The Association of trees to the Ogham alphabet is at the heart of divination using these Fews (or runes). Each tree has it’s own particular qualities, many of which are based around how the tree integrated with Celtic life. Willow (Saille) was perfect for building shelter, Hazel (Coll) provided valuable nutritious nuts, Ash (Nion) grows fast and straight, ideal for weapon making, and so on. You just have to feel the energy, texture and weight of the wooden runes to empathise with these qualities and sense which qualities most closely align with your own energy. Here is some guidance on choosing Ogham Fews that might work well for you. I suggest you should also explore as many living species of tree that you can find and see how they affect your mood and spirit.
Léamh – (Elm, Ulmus minor Atinia)
For some strange reason Léamh is not associated with any letter in the Ogham alphabet. Strange because this tree was one of the most sacred in Celtic lore. Léamh is especially sacred to the Goddess Brigid of the Tuatha Dé Danann, daughter of the Dagda, this is the Mother Earth and healing tree. A feminine energy but with enormous strength that equals that of Oak and Alder. Elm strength is solid and deep, ruled by the planet Earth and the element of Air. She works on the primary instinct level rather than conscious thought. This tree is pliable and quiescent, her power is slow to reveal but once aroused is an unstoppable force. Elm wood is very suitable for rituals and working with Hecate – and can be just as dangerous.
Elm has wonderful spiritual qualities for defence and protection especially of family. She will endure in the face of the most daunting obstacles and is steadfast and loyal, However, treat Elm with respect as like Hecate, she is quite intolerant and will give harsh lessons to those who show any lack of will in their intent.
Elm is excellent for working magick that requires stability and grounding, but remember this is a dark spirit and works equally in shadow. For divination Elm is a deep seer and not all its visions are good news. If you use Elm be sure you know what you are about or it may redound on you.
Keywords: stability, grounding, transformation, strength, loyalty, darkness, defence.
Idho – (Yew, Taxus baccata)
Idho is one of the most ancient trees in the world and has formed a central role in many cultures. For the Celts this tree has great spiritual significance, for Idho is the gateway to transformation, death and rebirth. It is the most sacred of trees and holds the destiny of all peoples.
Idho energy may seem rather dark and is commonly associated with death (not unreasonably connected with its poisonous berries). However, this aspect is not literal. Death is about change, the transformation of energy, the dwelling place of ancestors, and the instrument of dramatic change. For this reason, Idho has a strong connection with Life as much as with Death.
Using Idho in magical and spiritual rituals requires care and skill. Idho energies are not easily managed. They are shifting, inconsistent, and can be chaotic. Using Idho can be unpredictable with deep and complex symbolism. Nevertheless this wood is most efficacious in shamanic journeying and when working with ancestors. It can induce visions, and enhance magical and psychic abilities, – use with care!
Keywords: Transformation, life, rebirth, ancestry, shamanic, darkness, chaos, death, change.
Nion – (Ash, Fraxinus excelsior)
Nion, one of the most significant trees in many cultures, is deeply connected with creation of life. Known in Norse mythology as Yggdrasil, Nion symbolizes the manifestation of shape and structure in our World, and so integrates the spiritual and material aspects of life itself.
A masculine spirit, ruled by the Sun, and the element of Air, Nion is one of the most sacred trees of Celtic mythology. Nion is connected to the Magician God Gwyddyon, a shapeshifter who presides over transformation. Nion connects us back to the natural world, it is the union of opposites, of happiness, rebirth, and awakening,
In magical and occult practices, Nion is grounding, has a broad view and is ideal for spells requiring focus and strength of purpose, it is powerful in linking the inner and outer worlds. Nion is helpful in spells for emotional purification and concentration.
Keywords: form and structure, Yggdrasil. purposefulness, concentration, will, integration, deed, cleansing, preciseness, necessity, independence, resistance to bad influence, inner and deep transformation. Understanding karma and doing what is right.
Tinne – (Holly, Ilex aquifolium)
Tinne, ruled by Saturn and the element of Fire is in Celtic lore one of the two Kings to rule the seasons. From Lammas Holly is ascendant and rules over the Autumn seasons until Yule when the Oak King rises. Adopted later by Christians as Holly or Holy tree, Tinne continues to be a sacred guide in all things spiritual. The most important aspects of existence – life, death, justice, and conscience, – have been united in this tree energy. Tinne creates balance in all things,
Tinne is brave in strife and a protector against evil. It can bring luck and good fortune for those who use it with respect, and retribution for those who don’t.
Keywords: Sacred, guidance from the spirit world, banishing Evil, retribution, balance, physical beauty.
Saille – (Willow, Salix alba)
Saille is ruled by the Moon, the element water, and feminine spirit. A gentle water-loving tree with a distinct female energy associated with the Moon Goddess. Saille has a powerful magick bringing subconscious psychic energy and intuition. Its connection with Water is both spiritual and physical, for this tree always thrives with its feet in water. Saille is a link between realms, and is a pathway to the other side. She is the harbinger of new spiritual travels, sometimes the sad, but inevitable journey of dissolving and change. Saille is light energy and supporting, bringing healing, protection and love.
Saille is the tree of enchantment, and works extremely well with many spells of good intent. One of her most deep and essential abilities is the power to make wishes come true.
Keywords: water, Moon, intuition, subconscious, change, passage, journey, connection with other realms, transformation, enchantments, charms, love, healing.
Coll – (Hazel, Corylus avellana)
Coll is the tree of knowledge. Ruled by the Sun and the element of Air Coll is in Celtic lore the giver of wisdom and a powerful talisman for divination. Favoured by the Goddess Brigid, the wisdom of Coll is a wide perspective; seeing situations objectively, with the ability to focus on the core. Coll likes the abstract as well as practical knowledge, using them proportionately in seeking the truth.
Coll is calm and well-balanced in nature, with an inner strength. He has deep feelings of justice, and is able to divine the guilty and the innocent.
In Magick, Coll can be used especially for divining truth and learing information.
Keywords: wisdom, knowledge, objective understanding, inspiration, creativity, inner strength, seeking truth, justice, protection of the innocent, setting the balance.
Duir – (Oak, Quercus robur)
The royal tree of Kings, obvious in its majesty, called Duir in the Ogham Fews, this is the most important tree symbol in Celtic lore. It is tree of endurance, power, authority, and triumph. Essentially masculine spirit and ruled by the planet Mars and the element of Fire.
The power of Oak power is not simply strength, rather it is a spiritual, higher power, filled with wisdom and protective of all who seek his help. Oak is valuable in enhancing various aspects of magic, and especially in those where strength, effort, and protection are required.
The Oak power may seem severe and heavy, it is not a precise energy but has a brilliant spiritual light – the Other world Light, against which no negative energy can prevail.
Keywords: royalty, power, domination, leadership, strength, divine spirit, guardian, protector, endurance, triumph, prosperity, guidance.