Gort (GORT), Ivy

The Letter

The Tree
Ivy ~ Finemain
Eleventh Consonant

Place on the Hand
The Second Joint of the Index Finger 

Color ~ Gorm ~ Blue

Stone ~ Serpentine

Mute Swan
Bird ~ Geis ~ Mute Swan

Goddesses ~ Bendis ~ Mor Righ Anu

Message ~ Tenacity, raw survival instinct enabling triumph over circumstances  

Note ~ High f

Planet ~ Ceres

Word Ogam ~ garden, growth, sweeter than grasses, counterpart of heaven

Flower essence ~ vine, wild oat, scleranthus (combined)

Ivy’s magical properties - gender, feminine, planet - Saturn, element - water, deities - Bacchus, Dionysus, Osiris -  powers - protection, healing, ritual uses - the thyrsus used in worshipping Bacchus was often wound round with ivy.  Carried by women for good luck, worn by brides for same reason.  Guards against negativity and disaster.  Also used in fidelity and love charms.  

There is fierce and determined power in Gort.  It gives the boar-like tenacity to apply the will to do difficult and intricate work.  The Ivy is a sign of development and transformation of the self.  It indicates you may soon be involved in a change in your business or educational life and there are perhaps gains to be had in connection with it.  However, the path may be fraught with pitfalls.  There may be those who are envious of your accomplishments.  Seek the best guidance in what you do.  The main challenge is not to get caught up in the tools of the transformation process. 

Remember that the tools are not the ends, but only the means to give rise to something emerging from the depths of your psyche.  Keep your focus on your true goals. 

Lesson of the Ivy
Ivy reminds us of the movement of the heavens and the way this is reflected on the earth.  It has the ability to bind all things together.  It can wander freely, linking tree to tree, or form dense thickets that block out the light and restrict passage.  Ivy brings shelter or overwhelming darkness and reminds us that where there is life, there is also death.  Ivy represents the wandering of the soul in its search for enlightenment and it carries a warning to be sure of the direction of your desires so that you avoid being ensnared by them.  True progress is made, however, when all the lessons of the preceding trees have been linked together with Ivy, in such a way that the light can still enter and no limb need break. 

Entwining Ivy represents the embracing and confining female principles of life. 
Through conception and birth, the male life force is given form by the female body, but in giving life substance so too does women bring death into being.

Ivy is sacred to Bendis, Mor Righ Anu, Osiris and Dionysus.  Dedicated to resurrection jointly with vine because they grow spirally.

An Ivy Bush – according to the Oxford English Dictionary stands for “a place of concealment or retirement.” 

Saturn’s Sacred Bird the Golden Crest Wren always built her nest in an Ivy Bush.
There is a well known revelry, celebrated in medieval English carols, between the Holly-boys and the Ivy-girls which symbolizes the battle of the sexes.  Another custom was to bind the last harvest sheaf in Ivy and call it the Ivy Girl.

The symbolism of the boar is used because the cycle falls during boar hunting season and the boar is the beast of death symbolizing the “Fall” or the beginning of death, of the Old Year.  But the Ivy’s serpentine spiraling signifies resurrection. Again, a reminder of the birth/death cycle of life.  

Sacred to numerous deities, Ivy is used to produce Ivy-ale, an extremely potent drink of the Middle Ages. Ivy leaves were chewed for their toxic effect in the Bacchanal revels celebrated at this season in Thrace and Thessaly; the intoxicated Bassarids, waved branches of Silver Fir - sacred to the birth goddess – wreathed in a spiral of yellow-berried Ivy.  The dark-green, shiny leaves of Ivy, being a five pointed star, made them especially sacred to the Great Goddess, connecting with the “mysterious” group of five British goddesses, the “deae matronae.” 

Ivy attracts the last bees of the year, enhancing its religious importance.  There having been numerous Bee-goddess cults. 

In this month, the Mute Swan, (Geis), whose colors of plumage, black legs, and red bill make it especially sacred to the White Goddess, prepares to follow her companion the Whistling Swan (bird from Autumnal Equinox – Eadha – Aspen) who is about to fly off with her young.  The smoke of weed-fires, the haze on the hills, and the skies before the coming rains, are all Blue (Gorm).

"I am a ruthless boar.
I am a fierce boar.
I fled as a bristly boar seen in a ravine. (for valor)
I am a thicket which holds the roebuck.
I have tasted joy.
I have strength born of ecstasy."

It says in "The White Goddess" on page 210, “October was the boar-hunting season, as it was also the revelry season of the ivy-wreathed Bassarids. The boar is the beast of death and the "fall" of the year begins in the month of the boar.”

But the Boar's descent into the Underworld is not purely a journey of destruction: because it is basically, in spite of any others roles, it may play, a creature of fertility, it plants within Death itself, the seeds of renewal. “Don’t forget that Cerridwen is often referred to as the White Sow...

“I am a ruthless boar”


I am a boar on this high place
In the first fresh frost
On autumn’s face;
The hunters call to sound the chase
But I am bold
I will run this race.

For many moons we roamed this land, Where others fell
I learned to stand;
The old and great join in the dance
Courage and cunning are my inheritance.

On the earth, in the air, Through the fire, by the water,
I am VALOR, the Ivy moon’s daughter.

© Chris Carol 1979