Ogham inscriptions were found all over the Islands of Britain. As a young art student in the 1970’s I began learning legends surrounding different plants and trees, and wrote a thesis on the Noble Trees.
There were three tribes of trees in the alphabet. Each letter represented a different tree, with it's own archtypal energy. Our ancestors’ love of metaphor made me curious to add this pictorial language to paintings. Over the years it has guided artistic choices.
Translations of ancient manuscripts listed the tree lists differently, so I went back to the originals and compared each translation with the original word, some translators wrote their thoughts as they developed the root word, which was very helpful. Only 4 of the 8 Noble Trees could be identified with any certainty. Two were untranslatable, forgotten tree names of an ancient dialect. Yew and rowan were included in the thesis because of their importance and the amount of history surrounding them.. Apple had so many magical associations, it wouldn't be left out, even though it was listed as servile. I believe the last was some kind of thorn - blackthorn, whitethorn or holly, perhaps dependant on location? As trees require different soils Druids would have been trained in regional differences. Any surviving manuscripts were written by Christian scribes, long after the early church had destroyed hundreds of volumes of druidic writing. Ogham was a versatile language. It was used simply, as on memorial or boundary stones to be read by anyone, or as a silent hand or face language. But dozens of magical and cryptic variations remain. Some survive on amulets or spinning whorls, used for protection or enchantments, others evolved in times of constant war, their names evoking tribal warriors or chiefs, one could be beaten by drumming - an early version of Morse Code.
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