Developing a Relationship with Your Birth Tree
To begin exploring the wealth of knowledge to be gained from the trees
and plants of the Ogham, you will start by selecting a tree to spend a
year and a day with. This tree can be your birth tree, or any tree that
you feel drawn to. This should be a tree with which you have a strong
relationship. If you have not yet developed a relationship with a tree,
go out into the woods, preferably in the spring of the year, and select
one that seems to call to you. Spend a year cultivating a relationship
with that tree. Sit under its branches in the shade while meditating.
Study its leaves, its branches, its roots, and its bark. Research
folklore associated with your tree.
Are there any medicinal uses for your tree? Does your tree have any
How is your tree like you? How is it different? What strengths does your
tree have, that you find lacking in yourself? What strengths do you
possess that your tree does not? What can you learn about yourself from
studying your tree?
As you learn about your tree, don’t forget to bring it gifts from time
to time. Talk to your tree, and listen for a reply. Don’t expect answers
in words; listen with your heart and spirit. Spend the entire year
learning from your tree and befriending it. You should get to know your
tree in all seasons. Watch how it changes from season to season. Know
its moods and its habits. Know its needs and its gifts. Become an expert
on your tree.
It has been said that ancient Druids studied for a period of twenty
years. Not counting vowels, there are twenty letters in the Ogham. If
you spent a year studying each of the trees associated with the
consonants of the Ogham, you would have studied for the same length of
time as the ancient Druids.
Learning your tree’s moods
At first it may seem odd to think of trees as having moods, but as you
come to know your tree, it may not seem so odd at all. As you spend your
year with your tree, learning its moods will become almost second nature
To begin understanding how to learn a tree’s feelings, think about how
you observe the feelings of your friends and family. A subtle change of
posture, or a slight change of facial expression, and you can tell when
your romantic partner is feeling a bit down. Likewise, the more you know
your tree, the more you will become sensitive to its moods.
Explore your tree with your senses. Taste its fruit. Smell its blossoms.
Touch its bark. Does its scent change with the seasons? Does its bark
feel different in the morning than it does in the evening? Can you tell
by taste when the fruit is ripe for the picking? The more time you spend
with your tree, the more you will become attuned to how these changes
When you truly come to know your tree, you will see that it can predict
the weather by the way its leaves orient themselves. You will be able to
know when your tree is about to bear fruit, when its leaves will begin
to shed, and when the seasons are about to change. When you begin to
understand the ways of weaving nwyfre, you can take energy from your
tree when you need it, and you can give energy to your tree when it
To begin understanding your tree’s moods, talk to it and listen for a
reply. Don’t listen with your ears. Listen with your heart. If you are
sincere in your efforts, your tree will reward you.
Planting a tree
In our Grove, we have a special place set aside in our Nemeton. This
place is called the Dedicant’s Patch. When a new Dedicant is initiated
into our Circle, we have an initiation ceremony. At the end of the
ceremony, the Dedicant plants a tree of his or her choosing in the
Dedicant’s Patch. As our Grove has grown over time, anyone can visit the
Dedicant’s Patch and see all the trees planted by those who have taken
up the path of Druidry. The trees there are of various different ages,
varieties, and sizes. The Patch is a living microcosm of the people who
have come and gone, and who remain in our circle of brothers and
sisters. It is an arboreal ‘melting pot,’ reflecting the diversity and
history of our Grove.
If you wish to plant a tree for yourself as you begin your walk into the
wider world of Druidry, I can think of no better way to create a
memorial of your initiation. If you choose to plant such a tree, it will
become a living symbol of your journey as a Druid.
All materials copyright
2014 by the Black Mountain Druid Order