Cad Goddeu (The Battle of the Trees)

A contemplation of the Ogham, by Daniel Kelly – 2021

The Chieftain Trees

These are the trees, chieftains eight, Their stories I will now relate,
Worshiped by the Celts of old, Stories in the Ogham told.

Venice on the Alder stands, The mighty tree of ancient Bran,
By the lake or river side, Its flute will call the wind to ride.

The Oak made Arthur’s table round, As above are the roots down in the ground,
The wood that makes the strongest door, The greens man’s face it covers o’er.

Nine Hazel trees of wisdom grow, By Holy Well that lets you know,
Its wand is good to heal your ills, Set Brigid’s wood on window sill.

The Blackberry bush holds sweet surprise, But thorns will cut your arms and thighs,
Chew the leaves for gums that bleed, Leave some berries for the fairies feed.

The Ivy lives in coldest ice, Cut it down, it grows back twice,
Great Bacchus wore the ivy wreath, From liquor’s snare it brings relief.

The Blackthorn makes a sturdy stick, Its thorn will give a nasty prick,
Beware of the Lunantisidhe, If you cut the wood near samhain’s day.

I sing now of the bonny Broom, Its brilliant yellow dispels doom,
As hedge it keeps the fairies out, Its flowers made the Vikings stout.

The Heather in the summer blooms, When burned with fern the thunder looms,
Of passion of the flesh it speaks, And consequence in 40 weeks.

The Peasant Trees

These are the trees, peasants eight, Their stories I will now relate,
Worshiped by the Celts of old, Stories in the Ogham told.

The Birch is for a start that’s new, The Lady of the Woods holds true,
The Besom sweeps the leaves away, And a beating keeps spirits at bay.

The Rowan berry to catch a bird, Its wood to guard from magic word,
Trust protection of the five point star, The bow will fly your arrows far.

The Willow weeps by river side, Your sorrow you can there confide,
Sacred tree of the Goddess Moon, It’s bark will ease your pain in swoon.

Yggdrasil, the world’s ash tree, Where Odin hung, the runes to see,
Ash handles have the witches broom, Of Ash was Gwydion’s great wand hewn.

Bathe in the dew of the Hawthorn tree, If strong and fair you wish to be,
White flowers on the first of May, Surround the pole on this sacred day.

The Spindle wood for making thread, Don’t eat the berries, or you’ll be dead,
Craft your arrow straight and true, For needles fine, this wood will do.

The Apples grow on Avalon’s Isle,  From Iduna’s hand, the Norse gods smile,
Gold upon a silver bough, Music that would sleep allow.

The Holly king his crown does wear, Spikey leaves your skin will tear,
Never eat the berries red, The Holly wand sees spirits fled.

The Shrub Trees

These are the trees, shrubs of eight, Their stories I will now relate,
Worshiped by the Celts of old, Stories in the Ogham told.

The reed down by the river stands, Make Brigid’s cross with skillful hands,
Magic flute or voice of pipe, Shelter for curlew and snipe.

Elder be the lady’s tree, Burn it not or cursed you’ll be,
Sacred wine from berries brewed, Death the path to live renewed.

The Elm can yield a bow or drum, A coffin when your life is done,
Odin and his brothers two, From Elm the first woman did hew

The Aspen trembles in the breeze, A sturdy shield is made of these,
A leaf under your tongue do place, To speak with eloquence and grace.

The Yew lives for a thousand years, It’s berries red will bring you tears,
The wood that makes a sturdy bow, Roots they grasp the dead below.

The woodbine in a spiral grows, Honeysuckle fragrance flows,
Tended by the moth at night, Loved by Lugh, god of light.

The Beech it prospers with our spells, Within the queen of forest dwells,
Holder of the written word, Carve your wish and have it heard

A Pine cone head on Bacchus staff, Clear your head and start to laugh,
The needles brewed into a tea, long life and clear eyes to see,

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