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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology


The Tree alphabet, allegedly of Celtic origins, described by Robert Graves in 'The White Goddess' and based on the writings of Roderick O'Flaherty in Ogygia.

The alphabet consists of five vowels and thirteen consonants, each of which, as in the modern Irish alphabet, is given the name of a tree.

Each tree was given mystical associations and was used as the basis of a Runic alphabet intended to convey certain (unspecified) imagery.   Thus the first letter B stands for Beth, the Irish name for Birch; the second letter L is Luis, the Rowan; N stands for Nion, the Ash, and so on.

It is said to be a relic of Druid oral tradition when the hand was used as a kind of Esoteric signalling apparatus (not unlike the modern deaf-and-dumb sign language).

Today Beth-Luis-Nion is used almost exclusively for Divination purposes.

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One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc
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