The tree alphabet (2007)

For the Celts, the trees were sacred and precious elements. Integrated totally within their own conception of the world, they fulfilled a double function: being an open channel for the connection with the Other World and carrying its botanical and material attributes for This World.

One of the most fascinating variants of their culture was the Ogham. In this alphabet, the letters consist of one to five perpendicular or angled strokes, meeting or crossing a center line. The form of the letters allows them to be carved easily on objects of wood or stone, with the edge forming the center line. Most Ogham inscriptions come from Ireland and Scotland.

Each of the 20 letters has its own name, which is that of a tree or plant, a fact made more understandable if you bear in mind that we are speaking of a people who lived closed to the natural world.

This alphabet was taught only at druidic schools, becoming a secret ciphered writing. Its use was symbolic and was not used for speech or writing in the modern sense of the word. It was employed until about AD 700, or perhaps a little later. It is said to have been later used exclusively for divination.