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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Expanded Ogham Guide














The Ogham that we are most familiar with in a modern context is the Tree Ogham which associates each letter of the Ogham alphabet with a specific tree. However there are actually many different types of Ogham associations including River Ogham, for example, and Pig Ogham. Each one is layered, both a mnemonic device which associates the letter with a word that begins with that letter and also a mystical system whereby each association has deeper significance related to the ultimate meaning of the symbol. For those seeking to use Ogham, especially magically or for divination, having an understanding of more than just the Tree Ogham is important. There are several good books on the market, including Erynn Rowan Laurie's book Ogam Weaving Word Wisdom, Steven Blamires' Celtic Tree Mysteries, John-Paul Patton's The Poet's Ogam and Skip Ellison's book Ogham: the secret language of the Druids. In this blog I would like to offer an expanded guide to the symbols and some of the basic associations from several of the Oghams. It's important to note that while the words do not seem related in English in the original Irish they all alliterate, beginning with the same letter as their corresponding Ogham letter - this is highly significant and needs to be kept in mind. To help the reader with this I am including the Old Irish names and words as much as possible.



English letter: B  
Ogham name: Beithe - pronounced: Beh     
Literally "birch tree": 
Tree Ogham - birch
The Word Ogham describes it as "faded trunk and fair hair"
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'most silvery of the skin
The Scholar's Primer tells us that Beithe is the first letter because it was the first ever written, used 7 times in a row to warn the God Lugh that his wife was in danger.
Bird Ogham - pheasant (besan)
Color Ogham - white (ban)
Skill Ogham - livelihood (bethamnas)
Key words for divination use: new beginnings, cleansing, protection


  
   English letter: L  
Ogham name: Luis - pronounced Looh-sh   
 Possibly from 'lus' meaning herb. 
In tree ogham represents the Rowan, "coarthann" or elm: 
The Word Ogham calls it 'delight of eye, to wit the flame'
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'friend of cattle...for dear to the cattle is the elm for its bloom and for down'
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'Delight of eye is mountain-ash, i.e., rowan, owing to the beauty of its berries'
Bird Ogham - duck (lachu)
Color Ogham - grey (liath)
Skill Ogham - pilotage (lúamnacht)
Key words for divination use: enchantment, mysticism, protection against magic                   


English letter: F  
  Ogham name: Fearn - Pronounced Fee-yarn   
 In the Tree Ogham it is the alder tree, Old Irish "fern", modern "fearnog": 
The Word Ogham calls it 'shield of warrior-bands'
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'guarding of milk...for of it [alder] are made the vessels containing the milk'  
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'The van of the Warrior-bands, that is, alder, for thereof are the shields'
Bird Ogham - seagull (faelinn)
Color Ogham - blood red (flann)
Skill Ogham - poetry (filidecht) 
Key words for divination: support, protection during attack. Often associated with ravens and divination.   



English letter: S  
 Ogham name: Saille - Pronounced Sall-yuh   
 In the Tree Ogham it is the willow tree, Old Irish "sail": 
The Word Ogham calls it 'hue of the lifeless'
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'activity of the bees' 
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'The colour of a lifeless one, i.e., it has no colour, i.e., owing to the resemblance of its hue to a dead person'
Bird Ogham - hawk (sebac)
Color Ogham - 'fine-colored' (sodath)
Art Ogham - craft of a wright (saírsecht)
Key words for divination: healing, making plans, moving forward.



 English letter: N  
Ogham name: Nin - pronounced Nin   
 Possibly "weaver's beam".
 In modern understanding it is associated with the Ash, "fuinseag" but in the Tree Ogham it is said to be "maw of spear, or nettles in the woods
The Word Ogham calls it 'checking of peace; it is the maw of a weaver's beam as applied to wood, a sign of peace is that'
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this ' fight of women'
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'A check on peace is nin, viz., ash, for of it are made the spear-shafts by which the peace is broken'
Bird Ogham - snipe (naescu)
Color Ogham - clear (necht)
Skill Ogham - notary work (notairecht)
Key words for divination: peace, creation, stability. A clear path. Bring things together.



 English letter: H  
Ogham name: Huath - pronounced Oo-uh  
 Literally terror or phantom.       
 In the tree Ogham represented by the Hawthorn, "sceach" a fairy tree: 
The Word Ogham calls it 'a pack of wolves, for a terror to anyone is a pack of wolves
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'blanching of face, fear' 
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'A meet of hounds is huath, viz. white-thorn; or because it is formidable owing to its thorns.'
Bird Ogham - night raven ? (hadaig)
Color Ogham - 'terrible' ? (huath)
Art Ogham - trisyllabic poetry (hairchetal)
 Key words for divination: the unknown, fear of the unseen, transition



English letter: D  
Ogham name: Duir - pronounced Doo-ihr   
 The oak "dair": 
The Word Ogham calls it 'highest of bushes'
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'carpenter's work
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'Higher than bushes is an oak.'
Bird Ogham - wren (droen)
Color Ogham - black (dub)
Skill Ogham - wizardy (draiocht)
Key words for divination: wisdom, strength, protection, growth.



English letter: T  
Ogham name: Tinne - pronounced Tihn-nyeh   Literally means metal rod.
 In the tree ogham associated with the Holly "cuileann" or elderberry: 
It is not found in the Word Ogham
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'fires of coal
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'holly, a third of a wheel is holly, that is, because holly is one of the three timbers of the chariot-wheel'
Bird Ogham -  starling (truith)
Color Ogham - dark grey (temen)
Skill Ogham - turning (?)
Key words for divination: fighting, contention, weapons, fire, and smithcraft



English letter: C 
Ogham name : Coll - pronounced Kohl 
In the Tree Ogham it is hazel:
In the Word Ogham:  'fairest of trees, owing to its beauty in woods'
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'friend of cracking
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'Fair wood, that is, hazel, i.e., every one is eating of its nuts.'
Bird Ogham - not listed
Color Ogham - reddish-brown (cron)
Skill Ogham - harp playing (cruittirecht)
Key words for divination: divination, magic, and enchantment, knowledge. Also relates to wealth.




English letter: Q  
Ogham name Quert, alt. Cert - pronounced Kehrt  
Means "rags". In modern understanding this is apple "ull"; 
the Tree Ogham gives three options - holly, rowan, or aspen: 
The Word Ogham calls it 'shelter of a hind. [and] death sense, it is then his sense comes to him when he goes to his death, that is an apple tree'. By this account it is associated with lunatics, deer, death, and apple trees.
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'force of the man
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'Shelter of a boiscill, that is, a wild hind is queirt, i.e., an apple tree'
Bird Ogham -  hen (cerc)
Color Ogham - dark (cíar)
Art Ogham - fluting (cuislennach)
Key words for divination: healing, restoration, renewal, nourishment



English letter: M   
Ogham name: Muin  - pronounced Mwin 
 Literally means "neck" or "back".
 In the tree ogham it stands for the vine "funiuin":
 The Word Ogham calls it 'strongest of effort, back of a man or ox'
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'condition of slaughter
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'Highest of beauty is muin, that is, because it grows aloft, that is, a vine-tree'
Bird Ogham -  titmouse (mintan)
Color Ogham - speckled (mbracht)
Skill Ogham - soldiering (míletacht)
Key words for divination: release, compromises, focus, determination, confrontation, vengeance (basically think the good and bad sides of wine)

English letter G
Ogham name: Gort - pronounced Guhrt
 Literally "field". In the tree ogham it is "cornfield" but is understood as the ivy, "eidhnean":
The Word Ogham calls it 'sweeter than grasses. When it is in the blade sweeter than any grass is that grass, to wit, the cornfield'.
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'Greener than pastures is ivy'
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says simply 'ivy'
Bird Ogham - swan (geis)
Color Ogham - blue (gorm)
Skill Ogham - smithwork (goibnecht)

Key words for divination: beauty, love, friendship, fidelity



English letter: nG  
 Ogham name nGetal - pronounced Neh-tahl  Literally "wounding". 
Associated with the broom plant or reed "giolcach" in Tree Ogham: 
The Word Ogham calls it 'the physician's strength' because of its association with battle and wounding and also calls it 'robe of physicians
Not found in the Alphabet of Mac Ind Oc. 
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'A physician's strength is broom, to wit, broom or fern'
Bird Ogham - goose (ngeigh)
Color Ogham - green (nglas) 
Skill Ogham - arranging (glóṡnáithe ?)
Key words for divination: separation, warning, courage, direct action



English letter: Str  
Ogham name: Straif - pronounced Strahf   
Sraib literally "sulfur"; straif is explained in some later glossaries as meaning 'Blackthorn sloe'. 
In the tree ogham it is the willowbrake and in modern terms is understood as the blackthorn "draighean":
The Word Ogham calls it 'strongest of red' and associates it with Blackthorn sloes. 
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'increasing of secrets
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'The hedge of a stream is sraibh, that is, black-thorn'
Bird Ogham - thrush (stmolach)
Color Ogham - bright (sorcha)
Skill Ogham - deer-stalking (sreghuindeacht)
Key words for divination: discernment, cunning, focused protection, the thorn, inner strength, boundaries



English letter: R  
Ogham name: Ruis - pronounced Roosh    Literally "redness".
 In tree ogham it represents the elder tree, "trom": 
The Word Ogham calls it 'intensest of blushes, from the reddening or shame according to fact'. 
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'redness of faces; sap of the rose which causes the redness of faces so that blushing is in them
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'The redness of shame is ruis, i.e., elder'
Bird Ogham -  small rook (rocnat)
Color Ogham - red (ruadh)
Skill Ogham - feast giving (rannach)
Key words for divination: anger, blushing (ie loss of face, embarrassment), endings, completion, be realistic in order to succeed


English letter; A   
Ogham name; Ailm - pronounced  Al-ihm  
The word and its meaning is uncertain. 
In Tree Ogham it represents the fir or pine, "giuis": 
The Word Ogham calls it 'loudest of groaning'
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc calls it 'beginning of an answer
The Scholar's Primer tells us only that ailm is the fir or pine
Bird Ogham - lapwing (aidhircleog)
Color Ogham - piebald (alad) 
Skill Ogham - sovereignty (airechas)
Key words for divination: hard work, effort. The need for caution. Integrity and good judgment are key.



English letter: O  
Ogham name: Onn - pronounced On   
 Old Irish for "ash tree" or "stone".
 In Tree Ogham this is given as "furze or ash" but is understood now as gorse, "aitenn": 
The Word Ogham calls it 'helper of horses' and 'equally wounding
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this of it 'smoothest of work' 
The Scholar's Primer tells us only that this is the furze
Bird Ogham - dun colored bird? (odoroscrach)
Color Ogham - dun (odor)
Skill Ogham - literally Ogham writing, euphemistically called 'harvesting' (ogmóracht)
Key words for divination: take action, movement, success, perseverance, relief



English letter: U   
Ogham name: Uir - pronounced Oor 
  Literally "earth". 
Described in the Tree Ogham as "thorn" but currently understood as heather, "fraoch": 
The Word Ogham says of it 'in cold dwellings
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'growing of plants; the soil of the earth
The Scholar's Primer tells us only that ur is heath
Bird Ogham - lark (uiseog)
Color Ogham - resinous (usgdha)
Skill Ogham - brasswork (umaidecht)
Key words for divination: embrace your talents, plant now to harvest later, effort brings reward with patience




English letter: E 
 Ogham name: Edad - pronounced Ehd-ahd    The word and meaning are unknown. 
In the Tree Ogham it is the yew, now understood as the aspen, "crithach": 
The Word Ogham calls it 'distinguished wood'
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'synonym for a friend
The Scholar's Primer tells us: 'that is, ed uath, horrible grief'
Bird Ogham - swan (ela)
Color Ogham - dark red (erc)
Skill Ogham - fowling (énairecht)
Key words for divination: endings, death, let go of what you've outgrown. Calm consideration. Trust in your ability to endure.



English letter: I  
Ogham name: Idad - pronounced Eed-ahd   
 the word and meaning are unknown. Associated with the yew, "iur", in the tree ogham it is simply called a 'service tree': 
The Word Ogham calls it 'oldest of woods, that is the yew
The Alphabet Ogham of Mac Ind Oc says this 'most withered of wood
The Scholars Primer tells us only that this is the yew. 
Bird Ogham - ? (illait)
Color Ogham - very white (irfind)
Skill Ogham - fishing or yew work (íascairecht) or (ibróracht)
Key words for divination: see the big picture. Seek experience, know when to act and when not act. Bide your time. Don't avoid problems.


References
Calder, G., (1917) Auraicept na n-Éces: The Scholar's Primer.   http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/scholar_primer.html
 http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/ogham.html

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