Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Tree Lore and the Celtic Ogham

I have used the Celtic Tree Ogham for many years but recently I have been studying in more depth about  it and Tree Lore through Ovate course. Over the past two months I have written about the Yew, the tree of the Ovate, and  also I have written about the Yule trees and Ivy.

These are short post exploring my feeling for the tree, or plant, reflections and memories of walking amongst them, their history and lore. I have also shown a glimpse of their meanings in the Ogham. These writings, while based on my study of Trees and the Ogham are not definitive.

In the weeks and months to come my knowledge about trees and the Ogham will expand and develop,  and I will have more reflections on Native British Trees. 

As I go out walking with my dog on this blustery, grey and wet day I will  pass a group of Silver birch trees. These trees will  bring a glimmer of the light of the young sun into this stormy and gloomy winter day. 


Sunday, 1 January 2012

Pine - Pinus sylvestris - Alim in Celtic Ogham

Scots Pine Rannock Forest 
Scotch Pine is one of National Emblems of Scotland which is the only place that it occurs from native seed. It formed nearly all the trees of the Caledonian Forest which once covered most of the Scottish Highlands. In England and Wales there are  archaeological records showing the Scots Pine grew there until about the 16th century. In Ireland this tree became extinct  and as result there is very little about it in Irish folklore. The only reference I have seen is that Fionn Mac Chal  had a secret  pine forest where he and his band of warriors would recuperated hunt and relax.

The exploitation of this tree  for timber, for fire wood,  the overgrazing by sheep deer the deliberate clearance to deter wolves and the dispossessed  Scots all contributed to the decline of Caledonian Forest which once covered much of the Scottish Highlands. Today only 1% of this ancient forest remains but there are plans to restore some areas with trees grown from the seeds of native ancient pines only from Scotland.

Near Aviemore Abernethy Forest, in the Cairngorm mountain, is the largest native Scots pine wood in Britain. It is National reserve which also includes a river, lochs and moor land.  I have walked in this forest in Scotland many times.  Here the Scots Pine is known in Clarsach Nan Craobh  - The Harp of Trees. When the wind blows through the pine needles and branches  it  creates  a very magical sound, and it is a magical place full of  the smell of the pine resin  fresh and invigorating  mingles with the  sweet smell of the heather.   In the heat of summer the sound of the pine cones exploding to release their seeds is quite startling. The wild life is in the forest is wonderful I have seen in forest crested tits, crossbills, red squirrels and deer.

Loch Garten, in the middle of the reserve, is famous for its ospreys. They nest nearby and can be clearly seen from the Osprey Centre.  To see these birds flying overhead is an awe inspiring experience. The parents can be seen feeding the chicks in the nest via the live video pictures relayed back to the centre, The Capercaillie woodland grouse is another bird that can be seen from the centre. These are endangered birds and  have shrunk from over  20,000 in Scotland in the 70s until it is now estimated that there is only 2000 left in the wild.  During April to May the Centre has early morning spring lek Caper-watch . The display of lekking by these birds is well worth the early morning wake up call.  The RSPB  manage the site so that people from hides can see these iconic birds without disturbing their mating rituals.

The Black Woods of Rannoch Forest near Pittlockery is full of native trees including the doughty oak, aspen, birch and hazel. There's a stand of ancient Scots pine, with their reddish trunks, near Airigh nan Cuileag where if you are lucky you may see three red animals - deer, squirrel and pine marten. The Pine martin hunts red squirrels through the tree tops.  The forest is jointly managed by the Forestry Commission and Scottish Heritage, and contains important communities of species characteristic of old pine woods, particularly lichens, fungi and a number of rare ferns, horsetails and club mosses.

Walking in the stand of ancient Scots pine you can imagine how the forest would have in when it was the haunt of cattle raiders and outlaws,rebels and the dispossessed from the clearances in Scotland. It is so different from the serried ranks of pine grown for commercial use which have caused so many people to despise  this beautiful life giving tree.

Pine - Alim in the Ogham  is contrasted with Oak in the Ogham Calendar both symbolising the Irish God of the air Lugh.  One is evergreen and represents the new born sun at the Winter Solstice and Oak represents the mature sun at midsummer.  To draw the few of the pine encourages you to put the past behind you to look ahead and plan for new beginnings.  It is a time for optimism and to look on the bright side of life. The Pine burns with a fragrant bright white flame.  Its flame it is believed in Scottish folklore will drive out ghosts and malicious spirits from a home or a heart.

It is now near the end of season of the year which begins with the burning of Yule  log  - traditionally Pine. The pine tree has become central to modern Christmas celebrations. The Scots Pine has now been replaced in popularity by the Norway spruce as a tree in the home at for Christmas.   I prefer the Scots pine in its natural habitat  amongst the fauna and flora it  supports.  

With Reiki Blessings
Wishing you a Happy New Year