'Trees of the Goddess' is a crammed full of information, walking the reader through 13 months and the 20 British trees of the ogham, plus mistletoe, in only 101 pages.
Information is given on each individual tree and plant from a wide range of facts, lore and concepts; followed by guidance and suggestions of ways to work with trees and allies. There is also a very useful chapter on how to make your own ogham staves. A wonderful little book, 'Trees of the Goddess' is perfect for anyone who wants to learn about the British ogham as well as for the reader who ‘just’ loves trees. I know I’ll be dipping into my copy again as a resource in future.
Highly recommended. ‘Trees of the Goddess’ is the latest in a series of books written by Elen Sentier for Shaman Pathways. It is both deeply traditional and highly innovative – very much this author’s note. It goes with her championship of the way of the awenyddion, standing for the ever-renewing indigenous seership of Britain.
The innovation is simple yet profound. This book directly concerns our relationship with the trees, rather than letters or divination. That relationship, like everything on the planet, has a context of cycles and seasons. Our life-world, and that of the trees, is defined by the dance of earth, moon and sun. We have this in common with our ancestors, attested by their lore and stories, and it establishes our continuity with them. The book is a reflective celebration of these simple truths and their archetypal resonance. The framework of the ogham tree alphabet provides a strong and focused conceptual foundation, in service to direct experience. The suggested activities at the end – in sections on ways to work with the trees, moon bath, allies, making your ogham staves and spirit keeping, are an invitation to experiential exploration.
The book is traditional in its use of the ogham tree alphabet and largely faithful to Robert Graves’ ‘The White Goddess’. The author endorses his linking of 13 of the trees to Ogham consonants as they move through the 13 months of the lunar year from the winter solstice; and the linking of the 5 Ogham vowels to 5 stations of the solar year (the solstices, equinoxes and Samhain). She largely follows Graves’ trees, in his order, though there are some exceptions – the vine is banished, leaving bramble to take the full weight of Muinn; and there are some changes of terminology, like guelder rose instead of ‘dwarf elder’. I realise that many people today are highly sceptical of Graves’ work, but its problems are for me not relevant to this book. For ‘Trees of the Goddess’ is not much concerned with the history of ogham, its specific cultural origin, or its use as an alphabet. It is about here-and-now relationship with the trees, honouring the Goddess and aware that our ancestors had some such relationship too.
Trees of the Goddess presents the Ogham Tree Alphabet in a new and exciting way, clearly linking the wheel of the year to the trees. Even if you already know the Ogham you will find something new in this easily readable book. If you are studying the Ogham as part of a spiritual course this is a very necessary companion. Elen also presents simple techniques for getting in touch with the tree spirits and making Ogham staves and all in less than 100 pages. Another triumph for the Shaman pathways series and Elen herself
Trees of the Goddess is a great little book, in only 101 pages Elen Sentier manages to introduce the main concepts of Ogham, the Celtic tree alphabet, and its application within the British Shamanic Tradition.
The book provides a primer for tree magic, and provides an explanation of the cycles of the sun and moon before covering the Ogham alphabet and ending with a series of deceptively straight forward sounding exercises and rituals.
As someone only vaguely aware of Ogham and aware of it only in the context of archaeological inscriptions, it was truly absorbing to find out more about the deeper more esoteric side of this alphabet. The book sets out the 13 months of the year, alongside the Ogham symbol and the corresponding British tree. A wealth of practical information such as etymology, history, identifying features of each tree, medicinal uses and folk-lore is complemented by thoughtful reflections on the deeper concepts at play within this tradition.
The influence of Robert Graves 'The White Goddess' is evident and where the author deviates from traditional she clearly indicates it and explains her reasoning. The author seems well aware of the academic debate about the origins and usage of Ogham and while acknowledging this debate, keeps wisely to her own path.
The writing style is fluid and engaging with occasional joyful bursts of very earthy wisdom. All together I thoroughly enjoyed this book. For a very small book, clearly designed as an introduction to the subject, I felt that it packed in a lot of useful information. I can imagine dipping into this book again and again. It certainly made me want to dig deeper into this area of study.