The Celtic alphabet is known as Ogham (pronounced "Oh-m" or "Oh-wam") and was created by the Celtic god of
literature and eloquence, Ogma. He was known as "honey mouthed" and "eloquent" and has been linked with the Gaulish God Ogmios.
In the Book of Ballymote, the invention of Ogham was achieved when "Ogma Sun-Face raised four pillars of equal length", and
it was upon these pillars that the characters of the letters were etched. The primary manuscript sources for information on
Ogham are The Scholars Primer (Auraicept Na nEces), Values of the Forfeda (De Duilib Feda na Forfid), and the Book of Ogham
There are 369 verified examples of Ogham writing surviving today. These exist in the form of gallán (standing
stones) concentrated in Ireland but scattered across Scotland, the Isle of Man, South Wales, Devonshire, and as far afield
as Silchester in Italy. Similar markings, dating to 500 BC, have been found on standing stones in Spain and Portugal. The
discovery of similar carvings in the state of West Virginia in the United States, has caused some speculation that the Celts
may have come to the New World as early as 100 BC.
There are numerous accounts in the ancient literature which suggests that Ogham was a type of writing and
signalling that was used only by the bards , druids and warriors. The druid could use the ridge of his nose or arm and stroke
across it in different ways with his fingers to denote the different symbols. One Ogham symbol could mean many different whole
words for example 'B' meant Birch, Beginning, White, Pheasant(Besan), Birth, Fertility as well as others. The type of object
it was carved into had symbolism also. Such as if it was carved into Alder, it was a "bad" omen, thus it was used for funerary
measuring and was much feared.
The most famous Ogham system today is the Tree Ogham, which was split up into: Eight Chieftain trees, eight
peasant trees and eight shrub trees. The letters are constructed using a combination of lines placed adjacent to or crossing
a midline. Vowels were sometimes described as a combination of dots. The midline was, most often, the edge of the object on
which the inscription was carved, this is called a 'Druim' which means ridge or spine. An alphabet of twenty-five characters
used for stone and wood inscriptions in Celtic Britain and Ireland. An alphabet of twenty characters reportedly used for divination
and hand-signing in paganism. Each of the Ogham's twenty letters bears the name of a tree-- A: 'Ailim' (Elm), B: 'Bithe' (Birch),
C: 'Coll' (Hazel), for example.
The Ogham alphabet is read up and down on megaliths and boundary markers or horizontally left to right in
Using The Ogham for divination
The Ogham (pronounced owam) alphabet, like the Futhark alphabet, contains a great amount of hidden significance.
Each letter is a month in the lunar year, and has a color and a meaning associated with it. Each letter, represented by a
tree, also has a classification to show the importance of that tree. This classification, of chieftan, peasant, or shrub,
has little or nothng to do with he meaning. Two symbols, the Grove and the Sea, have no classification, because the Druids
knew these things to be powerful in their own right.
To divine the future with the alphabet, mark one symbols each
on one side of a number of flat sticks. You can also mark cards, and divine in a method similar to the Tarot. Chose seven
of these sticks without looking. Think of your question, holding the sticks in both hands, then toss them softly to the ground
in front of you. The sticks closest to you mark the present, and those farther away the future. If two sticks touch, they
effect each other directly.
As a side note, this alphabet can be used as a sort of "sign-language", since most symbols
are made by the crossing of a line by a number of others, rapid hand gestures can be used to spell out words, or the meanings
can be used to provide faster communication.
Here are the letters and meaning of the Ogham alphabet. They are all written
along a single vertical line. Most of the letters are simple, being a few lies crossing the center, in the same way (i.e.,
all straight across), but the Crane Bag, the last five letters, are more complex.
B - Beth - Birch
Meaning: New beginnings; changes; purification.
Written: A single bar straight to the right of the
L - Luis - Rowan
Color: Grey & Red
Meaning: Controlling your life, protection against such by others.
Written: Two bars
straight to the right.
F,V - Fearn - Alder
Meaning: Help in making choices;
spiritual guidance and protection.
Written: Three bars straight to the right.
S - Saille - Willow
Meaning: Gaining balance in your life.
Written: Four bars straight to the right.
N - Nuin - Ash
Meaning: Locked into a chain of events, feeling bound.
Written: Five bars straight to
H - Huathe - Hawthorn
Meaning: Being held back for a period of time.
One bar straight to the left of the line.
D - Duir - Oak
Written: Two bars straight to the left.
T - Tinne - Holly
Color: Dark Grey
Energy and guidance for problems to come.
Written: Three bars straight to the left.
C,K - Coll - Hazel
Meaning: Creative energies for work or projects.
Written: Four bars straight to the left.
- Quert - Apple
Meaning: A choice must be made.
Written: Five bars straight to the
M - Muin - Vine
Meaning: Inner development occuring, but take time to
Written: One bar diagonally across the line.
G - Gort - Ivy
Color: Sky Blue
Take time to soul search or you will make a wrong decision.
Written: Two diagonal bars.
NG - Ngetal - Reed
Meaning: Upsets or surprises.
Written: Three diagonal bars.
SS,Z,ST - Straif - Blackthorn
Meaning: Resentment; confusion; refusing to see the truth.
Written: Four diagonal bars.
- Ruis - Elder
Meaning: Learning from past mistakes; take care in choices.
A - Ailim - Silver Fir
Color: Light Blue
Meaning: Learning from past mistakes;
take care in choices.
Written: One bar horizontally across the line.
O - Ohn - Furze
Color: Yellow Gold
Meaning: Information that could change your life.
Written: Two horizontal bars.
U,W - Ur - Heather &
Class: Heather=Peasant, Mistletoe=Chieftan
Meaning: Healing and development on the spiritual
Written: Three horizontal bars.
E - Eadha - Aspen
Color: Silver White
Written: Four horizontal bars.
I,J,Y - Ioho - Yew
Color: Dark Green
Complete change in life-direction or attitude.
Written: Five horizontal bars.
CH,KH,EA - Koad - Grove
Meaning: Wisdom gained by seeing past illusions.
Written: X across the line, crossing at the line.
- Oir - Spindle
Meaning: Finish obligations and tasks or you cannot move forward.
< and > on opposite sides of the line, forming a diamond.
P,PE,UI - Uilleand - Honeysuckle
Meaning: Proceed with caution.
Written: X made of doubled lines (i.e. =) on the right of the line.
- Phagos - Beech
Meaning: New experiences and information coming.
A line up from the right side of the line, spiraling clockwise towards the center.
AE,X,XI - Mor - the Sea
Written: see chart below