Did you know that the trees once had their own language? Ogham (pronounced ‘OH-am’) is a set of angular letters representing twenty trees. Also known as the Celtic Tree Alphabet or Celtic Runes, it was in use from the fourth to the seventh centuries CE; today, it is still used in divination – the letter-symbols are carved onto pieces of wood and cast on a cloth for interpretation.
According to Irish and Scottish mythology, the Ogham was invented by Ogma, the Irish god of poetry and written language. It is said that the Ogham alphabet begins with Beith (birch) because it was the first letter written by Ogma himself. I’ve written about Ogham in my 2021 book Nature’s Hidden Oracles, but just recently delved back into the lunar months associated with each tree. The source for the dates is The White Goddess, the seminal work on poetry and mythology by the English scholar Robert Graves.
The Ogham Calendar
Thirteen of 20 original Ogham letters are aligned with a 28-day lunar month and, just like zodiac signs, you can look up your Ogham sign to discover the tree associated with your date of birth. You may find you’re naturally drawn to your birth tree; my friend Chris has Huath, or hawthorn, as his birth tree. He is an artist and certainly a ‘visionary’ – and loves the wild hawthorn that grows in his back garden. Of course, there are many interpretations for the tree signs – what you have below is my take. You’ll find lots more online.
Tree Letters Dates Qualities
Beith (Birch) B, P December 24 to January 20 The Achiever
Luis (Rowan) L January 21 to February 17 The Protector
Nion (Ash) N February 18 to March 17 The Healer
Fearn (Alder) F March 18 to April 14 The Empath
Saille (Willow) S April 15 to May 12 The Communicator
Huath (Hawthorn) H May 13 to June 9 The Visionary
Duir (Oak) D June 10 to July 7 The Wisdom-Keeper
Tinne (Holly) T July 8 to August 4 The Ruler
Coll (Hazel) C August 5 to September 1 The Truth-Teller
Muin (Vine) M September 2 to September 29 The Provider
Gort (Ivy) G September 30 to October 27 The Survivor
Ngetal (Reed) NG October 28 to November 24 The Harmoniser
Ruis (Elder) R November 25 to December 22 The Change-Maker
December 23 does not have a Tree ruler. When dividing 365 days into the 28-day lunar calendar, one day is left over and can’t be officially added to another month, or that month would have 29 rather than 28 days. If your birthday falls on December 23, choose either Birch or Elder as your sign – see which you resonate with the most.
Illustration: Ogham. From the Book of Ballymote, 14th century