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Intro to the Ogham

Intro to the Ogham

PostAuthor: Morgan » Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:30 pm

The Ogham alphabet consists of twenty letters to which a further five were added at a late stage in its development, probably later than the 8th century. The original twenty letters each consist of from one to five straight lines or notches intersecting a stem line. The earliest surviving Ogham inscriptions are carved on standing stones with the edge of the stone forming the stem line. These stones are found mainly in Ireland, although others have been found throughout the British Isles. The script on them usually spells out the name of an individual and they are thought to be boundary markers.

There is also clear evidence for the magical and divinatory use of the Ogham alphabet from the literature of medieval Ireland. It may be that such esoteric uses were influenced by contact with Rune-using Viking raiders and settlers who came to Ireland in increasingly large numbers from the 8th century onwards.

Historically the symbols were used for divination by the use of four Yew wands, possibly pentagonal in shape so an ogham symbol could be inscribed onto each side. The wands would always fall with one corner pointing upwards and this would be the symbol which was read. The position the sticks fell in may also have been an important factor.

More recently, the ogham alphabet has been used for divination by inscribing it onto small wooden staves or onto discs of wood. One symbol is added to each piece and they are used in a similar way to the runes.

The Ogham, or sacred Druidic alphabet, contained hidden secrets of magic and divination. Only the initiated could understand these occult meanings. The ancient Celts had a kinship with trees which is shown in this magical alphabet and in their Tree Calendar. Further proof of their respect for trees is in the old Celtic word for Oak (Duir) and the word Derwydd or Duirwydd (oak-seer).

The Celts envisioned the entire Universe in the form of a tree, whose roots grew deep into the ground and whose branches reached high into the Heavens. In time, the Celtic people eventually designated a tree to each Moon Phase in their calendar in accordance with its magical properties. Therefore, the... Celtic Zodiac is based upon the cycle of the Moon, with the year divided into the 13 lunar months established by the Druid religion.

The Druids believed that the human race originally descended from trees, each tree being endowed with its own particular mystical qualities. They encoded these mysteries in a secret shamanic alphabet known as the Ogham...the origin of which is ascribed to Ogma, the Celtic God of Poetry and Eloquence. It is said that Ogma (son of the Dagda) created the Ogham for the learned and wise to use for inscription. Originally intended to be read from the bottom upwards (or occasionally carved from right to left), Ogham (also often written as "ogam") is pronounced as "AHG-m" or simply as "OH-em." It served as an alphabet for one of the ancient Celtic languages and may have originally been adapted from a form of sign language. The current understanding is that the names of the twenty major letters are also the names of twenty trees which were sacred to the Druids. The Ogham may still be seen carved into stone monuments of the Druid Era and is thought to have been a means for the Druids to leave secret messages for one another. The Ogham is sometimes referred to as "Crane Knowledge," due to the fact that Cranes form letters with their legs as they fly. On the whole, the Celtic society was based upon equality and balance between the male and female...the female Druidesses being symbolized by the Dryads who lived in the sacred trees.

Each Celtic Tree/Zodiac Sign corresponds to a given tree, a letter of the Ogham alphabet, a Guardian Animal, a Celtic God and other items such as gemstones.

The trees of the Ogham alphabet were divided into three classifications, which had nothing to do with their physical form. They merely represented their order of importance to the Druids. Chieftains came first, followed by peasants and shrubs. Two symbols, the Grove and the Sea, are not actually trees; their inclusion points out the Druidic acknowledgments of the power of both the sea itself and a group of trees. The last five letters are called the Crane Bag and were given by the sea god Manannan.

Beth - Birch
Class: Peasant
Letter: B
Meaning: New Beginnings; Changes; Purification.

Luis - Rowan
Class: Peasant
Letter: L
Meaning: Controlling your life; Protection against control by others.

Fearn - Alder
Class: Chieftain
Letter: F, V
Meaning: Help in making choices; spiritual guidance and protection.

Saille - Willow
Class: Peasant
Letter: S
Meaning: Gaining balance in your life

Nuin - Ash
Class: Chieftain
Letter: N
Meaning: Locked into a chain of events; Feeling bound.

Huathe - Hawthorne
Class: Peasant
Letter: H
Meaning: Being held back for a period of time

Duir - Oak
Class: Chieftain
Letter: D
Meaning: Security; Strength

Tinne - Holly
Class: Peasant
Letter: T
Meaning: Energy and guidance fro problems to come

Coll - Hazel
Class: Chieftain
Letter: C, K
Meaning: Creative energies for work or projects.

Quert - Apple
Class: Shrub
Letter: Q
Meaning: A choice must be made

Muin - Vine
Class: Chieftain
Letter: M
Meaning: Inner development occurring, but take time for relaxation

Gort - Ivy
Class: Chieftain
Letter: G
Meaning: Take time to soul search or you will make a wrong decision.

Ngetal - Reed
Class: Shrub
Letter: NG
Meaning: Upsets or surprises

Straif - Blackthorn
Month: None
Colour: Purple
Class: Chieftain
Letter: SS, Z, ST
Meaning: Resentment; Confusion; Refusing to see the truth

Ruis - Elder
Month: Makeup days of the thirteenth Moon
Colour: Red
Class: Shrub
Letter: R
Meaning: End of a cycle or problem.

Ailim - Silver Fir
Month: None
Colour: Light Blue
Class: Shrub
Letter: A
Meaning: Learning from past mistakes; Take care in choices.

Ohn - Furze
Month: None
Colour: Yellow Gold
Class: Chieftain
Letter: O
Meaning: Information that could change your life

Ur - Heather and Mistletoe
Month: None
Colour: Purple
Class: Heather is Peasant; Mistletoe is Chieftain
Letter: U
Meaning: Healing and development on the spiritual level.

Eadha - White Poplar or Aspen
Month: None
Colour: Silver White
Class: Shrub
Letter: E
Meaning: Problems; Doubts; Fears.

Ioho - Yew
Month: None
Colour: Dark Green
Class: Chieftain
Letter: I, J, Y
Meaning: Complete change in life-direction or attitude.

Koad - Grove
Month: None
Colour: Many Shades of Green
Class: None
Letter: CH, KH, EA
Meaning: Wisdom gained by seeing past illusions.

Oir - Spindle
Month: None
Colour: White
Class: Peasant
Letter: TH, OI
Meaning: Finish obligations and tasks or your life cannot move forward.

Uilleand - Honeysuckle
Month: None
Colour: Yellow-white
Class: Peasant
Letter: P, PE, UI
Meaning: Proceed with caution.

Phagos - Beech
Month: None
Colour: Orange-brown
Class: Chieftain
Letter: PH, IO
Meaning: New experiences and information coming

Mor - the Sea
Month: None
Colour: Blue-green
Class: none
Letter: AE, X, XI
Meaning: Travel
ogham staves.jpg
ogham staves.jpg (10.29 KiB) Viewed 6799 times
ogham alphabet.jpg
ogham alphabet.jpg (8.36 KiB) Viewed 6799 times
Morgan )O(

May your summers and winters be short, springs be mild and autumn reaping plentiful.

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Re: Intro to the Ogham

PostAuthor: Helen » Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:14 pm

Does anyone here use the Ogham? I have tried making my own set of staves from the relevant woods, but even after the persoanl work I'm still not sure I feel they speak to me very clearly. Not sure what I expected though,perhaps to feel some tree energy when I used them?

There are also a few packs of Ogham cards (I can list if anyone is interested) and as a 'card person' I do enjoy using these, and the skill of the artists concerned.

What do other folks think?

Blessed Be
Always learning, as the wheel turns.
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Re: Intro to the Ogham

PostAuthor: Wildwood » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:26 am


After the comments I am now going to make I am going off to think about what I think about divination.
First I'm going to wonder about the real meaning of divination.
Second, I've looked into aspects of Runes casting and the Ogham. I've found the latter pretty difficult to get my mind round.

I'll come back to this.

Anyone else out there got any thoughts.


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