The Lunar Months
Birch (Beith) Dec 24 – Jan 20
New start. Start of a journey. Overcoming difficulties.
Birch is one of the first trees to colonise wild areas so it is fitting that the tree is first on the Ogham calendar. It signifies beginnings. Sweeping with birch twigs is said to cleanse a space or person.
Rowan (Luis) Jan 21 – Feb 17
Protection. Quickening (new life).
Twigs/branches of the Rowan used to be hung over doors to protect a house and over cradles to protect a child. Twigs/wood hung over the bed are said to protect from nightmares and disturbed sleep. Rowan strengthens your positive energy to withstand negative forces.
Ash (Nion) Feb 18 – March 17
The world tree (Yggdrasil). Provides links and connections. Inner and outer worlds connected.
In many mythologies (including Norse) the ash represents connections – roots in the underworld, trunk in our middle earth and branches reaching to the heavens and beyond. Meditating with the Ash can help connect and understand the past.
Alder (Fearn) March 18 – April 14
Balances male and female aspects. An oracle.
Alder lives in balance. It has a symbiotic relationship with bacteria that lives in its root nodules to help fix nitrogen. As such Alder can actually improve the soil it lives in. Living in wetter areas, its wood is also very strong and durable under water. Alder speaks of balance between strength and receptiveness to working together.
Willow (Saille) April 15 – May 12
Flexibility, adaptability, a feminine tree. Wisdom gained from adversity.
A tree associated with the moon, its cycles and its gravitational effect on water. Its bark has been used for hundreds of years in medicine for pain relief. Its branches are soaked and softened for basket weaving. Being connected with the moon it helps keep in touch with life’s rhythms.
Hawthorn (Huath) May 13 – June 9
Opens heart, purity, innocence, helps preparation for tasks.
Hawthorn lifts the spirits and brings love into the heart. It has been used through history as a remedy for the heart and circulation. Sprigs of hawthorn were used as protection and in wedding ceremonies to bring happiness, fertility and prosperity but it was bad luck to bring the blossoms into the house. Meditating with Hawthorn brings cleansing and unconditional love.
Oak (Duir) June 10 – July 7
Provides strength and courage. A door to inner strength and spirituality. Provides protection.
Oak soothes the nervous system and helps solve problems bringing calm and inner peace. The Celtic name of Duir is thought to be derived from ‘door’ and refers to its association as a doorway to inner strength.
Holly (Tinne) July 8 – Aug 4
Symbol of everlasting life and unconditional love. Provides balance, direction and protection.
Holly is a potent symbol of positive life force. In Pagan mythology the Oak King and the Holly King do battle at both mid-winter and mid-summer. Holly provides protection against negative emotions.
Hazel (Coll) Aug 5 – Sept 1
Fertility, wisdom, knowledge. Helps provide inspiration and inner guidance. Powerful for divining.
Hazel helps open channels to your creativity. It also helps open channels for inspiration and inner knowledge. Hazel rods are commonly used in divining.
Bramble (Muin) Sept 2 – Sept 29
Helps with linking and connections.
Some sources show the original Ogham alphabet linked to the vine. However this has been questioned as others have pointed out that the grape vine was probably introduced by the Romans. Other sources show that it was the bramble (being native) that was linked to this lunar month. Unfortunately, we have yet to find a bramble growth thick enough and woody enough to mount on a lathe and turn into a pen – our search continues…..
Ivy (Gort) Sept 30 – Oct 27
Preservation. Transformation through persistence. Helps with perseverance and overcoming obstacles.
Some interpret Ivy as binding or restricting. But ivy overcomes obstacles and climbs high. Its leaves transform as they climb higher. It is rare to find ivy large enough to turn, but we do occasionally.
Wheatstraw (Ngetal) Oct 28 – Nov 24
Source of life. Authority. Sovereignty.
Again, this material does not lend itself to pen making, although we are continuing to think of ways around this.
Elder (Ruis) Nov 25 – Dec 23
Regeneration. Helps with seeing a beginning in the end.
Elder was known as the poor man’s medicine chest. Many parts of the tree including its berries, flowers and leaves were used for healing. Many ancient sites are surrounded by this tree that was revered for its usefulness. It represents the end in the beginning and the beginning in the end and so teaches us the cycle of death and rebirth.
The Cross Quarter Days
Scots Pine (Ailm) The day after the winter solstice
The start of the renewal of the sun’s power.
The tall Scots Pine stands as a signpost at the beginning of the year. Guidance pointing to the future.
Gorse (Onn) Spring equinox
Passion and pitfalls.
The gorse has the heady scent of spring. It warns that there can sometimes appear to be a licence for self-indulgence but that self-control sometimes needs to be cultivated. This is another shrub that rarely produces timber of turnable size.
Heather (Ur) Summer solstice
Peace and solitude, new behaviour patterns, transformation.
Heather regenerates after fire, cleansing and clearing away for the new. Another shrub that rarely grows to the required size to turn.
Poplar (Eadha) Autumn equinox
A tree that whispers on wind. Its shimmering leaves whisper on the breeze teaching us to stop and listen carefully to the quiet voices as sometimes they teach more than those who shout.
Yew (Ioho) Winter solstice
Wheel of life, death and rebirth, transformation.
The yew tree has the ability for its drooping branches to touch the ground and root. Even once the original trunk decays the life of the same tree continues. New trees grow from the branches, but still part of the original. Because of its association with death and rebirth, transformations, the yew has long been associated with sacred sites – both churchyards and pre-Christian sites. Yew rods were used as Ogham sticks for divination and connecting with ancestors.
The Half Years
Apple (Quert) The Light half of the year.
Love energies. Cleansing.
Apples were regarded as a symbol of abundance and a gift of love. It is a symbol of healing – especially of the heart.
Blackthorn (Straif) The Dark half of the year.
Positive perceptions. Helps with secrets. Defensive. Protective.
Whilst there are some darker superstitions attached to Blackthorn, the tree brings cleansing and purification on both physical and emotional levels if used with compassion. It teaches that everything can have a positive outcome. The juice of the sloes was also used in medicine, especially to sooth inflammation of the mouth.