We thought it would be fun to explore the Ogham (oh-am) Tree Calendar in our newsletters. The tree calendar has thirteen months. Each month offers its own unique wisdom to us as we make our way through this life trying to live lightly, kindly and communally.
We’re now in the Vine Moon, which refers to the Blackberry/Muin. Muin is the first ‘tree’ in its tribe, which is known as the Aicme Muine. In the past, Muin was sometimes thought to refer to the vine. However, as there are no native vines in the Celtic world, it’s commonly agreed that Muin refers to the Blackberry, a perennial plant, that clambers about with equal ease.
Muin represents many things, most notably:
~ ABUNDANCE ~RESILIENCE ~PROTECTION ~ EXHILARATION ~ HEALING ~HARVEST/MANIFESTATION ~ TAKING ADVANTAGE OF PROVIDED OPPORTUNITY
It’s significant how quickly blackberries can reclaim land by tethering to the ground every few feet rather than growing from a single root stem. These tethers keep it strongly connected to the Earth and Mother Nature’s well-balanced chakras. Through its expansive root network, it filters and rebalances the Earth’s energies, slowly drawing in the negative and releasing the positive; thereby, restoring its entire system.
Blackberry is powerful and determined. It can grow in almost any terrain. It can be strong-willed, going where it wants to go, yet can be both flexible and tough. The Blackberry is also a networker; it connects areas of land and other plants and habitats...binding and uniting these different energies.
Blackberry patches are vast communities for beings of many kinds - providing food, shelter and protection via vicious thorns! It is a collective presence consisting of many beings. Fierce and armed, it is well able to protect itself and those it shelters. Óengus (Aengus) Mac Óg, the Irish god of love, called Muin “the proverb of slaughter” in reference to its ferociousness. Its berry juice is reminiscent of blood and its extreme tenacity would rival even a warrior’s stamina!
Traditionally, the act of ‘blackberrying’, i.e. picking blackberries, was a communal affair that brought great joy and happiness to all those involved. Even today many families still embark on the hunt for wild berries to entertain their children with an afternoon’s adventure, to reconnect with nature and to reap the delicious rewards of this plant's bounty.
As a vibrational, stimulating essence, Blackberry is excellent for breaking inertia and stirring up energy. Blackberry leaves and berries have been used for centuries for their healing properties. High in antioxidants and flavour, they make for a tasty and restorative home-brewed tea!
Blackberry has a very strong life force, which allows it to bear berries and flowers at the same time, a feat of extreme fertility. It teaches us the value of patience and care - if we are patient and careful the berry will be our reward. Blackberry also reminds us of the importance of harvest and gathering. One must work in harmony with Nature (and each other) and act at the right time.
The Blackberry plant symbolises both the need to show initiative and the necessity to be proactive and patient. It teaches us the pleasure of harvesting achievements in due time and reveals what may be lost if we sow nothing at all. The fruition of plans is always in their timeliness and in the quality of intention and investment.
** So, what does Muin, our beautiful and tenacious brambling Blackberry, offer us as learning in our own journey as OFN Ireland? **
Firstly, Muin reminds us that we need to remain deeply connected to the Earth and our environs by supporting the protection of nature and biodiversity in Ireland through regenerative and sustainable farming practices.
Unfortunately, an air of negativity surrounds agriculture in Ireland nowadays. Rural life is becoming ever-more isolated and difficult as our vibrant youth turn away from our green fields and idyllic pastures in favour of bustling city-life and urban livelihoods. Our beautiful Emerald Isle has begun to lose some of its sparkle in the eyes of our children. What's more, our current food system is inherently unsustainable and needs to change.
Thankfully, a supportive, collective body of regenerative Irish farmers and producers can emit restorative energy and showcase an alternative, community-owned model of solidarity. Together we can make agriculture pleasurable and communal again by celebrating what our land and our green thumbs have to offer. To do this, we need to follow the teaching of Blackberry and show resilience by being tough, yet flexible. We, too, must be fierce and determined in our pursuit of a brighter future for all. We need to stand united as food and farming warriors!
Secondly, like the Blackberry, we need to be able to grow through this difficult terrain, remaining both adaptive and strong so to carry change with us and inspire action with inclusive flexibility. Brambling into and around the system as it stands is not going to be easy. But, as long as we stand united, we will be able to break inertia and stir up positive energy. As a community, we will also provide mutual support and opportunities for growth. Additionally, we will offer shelter and protection for those who are starting out on their journeys.
Like Muin, we want OFN Ireland to have a strong life force and a heart that beats in harmony with Nature. With intention, we want to invest our energy into this dream and remain conscious of the potential of this vessel in our care. We want to move this initiative forward, as much as we can each day; always remembering that we are humans with limited capacity. There is much to be done...so we need to take care that we don’t trip over our own expectations as we slowly (but tenaciously) gain ground.
And finally, we want to look forward with excitement, anticipation and certainty to a time when we will be harvesting our ‘berries’ (in expected and unexpected places) as a community of farmers, producers, markets, food co-ops, conscious consumers and people who care about how we live on the Earth.
♡ ♡ ♡
[Text adapted from Celtic Tree Magic by Danu Forest, Photographs by Liam Murtagh]
For more info on the Ogham Tree Calendar see:
[Ogham Tree Calendar, image created by @what_jo_did_]