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Sacred Trees And Divination Sticks

In Celtic traditions, the druids were magicians, seers, teachers, philosophers, and most importantly spiritual priests, who presided over ceremonies. Unlike Western religions, or Eastern philosophies, their tradition centered around communing with nature, and taking spiritual journeys through the mountains and forests. It is not surprising they lived among the trees, which they held in high esteem and regarded as sacred. In particular the old oak tree was considered to be the holiest of all, in that it held wisdom and knowledge. It may seem odd or perverse then that the same tradition would have made divination sticks out of any piece of a tree. It is the case, and even if little to no evidence of the archaic druid traditions using such methods exist, divination of casting of such sticks is used today.

It is often assumed the druids never actually did use divination sticks, because there is scant evidence of it, and they practiced geomancy, another form of soothsaying. Geomancy is based upon the number of holes in soil, essentially. Anyhow, small pieces of tree branches, such as thick twigs, are exactly what druid sticks, which feature inscription of the oghams (OH-Hem), are made of today. Even today, modern druids would actually ask for forgiveness or honor the tree that provides them with branches for divination sticks and larger druid sticks. They are made to be fairly easy to handle, because they are tossed, much like runes, therefore they need to be manageable either with one or two hands.

The Celtic Tree Alphabet, as the ogham is also known, is made up of 25 total distinctive line-symbols, or oghams, which were devised based upon 20 trees and shrubs depicting the majority of the 25 “letters”. Each ogham features different numbers of lines passing through a vertical line. Together, they can be used to divinate almost anything. One method is to draw a series of three concentric circles, one representing the past, the present, and the future. The sticks are cast, and the future is read based upon the relative position of the different oghams that land within the various circles.

The ogham alphabet was typically used in two different situations, beyond possible divination, when carved into stone. One was as markers, which were inscribed in stones that possibly defined who owned land, for instance. The other was as grave stones. These stone markers have been found all over Ireland, the Isle of Man, of course Wales, and less rarely in Scotland, and England. The Book of Ballymote, from the 1400s, a treatise on the ogham, confirms the secretive and ritualistic druid language’s existence as a form of communication.

Druids were considered the beginners of the spiritual journey, which led eventually to a graduation into ovate and bard. That is why when people think of such notable figures as Merlin as having white hair and being much older. It is more likely that as a druid progressed into these roles that they were indeed more ancient in their appearance

















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