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.

 

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