New Year’s 2017 Ogham Divinations

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Following the deer trail deep into the woods.

New Year’s ended up being a fabulous women’s retreat at a dear friend’s home in Maine.  There was as much laughter, tears, and divine ridiculousness as five women could possibly summon!

We kept with our Grove’s New Year’s tradition of a divination extravaganza after the stroke of midnight, January 1st.  W. did wonderful tarot spreads for all us ladies, but I also kept with my yearly drawing of the ogham for a month-by-month forecast of 2017.  Being a Druid, I use a tree ogham, but of course there are color, bird, and even word oghams that could be substituted.

Since there weren’t any ogham sets handy, I instead cut 25 slips of paper and used those for the fews. (This is one of the nice things about both runes and ogham as divinatory systems: they can be constructed on the fly with whatever materials are at hand.)

January-ioho/yew
February-beith/birch
March-oir/spindle
April-saille/willow
May-ruis/elder
June-uilleand/gooseberry or honeysuckle
July-ur/heather
August-luis/rowan
September-fearn/alder
October-tinne/holly
November-quert/apple
December-ohn/furze or gorse

The lessons of Ioho are already apparent only a few days into the month of January.  One political regime is giving away to another in the U.S. and people are looking to their ancestors for wisdom and guidance in surviving whatever lies ahead.  This is the shaman’s tree, the axis mundi, evergreen and sometimes bleeding.  Sharing in its strength can only bolster us for what lies ahead.

Dark Moon: Mor

14166017143_8e09c51eca_zThe Sea. Scots pine. Beech. Witch hazel. Twin of hazel. All of these have been proposed as interpretations for Mor. Personally, beech and the sea are the two which resonate most, so it is with them that my interpretations for this dark moon begins.

This has been a time of betweens, no doubt. Between two homes, between two jobs, between two paths, between two states. It’s the solve before the coagula.  Things are pulling apart before they can come back together.

The sea, Manawydan’s realm, holds the essence of the soul, of the other worlds.  Water shows up in my dreams when there is emotion to acknowledge. The last time I dreamt of water, it was clear and pure, with shells and polished glass on the sandy bottom. Water has always been the most difficult element, but slowly, I feel it pulling into balance again.

The Beech is my World Tree. It connects everything. So as things have pulled apart, I’ve still be able to keep the connection between. Essential for any transition, not only looking forward and back, but up and down, left and right, to see where all threads lead.

Release and connection. Hold on tightly, let go lightly. Breathe.

Dark Moon: Ur

c. Aqwis 2006 on Wikimedia Common

c. Aqwis 2006 on Wikimedia Common

Sadly, my real-life success with growing Ur, or Heather as we usually now call it, has been zilch.  I just can’t seem to get the damned stuff to winterover.  Apparently it thrives in acid soil, so perhaps a nice mulching of pine needles will help it along the next time I get up the gumption to try growing it.

Ur is the warmth and joy of community, and there’s certainly been a lot of that in my life this month.  As some of you know, I’ve been tangled up in the process of purchasing one of the units in our co-housing community.  My neighbors have been beyond helpful and supportive, and it’s been such a relaxing experience knowing the I’m working with the buyer instead of engaging in the adversarial relationship so common in real estate transactions.  Bees, the epitome of community, are also closely associated with heather, and their busy hum has reverberated throughout my inner worlds as I navigate a new place in the neighborhood.

In any case, this month has been full of community work, from putting the common garden to bed, to finishing up the siding on the chicken coop, to spending more time with my groovie Grovies outside of ritual. Heather is the healing power of community, and all the sweetness that comes with being fully engaged in one’s tribe. When Damh the Bard sang “Wild Mountain Thyme” around the campfire at ECG 2013, I was choked with tears–my ex-husband had asked for a divorce months before, yet here was a group of people who still found me worthy of love and companionship. We would indeed “all go together,” and the image of my tribe singing amongst the purple heather would carry me through one of the darkest winters of my life.

Will you go, lassie, will you go?
And we’ll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather,
Will you go, lassie, go?
–Francis McPeak, “Wild Mountain Thyme”

Dark Moon: Luis

"Rowanberries in late August 2004 in Helsinki" by Taken by Jonik, on August 25, 2004. - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Rowanberries in late August 2004 in Helsinki” by Taken by Jonik, on August 25, 2004. – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The tree that I divined at New Year’s to watch over the month of September was the second ogham of the first aicme, Luis, the Rowan.  In folklore, it is a tree of protection, particularly against witches (ha!).  Rowan also has ties to divination, making it a gateway and an ally.

Since the new moon is so late in September, much of Luis’s influence is going to extend into October.  It should be a month conducive both to protection magic and divination for me.  The October full moon will also be the concluding rite for my Cauldron Born work.  It is time to ask for help–particularly from the gods and spirits with whom I work.  Luis is held as sacred to Brigid, and was used to make many small wooden tools for crafting, such as spindles and pegs–perhaps a good time to focus on fiber arts as well.  This will also be a good time to finish the protective bindrune design for my son’s sheepskin.

Dark Moon: Tinne

"Ilex-aquifolium (Europaeische Stechpalme-1)" by Jürgen Howaldt. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0-de via Wikimedia Commons

“Ilex-aquifolium (Europaeische Stechpalme-1)” by Jürgen Howaldt. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0-de via Wikimedia Commons

I’m playing catch-up a bit here, since I was on vacation at the end of August and just now realized that I had never done a dark moon post for the month.

Tinne’s tree is Holly, a plant to which (whom?) I’ve always felt particularly close.  There were two large holly bushes next to my childhood home, and even now, my workplace is guarded by three or four giant holly trees, who have just set their berries.  I do find it interesting that Graves associated Holly with Lughnasadh, and that I in fact drew that card for August’s dark moon.

Holly is another strongly protective plant, but it is also one of consequences.  August always seems to be the time of year where everything comes together if things have been laid out well–or conversely, my life explodes and everything falls apart.  Happily this year it was the former.  Some also associate Holly with crafting deities like Brighid, which is appropriate as my annual August vacation tends to involve a lot of arts and crafts, both learning and doing.

Finally, August was about learning to set boundaries, to say “no” even when I wanted so much to say “yes.”  I had to make some difficult choices, but in all, I’ve come through them stronger and more confident.  I believe Holly would be proud.

Dark Moon: Saille

Taken by Geaugagrrl during a visit to the Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge, Washington, 2007.

Taken by Geaugagrrl during a visit to the Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge, Washington, 2007.

Thus far, Saille, associated with the Willow, seems to be an appropriate symbol for the month.  The new moon was on the 25th, and my divorce was finalized on the 28th.  Willow is a tree of change and healing, and both have been abundant in the past few weeks.

Liz and Collin Murray make a strong connection between Saille and the high regard in which women were held amongst the Celts, noting in particular that they were able to own property.  Two weeks ago, the offer I put on my neighbor’s house was accepted.  Having the mortgage process well under way this month would be auspicious indeed!

I have been having some trouble in my relationship with Water, however, so I will seek Willow’s help to let my emotions flow freely so that they do not become stagnant or run the risk of breaking the dam, as it were.  Willow bends where the Oak stands strong.  This, too, is an important thing for me to remember, reinforcing the lessons of Ngetal (Reed) in April.

Dark Moon: Fearn

Alder_catkins_WEBFearn is the fourth ogham few, the few of Alder. This is an omen of challenge and defense, which couldn’t have been more true in the past week. I’ve been embroiled in a community conflict, which is never easy, but which is frightening in the extreme for someone like me who wants everyone to be happy. Sometimes, that just isn’t going to happen, and you need to stand up to assert your own belief in what is right. I was forced to make the choice between what was good for my family and what made my community comfortable. I chose the path that would make some of them uncomfortable, and I’ve found support beyond my wildest expectations.

The Morrigan now sits on my altar, in thanks for the strength and sovereignty she has shown me. Brigantia and Wayland have helped me craft my words, to show both my determination and my care. I draw upon the arts of the Bard, of the Seer, and of the Druid that this may be resolved. And with Alder’s strength, I now wait.