Ogham of the week ~ Eadha (Aspen)

Eadha  is the Aspen or White Poplar. It has been called the ‘trembling tree’ on account of its leaves trembling all over in the slightest breeze. It has its associations with testing and the conquest of fear. It portends an issue that you must confront and overcome. This is a sore trial which must be undergone; yet, on a positive note you will emerge stronger and wiser for it.

Fear is a palpable physiological reaction; when we are terrified we literally tremble like the aspen tree quivering in the wind. Fear can paralyse the central nervous system and leave us immobilised and robbed of freedom of action. Our fear is often a greater adversary to us than the things we are afraid of, it can stunt our ability to live life to the fullest.

Yet fear is also there for a reason. It pinpoints issues that we must respond to and address, however uncomfortable the process. The shadows which are so threatening actually carry a message in their bony fingers. As such, your fear can be your teacher, highlighting weaknesses and showing you where you need to strengthen yourself.

So it is that the conquest of fear involves accepting and embracing one’s own personal darkness. This is an archetypal rite of passage that can be seen in the hero’s quest in ancient sagas, or in the tale of the shaman who must journey into the frightening realms of the spirit world and return with the fruits of healing and wholeness for the wider community. Thus fear actually becomes a friend and an ally.

Reversed. eadha signifies being overwhelmed by the fears and shadows of the dark side of the imagination. While real terrors do exist, you are allowing them to assume a greater stature in your mind than they deserve. Remember, outer circumstances can only fully triumph over you when your spirit has been vanquished. Do not let this happen! Become the master of your fear.

Key words:

Fear, testing, rite of passage, conquest of fear, ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’, warrior spirit, spiritedness, self-confidence, steadfastness, courage, resolution

Reversed:

Being overwhelmed by fear, need to master your fear.

Natural Characteristics

Aspen is the smallest member of the poplar family, a short lived species that begins to fail after 60 years of growth. Poplars grow rapidly in their early years, however, attaining to heights of a hundred feet (sixty to seventy for aspen). They are lowland and valley-loving trees that crave moisture and often grow along river banks. The Latin name of the aspen reveals one of its most significant features: it is Populus tremula – the trembling poplar. Aspen’s long stalks and flattened, upright leaves means that it trembles at the slightest movement of wind; all the more so as this member of the poplar family haunts open spaces, such as fields, heaths, moorland, hills and wood’s edges. This incessant movement has helped establish its aura as a tree and tree-letter connected to the world of the invisible.

Folklore and Magic

Aspen’s use in the construction of shields has lent it magical associations as a ward against fears and dangers. Its close connection with the spirit world seems to give it a role as a type of innoculant against supernatural menaces, similar to that of Rowan. It was especially used in this capacity in spells designed to cast out fear and negativity at Samhain, in order to begin the new year with a clean slate. It is given a similar role in Bach Flower Remedies, in which it is recommended for the healing of fears. Whether as a tincture, a magical stave, or used as an ogham inscription eadha has a clear magical function; as a ward against fear and to attract the qualities of courage and strength in the face of adversity. We can invoke it for the same purposes today, by carving eadha on an object, or carrying a sprig of it when anticipating fearful or threatening situations.

Source: Ogham ~ The Celtic Oracle of the Trees by Paul Rhys Mountfort

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