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Ogham Studies - Tinne (Holly)

Posted: 18 Aug 2006, 01:02
by Fitheach

:tinne: Please post your inspirations, experience, poetry, artwork, photography, etc. on the HOLLY!


The passionate Holly
Stirs the fire in the blood.
Known for youth and folly,
He rules the winter wood.

The Green man is the Holly King,
Who challenges the valiant Knight.
And rules from winter through the spring,
Until the Oak Man shows his might.

Holly keeps the greenwood live,
For the holiest of reasons.
For in his wood, life will survive,
Through the coldest of the seasons.

Posted: 18 Aug 2006, 01:37
by Lora
Holly to me has a mischievous, tricksterish quality - it will scratch as I try to take a shortcut in the woods and (in my thoughts) I will hear sniggering laughter... ' hee hee, got you!'  But there's a joy in it too.  It seems to be saying to me 'don't take yourself so seriously!'  I liked the 'known for youth and folly' line in the poem because I feel that playful quality around holly at times, at least with  the younger ones.  And since prickly plants have been on my mind a bit lately (see latest posts in Greening Gaia) it occurs to me that anything which can harm can also protect - depends what side of the bush or tree you are on!  A couple of my favourite spots on the outskirts of London, to the East and the South, seem to have much holly growing there.

The first time I ever volunteered to co-lead a group ritual was for a winter solstice ritual.  I went to the place in advance and asked the spirit of the wood to guide me to a ritual spot.  Being winter and in quite a well-visited place there was a lack of seclusion which I wasn't entirely comfortable with at the time.  I wandered in another direction and there it was - a small holly grove of mature trees, not bushes, for they had grown enough that the trunks were clearly visible, though a canopy of evergreen surrounded us.  Though much of the wood was very muddy, the ground was drier in the rain shadow of the holly, and leaves from a nearby oak carpeted the ground.  It felt wonderfully secluded, like being in a cave, and the last of the winter day's sunlight gently filtered through the leaves on the day itself.


Posted: 03 Sep 2006, 19:25
by Keriann
According to the 'Auraicept':

Word Ogham of Morann Mac Main here. Ardam dossaibh, highest of bushes, that is dur, oak, d, with respect to its wood in the forest. Trian, t, another thing the meaning of that today. [?]

Alphabet of word-oghams of Mac ind Oic here below. Smir guaili, fires of coal, that is holly. Hence for its cognate, Ogham letter, i.e., tinne, t, for tindi is a name for holly.

THIS IS SOW OGHAM:Group H. Accompanying litter of a white (i.e. milch-) black t



BIRD OGHAM: truith starling

COLOUR OGHAM: temen dark grey

CHURCH OGHAM: Terryglass

MAN (HUMAN BEING) OGHAM: Minna nobles (or women) or clerics for group H, i.e., three.

WOMAN OGHAM: three nuns


WATER OGHAM: three weirs

DOG OGHAM: three greyhounds

OX OGHAM: three oxen

COW OGHAM: three strippers

SAINT OGHAM: Tighearnach

ART OGHAM: turning

Posted: 23 Oct 2006, 16:53
by Creirwy
I recently had a very wonderful experience with a Holly tree :)
Now I dont want to go too much into the experience (partly boring, parly un-necessary) but I wanted to add my thoughts here.

I saw a wonderful picture of the tree, almost chuckling as a little bird was dodgy the prickly leaves, trying to reach the juicy red berries. The branches moved in the winter winds and the bird had to dodgy several branches and its prickly leaves before gorging on the succulant berries. This I feel is the trickster nature of this tree!

Another part of its nature though was the image of the Holly King that wears his responsibilities with pride. Freely giving what fruit he can so that the birds and animals will make it through the harsh winter months, that he freely gives of his energy and of all he has so that others benefit. He is so generous and giving because of who and what is he. Rather than someone who finds it 'natural' to give, he gives knowing perfectly well he could keep it all for himself, but this is his service with a smile!

I love how many different types of holly leaves there are. The tree I have in the garden has a light green edge and then darker green in the middle.  The Holly King offers us light at the times of darkness - the hope and light to dance around and make merry in.. to get drunk on sherry before our christmas lunch and giggle the way through a box of chocolates lol.

Posted: 24 Oct 2006, 13:28
by Keriann
Interesting reflection, thanks for sharing:) You know, I am always surprised by holly flowers. They are so gentle amnong strong, green leaves- small, light but... precious.


Posted: 24 Oct 2006, 16:18
by Alasdair
I've also had an interesting experience with  Holly.  My aunt had something similar with a rosebush.   I was walking through the woods and it began to get really dense.  Eventually as I walked, a holly brushed up against me and scratched me and I literally said "Ouch, what was that for??"  Well, the Holly replied "I have thorns for a reason, I didn't mean to hurt you, I am simply steadfast in my duty. I am sustaining my role, I have a job to do.  You must learn to do the same, unable to let others affect you while you live your life."

Moral of the story?  Thorns are good for a reason!   :grin:

Posted: 25 Oct 2006, 12:11
by Keriann
Wise lesson! I felt something similar during the 'work' with a holly but it wasn't such as short but clear and nice story :) I also felt something like 'protect your life and your goods just because it's your right'. Sometimes plants are right ;)

Posted: 12 Apr 2007, 23:03
by Dryadia2

Re: Ogham Studies - Tinne (Holly)

Posted: 06 Dec 2010, 10:16
by Serpentia
Now I have finally solved this tree puzzle, too. While we have Holly trees here in Germany, they are rare and rather small. They grow like bushes and now I know why.. they can't stand the frost well, so they grow differently and not as tall. A Holly bush is normally eye-level to an adult human, about 1.5 meters, no more. Because they don't play any role in our Christmas celebrations (no holly, no ivy.. it's traditionally all pine and fir here, and some mistletoe lately, but that's an imported habit), people don't particularly care for this bush. I actually have one growing in front of my office, though!

I was going to paste a picture, but it didn't work. See here if you want to see a German Holly tree:

working her way through the Ogham tree by tree

Re: Ogham Studies - Tinne (Holly)

Posted: 06 Dec 2010, 12:46
by DaRC
I wonder if it's soil type rather than frost resistance that is the issue Hollies do prefer a sandy soil. Down here in Sussex on the South Downs (chalk/clay) and in the Low Weald (clay) the hollies tend to be smaller but in parts of the North Downs and High Weald (sandy / loam) some of the trees are much larger; up to 20 metres.
The Hardiness is rated as down to as far as -15C which suits most of the UK.

I've a nice variegated Holly "Golden Queen" in the front garden which is slowly growing; :D this is the first year I can prune it for decorations on my Yule Wreath.

To understand the Holly King it's useful to read 'Gawain and the Green Knight' as the Green Knight is thought to represent the Holly King - ... een_Knight

Re: Ogham Studies - Tinne (Holly)

Posted: 06 Dec 2010, 12:57
by Huathe
The Hollies are among my favorite trees, sharing the title with Hawthorn, Rowan and Eastern White Pine. Holly, Pine, Fir and Spruce keep the winter forest from losing all it's green and that helps keep my spirits up this time of year.

Holly is usually thought of as a masculine tree but for me it will always be feminine. " Holly " is more commonly used as a female name and I have a dear friend by that name. Hollies are actually dioecious or dimorphic. That is having both male and female individuals. Many trees are monoecious or hermaphroditic. Having both sexes in an individual tree. Female Hollies have the berries.

Check out the link below on the Hollies of Congaree. They are probably the tallest collection of hollies in the United States. They are old-growth trees. The tallest American Holly known is a 106 ft specimen measured by ENTS president, Will Blozan in the Greenbrier District of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ( Tennessee ). That tree was 106 feet tall!! ENTS, including myself measure trees with a laser rangefinder and clinometer. ... ollies.htm


Re: Ogham Studies - Tinne (Holly)

Posted: 06 Dec 2010, 13:13
by Serpentia
Thank you both for this input. DaRC, it is strange, my sources are contradictory, with some stating that holly is damaged or even killed by any frost and others giving it a frost tolerance but unspecified. Minus fifteen would do for most of Germany, even though here lately we have seen temparatures below that on occassion at night.

The fact remains, though, that they don't grow tall and only in bush-shape, as far as I can see. And they are not a frequent sight.

Wow, ENTS to the fore again! I would have never thought anything that tall could be a Holly Tree! Makes them come closer to the palm trees that they are not related to.

Sir Gawain, sure, Mabinogion.. I will listen to Ronald Hutton again as he retells the story. One day I may even understand the deeper meaning.. maybe the Druid Grade will illuminate me 8-)

Greetings from the only cold-loving snake,


Re: Ogham Studies - Tinne (Holly)

Posted: 06 Dec 2010, 18:04
by Huathe

When you come stateside again, visit Congaree National Park SC. It is located just below Columbia. Walk the trails there and you will see the largest collection of BIG hollies in the US. You will also see big oaks, water tupelo, and huge baldcypress trees. It is a truly beautiful place.

That post on the hollies was mine. ENTS was put up and given a research permit at Congaree by the National Park Service to document trees, mainly by accurately measuring them. Many are of or near record size. They put us up in an on-site dorm and gave us access to their labs and maps. About a dozen of us went, headed by professional climbers, Arborist Will Blozan and Prof Robert " Bob " Van Pelt and yes, they are ENTS members too. Anyway, we spent four days measuring trees and exploring that great floodplain forest. I think the Holly King lives there! ... n_2009.htm

Re: Ogham Studies - Tinne (Holly)

Posted: 07 Dec 2010, 08:54
by Serpentia
You know something? I've been there... Congaree just rang a bell somewhere in my memories and when I looked up their website.. "Most visitors to the park walk along the Boardwalk Loop, an elevated 2.4 mile walkway through the swampy environment .." it came rushing back.

That must have been on the order of 15 and more years ago.

And yes, I would love to go back there again, I remember how it felt like a travel back in time AND space to a world almost untouched by human interference. It was absolutely beautiful and touching.

*sigh* James, looks like I have to start saving my pennies in earnest!

always and forever in love with South Carolina

Re: Ogham Studies - Tinne (Holly)

Posted: 07 Dec 2010, 16:23
by Huathe


Most of the large hollies we measured was past the boardwalked trail on regular hiking trails past Weston Lake. Marcus Houtchings, our guide, and also ENTS member once worked for the NPS in Congaree really knew his way around the swamp. A couple of people had GPS units too. The tallest hollies were found off-trail, and without a good knowledge of the swamp and a good guide one would easily get lost.

Along with the Great Smokies, Congaree rules!