Ogham (Tree Lore)
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Ogham is often described as the secret language of the druids, a language surrounded by myth and legend.
The Ogham tree lore is "A Language", "A Medicinal Log", "A Philosophy", "A Theosophy", it is a progressive life enhancing guide to "Bnwyfre"TM life force energy.
Divination, mystery, communication and the expression of intent laid down for future generations from the wisdom keepers, the Elders and the Druids. In the Celtic regions it is known to be at least 2500 years old, there is evidence of similar languages outside the Celtic regions dating back from before 3000bc making its foundations more than 5000 years old. The Siberian tribes of more than 4000 years ago used charcoal and wood for rune stones, the Nordic tribes used rune stones in education and worship, the Tibetan monks of many millennia have used wooden prayer wheels all of these have a similar backgrounds and will have contributed to the Ogham language, the forgotten voice of "The Druid."
With the Nordic tribes invading Prydain (Britain) comes fresh myth and legend, the vikings again brought new dialects and language to the Celtic Prydain regions. It is recognised that druids of 600bc were familiar with the language of Socrates (ancient Greek) but by the year 400ad Latin was prevelant amongst the hierarchy of the modern society. It is also to be said that language and dialect varied from region to region. Prior to 600bc the celts were the dominating mass across what is now Scandinavia, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy & Greece. With the birth of Christ came the growing Roman empire and the gradual demise of the Celtic Druid. One of the main factors of the druidic culture was the use of a secret language that enveloped all nations, societies and traditions, this language being Ogham/Ogam ("ow em" - "ohm" - "oh am")
A lot of what we understand today comes from the 8th, 14th and 20th century with a revival of the old ways, along with fresh interpretation of what could have been. To look back beyond the 8th century we rely on actual and circumstantial evidence that takes us into the language of the Celtic Druid and the surviving Prydain Druid. The invasion of the Romans reduced the Celtic Druid to the lands of Prydain, (Britain, Ireland and Iceland) and the islands surrounding Prydain, the Scottish isles, Ireland and the isle of Anglesey were among the last places known for the Prydain Druid cultures & places of education.
Hippocrates is known today as the founder of western medicine, an ancient Greek living four hundred years before the birth of Christ influences our culture today. He was one of the first to state that dis-ease is not caused by the wrath of Gods and that it can be treated as a human condition. The father of western medicine living on a remote island "Kos" taught students a revolutionary new way to treat dis-ease. It is unknown where his knowledge came from or where his students relayed their knowledge! So very much a situation of if he learned from the Celts? or if they learned from him? What is known is that through established trade routes both ships and over land and with the coming of the iron age, knowledge was shared across the Celtic regions as was many goods from Greek, Roman, Etruscan and Persian civilisations.
One translation of a part of the Hippocratic oath is:
"I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hgieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses."
The Ogham tree lore includes the findings of the ancients and includes their teachings with regard to cures for illnesses and dis-ease. If I mention Hippokrate` from Kos then I must also mention Socrates from Athens who from the same timelines and the same area as Hippocrates was a philosopher. It is known that the two led similar paths, Socrates student Plato wrote many of Socrates teachings but is known to have written it with his own interests at heart. The original lessons were spoken but written later, the romans were superior with their scriptures, the Roman's revolutionised school as they believed in writing and recording everything, but up to that point, scholars and students would normally have been taught by word of mouth. Pliny the elder is famous for writing about the pagan rituals and influences from the 1st Century. In his writings we can discover the foundations of many future translations from the Greeks, Etruscans, Celts and Druids but we must always bare in mind that Pliny was a Roman who wrote from a Romans perspective.
In the same way that language and translations are adapted from region to region, trees and plant life change from region to region as do the Gods and Goddesses along with their unique various interpretations change their names from region to region.
After we have taken all of these considerations into account this is a time of the birth of Christianity, a time of great turmoil and confusion.
The Ogham tree lore is "A Language", "A Medicinal Log", "A Philosophy", "A Theosophy", it is a progressive life enhancing guide to "Bnwyfre"TM spiritual life force energy.
The Druids placed the trees into one of three categories, with each category inter-relating and of no less importance than the other categories, these are;
Chieftain: Alder, Ash, Oak, Hazel, Vine, Ivy, Blackthorn, Yew, Mistletoe,(Heather), Furze, Beech.
Peasant: Birch, Rowan, Willow, Hawthorn, Holly, Heather, Spindle, Honeysuckle.
Shrub: Apple, Reed, Elder, Fir, White Poplar.
It is also worth validating the titled hierarchy or system used, whilst all things are sacred and should be seen as such. An order of respect or nobility is essential within any society.
The disciplines of Ogham as taught and practised by the druids is not about regional systems of Beth-Luis-Nion/Fearn it is about understanding the differences in nature, climate, time zones, regions and cultures. The long summers of Italy will not produce the same spiritual or physical essence as the cold winters of Iceland and yet the teachings of Ogham tree lore took place on both sides of the Celtic region. Ogham/Ogam/Ogm is about understanding the principles of "Bnwyfre"(TM) life force energy.
Druidic and Pagan belief is that first there was dark then there was light, this meaning the culture would be from new moon to new moon, commonly referred to as Beth-Luis-Nuin with the year starting at winter solstice, my belief is this is heavily influenced by the coligny calendar and the Roman influences. The Beth-Luis-Fearne calendar begins earlier with the full moon and is associated as starting 1st November full moon to full moon this following Samhain the time when the veil is at it's thinnest between the two worlds because of seasonal changes. The harvest has been gathered and it is a time for celebration and new beginnings. Anything not expected to survive winter would be allowed to pass to spirit or slain in ritual with the bones being cast into the fires.
The Jalaali Persian calendar is possibly one of the major influences during the revival of druidic culture, as this calendar was based on the lunar cycle. julius Caesar (46 bce) along with the invading Romans is responsible for instilling the Egyptian solar calendar of 365 days. The confusion in both region and translation is all but lost, my belief is one based with regional seasons and traditional lunar astronomical knowledge. "First there was dark." My year starts at Samhain (sow in) after the harvest has been gathered and leads into the new moon and new beginnings. A waning moon is a time of casting out and conservation, A waxing moon is a time for harvesting and sharing.
The main controversy is when this calendar starts. Samhain? which is a time when the two worlds are closest together and the energies merge easier. (seasonal) Or Winter Solstice? a time of the longest night. (Astrological) My belief is the coming and going of the seasons might fluctuate with a late summer or early frost and so adopting a calender based on precision and fitting 365.244 days into a four year cycle is not for me.
Copyright © Bruce Clifton Sept. 2012