Beith-Birch || The Ogham Staves

Yesterday I introduced the Ogham and today I wanted to discuss the meaning of the first letter in the Ogham alphabet - Beith (Birch).

Full disclosure - this is something that I myself am just learning about. I knew that Ogham was an alphabet. I knew that Ogham was a method of writing ancient Irish. But I didn’t know much about what each Ogham stands for on its own.


Source

The Birch tree itself is a hardy tree. There are actually over 30 different species of Birch - many of them native to both European and North American places. Since the Ogham comes from Ireland, the feda (tree) that the Irish most likely saw was the Betula Pendula - also known as the Silver Birch (1).

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The silver birch is a hardy tree, a pioneer species, and one of the first trees to appear on bare or fire-swept land. Many species of birds and animals are found in birch woodland, the tree supports a wide range of insects and the light shade it casts allows shrubby and other plants to grow beneath its canopy. It is planted decoratively in parks and gardens and is used for forest products such as joinery timber, firewood, tanning, racecourse jumps, and brooms. Various parts of the tree are used in traditional medicine and the bark contains triterpenes, which have been shown to have medicinal properties. (1)

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In Divination

Look at the Birch tree and how it behaves. It is silver or white in color. The bark on the outside easily peels back to reveal what is underneath. The Birch tree is one of the first trees to appear on land that is barren or has been swept by fire. These are all helpful symbols in figuring out what Beith means if you are casting Ogham staves.

When this symbol is used, it is representative of new beginnings, change, release, and rebirth. In some traditions, it also has connections with purification. (2)

If you are reading Ogham staves and Beith makes an appearance, something new is happening. A new beginning. Clearing out the old so new opportunities can be brought to you. It is also an Ogham of purification and cleansing. The silver/white color is definitely symbolic of purity, but also of rebirth. The way the bark peels back on the tree makes me think of peeling back layers of an onion. What we see on the surface is not always what lies beneath.


Source

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(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_pendula
(2) https://www.learnreligions.com/ogham-symbol-gallery-4123029
(3) https://www.talesunfold.com/learn-the-ogham/aicme-of-beith/

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Aaahhh! That’s super interesting! It makes a lot of sense in the context of reading the Ogham staves!

And I like the symbolism of peeling the onion too. :onion: This was very easy to understand, @MeganB!!

Ogham Beith

I’m curious, because they look so much like runes… is there any connection between the Ogham and Germanic runes?

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I believe there might be some connection, but I am not entirely sure. That’s something that is definitely on my list of things to research. I know Ogham has been found in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, etc. and there is a theory that it is a derivative - or at least inspired by - the ancient Nordic runes.

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This is really interesting! :star_struck: I’ve only had the slightest introduction to runes, but I’ve seen them here and there in both my travels and when researching magic. I wonder how interconnected all the runes are! Is there one original set that inspired others, or did they all originate individually and then were later influenced by the merging of different peoples and cultures? :books: :face_with_monocle:

A really fascinating topic- maybe it’s time for me to do some rune research! :star_struck: Thank you again for sharing all of this helpful and interesting knowledge about Ogham, @MeganB! :heart:

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You’re super welcome @TheTravelWitch! I’ll have to look into the possibility of Ogham being inspired by runes. As for now, I’m not 100% certain of that so I can’t say that there is definitely a link.

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If you come across any interesting knowledge about runes please share!:sparkles: I would love to learn about them- it’s a fascinating topic that I really haven’t delved into yet :grin:

So many exciting things to learn! :open_book: :star_struck:

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Oh I for sure will! I’ll have to get in touch with my sister-in-law and see if she has any sources to share.

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