Can you give us a bit of a chronological time-frame for ogham script? Neo-lithic? Ah, well the exact origin hasn’t been firmly established, but to date the presence of the ogham script has been traced as far back as two centuries BC. In fact, it’s commonly believed that a lot of the found examples of ogham were coded messages to those still loyal to their old ways, easily read by those they intended to, but indecipherable to Roman authorities. Though these were by no means the only examples, and the same characters are also found in clothing and tools not so much for sending messages but more for the talismanic benefits. Complex line patterns were more than just decorative in their culture, not strictly by themselves.
So, the figures themselves (letters?) were thought to have power? Yes, the figures would be the equivalent of letters. I will explain that. Let’s say you seek a deep understanding of the natural world, especially one that reflects what you feel to be the sacred aspects of nature. Like any language you would have to start somewhere, yes? What would you say is nature’s most common landmark?
Tree? But trees were not seen as objects, not just as convenient landmarks.
Or stones. Stones were included also in druid lore, but ogham focused on trees.
In the druid lore, no single being created anything. The world arose as a part of a complex creative process with many creative agents and didn’t fall into a fixed form as most contemporary Christian thinking would seem to suggest. Many beings have a creative impact on the world, and trees have one of the oldest roles in the creative process. It wasn’t thought that a tree just accidentally grew near the river, it was thought to manifest its own power and character in the features of the area it grew in. Willows don’t just grow by the river, they help shape the river. Pines don’t just grow in the hills, they participate in the events that unfold in the hills. So much of the druids lore revolved around the relationship of trees to the land they grew in. Trees are even still commonly seen to have a preference for where they grow, where they “live.”
A grand ecology! Yes, and they understood the roles of animals and the seasons based on what trees they seemed connected to, or rocks, but mostly trees. Even the cycles of the seasons were understood by how they impacted the trees and the plants that grew among them. There was spiritual meaning in the fact that the oak seemed to “die” but the pine remained ever green.
Perhaps the Christmas tree was an extension of this? Yes, it was, and the figure of the Holly King. Druids role in their own communities was even described by the tree symbolism. A newly inducted druid would be a sapling, and elder druid would be a great old oak. This tradition shows up in a lot of names to this day, even though we often don’t recognize the name because it has deviated from its root word. Hawthorn is an obvious example though.
A common name where I live is “Upthegrove.” Likely of druidic origin.
Did the fact that a tree shows one particular elemental nature (i.e. earth, air, fire, water) also show up in their symbolism? It did. The elements and the seasons. Even growing patterns showed up in their math connecting a mathematical value to different trees. Some seem to grow in groups, other seem almost isolated, that sort of thing.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.
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