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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Modern Omens

  This is one of those blogs that's going to seem completely obvious to some of you, but I have found that for many pagans and polytheists we get so caught up in our idea of our spirituality being a certain way - read: primitive - that we can be a bit blind to some things. Like the way that modern life and technology intersect with ancient Gods and spirits, for example. Recently a friend of mine had posted a blog "All the Small Things" where he mentions what he calls Pandora-jacking, or a deity using the Pandora music system to convey messages. This got me thinking of how we often focus so much on ideas of spirit communication that are based on older methods - dreams, oracles, card decks, natural omens - that we may ignore other methods just because we are biased against anything more high tech. So I thought I'd compile a list of things that are modern means of communicating with deities and spirits that I use or am familiar with that other people might consider or find useful:

  1. Music - Daniel mentions 'Pandora jacking' in his blog but I've seen this happen through multiple means, including the radio and my MP3 player. The idea is that the songs and song lyrics which play seemingly at random actually provide insight or messages. For example, when I am asking Macha for an omen and Sara Bareilles's song Brave comes on simultaneously (this has happened so often I actually think of it as Macha's song now). 
  2. The Television as Oracle - basically the same idea as music except with the television. 
  3. Omens and portents, oh my - most pagans will tell you to keep your eye out for natural omens like animals or weather phenomena, but I have found that omens can come in a variety of forms, some of them quite unexpected. I'll never forget driving on the highway one day, worrying about how to handle a problem relating to a Norse spirituality issue, when a truck passed me with the words written large on the side 'Need a hand? Call Odin today!' (it was a moving service named Odin, I kid you not). 
  4. Synchronicity - This is one of my personal big ones and I especially pay attention to it on social media. Repeated messages with the same theme, recurrences of the same animal, deity, or concepts, or seeing a message relating to something I had just been talking or thinking about can all be significant. 
  5. Numbers - numerology isn't my thing, but I have many friends who swear by the significance of seeing the same numbers repeated. For instance if its always a certain pattern of numbers when you look at the clock. 
  6. High tech bibliomancy - with this method instead of flipping to a random page in a book for insight you would do the same thing on a kindle or other e-reader. It works the same way, but using modern technology. 
  7. Tech glitches that aren't - when our technology, be it phone, pc, or anything else seems to malfunction but in such a way that it provides a repeated message. For example a phone ringtone resetting itself to something that has a specific meaning to you
Do any of you have other examples of modern omens?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why I don't think Danu is Anu

  So something that comes up fairly regularly is the question of whether Danu and Anu are the same goddess or two distinct individuals*.
  I want to say up front that this is one of those fun things that scholars disagree about so what follows is not meant to be conclusive but merely reflect my opinion and the evidence I base that opinion on.
  I tend to believe that Anu and Danu are different goddesses and this is why:
1. The names have different meanings. Danu is related to the word for flow while Anu has a meaning related to wealth or abundance. We also see cognates to each as distinct individuals in other Celtic cultures like the Welsh Don and Anna (although in fairness Don and Anna are also sometimes conflated)
2. Although many people try to argue that Danu is actually a confusion of Dea Anu* or De Anu there are several problems to my mind with this. Firstly it assumes that the pagan Irish and the monks writing down the stories were unfamiliar enough with their own language that they would have conflated de Anand into Danand (and then not realized this was a new deity), which I'm very doubtful about. Old Irish is not pronounced exactly as modern Irish is, for one thing, but even if it was I find it hard to believe that native speakers would have confused JAY AHN-ahn for DAHN-ahn as it requires not only dropping a vowel but also shifting and dropping a stressed syllable and changing how the initial 'd' is pronounced entirely.
3. One main example given to support the above theory is that both Danu and Anu have sites named after their paps (no really) and that this somehow suggests they were the same Goddess and the sites had the same name which over time was corrupted into two different versions. However as with the above example the problem is that in Older forms of Irish the two place names are not sufficiently similar in my opinion. Keating in his Foras Feasa ar Eirinn refers to the site attributed to Danu as "Dá Chích Dhanann" and the Onomasticon Goedelicum locorum et tribuum Hiberniae et Scotiae calls it "Dá Chich Danainne" while the Sanas Cormac refers to Anu's site as "Dā Chīch nAnund". However even if we accept that the name of this single location was incorrectly attributed to both goddesses instead of one, that doesn't prove they themselves are a single deity. Effectively the argument is that the eclpising of Danann to nDanann and of Anann to nAnann render the names identical; however this occurs only in situations where the names are eclpised, generally in the possessive. This also presupposes a sort of chicken-and-egg argument where the name of the location would have to have somehow overshadowed or obscured the deity it was named for to a degree that the local populace forgot whether it was Anu's breasts or Danu's. I find that idea highly suspect.
4. Which leads me to the main reason I disagree with the conflation of these two deities - we do have examples of each name occurring separately uneclipsed. In the Lebor Gabala Erenn we are told that Anand is the personal name of the Morrigan but the Morrigan and Danand appear together, for example, in the same redaction of that text, only a dozen verses apart:
"Ernmas had other three daughters, Badb and Macha and Morrigu, whose name was Anand"
then, shortly after in a list of women of the Tuatha de Danann:
"Danann, mother of the gods. Badb and Macha, greatness of wealth, Morrigu"
Although I know that people question the veracity of the LGE, particularly between redactions, I find it hard to credit that the authors would identify the two goddesses as different in the same version of the same text if it was understood in oral tradition that they were one being. While we can certainly criticize the written texts on several levels to give validity to the argument that Anu and Danu are the same goddess conflated in written texts we must first believe that the examples of them as individual goddess given in uneclipsed versions of their names are not reflecting genuine oral tradition, and I am just too skeptical of that to believe it. We would have to believe that people recording stories they had heard all their lives were making these mistakes, and I just can't credit that, personally. It smacks too much of the hubris of modern times saying that our ancestors were more foolish and stupid than we and unable to realize what we find obvious relating to things in their native language and with their own native culture.

I cannot say that I am right and those who believe differently are wrong, but that is what I believe and why I believe it.

* Dea Anu or De Anu meaning 'goddess Anu'. This is also problematic as goddess is usually given in Old Irish as bande not de
* The names appear in the texts as Danand and Anand and later as Danann and Anann. These are both the genetive forms, however the assumed nominatives would be Danu and Anu which are the way they often appear in modern paganism.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Bullets, the Morrigan, and My Perspective

So another Pantheacon has come and gone and the Morrigan community is currently abuzz with our very own controversy. People are blogging about it and there is quite a bit of hyperbole winging around on both sides. I'm not going to link to any of the other blogs, just google 'bullets for the Morrigan' and you can start wading through the results.

I really debated weighing in on this one or not myself, but it seems like - from what I'm seeing - the argument is really less about what its okay to offer the Morrigan and more about people's own personal politics and sensibilities. And it seems wrong to me to shift things away from the goddess being offered to, what she would want, and why, and instead making it about what I as a human being am personally comfortable or uncomfortable with and agendas that I have. I already see this too often with people trying to minimize the Morrigan's war and incitement aspects because they make those people uncomfortable. We can't just declaw our Gods when they seem too scary without losing a vital aspect of who and what those gods are.

Certainly I do think there are some things that a specific deity wants and doesn't want. The Gods have preferences and dislikes in my experience, and I do think it behooves those of us who honor them to at least try to learn what they like. I also think that sometimes an individual has their own pattern of what to offer or not offer to a specific deity that is just that - personal. I've found Nuada likes a nice offering of Gentleman Jack for example and I have friends who like to offer the Morrigan Devil's Cut - and I also know people that are adamant about not offering the Gods or spirits alcohol. When it comes to offerings many times it really comes down to personal choice, but we need to be really careful not to think that our own choices are by necessity the will of the Gods - or to ignore what is historic precedent and clearly has been considered the will of the Gods in the past. Its a fine balancing act.

Lets be blunt here - gun control is a huge issue in the United States, and bullets to many people represent gun violence. Its pretty obvious that some people hear the idea of offering bullets to the Morrigan and immediately relate those bullets to the worst that a gun can do. And its equally obvious that to other people those same bullets symbolize something entirely different: freedom, food, and security. Because to some people bullets don't represent violence but rather a person's ability to defend themselves and their family or to hunt for their own food. And you know what? Neither side is right or wrong because bullets are all of those things. This is not an issue that is black or white and not an issue that can be easily boiled down to one or the other. Guns can be good and guns can be bad, just as any weapon can be good or bad.

And also to be clear, I am neither pro or anti gun. I do think America needs stricter gun control, because I don't think guns should be easier to get and keep than a driver's license or narcotics. Yes there will always be criminals doing criminal things with guns and no law will stop that but the same can be said for all criminal behavior and that doesn't mean we should chuck the whole idea of laws. Guns require training to use safely, and some people shouldn't have them. But I also think that guns are necessary and helpful and should be available. People do still hunt for food, people do use them for self defense, and plenty of people use them responsibly and safely. I don't personally own a gun nor have I ever even held one so my opinion isn't based on personal bias.

Now as to the actual concept of offering bullets to the Morrigan....
I think that the context of why its being done is the real sticking point. What does that bullet represent to you? Why are you offering it? Is it a symbol of personal sovereignty? Of being a warrior*? Of supporting your family? Are you being deployed and you want to offer it in a ritual asking that She protect you during your service? Did you just return and you're offering it in thanksgiving? Are you heading out to hunt and you're offering it for success? Has a war or battle ended and you are offering it in thanks for peace?
All of these would seem legitimate to me, based on historic precedent of sword offerings and votive offerings, and on my own modern understanding of offerings. If it really is just being done out of machismo - well good luck with that. The Morrigan isn't known to be a huge fan of excessive egos. I might not see offering bullets as something to be done on a regular basis, but perhaps, like offering a sword, it could be something done for exceptional circumstances.

Bullets today have a complex and dichotomous symbolism in our society. To many people they are positive symbols of freedom and sustenance. To many other people they are simply items that represent death and suffering. But I would point out that while we today fetishize and Romanticize swords a thousand years ago a sword was a weapon whose only purpose was to kill - ideally when necessary but in the wrong hands it could be used to kill indiscriminately. Swords, unlike guns or bows, cannot be used to hunt for food. Swords have no other purpose except as weapons against people, and an unarmed person stand little chance against a trained person with a sword. Yet swords have a long long history of being given as offerings and swords are given places of honor on many pagan altars today. We see swords as powerful and honorable weapons, even though their history is  blood soaked.

Stop and really think about who the Morrigan was and is, and why we give swords to Her, and I think you'll better understand why some people give bullets.


*If you are active duty military then I think that seeing a bullet as a symbol of being a warrior has a lot of merit.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nuances of the words "Witchcraft" and "Witch" in Old Irish

 How's that for a boring blog title?
 Seriously though, one of the reasons that I tend to be such  strong advocate for an omniglot approach or at least attempting to have a basic understanding of terms in other languages that relate to our practices is that often there are nuances within those terms that are - quite literally - lost in translation. And we shape our understanding, our conceptualization, of things based on our own reference language. In psychology this is called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and it says that language shapes our thoughts and behaviors in line with the culture of that language.
   To give you an example, in English when we think about colors we think of shades on a spectrum of light, so that 'red' is certain frequency usually appearing as a fairly standard red which we then modify with words like 'light' or 'dark' (I'm speaking generally here of course). In Irish on the other hand color is not an abstract concept but a concrete one referring to actual physical colors and this gives us multiple words translated as the same color which aren't actually the same. Uaine is green but its a vivid, bright green, while glas is also green but can be a grey-green or sea green. Dearg is red, but so is rua; dearg being bright rua being more a natural hue. And in old Irish there are an array of words for red that all refer to different shades of blood or states of blood. My point here is that the languages themselves have different ways of understanding something as basic as the concept of colors.
   In English we have the word witch and it gets a lot of play in modern paganism. And I do mean a lot. When you read translations of Irish myths and texts you'll run across witches and references to witchcraft but here's where the language issue comes in because what is being translated as 'witchcraft' in English may have been one of at least 8 different words in Sengoidelc: ammaitecht, diabultacht, dolbud, gliccus, pisoca, sidaigecht, tuaichlecht, tuaithe. Each of these has distinct nuances and undertones that are important in context. I'm going to take a look at each term one by one so you can see what I mean. I'm also going to offer some modern equivalents, or at least my opinion on what modern equivalents might be, to help clarify.
  ~ Ammaitecht - defined by the eDIL as "a. profession or activity of an ammait, witchcraft, evil influence; b. foolishness". An ammait is defined as "a woman with supernatural powers, a witch, hag, spectre; a Fury" and also "a foolish woman". Interestingly however an ammait is also equated with a bandrui or female druid, meaning the two terms were seen as the same. This might explain why ammait and ammaitecht are also connected to foolishness as after the conversion period the Druids lost much status and were reduced in the law texts to the equals of fools*. So ammait and ammaitecht are associated with female Druids, and ammaitecht is seen as a profession.
 ~  Diabultacht - defined as "witchcraft, enchantment" this is pretty obviously based off the Latin loan word Diabul (Latin - diabolus) meaning the Devil. Indeed in the eDIL this type of magic is described as 'melancholia' or deep sadness. This is the sort of witchcraft that is classically associated with witches in a Christian framework, who sell their souls to the Devil and cause misery in other people. A more accurate definition from a pagan perspective might be diabolism,
  ~ Dolbud - defined as witchcraft or sorcery, the word also means "invention, formation, the act of forming". The example sentences used in the eDIL come from the Gaelic Journal: Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge and associate this type of witchcraft with the magic of forming geasa, or ritual taboos. This type of witchcraft then is focused on manifestation. 
  ~ Gliccus - defined as witchcraft or sorcery, gliccus also means cleverness, skill, and ingenuity. 
  ~ Pisoca - also piseoga, defined as witchcraft, sorcery, or magic, specifically the use of charms and spells. Bean phiseogach is translated as witch in English but clearly has the implication of a woman who uses charms and spells in particular. Probably closest to what modern pagans understand a witch to be. 
~ Sidaigecht - defined as witchcraft or magic. However this one is clearly more complex than just that definition. The base word "sidaig" refers to a dweller in a fairy hill, or in other words a fairy so this is rather particularly the magic of the sidhe. One might refer to this as fairy magic for better accuracy rather than witchcraft as we understand it.
 ~ Tuaichlecht - defined as "cunning, witchcraft" tuaichlecht is derived from the word for cunning 'tuaichles' and we see it in examples like "le draidhecht ocus tuaichlecht" (of magic and witchcraft). A better translation for this one based on a modern pagan understanding might be "cunningcraft" in the sense of the art of the cunningman or woman.
 ~ Tuaithe - defined as witchcraft or sorcery and related to the word tuath, meaning "northward, turning nothward, perverse, wicked". Tuaithe is a complex word that is associated with both the Good Folk (tuath-geinte) as well as witches (tuaithech or bantuaithech), and to make things more complex although the word tuath has strong negative associations bantuaithech is also defined as 'wise woman' and tuaithech by itself only means "a person with magic powers". We might tentatively conclude then that this particular type of witchcraft is associated with the Otherworld and can be sinister in nature or benevolent, rather like the sidhe themselves*.

    Looking at words for witch we have:
    ammait or benammait - both are feminine and as discussed above besides meaning witch are also  equated to a female Druid.
    badb - female only, originally the name of a War Goddess, later used for spectres, and eventually for human witches.
     ban-cumachtach - female, literally 'woman with magical powers'
     ban-cumachtach sithe - female - 'fairy witch'
     bean phiseogach - female, witch
     cailleach - female, hag, witch, crone
     cumachtach sithe - male, fairy witch
    doilbhtheach - male, "person with magical powers", practitioner of dolbud, witchcraft of manifestation (usually translated as sorcerer*)
    lucht piseog - 'sorcerers' but more literally 'people of witchcraft'
    tuathaid/tuaithech - male, person with supernatural power, witch ~ bantuathaid/bantuaithech - female, same as tuaithech, also defined as 'wise woman'




*We see a similar pattern of reducing the power of a term and its associated being with the word "Badb" which was the name of a Goddess and later became a word for a human witch. See Fergus Kelly's Guide To Early Irish Law for a more detailed discussion of the legal position of Druids in the law texts and of women who practiced magic.
*Tuaithe is the witchcraft that I practice so I may be a bit biased in how I perceive its definition.
 * in several cases the exact same thing being practiced by a woman will have her being called a witch in translation, but a man will be called a sorcerer, as we see with bean phiseogach and lucht piseogach. The only change between the terms is the gender of the practitioner(s).

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