Comments on the Influence of Ogham Studies

Ruis ~ Elder

Sambucus nigra

Black elder
Sambucus canadensis
American elder
Hyldemor the Elder Mother is the spirit of the elder tree. She is a beautiful maid and an aging elder who shows us the richness of woman’s life through the years. The Elder Mother is a protective nurturing spirit who gives of her self to nourish and heal. She is known as the medicine chest of the common folk with flowers that reduce fever and hot flashes and berries that support immune health. Her leaves are incense for prayer, twigs that can be fashioned into beads or ear plugs and berries that make a rich purple ink. Her flower essence can balance our sense of self worth. Knowing her has brought me closer to the hidden spirit that whirls about us when the glen is green. I’ve come to know her healing qualities and developed a relationship with her through making offerings. When I am in need I call to her and I am not alone. When I want to travel to the depths of the earth she is there to guide me.

The spirit of the elder tree is a guardian tree spirit

She requires food and company
She loves to be attended
Hair, water, offerings
She loves to receive
She is comforted
She begins
She ends

She clears the past
And purifies the blood
A graveyard spirit
She guides
She is transformative force
She is Medicine of the body and the soul

~ Carmen Reyes – Excerpt from Tree Readings ~

Straif ~ The Blackthorn

Shape-shifting: Sharing the Twelfth Moon with Ngetal and the Season of Samhain

“I do desire upon the meteor’s flame
To sit enthroned and outspeed all the stars,
To dwell in the white radiance, shadowless
Of all decay, where infinite Beauty is,
To know Love limitless, unchanged, immortal.
I do desire the flaming Wind of Life
To lift me past the limits of desire
To hurl me past all height, beyond all depth
Beyond all life, beyond the waste of death
Into the Dark and Flame of Life and Death.
Nay I would be myself that Flame, that Dark,
It would be Life, Death, Beauty, Power, Love, All.
Canst thou give this?” – Midhir and Etain
By Moirin Cheavasa

Above are the words of Etain as she is confronted with the very human conflict of desiring immortality in place of a mortal life. Finding an authentic life can feel like stumbling in the dark while seeking the meteor’s flame. This dark conflict continues during this Tree Moon. Straif and the Blackthorn have a sinister reputation in the Celtic grove, and in common lore, the darkest of the Trees is the Blackthorn. In this case, the dark can enlighten us. The year is turning once more towards the dark side, that side we prefer remain in the shadows, out of sight and out of mind, but we are confronted nonetheless.

At this time, the Great Old Goddess, the Hag Cailleach Herself, walks the Earth and everything she touches goes dormant, falls or dies back. Far as we can be from the rebirth of youthful springtime and the green world, this season finds us seeking warmth and turning up our collars to protect from the cold wintry blast of Cailleach’s Blackthorn staff. The Cailleach is feared, and in the dominant culture, she is viewed as an evil old hag. The common perception of Blackthorn is the same. Blackthorn is the fearful “witches’ tree” and, according to some people, evil and for black magic only…but is it really?

Our explorations in Goddess wisdom make it clear that the Goddess and the Sacred Feminine in general have gotten a bad reputation after several millennia of patriarchal oppression. Keep that in mind whenever you see someone or something labeled as evil or demonized in one way or another. It is wise to remember that often what the dominant culture views as evil was in the past known to be of greatest power.

In our modern lives, what is called evil is usually something other than a cultural preset, whether it is nature, sex, color, religion, lifestyle, etc. When exploring dark power, whether that power is Goddess or Tree energy, we must therefore be willing to keep an open mind, put aside prejudices of our surrounding world and dig deeper in order to see from a new point of view. It is towards that other perspective, that place of darkness equating power, and dark power that is non-malevolent that I would like us to go. It will be a refreshing change from reading once again about the dangerous, evil, wicked Blackthorn. Let’s go!

A blackthorn by another name would prick as sharply! Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) is another member of the rose family whose presence is seen in other trees—Rowan, Apple, Hawthorn, and Bramble of the Ogham grove. Her other names include the “Dark Crone of the Wood,” and “Straif” which is said to be the origin of the word “strife” in English. Interesting, although the associated meanings in English, French, Dutch and German often have to do with violent conflict or battle, another archaic meaning is “earnest endeavor” as in “to strive.”

One summer I happened across a blackthorn thicket, deep in the forest and off the beaten path. Rising at least nine feet high and forming a circle perhaps twenty feet across, the sharp blackthorns formed an impenetrable wall. Birds sang sweetly among even the lowest branches, unafraid of any predator. Returning to this same area in the forest several times over the past thirteen years, I have not yet been able to rediscover this blackthorn circle which has seemingly vanished! Certainly it would be hard to mistake with any other bush in the forest, as she is covered with the thorns which give her a name, in addition to drupes of sloe berries, deep purple-blue waxy berries which ripen after the frosts of autumn (about October or November in the Northern Hemisphere). A wound from the thorn risks infection unless thoroughly cleaned and cared for, thus making it very hard to forget this bush!

~ Excerpt from The Tree Mothers by Mut Danu ~

Duir ~ Oak

Pace of Nature Walk – Meeting the Spirit of Oak

Went to find the Oak trees on my property. Took the time to slow down to the Pace of Nature by walking in the same pacing and rhythm that I sense Nature was moving at the time. This was to assist me in energy the Energy Field of Oak when I found Oak.

I found on this day that the Pace of Nature was very slowed down from my usual pace. I would not say it was a slow pace as that would be judging Nature’s pace based on my own pace. It was just much slower and more single focused that I am used to.

Walking I found that I could not find any Oaks! I know I have White Oaks and Black Oaks in our woods because in the fall parts of the woods are covered deeply with the acorns. Walked all the way to the head of the Stream without finding any Oaks. Realized that I could not see the leaves on the trees without my glasses and made a note to wear them next time.

I turned to head back to the house – a little faster this time and I thought I would not be finding Oak on this Journey. I stepped out of the woods and stopped as something in my body had the sense to mindfully look over to the right. And there were several beautiful big Black Oaks. One with one of its branches hanging over the fence nearly touching the ground.

It took my breath away and I slid back into Pace of Nature space and walked toward the two Black Oak trees that seemed to be forming a gateway. I wanted to be attentive to my recognizing when I entered the energy field of these two Black Oaks. As I got nearer I did feel a change in temperature and when I first entered their energy field the air was lighter and cooler and seemed more “pure”. However, as I advanced into their fields I felt a density and fullness to the air there. It was almost like my energy field was too Earth bound to allow for the overcoming of myself with the Black Oak energy. But it was OK.

I had the sense of a Cathedral and standing at something similar to the feel of a Catholic Mass (without the ideology). It was assuredly Druid /Bandrui in Nature. Standing between these two Black Oaks presiding at this Bandrui ritual I received much information from these Trees and over time it will unfold to articulation for me. But I do have the sense of what energy fields would do best to enfold Oaks energy. It is not for the dabbler or The Fool for these require looser energy that enables the ability to light on one thing after another.

It is more rightfully used for those who are ready to walk the focused path at this time in their Journey. It is especially for those who are choosing at the time to define their path in the world.

When complete I thanked the Big Oaks for their attention and back out. When almost out of the threshold they boosted me back – all in good fun. Much teaching to continue.
~ Morgana ~

Tinne ~ Holly

Holly is a tree of mystery and hidden secrets but it has a fresh and playful nature. It is kind and gentle but it has strong healing power. It is a tree of boundaries that don’t need to be spoken. No one hurts Holly without first being totally disconnected from themselves. It is slow growing and never outpaces itself. It would be acrid and astringent. Its ever-green brings cheer and is uplifting. A sign of perseverance through dark nights. It is a plant of contrast -the saturated dark green against the bright deep saturated red. It is a plant for earth connection. And hardiness. Braving the cold without the cold harming or touching it. Its soul and spirit are steady and steadfast and it never struggles. It’s about calm grounding and deep breathing – never minding any craziness around it. It is patient and focused. It gives no mind to what any one thinks of it and is beyond confidence in itself. It is a healer plant/tree. Medicinally it could be used for heart and circulatory issues and for all root chakra issues – reproductive and urinary. Although it may have some benefit to kidney energy issues – life energy reserves through supportive processes. It is a plant that calms the mind through steadying the heart. It would not be a nourishing plant/tree but it would more likely be a tonic and perhaps a stimulating and sedating plant/tree. The primary emotion that I feel with Holly is one of being able to contain contrasts – deep and steady and cheerful and playful – like the Dali Lama – one who has that inviting quality but you know is so full of power that with one swipe it could knock you over. I guess the emotion I feel from this is security – feet on the ground stability. I would use it for myself when I was not firmly connected to the whole of my web of life – when I was too far into any one webstream. When one part of me was outpacing the other parts of me. Soft integration. I would use Holly for someone who was too much into and using any one part of them self to the exclusion of the other parts of them self.

I enter the Doorway and come into a land of cold. It looks like Santa Clauses workshop at the North Pole! I am greeted by someone (can’t make them out) and led through the workshop to the back of the room and out a door. I step out and am in maybe an ice palace. I am dressed in all white furs and leather. It reminds me of Freyja and the Northern castles. The palace is all white and cold but very uplifting and happy. And lots of stuff going on. Lots of movement. Many Holly bushes here. All talking to each other but not a den of noise rather a place of sharing. The little one leading me moves steadily on. Kind yet demanding in her presence. We make it to a back room where there are seats and a table – with tea and some bread or crackers. I sit down and she motions for me to wait. I drink the tea and eat the bread or crackers and I feel very strong and solid. I look up and there is a giant Holly bush at the table with me. We communicate through our thoughts. I see that you have enjoyed the Wayfare bread – and he laughs a bit.

I see that you are a bit surprised that I am not female energy – you work mostly with that energy. But my energy is masculine – more concise and better able to set the edge. Of course, there are male and female energies represented in our whole but for now your own healing energies are best served with more definition.

You see I am forever green – which means I carry within me my own source of nourishment and expansion. At times I carry this close to my form but at other times this energy expands out far around me. This occurs through respiration. It is this that is important for you now. This cultivation of vital energy in your core – too much leaking out of forced energy. We are here down to help you simultaneously cultivate and stoke your internal core cauldrons as you might see them. And to have the discipline and focus to let that energy emanate from you. Here is where the healing occurs for you and for others you connect with. We are encircling you now and will walk with you through this moon acting as the extenders of your core energy.

Holly is used for problems of the mind and heart. It has a hard side to it – sort of like an edge to it. Almost like some negative energy but it is not sinister – rather it holds that kind of energy to keep it’s mysteries and secrets to itself. It is that kind of complexity of energy that makes Holly so incredibly healing. You need to be a complex healer to be able to successfully use Holly or it will give you the opposite effect. Although Holly is healing used in specific ways it also has the possibility of turning against you and becoming toxic for you. Holly can evoke shifting dimensions in you.

We meet again in the early morning. It is with that masculine energy Holly which I first met in the Ice Palace. I am tense and confused – unsure of myself. Holly is its ever present full self. I venture a question – I have been hearing of your Warrior energy – and I have not encountered that so much. Holly laughs loudly – so that the sound kind of reverberates through me. As it does I feel like I am being whirled around and around. Like I am being blasted – but not hurt – and all un-useful things are being shook out of me. How is that for a warrior – laughs Holly. My most warrior energy is the ability to restore integrity. To leave only that which is a useful part of the whole. It is not about rushing ahead to push against. Rather it is about having no space for that which is not. That which is full of “that which is not” is flimsy and will not stand. Pushing against it only helps to solidify it through its coming together to stand against your pushing. I am transparent. I am without need to defend. I allow any and all resistance to pass through me and then to evaporate and dissipate. This is what makes me a great warrior and at the same time a great healer – integrity. When I introduce integrity into a system all that is not of that system’s nature will disintegrate and fall away. Life proceeds in spirals and all along the way it is simply a journey to wholeness.

~ Morgana ~