After my recent post on Tree Medicine my friend, Sarah Head, suggested I make my own set of Ogham Sticks. She was even kind enough to send along detailed instructions from the classes she teaches on the topic. I had not heard of Ogham Sticks before, but was immediately intrigued when I learned they were a divination tool made from trees. Thank you Sarah! What a creative, healing, and so very appropriate project for me to do over these upcoming Winter months!
As I learned from Sarah, to make a set, you only need to respectfully and reverently collect sticks of the size and shape desired from a variety of trees of your choosing, then polish and decorate the sticks as you like, being sure to mark the name of the tree (or other symbol) so you can remember which stick represents which tree. The finished product can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. I liked Sarah’s suggestion to take wood from fallen branches already offered by the tree. If taking from the live tree, she suggests doing so while the tree sleeps during the cold months.
The finished sticks can be kept in a special bag or other container, and then when you need tree medicine, you can “draw” one or more sticks from the bag. Together with an understanding of the symbolism and energy of the tree(s) you have drawn, very useful insight into your situation can be gained. This is similar to drawing Runes or Tarot, or even meditating upon a random Bible passage — ALL spiritual traditions have some means of consulting a higher wisdom through symbols or story for the purpose of growth and understanding in ones everyday life. It is “Story Medicine,” as Susun Weed calls it.
Though traditional Ogham Sticks can be a part of well-defined ritual and ceremony, where there are the Ogham alphabet symbols engraved on them, a certain number of sticks, and specific types of trees to use, I do not plan to follow those particular guidelines to make mine. At this point in my path, I’m not looking for traditional meanings so much as I am wanting to develop a very personal tool to help with my own growth and understanding of tree medicine, and a way to connect more meaningfully with that wisdom.
Instead of making a traditional set, I will allow my own set to evolve over time from those trees that I develop a special connection to right here in my ownbackyard, one tree at a time, over as many years as it takes to meet all the Tree People I need to meet! I think it will be very fulfilling for me to do in-depth research on each tree as I go along (meditative, books, science, all together) and then translate that understanding lovingly into the symbolic form of an Ogham Stick to represent each Standing Person.
I am going to start my set with the lovely Sweetgum, which has star shaped leaves that smell heavenly when crushed.
She really stands out along the edge of the forest in the summer because of the unique shape of her leaves. She practically shouted for me to pay attention to her as I walked past one day. She is no less quiet in the Fall. Just look at that fire! A good place for me to begin, I think.