An Australian Ogham

The very title of this post is rather awkward really. I mean Ogham is an ancient Celtic alphabet that is connected to trees and Australia is a continent on the opposite side of the globe. Yet many years ago I found myself exploring the Ogham alphabet and reading some of the associated facts and folklore. I noticed at the time that many Pagans and Druids used this system for magical work and that for those antipodeans who followed the Celtic path, they found themselves with a fascinating system but unfortunately none of the trees. It was the catalyst for my journey towards making a connection with the plants of my homeland and considering how they might be similar and different to those of the homeland of my ancestors.

Eucalyptus Trees in the Rainforest

I believe it's always worth investing the time in getting to know your local flora, however you choose to use this knowledge. At the time I had searched for any information from those who had made the same journey ahead of me. I felt like it would have been helpful to have a starting point, a framework from which to branch out from. In the interest of perhaps helping others on this same journey, I will share the list of trees and plants that I felt matched up to the Celtic trees of the Ogham. It's a manifestly imperfect system, but if it proves to be a catalyst for others seeking a connection with nature then I will feel happy.

Fig Trees in Rainforest

The Ogham is a set of  20 characters that form an alphabet. They are formed with straight lines that were carved into wood or stone. I will not attempt to go into the history and will leave that to the experts. Traditionally the alphabet has been matched up to twelve trees. I considered the characteristics of these trees and attempted to seek out Australian natives with similar characteristics that could be used as substitutes by those who wished to work with this system in Australia. As I said, and ideal situation would be to create a unique system for Australia but I know the desire to connect with the Celtic Ogham is important for many people. Anyway, for what it's worth, here is what I came up with. I'm happy to provide more information about my choices if anyone would like to ask, but for now, I'll leave this as a starting point.

Coastal Landscape, Queensland
 Ogham
 Celtic Tree
 Australian Tree
Botanical Name
 beith (b)
 Birch
Paperbark
 Melaleuca
 luis (l)
 Rowan 
Tulipwood
 Harpullia Pendula
 fern (f)
 Alder
Mangrove
 Avicennia Marina
 sail (s)
 Willow
She Oak
 Casuarina Glauca
 nion (n)
 Ash 
Crows Ash
 Flindersia Australis
 uath (h)
 Hawthorn 
Flame Tree
 Brachychition Acerifolius
 dair (d)
 Oak
Gum Tree
 Eucalyptus
 tinne (t)
 Holly
Lilly Pilly (Riberry)
 Sysygium Luehmannii
 coll (c)
 Hazel
Macadamia Nut Tree
 Macadamia
 ceirt (q)
 Apple
Mango
 Mangifera Indica
 muin (m)
Vine 
Native Raspberry
 Rubus
 gort (g)
Ivy 
Australian Violet
 Viola Hederacea
 ngeadal (ng)
Reed / Fern
Reed
 Phragmites Australis
 straif (z)
Blackthorn 
Blueberry Ash
 Elaeocarpus Reticulatus
 ruis (r)
Elder 
Lemon Myrtle
 Backhousia Citriodora
 ailm (a)
Fir / Pine
Hoop Pine
 Araucaria Cunninghamii
 onn (o)
Gorse 
Golden Wattle
 Acacia Longifolia
 ur (u)
Heather 
Bottlebrush
 Callistemon
 eadhadh (e)
Aspen / Poplar 
Banksia
 Banksia Integrifolia
 iodhadh (i)
 Yew
Fig (Moreton Bay)
 Ficus Macrophylla
Colours of an Australian Landscape

Some of the choices may seem odd but I haven't always made the match based on the look of the tree. Australian native trees are unique and very different to those in the northern hemisphere. Some of the connections are based on characteristics, for example, in folklore the aspen is often associated with healing and journeys to the underworld. I have matched the banksia with this because it is symbolic of wisdom and age. Also the phallic flowers remind me of the herms associated with Hermes from Greek myth and make me think of his role in accompanying souls to the world of Hades. These kind of personal connections evolve over time and frankly make little sense. I mean after all, we are talking about an ancient Irish alphabet used for pagan magical work and I'm bringing in Greek myths and Australian trees. It's crazy stuff but ultimately the whole process taught me a lot about the folklore and myths associated with trees and nature as well as giving me a much deeper and more profound understanding and respect for the trees that I live amongst. An overall win I think.

Gum Trees (Eucalyptus)

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