Duir – The Oak

Duir (pronounced ‘DOO-er’)
Represents letter(s): D
Divinatory meaning: Power, strength, endurance
Associated Tree/Plant: Oak
Healing Properties: Oak leaf tea is an astringent good for treating kidney infections and hemorrhoids. Oak bark tea can ease a sore throat. A tea made from the bark of the white oak is an effective decongestant. You may either drink the tea, or inhale the steam from a boiling pot of bark. Crushed acorns relieve constipation, and may help ease the cravings of alcoholism.
Magical Uses: Oak is one of the nine firewoods to be added to the Belfire for the festival of Beltane (May 1). The Nine Sacred Woods of the Belfire are birch, oak, rowan, willow, hawthorn, hazel, apple, grapevine and fir. Oak magic is the magic of strength, success and stability. The oak is known as the ‘King of the Forest’ or ‘King of the Grove,’ and the word ‘Druid’ may have come from the Gaelic word for ‘oak.’ Oaks are especially sacred to the Druids, and the tree represents wisdom. Acorns are used to decorate altars for Samhain, as they represent rebirth. Carrying three acorns in your crane bag is said to promote health and long life, and to prevent illness. If you catch a falling oak leaf in autumn, you’ll have no colds all winter. A statue of a God or Goddess statue carved of oak is especially powerful.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Taranis, The Dagda, Cerridwen, the Oak King


h’Uath – The Hawthorn

h’Uath (pronounced ‘OO-ah’)
Represents letter(s): H
Divinatory meaning: Results, consequences, repercussions
Associated Tree/Plant: Hawthorn
Healing Properties: The berries of the hawthorn have been used to treat irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and chest pain. The leaves and blossoms of the hawthorn may be made into a tea to relieve anxiety. This tea also helps to improve the circulation and to increase appetite.
Magical Uses: Hawthorn is one of the nine firewoods to be added to the Belfire for the festival of Beltane (May 1). The Nine Sacred Woods of the Belfire are birch, oak, rowan, willow, hawthorn, hazel, apple, grapevine and fir. Hawthorn magic is the magic of protection, especially for the weak and powerless. Hawthorn branches are used in ritual purification. Hawthorn is another tree sacred to the Faeries. It is said that if you find a spot where oak, ash and thorn (hawthorn) are growing together, you will see Faeries there. If you weave hawthorn branches into a laurel, and leave them out under a full moon, it is said that the Faeries will come and dance around them. Such a crown that the Faeries have danced around will bring luck to anyone who wears it. Hawthorns have also been used to bless weddings, and traditionally, Maypoles are made of hawthorn.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Belenus, Modron

Nuin – The Ash

Nuin (pronounced ‘NOO-un’)
Represents letter(s): N
Divinatory meaning: Wisdom, knowledge, learning
Associated Tree/Plant: Ash
Healing Properties: Ground ash bark can be used to build the immune system, and to purify the liver and kidneys. Cut ash leaves in the early spring and make a tea. This tea is a mild diuretic that helps with weight loss. The syrup of the flowering ash can be used as a laxative.
Magical Uses: In Norse mythology, the ash is considered the World Tree (Yggdrassil). Wands of ash are particularly good for calming chaos. Ash is also good for repelling snakes. Use a branch of ash and brush the area lightly with it to keep them away.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Gwydion, The Mórrígan

Saille – The Willow

Saille (pronounced ‘SAHL-yuh’)
Represents letter(s): S
Divinatory meaning: Intuition, hidden knowledge, introspection
Associated Tree/Plant: Willow
Healing Properties: Willow sap is effective in removing facial blemishes. The sap may also be used to treat dandruff. Willow bark is an effective pain killer, as it contains the active ingredient in aspirin. Chewing the bark or making an infusion of it releases this healing power. The bark is also an astringent, and may be rubbed on the joints to ease arthritis pain. The juice of the bark is also effective in treating heartburn, and as a diuretic.
Magical Uses: Willow is one of the nine firewoods to be added to the Belfire for the festival of Beltane (May 1). The Nine Sacred Woods of the Belfire are birch, oak, rowan, willow, hawthorn, hazel, apple, grapevine and fir. Willows are the sacred tree of the Moon Goddess. It is the tree of dreaming, intuition and deep emotions. Willows are linked with powerful moon magic, and with sexual energy of a feminine nature. The early spring festival of Imbolc is this tree’s time to shine.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Blodeuwedd, Brighid

Fearn – The Alder

Fearn (pronounced ‘FAIR-n’)
Represents letter(s): F
Divinatory meaning: Endurance, perseverance, adaptability
Associated Tree/Plant: Alder
Healing Properties: Tea made from alder bark can be used to treat coughs, toothaches and diarrhea. Boil crushed alder bark and use the juice to relieve itching from poison ivy. A poultice of alder bark relieves swellings and sprains.
Magical Uses: The alder is sacred to the Faeries. Its name comes from the word elder,’ and is derived from the Elder Kings; i.e., kings of the Fey. Since the alder is sacred to them, Faeries are said to protect it, and they may often be seen in the form of ravens in its treetops. Gateways to the Faerie realm are rumored to exist in the trunks of alders. The alder is the tree of Ostara. Some traditions decorate alder trees with ribbons and flowers for this holiday.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Bran, Ostara

Luis – The Rowan

Luis (pronounced ‘LWEESH’)

Represents letter(s): L

Divinatory meaning: Protection, security, safety

Associated Tree/Plant: Rowan

Healing Properties: Crush rowan bark, boil it, and save the juice to be drunk as a cure for upset stomach. Rowan bark is an astringent. The juice of rowan berries can be used as a laxative.

Magical Uses: Rowan is one of the nine firewoods to be added to the Belfire for the festival of Beltane (May 1). The Nine Sacred Woods of the Belfire are birch, oak, rowan, willow, hawthorn, hazel, apple, grapevine and fir. If you slice a rowan berry, you will reveal a miniature pentacle. Because of this, eating rowan berries puts you in contact with Otherworld and the Unconscious. The rowan tree is associated with the element of fire and with the Sun. Irish Druids sometimes called the rowan the ‘Tree of Life.’ Rowan has been used to bless cows. First you cut a rowan branch at dawn, then brush a cow’s back with it.  After this, decorate it with white ribbons and eggshells, and fasten it to the barn door. This protects the cow. Planting a rowan tree on a person’s grave will keep that person’s spirit from wandering the Earth.

Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Taranis, Brighid

Intro to the Ogham: Beith – The Birch

The Ogham is the Celtic ‘Tree Alphabet.’ In ancient Ireland each letter of the ogham was associated with a tree (or plant). Runes called ‘fews’ were created using the ogham and were utilized as an aid to divination.

Over the next several weeks I will be blogging on the meaning of each letter of the Ogham alphabet, trees associated with each letter, the healing and magical properties of each tree, Gods and Goddesses associated with each tree/letter, and the divinatory meanings of each letter of the Ogham.

Note: Herbal medicine requires caution and practice. None of the medicinal uses described below should be attempted by a novice. Some parts of the plants of the Ogham are poisonous, and people with allergies should also be aware of the potential allergen qualities of plants. If you are interested in herbal medicine, find a skilled practitioner and take lessons. Do not attempt to use medicinal plants without the supervision of an expert!

Beith (pronounced ‘BEH’)

Represents letter(s): B

Divinatory meaning: Beginning, birth, starting over

Associated Tree/Plant: Birch

Healing Properties: An infusion of birch leaves can be used to break up kidney and bladder stones. Birch bark can be used as an astringent. Tea made from the inner bark of the birch and/or its leaves is a mild sleep aid. Birch sap can also be boiled down into a syrup, and makes a natural sweetener when used in this way.

Magical Uses: Birch is one of the nine firewoods to be added to the Belfire for the festival of Beltane (May 1). The Nine Sacred Woods of the Belfire are birch, oak, rowan, willow, hawthorn, hazel, apple, grapevine and fir. In Druidry, there are Three Pillars of Wisdom. These are represented by the birch, the oak, and the yew. Birch symbolizes the first degree of Druid learning. It is said that if a birch tree leaves a white mark on your forehead, that you will go mad. If a birch leaves a mark over your heart, you will die soon.

Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Taranis and Cerridwen.


Sometimes the Wolves are Silent

Coming in 2018!

Skene House, near Aberdeen, Scotland

While exploring my family’s heritage I came across a connection to Clan Skene in the Highlands of Scotland near Aberdeen. When I saw the Skene Manor for the first time, it triggered something within me, and I went on a search to learn more about the Skenes. The name “skene” refers to a dagger. Legend has it that a younger son of the chief of Clan Robertson, when he was a young boy, saved the life of the king by killing a wolf with nothing but his  sgian-dubh. A sgian-dubh is a small knife traditionally tucked into a stocking as a back-up weapon. The word ‘sgian’ was transliterated to ‘skene.’ The young son of the Robertson clan was granted lands in Aberdeenshire, and Clan Skene was born.

While studying the biographies of various members of the Skene clan, I came across the “Wizard Laird of Scotland,” the 16th Laird of Clan Skene, Alexander Skene. This Laird of Skene Manor studied in Italy at the University of Padua. It was there where he learned the ways of necromancy. Legend has it that he made a deal with the devil and inherited his magical powers in that manner.

One dark winter night Lord Skene and his driver, Kilgour, were riding home from an engagement when the devil began chasing them. Anxious to make it to the safety behind the gates of Skene Manor, the driver took a shortcut across Loch Skene. About halfway across the lake, the ice began to break. Panicked, Kilgour turned around and saw his master wrestling with a figure bearing cloven feet and horns. They barely made it to the safety of the shore before the ice broke completely. Legend has it that to this day when Loch Skene freezes over you can see the marks of the wagon wheels in the ice.

Information on the Wizard Laird of Clan Skene is scarce and obscure, but the more I read about him, the more I felt a kindred spirit. As I pondered the life and times of Lord Skene, who died in 1727, a musical biography began to take shape.

Sometimes the Wolves are Silent is an album about the Wizard Laird and the dark magic that shaped his life. The title of the album comes from a George Carlin quote, “There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.”

His surreal statement was meant in jest, but to me this quote always had a darker side. It seems to question our ideas of conventional reality while at the same time hinting that the line between reality and imagination is not as concrete as we might think. Sometimes the Wolves are Silent is my musical attempt to walk that fine line.

To be informed when Sometimes the Wolves are Silent is released, please complete the contact form below!

Sencha is available for your event!

Sencha the Vate is available for either concerts or workshops. Use the contact form below for more information. Sencha’s workshops and seminars are on the topics of Druidry, Paganism and nature-centered spirituality. If you have a need for a particular topic, let him know and he’ll consider creating a seminar to meet your needs.

In the past he’s done seminars on the following topics:

  • The Healing Power of Nature
  • Introduction to Druidry
  • Celtic Shamanism
  • The Way of the Taibhsear
  • Embracing Diversity in the Pagan Community
  • Raising Pagan Children
  • The Sacred Warrior – Pagan Masculinity
  • Healing Herbs of the Appalachians
  • Seven Phases of the Druid Vision Quest
  • Sacred Drumming
  • Druid Meditations
  • Introduction to the Ogham
  • Dream Interpretation
  • Vision Questing
  • The Celtic Tree Horoscope
  • The Druid Revival and Celtic Reconstructionism
  • The Way of the Coyote
  • Embracing the Darkness: The Dark Half of the Wheel
  • Pagan Intentional Communities
  • Green Circles: A Sustainable Journey from Womb to Tomb
  • The Rainbow Tribe
  • Animal Totems and Animal Wisdom
  • Your True Spiritual Self
  • Climate Change and the Pagan Community

For information on these and other workshops, complete the contact form below.