The Talking Forest Runes

The New Array:

A Seed is Planted

A general discussion of why the Talking Forest runes were first created and their design.

The budding of a novel divination system

Blossoming Elder Bushes, 2022, Kay Broome

If you're a pagan reading this, you are probably asking: "Why didn't you just use the Ogham?"

The Ogham Alphabet seen below, is a set of 20 symbols deemed to represent 20 trees and plants of Celtic runic lore. However many scholars believe that only five of these runes — Birch, Alder, Willow, Oak and Hazel — represent actual trees. In fact, it appears that medieval Christian monks attributed tree species to each rune as a sort of mnemonic device. Instead the Ogham, a worthy and intriguing system in its own right, deals more with Celtic mythology and the various mystical realms referenced therein.

The Ogham Runes

The Ogham Runes - Open Source

In addition, many of the trees I know and love and towards which I felt a special bond, were also missing from the set. Absent were many iconic species such as cherry, elm and pine — all having their special places in the environment and in the myths and legends of the human psyche.

More importantly, the Ogham did not define for me the soul of each plant, its intrinsic treeness.

Let me clarify. Which of the following evokes an apple tree?

Comparative Ogham & Talking Forest© Apple (KB)

Which below is the mighty Oak?

Comparative Ogham & Talking Forest© Oak (KB)

The answer is both. But here we see that even when the Ogham figures on the left, actually do represent a specific tree species, as in the case of Duir, the oak rune, they don't explicitly resemble it. The most arboreal analogy we can get from these Ogham sigils is of a tree limb with some branches on it. But the physical traits and the character of the tree are missing. It is this that made me surmise that the Ogham array originally did not solely predicate trees. For if it were thus, the sigils would have been endowed with more obviously arboreal traits. And the whole plant would have been represented, not just a few twigs.

In quoting from my book The Talking Forest: Tree Runes for a New Millennium, I created my runes with three salient factors in mind:

  • the representative tree's characteristic shape (columnar, vine-like or ample and broad-branched, etc.);

  • the botanical family to which the tree belonged (e.g., birch or rose family); and

  • the tree's function in the natural environment and in human culture (for example, a fruit tree or a timber tree).

From these precepts I created the following set of runes.

Talking Forest Runes © 2009, Kay Broome

To find out more about this novel array, you can purchase my book The Talking Forest on Amazon. I hope these runes will find a place in your heart as they have in mine.

A Note on Purchasing the Runes

I’ve had queries from readers asking where they can purchase the runes. Unfortunately, unless you're an established author, it is extremely difficult to find a publishing house. Since this is my first book, I am self-published and therefore don’t have the means to mass-produce the runes.

One of the best book promotion tools is lots of enthusiastic reviews. If you've read The Talking Forest and loved it, please plug it on Amazon U.S., Amazon Canada, other book review sites, or even on your own blog. The more of these I get, the more ammunition I have to find a potential publisher who can then print a second edition of the Talking Forest along with a ready-made set of runes. Until then, readers can easily make their own set of personal runes. I give pointers on how to do that in my book.