace. Then when the moment of the dedication came, it dawned on me that this work, and what I plan to do with it, is about helping people find inner peace, and so I made that my dedication. Inner peace has a domino effect: the more you have it, the more you permit other people to have it, and the effect ripples out from there. A calm mind is a mind that can think clearly. It's easier to co-operate when you are peaceful, and then solutions to difficult problems can be worked out. I accept this as my life's work: to help people find peace within themselves. My dedication to inner peace was quickly tested as I drove across Melbourne to pick up my husband from the airport!
But I want to go back to the night before the celebration. As a prelude to visiting the cave, I held an Inner-Healing Rite within my Ovate Grove. I made peace with old adversaries, and a stag appeared. I did not think to mention it until I read in Celtic Tree Mysteries that the stag is associated with the oak. This particular stag was the size of an ancient Irish Elk, and it appeared in the North. In Australia , North corresponds with the summer solstice and thus the position that I have assigned to Duir/Oak. Another association that Steve Blamire's makes with the Oak is with the Dagda, who is a Celtic Father-figure. The Pan's Script correspondences concur with this and extend it to include Dana, a Celtic Mother-figure. Astrologically the Dagda equates with the planet Jupiter, which is exalted in this placement (Cancer). The binary star Sirius also lies within this constellation, and can be equated with Dana.
January 13 2007
During the past three weeks I've been engaged in the sort of family events that typically occur around this of year in Australia . I've been in Duir-energy throughout that time, and D correlates with Number 4, and astrology's Fourth House, which is about home and family, so that's appropriate. There have been no intense or amazing mystical experiences, and although my dream-life has been active, it has been mundane. In keeping with Number 4, Fourth House, and the time of year when the sun is strongest, the focus has been on the day-to-day world. Just as the oak is a very solid tree, so have I felt well 'anchored' in the physical world.
Yet there has been a lesson flowing through this time. Related to the notion that light + dark = form (which correlates with Number 4), the concept that 'to every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction' was ever-present in my mind, and I was keen to explore its implications. It's fine when it means that whenever something bad happens, something good must also take place, but what about when it's the other way around? Does it mean that when we do something good that something bad must happen as well? The first problem is with the value judgments 'good' and 'bad'. 'Positive' and 'Negative' are a slight improvement, especially if considered in a scientific sort of way. The terms 'Yin' and 'Yang' are also useful. What I have noticed over the past three weeks is that this law plays itself out across more than one dimension. For example, we can choose to behave in a positive and productive way in the physical world, then at night have a dream that plays out the opposite scenario. I've become aware over these past weeks that it's best to let these dreams come and go, just as if you were watching something on the television. There's no need to write them down or pay them any thought (apart from recognizing that they represent the counterpoint to a decision you made). In this way Duir has made me more aware of the consequences of my actions. The oak tree itself provides a useful image for working with this concept because the growth of its root system mirrors the growth of its crown. They spread out in a similar sort of way, which is why it's such a stable tree. Similarly, my relatively long stints in Luis and Duir have been a mirror-image of each other.
January 19 2007
This morning, as the New Moon approached, I received this inspiration: Number 7 is about the sanctification of the material world (7 Days of Creation, 7 Colours of the Rainbow). A fellow druid had asked me several years ago what the three times 7 meant, that is the 777, and I can now respond: it means the sanctification of the material world on all three levels: past, present, and yet-to-be. I felt that this insight was not only a gift of the New Moon but also from Duir, as the 7th Ogam; Duir as Oak with its roots, trunk and crown in perfect balance. I have felt so comfortable in this energy that I could have easily abandoned the project at this point. There was no inner prompting to move on, no signs or dreams. Just as Huathe had expected me to decide where I would place it in my cave complex, and Duir had expected me to conjure up what I wanted in its cell, so I was now having to consciously decide to move on. In Chapter 6 of Pan's Script , I explain that Number 7 initiates rational intelligence, and here I was making a rational decision. It had occurred to me that as I was so comfortable in Duir, so I might be equally uncomfortable in Tinne on the opposite side of the Wheel. And as I had found Duir so stabilizing and worldly, so might I find Tinne de-stabilizing and other-worldly, so I picked my time carefully. A large report would be complete on Saturday. I could then risk this move. Tinne is in Capricorn's realm, and the New Moon is in Capricorn. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn and it would be 'Saturn's Day'. The sun would be on the cusp of Capricorn and Aquarius, and traditionally both are ruled by Saturn, and so Saturday became my choice.
Holly in Winter
January 21: Holly
So much for plans! I pushed myself hard all day to complete that report and when the time came to attune to Tinne, I struggled to switch gears. With the tumbling rain compounding the challenge, I quickly realized that I could not do justice to the tree attunement ritual. Ironically this is the one Ogam Tree that I did not need to travel to. For as long as I have lived here, a holly tree has been growing by the side of my house. It is right next to the lounge-room and so I sit in its energy daily. I went outside and tuned in mentally, just briefly, to ask for guidance, and felt sure that I received the message that it was okay to do the ritual in the lounge. However this was unacceptable to me because I wanted to feel the earth beneath me, wet or not, and touch the holly's trunk and leaves, not just look at them through a window. So I decided to wait until the following morning when I could give it my full attention.
However there is a force greater than my intentions at work here, a subtle force that makes itself known through synchronization and within dreams. And my dream life definitely shifted gear last night, calling me to account for the way I had treated someone in the past. Although the ritual was yet to be done, I sensed that I had already entered 'Tinne Energy'.
The ritual eventually took place at one in the afternoon, as the sun broke through the clouds. I cleaned up the area, and encouraged the cat to leave me alone. I wondered why there was no totemic energy around, the only sign that it was okay to proceed being a large and beautiful holly leaf on the ground. This is the understanding I gained: In Duir the focus was on action, with awareness that there must be a reaction, now the focus inverted itself so that I was seeing my actions through the eyes of the recipient. Instead of me looking at the Tree, I was the Tree looking at me. The magic of action-reaction had taken on another dimension. In the evening I decided to attune inwardly to Tinne but fell asleep with my head in Pan's lap. Every now and then I would arouse myself and remember that I was supposed to be attuning to Tinne. The door was obvious. Contrawise to Fearn, whose door was tucked away, the door with 3 strokes to the left inscribed on it, faced directly onto the cave's passageway. Inside the door was a large, ginger-coloured cat, curled up in a spiral, and apparently asleep, although I knew otherwise. She was well aware that I was there. Between these layers of consciousness, I'd also had a dream. It involved a team effort. The imagery was akin to train carriages. Each carriage of people was furnishing their part of the train in preparation for a voyage. Some of the carriages included two kittens, as playmates for each other. It reminded me somewhat of Noah's Ark.
When I began working with Tinne, I knew that I was entering the 'otherworld' part of the Wheel of Life, so I was not entirely surprised to feel myself 'dissolving'. I realized it was the chains around my heart that were dissolving, so although I felt a tad disorientated, I found it easy to relax and let it happen. Caiseal Mór's Wellspring trilogy helped the process along. By now I'd learned to appreciate Mór's sense of humour. These stories, in tandem with the Ogam, were healing old wounds. I felt them dissolving in the well of understanding, yet having nothing to hate felt strange. I'm not a hateful person but I was still holding some silent grudges, and here I was feeling them slip away from me. And as they did so, it felt like I no longer had anything to hold on to, which is bizarre! It was if I had defined myself by those grudges. I felt lighter, younger even, and everything I did became easier. I was now aware that I had approached most things as though I expected them to be difficult, which deprived me of energy. I was still getting everything done that I wanted to do, but now it was effortless.
When I re-read my notes from Part 1 and the associated reference material, I was reminded that holly leaves draw out toxins, phlegm and fever. Similarly Tinne brought to my attention the root cause of the problem I had with people in the past. (It was my determination to do whatever I wanted to do, without bothering to think through the effect that it would have on the other folks involved). I was ready to change; I was sleeping with holly leaves next to my bed.
I visit my grove each morning to greet the day. There, I acknowledge the Spirits of the Circle and Place along with Great Spirit. Recently I had also began acknowledging the Spirit of the Ogam, and I was now beginning to walk the Spiral as I named each of the Ogam that I had studied thus far. It was around the same time that I decided to change the name of the course that I am writing from Celtic Mysticism to Druid Mysticism because Druid Mysticism transcends any particular culture. I have also become aware that I can no longer conjure up any animosity between myself and former adversaries. For this I am immensely grateful. During my mental experiments to see if there was any shred of 'hate' still there, I realized that the mind has a tendency to divide: to create 'friends' and 'enemies'. When I look around my grove and observe the animals and the birds and the way they behave towards each other, I suspect it has something to do with our mutual survival instinct. I had assumed that holly-energy would be de-stabilizing and other-worldly but I have not found it that way at all. As the furthermost point on the ‘upper' side of the Wheel until I reach “Ido”, I have found Tinne a peaceful and wholesome place to abide.
Yet truth be told, I was indeed between worlds. A friend handed me, quite literally, the second in the Sevenwaters series of books by Juliet Marillier. She had no idea that I had begun reading fiction. A masterpiece, it held me spellbound from cover to cover, but despite the high drama of the tale, that deep sense of peace remained undisturbed. Tinne made it easy to shift between realities.
February 10: From the 4th Spiral to the 5th, Tinne to Coll
I had been fifty days in the fourth spiral and felt it was time to move on. I was feeling 'stuck'. The way that other people see the world was taking over my mind, and I knew I had to break free.
The Fifth Spiral
Hazel, three weeks after Beltane
February 11: Hazel
There are half a dozen old hazel trees near our Beltane site. Planted by one of the first European settlers to Kalorama, they are close to a little spring. The place is steeped in 'Green Man' energy. The day was overcast and it was the first time that I could light my central candle, and it was good to see it burning brightly. The sign to proceed came in the form of a gentle shower of rain. As I sat waiting, I had been praying for rain because it distressed me to see how meagre the flow of spring water had become. So this gentle shower acknowledged that prayer, and also revealed to me how sheltered I was beneath the hazel canopy. The archway between worlds was clearer than ever before and I quickly made my home between two of the hazels. Mosquitoes visited me but did not disturb the inward drift that took over my mind almost instantly. I felt watched and would not have been surprised if a guardian had appeared, in corporeal. Representing the guardian, came a kookaburra. From the direction of the spring, it flew in close and moved around my sacred space, sunwise, until it was within arm's length. This ancient guardian of sacred sites watched over me as I journeyed within. Similar to Sail with its 4 strokes to the right embedded in the trunk of the willow, here, as I peered through nearly-closed eyes, I saw 4 strokes to the left on the trunk of the hazel tree in front of me, and I knew that when I needed advice from Coll, I had only to visualize the symbol on the tree. Within the cave of my mind, these polar passageways lead to an inner dimension of an outer reality.
The past thirteen days I have been run off my feet. Coll, I found out, is a social energy. Yet these encounters were far from frivolous. People were linking up all over the place and I was merely one of several participants in this process. In relation to all of this activity, C has stood for connection. In the evenings, I read 'Child of the Prophesy' and 'The Mists of Avalon'. Both of these powerful books are about a time when old powers were receding into the background so that new powers could be developed. In relation to this, C has clarified the necessity of change. One day my friend and I went into the forest to take photos, and saw a lyrebird. He showed us his mound. Of course we left him in peace but it was a magical experience. I also had a dream in which a child that I had given birth to, was fostered by another member of the family. In keeping with the old tale of the nine hazel trees, all five streams that distribute their husks, have been bubbling with activity.
The insight that has come from Coll runs along these lines: The spiritual path symbolized by the Spiral is one of integration. Like spinning and weaving, darning and stitching, this integration process strengthens the fabric of our mental, astral, etheric, and physical bodies. There may have been a time when the subtle senses were as common as their physical counterparts, when clairvoyance was as common as everyday sight, and clairaudience as common as everyday hearing, but these dimmed over time, as the mind sought to understand its existence. The power to question takes people along a perilous track with little to guide them other than the belief that there must be answers. Yet this quest for personal meaning, understanding and interpretation, is no less than the quest for the Holy Grail. Like the knights of yesteryear, we blunder along this track, learning as much through our mistakes as our accomplishments. Truly the two mix, and the experience is often bitter-sweet. We learn by trial and error, by observing other people's strengths and weaknesses, in real life and through dreams, and also vicariously through stories. We often feel like we are getting nowhere, but if we persist with the best of our intentions, and accept that not every one of our thoughts is going to be sweet, then gradually and subtly, deeper levels of integration are woven into the Light Body. We come to know more of who we are and to love more of who we are. Heart and mind touch each other, over and over, filling us with compassion. From the struggle to understand life around us, deeper levels of integration and interpretation become possible. This is the perilous path to wholeness that requires us to dwell in the peace of the hazel grove by the spring, and to explore its tributaries as well.
After I wrote this I returned to the hazel trees near our Beltane Site, to give thanks. A wedding was taking place, so it was busy to the end. During my time with the trees, I was assured that the time of withdrawal is now past and as people return to the practice of honouring our Earth and appreciating its Guardians, so will those Guardians return to our conscious awareness. I tossed nine hazel nuts in the spring with a prayer, and closed the connection so that I could move on. For some reason I felt exhausted, but I made my way to where the crab apples live, and asked for their assistance with the next phase of my journey. Although I appreciate the higher purpose behind the intense interactivity that I have experienced, I am hoping that Quert will be quieter!
February 25: Apple
On the cusp between Cull and Quert, and during the cusp between day and night, this thought came into my mind: The Ancient Mother dreamed this world for us that we may come to know more of ourselves and to love more of ourselves. She is still Dreaming, and we are not separate from this Dreaming. Dream, Dreamer and Dreaming are One. This is why we can sometimes petition successfully for what we want. Nothing exists outside the Dreaming and all are subject to its Law. Clearly this is an extension of what I received in the hazel grove.
Crab Apple, three weeks prior to the Summer Solstice
I conducted the Rite of Attunement in my own orchard where a lovely old apple tree grows. I was actually feeling unwell, some kind of stomach ailment threatening to spoil everything. The first thing that happened was a shift in perspective. I was seeing my much loved garden from the perspective of someone much smaller. The reason for this was that I was crouching down, sitting and kneeling. Familiar plants took on properties I hadn't noticed before. The outer ritual was uneventful, but the inner event was marvellous. I beseeched Pan for help with the inner journey and he accompanied me through a passage in the cave that led to the mystical world behind Glastonbury (and the Isle of Apples). I began to understand the power that this place has exerted on me since I visited it in 2005. As I was closing the circle - at the part where I picked up the portal stone between the 2 circles - I became aware of standing beneath a Trilithon, but instead of being my current height, I was much smaller. I had become one of the 'Old Ones'; a race of small people who understood Earth magic. I was remembering a part of myself.
March 9: A Summary of the Second Set of 5 Ogam
Quert has not been quieter. If anything the pace has quickened, with nearly every phone call bringing a new obligation. How ironic that the journey into the spiral has led to an intensification of my outer existence! Picking up from where we left off on December 10, here is a summary of each letter as I have written about it in Chapter 9 of Pan's Script (the book):
H: Energizing but discriminative; H unites the twin powers of heart and mind and strengthens the resolve to make a difference. Emotions tend to internalize, enhancing perception and insight.
D: Stabilizes by providing a crucible in which creative forces can interact.
T: Transforms die-hard beliefs into a more universal viewpoint
C: Stimulates movement both internally and externally
Q: Quickens the transformation of soul-power into effective action.
Applying these general indicators to what the journey has revealed to me, I will now continue the thread began on December 14 when I considered how the Ogam Symbols can be used as a healing tool. I'll begin by repeating what I wrote there: whatever needs doing, begin by intoning “Beith” and continue through the sequence of the Ogam until you reach the letter you want. Don't skip any. Keep the wholeness of the Ogam intact by intoning each sound. When you reach the desired Ogam, visualize that symbol on the person who needs it.
H: If the person sought my aid to strengthen their resolve to unite their heart and mind as a single resource, I would intone “Beith, Luis, Fearn, Sail, Nion, Huathe” and visualize the Sign of Huathe from head to foot. As the entire B-Aicme offers assistance with getting started, the entire H-Aicme offers assistance with the strengthening of resolve and the gathering of resources.
D: If the person were ready to dedicate themselves to a cause that in some way sanctified life on Earth, and were open to connecting with their ancestors who had similarly dedicated themselves to such an ideal, then I would intone “Beith, Luis, Fearn, Sail, Nion, Huathe, Duir” and visualize the Sign of Duir from head to foot. I would want them to spend time with an oak tree, and keep an acorn in their pocket as a reminder of their pledge.
T: If the person were willing to review unfinished business with other people and face the flaws in their own thinking, I would intone “Beith, Luis, Fearn, Sail, Nion, Huathe, Duir, Tinne” and visualize the Sign of Tinne from head to foot. I would ask them to spend time with a holly tree and allow it to draw out their most toxic thoughts.
C: If the person were willing to honour their connection with the peoples around them (not just human), regardless of differences and difficulties, and wanting a deeper level of integration with everything that lives, then I would intone “Beith, Luis, Fearn, Sail, Nion, Huathe, Duir, Tinne, Coll” and visualize the Sign of Coll from head to foot, front and back. I would suggest they include hazel nuts in their daily diet, and spend time with a hazel tree.
Q: If the person were ready to unite ego and soul and thereby muster their resources from within and without, and not flinch at the responsibilities that might follow, then I would intone “Beith, Luis, Fearn, Sail, Nion, Huathe, Duir, Tinne, Coll, Quert” and visualize the Sign of Quert head to foot, front and back. I would advise them to include apple in their diet and spend time with an apple tree.
In my December 15-20 journal I postulated that the H-Aicme would help me to bring forth, from the past, that which would benefit the present and future, and I have indeed found this to be the case. While working with Duir, the Trilithon appeared between the circles, and a powerful connection was experienced between myself and my ancestors, their ideals and mine. This in itself, properly understood, is a hefty resource. Forgotten parts of Self and dormant Dreams can here be reawakened and reclaimed. Tinne further assisted the shift between realities and aided the accessibility of forgotten resources. The cat I saw in Tinne's part of the cave was levitating, indicating the awakening of dormant powers. But the price had to be paid: splitting my reality into those I liked and those I didn't, would bar the way to further development. Coll was essentially about being willing to use all of my current resources, internal and external, for the common good. Quert took this a step further, adding a magical quality to it. Resources began opening up in all directions - around me in the physical world, and also the world within me. Resources from the past were magnetizing current opportunities that could in turn become future resources.
Whilst in the B-Aicme my heart was opened up and flushed out, and I made a stronger commitment to the process of facing wounds. I also furthered my acquaintance with my otherworld-families. The inner cave assumed a clear and workable form and I began to see how it lay behind the landscape that I live in physically. This gave me a stronger sense of Self and with that came increased confidence. I ceased apologizing for myself and began to embrace the idea of becoming more active in setting things right in the world around me. In the December 10 summary of the first five Ogam, I commented on the significance of Fearn as central within this series. "Fearn felt like an 'anchor' in the midst of all the excitement generated by starting a new journey. Its message that 'the strongest shield is a peaceful heart' sits in the centre of this Aicme". Tinne, as the central Ogam within the second Aicme is similarly significant but its anchorage takes the form of a test. A major turning point within the heart is offered by Tinne. You can at this point either allow yourself to be transformed by love and our common humanity, or resist and remain stuck in the past. If you take up the challenge, this Ogam may still raise the ghosts of your past but only because they seek integration within your psyche. Long denied parts of Self and forgotten soul-agenda can then become measureless resources.
March 9: Vine
Following the summary, the making of the Divining Stick, the cleaning of ritual objects, and the final thanking of Quert, I visited a grape vine, sat among its leaves, and opened my heart to learning from Muin.
Local Grape Vine at Lughnasadh
During these past six days several wonderful things have happened. I have participated in a Pipe Ceremony with an Inuit Elder, and conducted a similar ceremony for a very special healing centre. I have been a Pipe Carrier for fourteen years, and from time to time I wonder why someone who identifies with druid tradition should also be a Pipe Carrier. And when I think of the old ones smoking on their pipes in Ireland, I cannot help but wonder if there is a folk memory of there being Pipe Carriers in the forgotten history of that land. There is no evidence that the druids knew of this ceremony and had sacred Pipes, and yet druids understand the mystical significance of the cauldron and the wand, which are different symbols for the bowl and the stem of the Pipe.
Throughout this time I have been held spellbound by the Bitterbynde trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thornton. It's a fantasy yet the way that the relationship between humans and immortals is handled is thought-provoking and heart-engaging. Concurrently, I have helped someone move from the Ovate Grade of their training into the Druid Grade, which is a great honour. I have also accepted an invitation to help someone prepare for their Vision Quest, and listened to another person's Vision. These are huge steps in people's lives. I have also decided to participate in a gathering of Elders from 4 Traditions and will represent my Celtic Ancestors, who assure me that they live through those of us who love them.
March 16 & 17: A Triad
During the dawn hours, I received this triad, which I am calling Muin's Triad:
I am a bite-size piece of the Beloved
I am a holographic chunk of the Whole
I am a complete package of Bliss
Like Luis, which is only 15 degrees away from Muin on the Wheel, I am finding Muin delightful.
March 18: The Shaman's Ladder
This morning as I stood in my Grove calling on the Powers to guide my day, I received an image of the Ogam as the Shaman's Ladder. I had called the Spirit of Pan, Pangaea, and Ancient Mother, and was calling in the Spirit of the Ogam when the ladder image came into my mind. Having spoken the words, I was wondering how the Ogam related to Pangaea (the World), Pan (her Champion) and Celi Mawr (Creatrix), and I guessed it was their 'Voice'. I then saw the notches of the Ogam as Rungs on the Shaman's Ladder. A bit like Jack's Beanstalk, you could use these Rungs to access other Lands or States of Consciousness or Places Within the Mind. This explains why you must go through the sequence to get to the Ogam you want.
March 22: After being in a particular Ogam for I while, its energy seems to build to an excessive degree. I first noticed this with Tinne when seeing things from the other person's viewpoint became obsessive. Coll became excessively social and Quert excessively public. Now, a dozen days into Muin, I am feeling annoyingly entangled in other people's unfinished business. It is time to disengage.
March 23: I thanked Muin for the insight I had received, and closed the Fifth Spiral of the Wheel. I had spent forty days in the Fifth with Coll, Quert and Muin and it has been an unusually busy time. As I go deeper into the spiral, there is an equal and opposite motion propelling me outward.
The Sixth Spiral
I made my way to a place in the forest that is (unfortunately) blanketed with ivy. This is a familiar place, being close to our Summer Solstice Site. Given Gort's placement in the Wheel, our Beltane Site might have been more appropriate but we have had more success at clearing the ivy there. The first message I received from Gort was to "take charge"!
Following on from the March 18 experience, this morning as I opened Circle, The Ancient One, Pan and Pangaea (aka Pan Gaia), came into my mind as Mother, Son, and their Shared Vision (a united world). The Ogam then became the means of attaining that vision.
March 29: Ogam as a Ceremony
As I walked the Spiral in my Grove this morning, I perceived the Ogam as a Ceremony. The first Aicme opens the Ceremony, the second and the third develop it, and the fourth concludes it. (This may vary according to need and purpose). The Ceremony begins like such: "O Spirits of The Ancient One, Pan, and Pan Gaia, I ask for your blessings, guidance, inspiration and protection on this my Day. And I thank you for the Ogam; your means of communication. I call in Beith to begin this day in a bright and cooperative manner. Luis to add light to my thoughts and give them form. Fearn to grant me a strong and peaceful heart. Sail for deep and abiding peace throughout the day, and Nion to adjust anything within me that needs adjusting so that I can work effectively this day. Huathe follows this with the heart-felt commitment to do the best I can, come what may. Duir acknowledges the ancestral powers and I beseech them to work through me that we may evolve as one; that our ideals might coalesce into one solid and workable vision. With arms spread wide I invoke Tinne and promise to allow humanity to transform me this day. Through Coll I invite those people who are of like mind with me into my day, so that we may support each other. Quert, at the centre of the 20, can then unify the soul-qualities of yin and yang (left and right), and help me to work quietly and effectively.
In my inner cave, Muin lies between Beith with one stroke to the right, and Huathe with one stroke to the left, thus completing the triplicity of guardians. In an alcove beneath the ground, adjacent to Huathe's Sacred Well, Muin guards the Singing Bowl. A passageway running parallel and underneath the central passage of my cave has recently opened up so that I can now continue to Gort's alcove. Although they lie beneath and between the right-hand Aicme and the left-hand Aicme, these alcoves do not provide passage to the B-Aicme. They are quite literally, alcoves. Gort's alcove lies between Luis with two strokes to the right, and Duir with two strokes to the left. Luis as Light, Duir as Dark; Luis as Otherworld, Duir as this World; Duir representing the form of the past, and Luis representing the current trend. Gort is intermediary between these, granting us the strength and savvy to chart our way between the two. In Gort's alcove I see building blocks. These blocks, however, are no more solid than ivy leaves. I knew that I had to imagine the shape I wanted them to take and hold this image with the power of my will. They might then take on that form. Gort is strong and holds its vision patiently. Like ivy, Gort knows how to hold the energy until conditions are at a premium. I will now wait and see if this line of thought develops further. One thing is certain: the Muin Aicme is heightening my perception of the power and significance of the Ogam.
An inner journey brought associations between Muin and the Ant, Gort and the Seal.
April 2: Broom
In the light of the almost full moon, I thanked Gort and attuned to NGetal. Gort has been nothing but Good for me. I had bought two Native Broom plants from my local Community Nursery the day before and placed them, still in their pots, in the 153 degree position within my Grove. I attuned to NGetal by holding the pots, one in each hand.
Our 'Native Broom' a fortnight prior to the Autumn Equinox
I blessed my new plants with fire, earth, air and water. Then, building on the insight given by Gort, I walked out the Druid Ceremony in accordance with the Ogam. Beith to welcome all present, Luis to Name the Ceremony, Fearn to offer peace, Sail accompanied the Druid's Prayer, and then Nion represented the Awen. I thought of Huathe in relation to the casting, Duir in relation to the consecration, and Tinne in relation to the 4 Quarters. Coll, Quert, Muin, Gort and NGetal then formed the various parts of the Central Rite.
Today NGetal gave me an understanding of its specific role within the Ceremony, and that is to gather up the energy at the conclusion of the Central Rite so that it can be used for healing purposes.
It was raining and the Moon was in Scorpio, and so I planted the two Native Broom.
April 6: A Pile of Dust
My first inner journey to NGetal revealed an alcove with a bed to one side and a pile of dust in the alcove proper. Next to this pile of dust was a broom and I heard the words: The solar system was made from a pile of dust and a great force. I would come to understand that it is what I do with this force, and this 'star dust' (for that is how I saw it), that is important.
This inner journey also revealed an association with Bo, the Sacred Cow of the Celtic Tradition.
Because it is difficult to create Ogam sticks from the vine, ivy and broom, I cut these Ogam from a single piece of Rosewood. My choice was influenced by the fact that this wood is entirely dissociated from any of the Ogam trees. It's a beautiful wood used in carvings in Papua New Guinea. My druid Staff is made from it. I found this piece lying under a speciman tree in Melbourne's Botanical Gardens and I cut it into equal pieces to represent these first three plants in the Muin Aicme.
NGetal has brought an intense connection to the negative emotions of people and places. I seem to be currently magnetizing them in a way that I thought I had left behind years ago. It's taking a ton of strength to think my way through each situation and act honestly and appropriately. I wonder if this relates to the fact that the reed and the Native Broom thrive in swamps.
With a fellow druid, I visited Lake Mungo, and learned about 'pipe clay'. Used by the indigenous people of this land, it is found in abundance at the ancient lake site. We discussed the idea that perhaps the druids made pipes from local clays and filled them with local herbs. It's really only a short step away from using incense for magical purposes, and we know that the druids did that.
I completed a series of seven lectures on Pan's Script that I was giving to a group of local astrologers, and I also finished reading a remarkable series of books entitled The Dark is Rising.
April 12 & 13
NGetal was as debilitating as Gort was empowering. Somewhat bewildered by the turmoil I was experiencing, I decided to revise the information I had on NGetal in order to make sense of it all. I remembered that NGetal was complex, yet I discovered common threads among its various interpretations. Inherent to my inner journey was the warning that a pile of dust can scatter all over the place, and my energy did indeed feel 'scattered'. NGetal can be a broom, a reed, or a bracken-fern, and it takes mental strength and dexterity to manage it effectively. As Edred Thorsson says in The Book of Ogham, inner turmoil and anxiety are likely to manifest with NGetal, and this is exactly what happened. Thorsson advises us to envisage what we want to fashion before attempting anything. NGetal's pile of dirt, Gort's pile of blocks, and Nion's drum - N, G, and NG - each suggest imagining the outcome before executing the action. We must first apply our mind to spotting a pattern. Progress will then depend on keeping this pattern in mind. I have found that strenuous mental effort is required of both N and NG, and a willingness to adjust and adapt my thinking as things progress. I had two nightmares during these eleven days. One was about a house invasion and the need to expel 'parasites'. The other, by way of contrast, involved rescuing these same people. A third dream was psychic in nature, alerting me to an impending event. Contrary to other Ogam, this one began negatively and later became positive. What I mean by that is that for the first eight days I felt restless and worry-prone, but then that changed and I realized that I felt stronger than ever before.
April 14: I thanked NGetal and turned my attention to Sraibh ("Strahf")
April 15: Blackthorn
Sraibh immediately confirmed that the Ogam was an ancient 'Song Line'. This idea had been coming to me since I began the Muin Aicme. I understand this to mean that you could use it to attune to the Spirit of Place, regardless of where you are in the world. In the afternoon I visited some local nurseries and was delighted (and surprised) to find a small Blackthorn. Because it is an environmental weed in this country, I have housed it in a large pot.
At around 2 o'clock in the afternoon, I conducted my ritual of attunement to Sraibh. The ritual was carefully done and I felt a strong connection as a result. The day was mild and so my mind drifted easily into my inner sanctum, where several surprises awaited me. I noticed that the pile of blocks in Gort's alcove had shaped itself into a Gong, and the pile of dirt in NGetal's alcove was now a spiral made of sand - Pan's Spiral - the Spiral of the Ogam we have been exploring - here housed as a sand mandala. The bed had become a bench to sit and contemplate this mandala. The spiral was a similar colour and form to Tinne's cat. Each of the alcoves in Muin's Aicme now contained a bench to contemplate the image it housed: a singing bowl (M), gong (G), sand mandala (NG) and tree (Z) - yes, a Blackthorn tree had appeared in the fourth alcove. Each object was bathed in light while the bench sat in the dark. The image of the Blackthorn tree reminded me that this was the 4th alcove and that 4 strokes to the right (Sail) and left (Coll) had also been an actual image rather than a symbolic one.
April 17 - 27
Because of its nasty thorns, "strahf" is typically associated with strife, and there has been some, but perhaps because I simply accepted this as a part of life, and undertook the necessary action quickly and quietly, it was not painful. Sraibh is the 14th Ogam and I associate Number 14 with groundbreaking action, and this has also been correct. Quite literally I restructured my entire Ovate and Shamanic mode of operation. That's big but again, it wasn't painful. It simply had to be done; things couldn't be left as they were. As happens, so often, with what seems like a trial at the time, the outcome has left me better off. Indeed "strahf" came to mean strength to me - inwardly and outwardly - powerful and present at the same time. Sraibh helped me to approach life with equanimity. I've laid the foundations for a couple of new friendships, developed a couple of older ones, and resolved a couple of things. The Ogam-as-Ceremony is coming along well and my morning ritual now includes a healing component. I'll wait until my little tree grows before cutting the Ogam Stick.
The Seventh Spiral
April 27: Elder
During the attunement ritual I was taken into the final cavity deep beneath the Earth. It was mostly dark but I knew the bench would be there. In the soft light of the alcove I saw a tiny spark - a single diamond - in a manger or nest of straw. In this roughly circular nest, not especially tidy, sat a minute but radiant jewel. Unlike the other alcoves, this final one had a tomb-like quality. Its far-wall was made of basalt like those of a castle. Very quiet, very peaceful, the candle-like jewel provided the only source of light. Here ended the journey of the consonants.
Our native Elderberry tree (with still lots of growing to do), at the Autumn Equinox
With Ruis I didn't have to wait for the blessings - they were there from the start in this vision. It was as if Ruis was the 'Harvest Ogam' of the Muin Aicme (and indeed all that came before it), and I would find, almost immediately, that this harvesting was not just an inner event. Over that first weekend I was given the opportunity to create the Pan's Script Spiral on a beautiful piece of land in the country - and not just any country, but near the place where I had spent my adolescent years. Laying out the spiral on the ground and placing stones where plants can eventually go, allowed me to not only to see how it looks when it is all laid out, but to actually walk it on a large scale. A pair of eagles circled to the south-south-west, alerting me to the need to adjust the entrance point. My friend (R) placed a superb stone in the centre and we planted the first tree.
These events were occurring at Samhuin-time, and on the day itself a couple of friends undertook a walk with me to honour the occasion. At the beginning of our journey around the top of the mountains, we mourned the blackness of the forest where a controlled burning had taken place. Further along we took in the gorgeous view possible from up so high. Then as we approached the conclusion of our walk, the almost-full moon was rising in a pink sky to our right, while the fiery sun was setting to our left - truly glorious.
Some days later I entered a sweat lodge in support of a young person's vision questing. Yet more than one person made a significant step forward that weekend. Pertinent to the fact that I was in Elder-energy, a vision came through regarding those people who have stepped up to be elders in our local area. Also relevant to the fact that I was in Elder-energy was the purging I went through shortly after the sweat. It was not dramatic or painful but a purge none the less.
Throughout this time I had been preparing a place in the garden for the little Elder tree that I had bought, and on May 8, I planted it. As with Blackthorn, I will wait until it is bigger before cutting the Ogam Stick.
May 9: Pine
At around four in the afternoon I conducted the ritual that would help me attune to Ailm. I chose a community of pines within a local arboretum. The place was personally meaningful to me. There is something awesome about entering a pine forest, even a small one. Fairy toadstools dotted the ground and the otherworld felt close enough for comfort. Some old tree ferns bordered the forest reminding me that Ailm is situated on the cusp of Aries and Pisces on the Wheel of Life. (I associate tree ferns with Pisces). After I had selected my spot, I noticed a large nest high above me in the adjacent tree. Wrens darted around me as I conducted the rite.
I found it easy to slip into a contemplative state of mind and to then focus on where Ailm might be within my inner cave structure. I began by walking through the front entrance of my cave with the intention of revising the journey thus far, and was surprised to see that instead of having to knock on doors, the representatives of the B-Aicme had lined the passageway and were cheering me. I was grateful but felt obliged to remind them that I hadn't finished yet; I still had the A-Aicme to go. Of course they knew that but wanted to congratulate me on completing the consonants anyway. Somewhat flushed, I then walked through the H-Aicme. Nobody lined that side of the cave yet the joyousness in the air was palpable. I then went down the stairs and visited the M-Aicme. All was quiet there. Just past the final alcove, the passage seemed to hit a wall and I wondered how I would proceed from this point. I had to broaden my thinking and move into the dark on my left hand side. Once I did this, I found that I could move around the 'wall', which was in fact a tree - a mighty yew tree - right in the centre of my cave. Ancient yews are often hollow in the middle and so I wasn't completely surprised to discover that I could slip through the trunk-cum-wall.
I immediately made my way upwards. I knew that Ancient One's throne was in the centre of my cave, and so I guessed that I would be climbing towards Her. I would later verify that her throne was in fact built into this mighty tree and that I passed behind it as I continued my upward climb. Eventually I reached a loft, directly above the central cave structure. Here I stepped out of the tree and began walking around a large open room. When I reached the part that I guessed was directly above the cave-entrance, I stopped and faced the trunk of the yew from which I had emerged. There before me on the floor were the Ogam of the five vowels. Unlike the consonants, there were no separate compartments for the letters of the A-Aicme. Indeed there was no clutter at all, simply a large open room with five squares drawn on the floor. Ailm was at my feet and its equal armed cross lay within a circle.
Our Cypress Pines
May 14: Another way of working with the Ogam for healing
Ailm has taught me an alternative way of working with the Ogam symbols for healing. Rather than progress to the Ogam you want, you can sing them all in - from Beith to Ido - then call in whichever one you wish to focus on. This method is especially useful when you want to work with more than one symbol at a time.
May 20: The seventh spiral
Ruis and Ailm brought me many wonderful experiences both in thisworld and the otherworld. I often woke up singing (in my mind), as I used to when yoga was my only path. For a long time I have endured the loss of the high notes one can reach with yoga but now at last they are returning, this time within my own tradition, and with better integration. Ailm returned the flying dreams and I could see in these the results of my work. Within the dream state, flying feels perfectly natural now. I had but to think of where I wanted to go, and I was off. I also saw an inner guide associated with Huathe and I realized that just as the hospitable woman I saw as Beith represents the entire Beith Aicme, so this elder man represents the entire Huathe Aicme. And a younger man, of knightly demeanor, represented the entire Muin Aicme. Clearly I am not learning everything in sequence - and I sense that a process of overviewing the entire ogam has begun. As well as inspiration about the ogam, much inspiration poured forth in regard to other spiritual projects I am currently working on, but after about a week in its energy, Ailm became less pleasant and I began to feel vulnerable - a pattern noted earlier with some of the other ogam (T, C & M in particular).
The Eighth Spiral
May 21: Gorse
At about midday I thought long and hard about what I had learned from Ailm and then attuned to Ohn. I had recently and unexpectedly found myself in the company of some gorse growing along the side of a country road, heralding this attunement.
I also purchased some Gorse Bitter Pea plants, which are our local and indigenous variety of this member of the pea family. Life proceeded smoothly the following week. I read the first of the Cormac books by Dwina Murphy-Gibb and enjoyed it immensely. I was chuffed to find that she had included a druid pipe-ceremony in it, and I wrote to her asking what inspired her to do so.
Gorse Bitter Pea
May 27: A Healing Session
This is where I became aware that the Vowels have definitely initiated an overview of the entire Ogam. And I discovered that what I have learned is useful in both the diagnosis and treatment of problems. To diagnose I mentally positioned myself within my Ovate Grove and visualized the evening of my initiation. I noted the current moon phase. I sat where I felt comfortable and sang the ogam, making a mental note of where the pauses were and the emphases. As I silently sang the Ogam, I visualized the places where I had done their respective attunement rituals. This helped my mind to stay focused and yield to a logic greater than the everyday mind. To begin the treatment I called in the eight sacred directions, and visualized each of my anchor points. I then cast circle with feather and breath. I sang the Ogam, adding weight to those that had revealed their significance during the diagnostic process, then performed what was required of me. To conclude the treatment I thanked the eight sacred 'anchor points' and released the circle.
May 30: Heath
I was able to conduct the attunement ritual within my own grove as I have our local heath growing there. The meditation of the day suggested that Ur is about the integration of Awen and Nwyfre within the human heart .
Our local Heath at Imbolc
A stunning full moon with golden clouds around it like cushioned drapes around a throne, with the hint of a dragon embossed on one of these golden awnings.
I have planted a birch and transplanted 4 cypress pines over the past five days, heralding a new development. I have also intuited a deeper level of correlation between Pan's Script and Alchemy, but I won't explore this yet.
The Vowels continue to enrich my dream life: it is active and vivid; in no way traumatic. Indeed the entire experience has been peaceful, somewhat dreamy, and interlaced with kindness. The influence of the otherworld has been keenly felt, and one of my projects dissolved this week, making way for a stronger commitment to another. Once this matter was settled, I found my golden torc, which had gone astray. I have felt close to Pan throughout. Self-determination despite the odds, has been a strong theme as well.
I set out to attune to Edhadh today. I had spotted the poplar trees in the arboretum once before and so I knew, approximately, where they were. Yet I was distracted by the heath. They were growing all over the hillside, some of them quite tall, and many adorned with their pretty pink and white bell-flowers. A piece, just large enough to become a Divining Stick was lying on the ground, so I took it gratefully and left a gift of silver in return.
The Ninth Spiral
June 7: Poplar
Having been given such a gracious opportunity to farewell Ur, I resumed the task of finding the poplar trees. Although they are tall, and stand above the rest of the trees, it was actually their whispering that alerted me first, to their presence. I then wend my way to them to conduct the attunement ritual. They were silent throughout, only resuming their whispering when I had finished. I felt welcome, and a deep sense of peace. A pair of finches with beautiful golden breasts darted around me and at one point, one of them sat directly in front of me and looked me squarely in the eye.
Poplar, late summer, post-Lughnasadh
At dawn the next day, a large golden merlin came into my dreaming, standing directly on the path I was taking. I recognized him for who he was, and asked him for his message. "Don't be concerned with the changes going on around you" he said. "Keep your ego in abeyance and allow the soul to continue teaching you about healing."
The rich dream-life continues, and always around dawn. These dreams have a highly social quality and involve multi dimensions of existence. Concurrently, the inner journeying has revealed specific colours associated with the vowels. Although they were all laid out in front of me right from the start, I am now able to distinguish the vowels by colour as well as the number of strokes across the stemline. The colours are subtle but vibrant, like electricity. Red with Ailm, indigo with Ohn, silver with Ur, and gold with Edhadh. The nineteenth lesson for the course in druid mysticism has now been written and the size of the course reduced by half, which is a great relief.
June 15: Ido
I attuned to Ido just after the New Moon, in the afternoon. Everything was peaceful except for my mind because I had planted this yew tree ten years ago in the Samhuin position, yet the Pan's Script model would have it at 'the darkest hour before the dawn'. The Spirit of Ido answered my thoughts with this one: No one thing has a single placement in the Wheel of Life. Each takes many roles and each role implies a certain placement.
Irish Yew, between Imbolc and the Spring Equinox
Never before had I experienced such a sharp and sudden shift between the energy of one Ogam and the one that follows it. The lightness and clairvoyance of Edhadh gave way as soon as I had completed the attunement ritual, and something much heavier took its place. This was apparent across dimensions, my dream-life now becoming waves of impressions rather than clear pictures, and these impressions moved swiftly from one scene to another, from one sound to another.
I stayed in Ido energy for a total of eleven days. Initially I found it debilitating and I wondered if the energy was too strong for me. My mind wandered all over the place and the dream kaleidoscope continued throughout. Yet in the midst of this chaos I dreamed of a deep pool and realized that Ido had shown me a personal healing place. Healing power came in abundance after that and brought tremendous strength. I suspect it was not Ido alone that did this, but the culminating effect of the entire Ogam.