Special thanks to Duid and Celtic Magic books for these

Ancient Celtic alphabet of one of the Irish runic languages. It was used by the druids and abandoned after the first few centuries of the Christian era. The ogham runes remain only in gravestone inscriptions found mostly in W Ireland and also in England, Scotland, and the Shetland Islands. The origin of ogham is uncertain; it contained 25 letters formed of straight lines and may have been adapted from a sign language. A treatise on ogham, The Book of Ballymote (15 cent.), confirms that it was a secret, ritualistic language.

Ogum i llia, lia uas lecht,
bali i téigtis fecht fir,
mac ríg hErend ro gaet and
do gae gand os gabur gil


(Ogham ar lia, lia os leacht,
san áit a mbíodh fir ag gabháil thart,
áit ar marbhaíodh mac rí Éireann
ag sleá ollmhór, 's é ar dhroim eich bháin.)


Beth / Birch - The silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) is the most common tree birch in much of Europe. It grows up to 100 feet high, but is more often found in spreading clumps on sandy soils. It is one of the first trees to colonize an area after a mature forest is cut; this is probably a large part of its symbolic connection with new beginnings. It is cultivated in North America, often under the name of weeping birch. The three trees in my front yard form root sprouts that would take over the bed where they are planted if I didn't cut them back. The common birch (B. pubescens Ehrh.) is almost as widespread as the silver birch, but grows primarily on acid or peaty soils. It can reach 65 feet in height. Birches are members of the Birch family (Betulaceae).

  • Physical: You must rid yourself of negativity, unhelpful influences and bad thoughts for a new, fresh start.
  • Mental: Concentrate on your desire, the image of the result wanted must be held firmly in mind.
  • Spiritual: For a new beginning focus on the white of the birch, it stands out clearly from distractions and obstructions.

Luis / Rowan - The rowan, or mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia L.) is related to serviceberries. The red berries were historically used to lure birds into traps, and the specific epithet aucuparia comes from words meaning "to catch a bird". Birds are also responsible for dispersing the seeds. Rowans thrive in poor soils and colonize disturbed areas. In some parts of Europe they are most common around ancient settlements, either because of their weedy nature or because they were planted. Rowans flower in May. They grow to 50 feet and are members of the Rose family (Rosaceae). They are cultivated in North America, especially in the northeast.

  • Physical: You will keep your senses about you to distinguish good from bad, and harm from help.
  • Mental: You will not be swayed, tricked or beguiled. Keep your wits about you.
  • Spiritual: Your strength will turn away anything that threatens your purpose and your serenity. Be not afraid.

Fearn / Alder - The common alder (Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertner) is common along lowland rivers, where it grows with aspens, poplars, and willows. Like willows, alders sprout from stumps. This allows them to regenerate after heavy flooding. In protect sites they may grow to 65 feet tall. Their leaves are more blunt-tipped than most North American alders, which look more like the grey alder (A. incana (L.) Moench). This species is more common in the mountains of Europe, and is not restricted to moist soils. Like ashes, European alders are not widely cultivated in North American (they are often sold as black alders), but several native species are. Alder wood is said to resist rotting when it is wet, and was the wood of choice for pilings in many regions. Alders are members of the Birch family (Betulaceae).

  • Physical: Be aware of uniqueness in self and others. Keep your eyes open to see the unusual and acknowledge what is seen in another if at all possible.
  • Mental: You will utilize something you previously overlooked. Oracular skills are not easy to acknowledge. the mind is unwilling at times to deal with the intuitive part.
  • Spiritual: You offer spiritual aid and protection in a dispute. Let your intuition guide you.

Saille / Willow - Like North America, Europe is home to a large number of willow species (Tutin et al. list 63 different native European willows, from low shrubs to tall trees). Two common tree willows are the white willow (Salix alba L.) and the crack willow (Salix fragilis L.). The white willow is named for the whitish undersides of its leaves, and the crack willow for the propensity of its branches to "crack" off (probably another adaptation to flooding). Both species grow along with poplars and alders along lowland rivers. They can reach 80 feet in height, and they both vigorously sprout from stumps. Other willow species are shrubs, including osiers (Salix purpurea L. and Salix viminalis L.) that grow along streams and eared willows (S. aurita L.) of acidic, boggy soils. The white willow and purple osier are sometimes grown in cultivation in North America. Willows are members of the Willow family (Salicaceae).

  • Physical: A comfortable relationship to the material world is full of lessons and cycles of changing values. Change is necessary for growth, and values are no exception to the rule.
  • Mental: To gain understanding of a particular concept, a steady accumulation of facts is the foundation that brings understanding. All cannot be learned in one lesson. Repetition is the key.
  • Spiritual: This is a period of taking it easy rather than full speed ahead. Learn to play with the cyclical nature of things.

Nuin / Ash - the common ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) is a major tree of lowland forests in much of Europe, along with oaks and beeches. It grows to 130 feet in open sites, with a broad crown reminiscent of American elm trees. Ash was and still is an important timber tree, and is a traditional material for the handle of a besom. The common ash is occasionally cultivated in North America, and similar native ash species are widely grown as street trees. Ashes are members of the Olive family (Oleaceae).

  • Physical: Your actions echo in the cosmos as a stone thrown in a pond casts ripples. Know you and the world are interconnected. Be aware of the effect of your actions.
  • Mental: Your problems or questions are not yours alone; others have the same ponderings. Look at the question in the wider context and ask opinions.
  • Spiritual: Endeavour to become aware that all things are connected. Balance your need with the Earth's.

Huatha / Hawthorn - Like willows, hawthorns have many species in Europe, and they are not always easy to tell apart. All are thorny shrubs in the Rose family (Rosaceae), and most have whitish or pinkish flowers. The common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna Jacq.) and midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata (Poiret) DC.) are both widespread. They are common in abandoned fields and along the edges of forests. Both are cultivated in North America, as are several native and Asiatic hawthorns.

  • Physical: You need to work upon the physical condition of yourself. To better yourself you need to alter diet, smoking or eating properly. Healthy body can be attained by diet and exercise. A healthy body means a healthy mind.
  • Mental: You must open your mind to the self-imposed thickets of ignorance and false facts. Free your thoughts and cleanse your mind.
  • Spiritual: However hot the problem, the forge heat of overcoming it, in your spirit creates new and unexpected strengths.

Duir / Oak - The oak of myth and legend is the common oak (Quercus robur L.). It is sometimes called the great oak, which is a translation of its Latin name (robur is the root of the English word "robust"). It grows with ash and beech in the lowland forests, and can reach a height of 150 feet and age of 800 years. Along with ashes, oaks were heavily logged throughout recent millennia, so that the remaining giant oaks in many parts of Europe are but a remnant of forests past. Like most other central and northern European trees, common oaks are deciduous, losing their leaves before Samhain and growing new leaves in the spring so that the trees are fully clothed by Bealltaine. Common oaks are occasionally cultivated in North America, as are the similar native white oak, valley oak, and Oregon oak. Oaks are members of the Beech family (Fagaceae).

  • Physical: A hands-on approach will nurture the skills you wish to have. Step through the door, one learns by doing.
  • Mental: You have accumulated acorns of wisdom, the time for dropping and sharing your wisdom is here.
  • Spiritual: You as a teacher or student must be tough and resilient despite life's unpredictability as an Oak is to the bolt of lightening. Strong and wise.

Tinne / Holly - The holly (Ilex aquifolium L.) is a shrub growing to 35 feet in open woodlands and along clearings in forests. Hollies are evergreen, and stand out in winter among the bare branches of the deciduous forest trees that surround them. Hollies form red berries before Samhain which last until the birds finish eating them, often after Imbolc. The typical "holly leaf" is found on smaller plants, but toward the tops of taller plants the leaves have fewer spiny teeth. Hollies are members of the Holly family (Aquifoliaceae). The common holly is often cultivated in North America, as are hybrids between it and Asiatic holly species.

Graves (1966) and others are of the opinion that the original tinne was not the holly, but rather the holm oak, or holly oak (Quercus ilex L.). This is an evergreen oak of southern Europe that grows as a shrub, or as a tree to 80 feet. Like the holly, the holm oak has spiny-edged leaves on young growth. It does not have red berries, but it does have red leaf "galls" caused by the kermes scale insect; these are the source of natural scarlet dye. Holm oaks are occasionally cultivated in North America.

  • Physical: Challenges will be overcome with unity and concerted effort. Ensure the cause is just.
  • Mental: As warriors train and retrain until what they do with spears is instinctive, so you too must train and learn daily.
  • Spiritual: Cultivate dynamic and instinctive intuition to respond to fast moving situations and accept the reality of here and now. Ensure the ability of slipping in and out of a great variety of behaviour styles, to be able to respond to the environment at hand.

Coll / Hazel - The hazel (Corylus avellana L) is the source of hazelnuts. It forms a shrub up to 20 feet tall, inhabiting open woodlands and scrubs, hedgerows, and the edges of forests. The filbert nut in North American groceries is Corylus maxima, a related species. The European hazelnut is cultivated in North America, primarily as an ornamental. Hazelnuts are in the Birch family (Betulaceae).

  • Physical: Your skill in poetry, divination and meditation allows you to inspire others to increase their capacity in these arts. Example is the best teacher.
  • Mental: Allow the promptings of your intuition to bring ideas to the surface. Become a catalyst with those ideas.
  • Spiritual: Follow your intuition to the source, you will be rewarded with wisdom and your soul will ring with poetry.

Quert / Apple - When most of us think of apples, we think of the domestic apple, but the ogham tree was most likely the European crabapple (Malus sylvestris Miller). This tree grows to 30 feet in moist fertile soils in oak woodlands, and has been extensively cultivated. The fruits are small versions of the domestic apple, and also show the pentacle when cut across. Cultivated crabapples in North America are usually Asian species, but this species is a common rootstock for apple trees. Apples are in the Rose family (Rosaceae).

  • Physical: Choice, while not easy, is necessary. Stop procrastinating, you will end up with nothing or an unsatisfying taste from each choice.
  • Mental: Many paths of learning are open to you - choose one! Better master of one than expert of none.
  • Spiritual: In your journey choose one of the Eight Paths to complete the others will follow.

Muin / Vine - The grape (Vitis vinifera L.) is a vine growing as long as 115 feet, in open woodlands and along the edges of forests, but most commonly seen today in cultivation, as the source of wine, grape juice, and the grape juice concentrate that is so widely used as a sweetener. European grapes are extensively cultivated in North America, especially in the southwest, and an industry and an agricultural discipline are devoted to their care and the production of wine. Grapes are in the Grape family (Vitaceae).

  • Physical: Unwind, if you then sense at a deep level that you must act in a certain way at this moment in order to deal with an issue; let intuition be your guide and do it.
  • Mental:Allow your senses to open to speed inner development as you learn to place trust in them when they are acting strongly. Instead of using reason constantly.
  • Spiritual:Open your inner self so it may harvest and gather all signs and omens that it is capable of understanding. Allow yourself this boon.

Gort / Ivy - Ivy (Hedera helix L.) is also a vine, growing to 100 feet long in beech woods and around human habitations, where it is widely planted as a ground cover. Ivy produces greenish flowers before Samhain on short, vertical shrubby branches. The leaves of these flowering branches lack the characteristic lobes of the leaves of the rest of the plant. Like holly, ivy is evergreen, its dark green leaves striking in the bare forests of midwinter. Ivy is widely cultivated in North America. It is a member of the Ginseng family (Araliaceae).

  • Physical: Link with others turn out this is not the time to be alone.
  • Mental:Recognize group unconscious has an influence on you, absorb, go inward to learn more about the self.
  • Spiritual:Enter group mind with joy, assist others in their spiritual journey as they assist in yours. We all are intertwined as the Ivy, their success is yours and vice versa.

Ngetal / Reed - The term "reed" is used with great imprecision in North America, but it is clear that the reed of the ogham is the common reed (Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steudel). This is a giant grass, with stems as high as 12 feet. It grows in marshy areas, where it often forms dense stands. Like most other grasses, the vertical stems live only a single year, dying in the autumn and being replaced with new green shoots in the spring. The dead stems rattle and whisper in late autumn winds. Common reed has spread as a weed throughout the world; in North America it is widespread in cooler climates. Common reed is in the Grass family (Poaceae, or Gramineae).

  • Physical:You are able to find order where others find and create only chaos. Put this valuable skill to work. Take charge.
  • Mental:Your results are as sure as the intentions with which you began. Keep your target in sight. Do not be distracted.
  • Spiritual: Your journey has begun, surprise encounters and upsets are only to be expected. The skills you overcome these troubles with are as valuable as the trip itself.

Straif / Blackthorn - The blackthorn (Prunus spinosa L.) is a relative of cherries and plums, and is the source of the sloe fruit. It is a thorny shrub growing to 12 feet, often forming thickets on south-facing slopes. The blue-black fruits are edible, but bitter until after the first frost. Blackthorns are seldom cultivated in North America. They are members of the Rose family (Rosaceae).

  • Physical:Unexpected change, plans altered or ruined. No choice however unpleasant. Events take over forcing you down the unavoidable path. Take courage, issues must be faced, decisions are unavoidable.
  • Mental: Your negative view, clinging to old ways and facing challenges with anger and stubborness will only make it worse and hurt you more. Accept the changes and move on.
  • Spiritual: Realize you and your life have changed radically, enter reborn.

Ruis / Elder - The common elder (Sambucus nigra L.) is a shrub growing to 30 feet in damp clearings, along the edge of woods, and especially near habitations. Elders are grown for their blackish berries, which are used for preserves and wine. The leaf scars have the shape of a crescent moon. Elder branches have a broad spongy pith in their centers, much like the marrow of long bones, and an elder branch stripped of its bark is very bone-like. The red elder (S. racemosa L.) is a similar plant at higher elevations; it grows to 15 feet. Red elder extends its native range to northern North America, and it is cultivated along with other native species, but common elders are seldom seen in cultivation. Elders are in the Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae).

  • Physical:Though one aspect of your life is over, another begins anew.
  • Mental: Changes from the old will bring creativity, to usher in new ideas and thoughts.
  • Spiritual: Links are continually formed as new phases of life and experience repeat in different forms that lead to renewal.

Ailim / Silver Fir - The silver fir (Abies alba Miller) is one of the tallest trees native to Europe, sometimes exceeding 160 feet tall. It is named for its silver gray bark. In its appearance (and in its current, and undoubtedly ancient, use) it is the quintessential Yule tree. It is not a tree of northern regions, however; it is commonest in central Europe and is replaced by other conifers in the north. Like most conifers, it is evergreen, and like other firs it produces cones that fall apart while they are still on the tree. Silver firs are seldom cultivated in North America, but several similar native species are. They are members of the Pine family (Pinaceae).

  • Physical: In this issue you can see what is beyond and what is coming. You have the perception to see and to understand from the point where you stand. Take long view point and foresee the future.
  • Mental: Receive from the past and present strength and healing from which to draw insight and knowledge for your future.
  • Spiritual: Be aware of your progress on your spiritual voyage.

Ohn / Furze - Furze, or gorse (Ulex europaeus L.), is a thorny shrub growing to six feet tall. It grows in heaths, moors, pastures, and open woodlands. It produces bright yellow flowers around the time of the spring equinox. It is not often cultivated in North America, but is a serious weed in central California and some other areas. Furze is a member of the Pea family (Fabaceae, or Leguminosae).

  • Physical:Your search is over. What you seek shall be found. Continue on towards your goal.
  • Mental: Share the knowledge you have gathered, as the bee shares pollen and nectar gathered from the Furze.
  • Spiritual: There is an abundance of blessings in your spiritual voyage, do not stockpile and hoard. Share with others, you will be rewarded.

Ur / Heather - Heather (Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull) is a shrub growing to six feet. It is a major component of the vegetation type called "heath", the source of the term "heathen". It is evergreen, and produces bell-shaped pinkish flowers in the late summer. There are a number of other plants called "heath" or "heather" in the genera Erica, Phyllodoce, and Cassiope. These are relatives of Calluna, and are similar in appearance. Calluna is cultivated in North America, along with some of the other heaths and several Erica species from other parts of the world. Heather is a member of the Heath family (Ericaceae).

  • Physical: Listen to your body's message. The time for healing is now.
  • Mental: Do not permit yourself further stress. Go inward for healing and respite. This issue can wait.
  • Spiritual: Integrate inner with self to heal and be whole, to build the foundation for what will follow.

Eadha / White Poplar - The aspen (Populus tremula L.) grows to 65 feet along rivers and as a pioneer species after fire or logging. It sprouts from the base and may form clumps or thickets. The black poplar (Populus nigra L.) reaches 100 feet in sandy and gravely soil along rivers. The white poplar (Populus alba L.) is of similar size and habitat, but is more common in southern Europe. The white and black poplars are cultivated in North America (the "Lombardy poplar" is a form of black poplar), and several native poplars are similar in habitat and appearance. The North American aspen (P. tremuloides) is very similar to the European aspen. Poplars are members of the Willow family (Salicaceae).

  • Physical: Whatever challenge you now face, you will endure and conquer with determination. You can bend and not break.
  • Mental: Shield your thoughts from the fears and doubts about the odds you must overcome. A positive attitude will prevail.
  • Spiritual: Do not give in to worldly pressures, great assistance is yours on your journey to rebirth.

Ioho / Yew - The yew (Taxus baccata L.) is a slow-growing conifer, living as long as 1000 years and reaching 65 feet. It is much less common in recent times because of overharvesting (its hard, springy wood was the source of English longbows). The evergreen needles are very broad, and the seeds are produced in red, berry-like cones. Yews are toxic; one of the toxic compounds, taxol, is an effective treatment for some cancers. Yew is in the Yew family (Taxaceae).

  • Physical: Something held for many years must be passed on, let go. It serves you no longer.
  • Mental: The knowledge that nothing lasts forever will bring ease at this time.
  • Spiritual: Changes are coming to you, you have a tendency to try and hang on, let go and experience the change as an ally not an enemy.

Koad / Grove - Certain groups or groves of trees have always been revered. Their branches are never pruned or loped. It is assumed these are the remnants of Druidic Groves. These groves contained various types of trees, among them the Oak, and were by a stream. It is here all meetings by the Druids were held 'in the face of the Sun and in the eye of Light". Here grievances were heard and judgements rendered that would settle issues. Grove indicates all knowledge, past, present and future, where all are linked in unity, and the resolution of conflict.

  • Physical: You may be participating in a resolution of conflict.
  • Mental: Misunderstandings can be ironed out if all parties will meet, work towards this.
  • Spiritual: You must try to hold the energy of judgement, of life aligned to the values that are above reproach. By example do we teach others.

Oir / Spindle - The hard wood of the Spindle was used in the making of pegs, bobbins and spindles. It is a small and delicate tree with smooth grey bark and tiny white flowers. Deeply lobed brought crimson fruits appear in Autumn. Spindle indicates honour of tribe, community and the sweetness and delight of a sudden revelation.

  • Physical: Fulfil your obligations, not for reward but because you must, honour demands it and the greatest happiness will be yours.
  • Mental: Sudden realization gives you the right and obligation to question authority.
  • Spiritual: Develop your consciousness of the right relationship with others in the community and tribe.

Uilleand / Honeysuckle - Honeysuckle is also known as Woodbine. It twists and coils as the Ivy does. Beautiful yellow flowers entwine with the leaves. Its scent is very cloying and sweet. the Honeysuckle shows the way in which to achieve the search for the self. Honeysuckle indicates hidden desires, secrets and the path to the search for the self.

  • Physical: Pursue your desires, allow yourself to experience pleasure - you are not a monk. By joy do we learn, not by abstinence of what we enjoy.
  • Mental: The hidden secrets you pursue are not as impenetrable as you suspect. They are simply muted by background noises, home in on the secrets, put aside the distractions.
  • Spiritual: Remain true to your beliefs and principles in your journey to the self. Follow the Honeysuckle in safety and joy.

Pion / Pine - The Pine tree is an evergreen, its old title was "the sweetest of woods". Its needles are a valuable source of vitamin C and can loosen a tight chest. The scent of Pine is useful in the alleviation of guilt. The Bach's flower remedies lists it for dealing with feelings of guilt. Pine indicates issues of guilt within you.

  • Physical: Use the guilt you have to clear the slate with those you have hurt and renew the relationships.
  • Mental: Creativity can be released as you release the guilt. Let it go and transform the energy from guilt to positive action.
  • Spiritual: Use the discomfort of your guilt to pursue essential changes within yourself. Transform the guilt and yourself.

Phagos / Beech - Beech wood is closely grained, very easy to work giving a smooth even surface. At one time Beech tablets were used as writing surfaces because of the above mentioned qualities. Beech and book have the same word origins. Beech is concerned with ancient knowledge as revealed in old objects, places and writings. Beech indicates guidance from the past to gain insight which protects and provides a solid base upon which all relies.

  • Physical: Reviving memories will bring understanding that is needed. Do not neglect the past it is rich in experience.
  • Mental: Heed the echoes within your mind, they will give wisdom to make the changes necessary.
  • Spiritual: Do not discount the past as old fashioned, words written, buildings erected and experiences gained have come with a price. Remember and respect and listen to the inner voices and you will not go wrong.
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