1/26/2021 0 Comments
I'm shocked and slightly embarrassed by my lack of knowledge.
Walking regularly, hiking, gardening, spending time in nature, I thought I knew most of the British common tree species. Yet I have been shocked to discover how little I know! There are trees that I've walked past for years and not noticed that I didn't know what they were. And the history and folklore have been beautifully revealed as I've delved deeper.
So I thought I'd share my experience of one app I've come to rely on for my explorations and discoveries. It has helped me find out more about familiar trees, as well as find trees at nearly every time of year. This has become more urgent and more meaningful as I've explored working with the Ogham alphabet.
If you've ever used oracle cards, runes or tarot you may still be surprised to learn about Ogham sticks and the Ogham alphabet. The Ogham alphabet is 20 letters, based on tree types, developed by our Celtic ancestors, and it is used for divinatory as well as protective or supportive purposes.
I've worked with core shamanism for over 20 years, but working with the Ogham alphabet has been a wonderful way to deepen my deep connection with trees on the British Isles. In fact, this connection with trees in a shamanic way is so inspiring I now share these teachings with those I teach, with regular Ogham workshops. By making full use of the shamanic journey we can gain a deeper, heartfelt and personal connection to the spirit of each tree.
However, as I said, not all trees are equally easy to identify! Especially at different times of the year such as winter. And you might find this app helpful.
The 'British Trees' App
This is the first page of the app - the choice of identifying trees by feature, or a simple A to Z.
If you open up the whole guide it lists trees in alphabetical order, with photos of the entire tree.
If you wish to explore trees by feature as I did with the alder I pictured top, it is great for narrowing down options.
It gives you the options you can explore
So, for example, discovering an unknown (to me) tree in December, I could look at the bud (shown in top photo) and the fruit (a little pine cone shaped appendage) as well as the catkin which comes under the flower category.
I also had the bark as a guide, and the location of the tree, which as you can see below, was next to water.
When you select fruit type as a way of identifying the tree you can choose from these options, with helpful drawings as shown here:
With the leaf or needle type option you can select
One bit of it I loved, and never expected, is being able to choose a colour of the different aspects from a list.
It seems to be forgiving, a best guess is good enough too. It also helped me focus more on the tree in questions.
In winter I discovered the unknown tree I was investigating had purple catkins. Without this focus I would have just assumed they are brown. I've since discovered this is not just a colour for alder, but birch has purple or burgundy buds. I'm grateful for this deeper awareness.
Once the British Trees App had analysed my observations it gave two possibilities.
The gallery below shows how clearly the photos pointed to alder, not aspen. And the write up of each species tells us about its natural history, key features and its historical and current uses.
Alder is a pioneer species, the 3rd tree in the Celtic Ogham alphabet. I was amazed to learn that it not only loves to have its roots in water, but the wood from this tree is stronger in water than in the air. This makes it ideal for building boats, such as Viking longboats, bridge supports in rivers and clogs. In fact, it is such a strong wood that the whole of Venice is built on it. What gifts each tree species offers us on a practical level.
On a spiritual level we can spend time meditating on how this pioneer species fixes nitrogen into the soil. It turns boggy landscapes into dry ones, firms river banks and other species can grow drawing off the nitrogen fixed by this tree.
We can learn to have strength, boldness and firm foundations in our spiritual lives, even with watery changing surrounds and emotions. This is all good knowledge, but the best step is to take a shamanic journey to meet the spirit of alder. With our main helping spirits at our sides we could ask it how to become spiritually stronger, or what we need to strengthen our spiritual commitment or foundation.
This personal practice of shamanically relating to the spirit of the tree is what makes the connection shift from a mental experience to a felt, all sensation experience. A true knowing of what this tree means for us, individually and uniquely. To have this connection with just one species is remarkable and can change an everyday walk to a deep, meaningful, heart-expanding experience.
To travel to meet the spirits of the 20 trees in the Ogham alphabet, and to work with them profoundly, clearly and with dedication and commitment is life changing. From time to time I have shared this work in my monthly Shamanic Practice Gatherings, and a full programme in this work is coming very soon.
All in all, I rate this app:
So here's what you can do to connect to the spirit of the trees near you.
In the meantime, you can
Joanna Shipley - I help you find joy and freedom by connection to your heart's desires and spirit guidance so you can live your life on purpose.