A Proposed Sacred Desert Tree Alphabet

I’ve been taking a class in Ogham from Raven Edgewalker for a few weeks now, focusing on the Celtic Tree Alphabet.  This has been a great deal of fun.

My own little project has been to translate, as far as I’m able, the trees and plants native to New Mexico into the Celtic Tree pantheon.  I don’t think I’m really done with this project, but it’s far enough along I’ll share it with you here.  I’m focusing not so much on the trees’ place in the eco system, but the trees’ place in the human imagination.  I don’t see how you can have both; I picked one.  DO post your suggestions and comments.  This is a Work In Progress:

Birch (cleansing, beginnings, purification) == Cottonwood (highly sacred and important; found by water; used for sacred carvings)

Rowan (protection; sacred to the faeries) == Piñon (one of the most important food sources here, and important for fires)

Alder (life force, shield) == Thinleaf Alder (our member of the group)

Willow (intuition, flexibility) == Red Willow (a true willow; the name Taos means Red Willow)

Ash (the world tree, divination) == Douglas Fir (the world tree here, stretching between worlds)

Hawthorn (another faery tree; obstacles, fear, protection)== Southwest Chokecherry (important food source, and used in prayer sticks)

Oak (strength and durability) == Wavyleaf Oak (we’ve got an oak)

Holly (challenge and defense) == Cholla (a cactus you do not want to run into; quite stalwart)

Hazel =(wisdom, inspiration) = Mesquite (durable, beloved of woodworkers, excellent food source)

Apple (healing, renewal, fertility) == New Mexican Olive (we can’t eat the fruit — it’s not a true olive — but the tree is lovely, and the birds adore it

Vine (harvest, celebration) == Canyon grape (yep, we have one of these too)

Ivy (determination, ruthlessness) == Tumbleweed (it’s as ubiquitous as ivy is in its homeland, and the dead tumbling plant is how the plant propagates)

Reed (renewability, practicality) == Soaptree Yucca (practical, useful, hardy)

Blackthorn (adversity, pain, struggle)  == Crucifixion Thorn (really, we have LOTS of thorny things here, but this is particularly dramatic)

Elder (old wisdom) == Mexican Elderberry (quite a powerful tree, our version of the elder)

Pine (awe, certainty of direction) == Ponderosa Pine (this one, too, much more dramatic than its European counterpart)

Gorse (sex, sexuality) == Chiltapin (this is the wild chile, MUCH hotter than the ones we actually eat — so, for sex, there ya go)

Heather (lovers, partnership, hearth) == Texas Madrone (yes, this is a relative of the Pacific Madrone, and as beloved; it holds the world together, so I slot it in here, for partnership, and hearth)

Aspen (spirits, grief, fear) == Quaking Aspen (oh, we totally have a version, and it’s just as connected to spirits and otherworldliness)

Yew (death, transitions) == Datura (also called Jimson Weed, all parts of this plant are absolutely deadly.  And it is gorgeous.)

8 Replies on “A Proposed Sacred Desert Tree Alphabet

  1. That’s a deck I’d like to see. They have one for the Celtic Trees so why not for this one? Also? I go to eastern NM once or twice a month. 😀