by Steve Blamires
Llewellyn 2002, $14.95 US
Review by Daven
I had seen this book on the shelf of my local library and checked it out since I’m now studying Druidism. When this same book turned up on the Order’s list of recommended books, I thought that was pretty coincidental. When my teacher directed me to read this book and practice what was in it for my studies in the Ogham, I requested this book.
I thought this would be a simple review, but I have been proven wrong. This is one of those reviews that you wish could be written over the period of years, rather than on first-approximation skimming of the book. So I put off reviewing this book, even though I have had it for several months now. I’m very glad I did.
It is my opinion that this is not a “one time” book; rather it is one to be used repeatedly for as long as one uses Ogham. It can’t just be read and ignored. It must be lived and the exercises contained in this book must be practiced. The author even states that in multiple places and suggests that one start a relationship with the trees of the Ogham to understand what those trees mean and meant to the Celts.
The book is divided into sections, and is really well laid out. The first section gives an overview of Ogham in writing, a brief history and a good introduction to the Ogham as a tool.
From there it goes into actual exercises with the trees in Section 2. This section, in my opinion, is the real meat of this work. In the chapter on each tree, not only is the relationship to the Ogham made clear in several different interpretations, he goes into detail on the botany of the tree in question, it’s habitat and lore of the tree.
Then he talks about how the tree can mean something on a physical level, a mental level and a spiritual level. He is not trying to give divination interpretations of the tree, rather he shows the reader what lessons the tree can give us if we study it. He then gives a practical exercise for that particular tree and leaves the rest up to the reader.
As a result of these lessons and how each tree can interact on all three levels of being (physical, mental and spiritual) I feel this work is truly unique. It’s easy to say that “Alder means such and such” and turn out another book on the divination of the Ogham, but the focus in this book is the tree and what the tree means. The Ogham is really de-emphasized in this work. It’s an excellent work because of this focus on the trees and what they mean.
I do feel that the author could have made an effort to provide alternate trees when a student cannot find Yew (for instance) or at least given a series of qualities that could be used to find a tree that is similar to the tree being studied. For example, I know that I am going to have a hard time trying to find Elm in my geographic area, and I don’t think that Elder grows in Australia too well. So in these cases it would be up to the student themselves to find substitute trees for their study.
This work rates 4 1/2 stars of 5. If you have any interest in the Ogham at all, you simply must buy to give yourself a different perspective on things.