Ancient Lines VII: The Ogham Almanac

Graves, Buried

We continue part seven of the Ancient Lines series with another very popular feature of the neopagan usage of the Ogham runes: the use of a so-called “Ogham Calendar”. Once again, the popularity of this practice is owed to Robert Graves’ White Goddess (1948), though it is based on the concept of a so-called Celtic calendar, which has received much scholarly attention since the late nineteenth century. The Ogham Calendar, moreover, has no basis in any of the ancient texts that I have referred so often to over the course of this series.

It seems odd, therefore, to reinforce Graves “interpretation” of the Ogham trees, and return to the very modern invention of the Ogham Calendar. However, this calendar is now quite embedded in the neopagan consciousness, despite the fact that many pagans recognise its “obvious limitations“. There is, I believe, a human need to identify with cosmic signs, and with nature. I see no reason to strip this from neopagan practice. Provided our trees are correct, and that the runes are read properly, that their meanings are not distorted by neopagan stereotypes that have little basis in the ancient texts, then the modern Ogham Calendar poses little danger to reconstructionists. Though the ancient Celts certainly did not refer to their months under the names of native trees, I see no reason why these venerable woods might not stand beside them.

That is not to say that the calendar, as it stands, does not deserve scrutiny; it does…


The Ancient Lines series continues with Part VIII: Pagan Archetypes.

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Image: Wheel of the Year: © Anthony Galbraith

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