I thought about doing some intuitive cards based on the Ogham symbolic system, which is based on Celtic symbolism. But instead of coming up with yet more flowery and romantic Celtic imagery, I decided to go with the appropriate Celtic symbols of trees, animals, tools, time of year, birds, etc. in a more American setting. This was my card for Beith (of course we have passed Beith's season!)
Click once to go to the image page, and then once AGAIN to see the full-size image.
Beith is the Irish name of the first letter of the Ogham alphabet, meaning "birch". In Old Irish, the letter name was Beithe, which is related to Welsh bedw(en), Breton bezv(enn), and Latin betula. Its Proto-Indo-European root was *gʷet- 'resin, gum'. Its phonetic value is [b].
The Auraicept na n-Éces contains the tale of the mythological origins of Beith:
“This moreover is the first thing that was written by Ogham, [illustration of seven b's, in Ogham script] i.e. (the birch) b was written, and to convey a warning to Lug son of Ethliu it was written respecting his wife lest she should be carried away from him into faeryland, to wit, seven b’s in one switch of birch: Thy wife will be seven times carried away from thee into faeryland or into another country, unless birch guard her.
On that account, moreover, b, birch, takes precedence, for it is in birch that Ogham was first written."
In the medieval kennings, the verses associated with Beith are:
Féocos foltchaín: "Withered foot with fine hair" (Word Ogham of Morann mic Moín)
Glaisem cnis: "Greyest of skin" (Word Ogham of Mac ind Óc)
Maise malach: "Beauty of the eyebrow" (Word Ogham of Culainn)
The symbolism here is as noted in The Druidry Handbook, by John Michael Greer (2006, p. 87-88). See if you can find all the symbols in this image:
BEITH (Pronounced "Beh"): "Being"
A few of beginnings and purification
Tree: Beith - Birch
Sound value: B
Color: Ban - a dull white like birchbark
Bird: Besan - a Pheasant
Animal: Bo- a Cow
Tool: Biaill - an Axe
Art: Bethumnacht - Livelihood (the basic skills of living)
Season: Alban Arthuan (Winter Solstice) to Imbolc (approx. Feb 2); Calendar attribution 24 Dec. to 20 Jan.
Upright divinatory meanings: "Beginnings, new possibilities, potentials; renewal and rebirth; a favorable sign in most matters, though there may be discomforts involved."
Reversed divinatory meanings: "Blind alleys, wasted effort; creative blockages; remaining fixated on the past or on things that have been lost; longing for the impossible."
Well, it may be past the season of Beith, but both of those divinatory meanings certainly apply to me currently!
I first drew the image by hand in pencil, then inked it by hand, scanned it, then colored and filtered in Photoshop.