Roots: Insights From the Tree Alphabet of Old Ireland

For a few decades, two old apple trees shared a back yard with me. Over the years I got to know them well. My canning shelves filled up with applesauce, pie filling, apple butter, and bags of dehydrated apple chips. There was nothing I didn’t know about my apple trees. Or so I thought.

Olivia Wylie’s book explores the connection between trees, ancient poetry, unusual botanical insights and a very old Irish writing system called Ogham. I was drawn back to the apple trees to learn more of their secrets.

Now I know that the apple tree is the embodiment of perseverance. I learned that Brehon law designates it as a Noble of the Wood. I learned how apple trees are connected to Beltane and Samhain, and why people of northern Europe depended on them for their very lives. I even learned about the apple trees connection to King Arthur and Avalon.

And that’s just one of the Ogham’s stories. Just one character in the language. There are twenty Ogham symbols, and each one carries a rich treasure trove of meaning.

Olivia Wylie is not only the author of Roots: Insights From the Tree Alphabet of Old Ireland, she’s also the illustrator. Her artwork melds each tree with the Ogham in a delightful mix.

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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