The following’s an Ogham Index taken from the posts of the first cycle through the letters:
This is an introduction to the Ogham and to the Journey into the sacred wilderness. I share a warning, based on a personal lesson, pertaining to the wilderness. The Birch is associated with beginnings.
A quote from Eryn Rowan Laurie makes plain that the Ogham was never really the Tree Alphabet that most people see it as. This post then becomes a reflection upon the nature of evil, what protection actually means and what protection is actually offered by the Rowan tree. I share a story about the Rowan tree and Thor[i]. The Rowan tree, or Luis, offers us protection.
This is a discussion on the path of the warrior, and hunter, in both Celtic and modern society. The Alder tree is a nitrogen fixer which also makes it the alchemist tree of the Ogham. Fearn is the warrior.
Willow is often seen as the representative of the goddess. The tree also has many associations to various animals. Interestingly, Willow is also said to be able to return from the dead. The tree represents the bridge to the next world.
This post is a reflection on microcosm and macrocosm and the interconnected nature of all beings. The common misconception of Ash being the Norse world tree Yggdrasil is also discussed. Nuin is symbolic of peace.
The Hawthorn is the tree of the fairies. It is one of the trees that make up the fairy triad. The tragic story of Bridget Cleary is shared as is Thomas the Rymer. I discuss the possibility that some of the fairy stories of old may have evolved into the UFO stories of modern times. The wolf, like the fairy or the Hawthorn tree, may exist somewhere between the two extremes of good and evil. The Hawthorn represents the Otherworld.
The Oak tree is often associated with the druids and to various Celtic gods and heroes. The story of Lleu, Gwydion and Blodeuedd is discussed in terms of hidden symbols and metaphors. The Oak is a tree associated with strength, honour and male virility.
The Holly is the brother of the Oak. We discuss both the Oak King and the Holly King in relation to the changing cycles of the year. We look at the Celts fascination with the severed head. Holly is associated to thunder and fatherhood as well as to the warrior and balance.
We take a look at the search for “all knowledge” or poetic wisdom in the old tales. We explore Taliesin, Fionn Mac Cumhail and the salmon who eats of the poetic nuts of wisdom. I share a personal lesson, and a warning, pertaining to Celtic books published by Llewellyn. The Hazel is the tree of wisdom or knowledge.
Apple, the tenth letter, brings with it an association to the legends that speak of things, like the waves in the ocean, which are beyond the number nine. The apple is connected to many myths. Some interesting facts on the cultivation of the apple are also shared. The apple is associated with sweetness, romantic love and to the Otherworld itself.
The grape was not a local plant but was likely associated with wine; a substance relatively unavailable to the commoner. Wine then became associated with clergy, the rich, wealth and the mystical. The story of the Holy Grail is discussed as well as the story prototypes, which were the cauldron legends. I talk a little more about the domestication of plants and my time in Afghanistan. The grape offers intoxication and insight.
Some folk tales of Ivy are shared. There are many mentions in these stories of the fairy. I once more question the modern bastardization of the Celtic beliefs and the Ogham by some of the more whimsical pagans today. I question whether or not I should see this misinformation as a continuation of the attempted ethnocide of the Irish that was begun by the English centuries ago, or see it merely as naivety. The Ivy can represent the search for self and it is a plant of the threshold.
The Reed, as Ngetal, seems to have been a Robert Graves invention. I bring up again that the Ogham is not literally a “tree alphabet” at all. We talk a bit about the Cluiricaune, an Irish fairy being. I discuss the importance of Reed grass in organic sewage management. Ngetal, the reed, is associated with higher learning, advancement, music, healing, action and art.
The Blackthorn is often associated with misfortune. We talk about the Leanan Sidhe, the Ban Sidhe (Banshee) and the fairy queen Aine. The tree is often connected to the black arts and to witches. A discussion on the Blackberry as a possible stand-in is engaged as it may have also had some of the same magical associations in myth. The Blackthorn is a tree of ill omens, transformation, and power.
The Elder is a tree of the fairies and witches. It is often associated with the darker aspects
of the goddess. The tree is also associated to the Cauldron of Rebirth. The Elder has grand status in legend, contemporary culture, and is considered to be one of the great herbs of healing by many. It is another tree that can protect or harm. The Elder is a tree of power that can both heal and wound.
Ailm (Fir or Pine)
The Scotch Fir, also known as the Scots Pine, is the tree for this few. Many try to ascribe the Silver Fir to this letter but this is incorrect. The Silver Fir did not exit in Ireland, or even anywhere nearby. I also question the New Age belief in Druantia a Celtic fir goddess first mentioned by Graves in the White Goddess. I then talk briefly about his proposed Tree Calendar, as well. I also wonder if the coniferous forest may be associated with the hag goddess Cailleach. Though mysterious and illusive, Ailm, the Scotch Fir or Pine, is the tree of primordial beginnings and deep understandings.
Ohn (Gorse or Broom)
Various lists differ as to whether the tree of this few is in fact the Gorse or the Broom. The plants are actually closely related. As I listed Ngetal as Reed, I decide to try to cover both of these trees in this post. Stories involving these plants lead us to Blodeuwedd, the Cailleach, fairies, witches and to protection. Ohn is the few of journeys and of the preparation for the mission at hand. The Gorse speaks of darker tools and attitudes needed to succeed upon the path, while the Broom reminds us that we must be ready to heal and create if we are called upon to do so.
Heather is often considered to be one of the national plants of Scotland. It is from Scotland that most of the mentioning of this plant in folklore has survived. Heather is a magical herb that can be found in its various forms in many places. Ur, or Heather, is the plant of death and the dead, luck, family and community. It can also help us to connect with the inner worlds.
We discuss how Aspen is the tree of overcoming and resistance; both to persecution and to death itself. Besides being closely related to the apparitions of the dead and to the Sidhe, Aspen is also associated to the Irish mythological hero Cuchulainn, the Fairy Queen of Scotland and to the character Gaul found in the Poems of Ossian. Later Christians saw this tree as evil. Aspen is the one tree most often associated with direct communication with the forest itself through listening to its quivering leaves.
The Yew is one of the most important trees found in Celtic legend. It is also the tree most often thought to be the world tree, Yggdrasil, by serious students of Norse mythology. I share some of the legends pertaining to the Yew. I discuss the softening of the term ‘death’ in new age pagan-speak to having adopted instead the meaning of ‘rebirth’. I relate this to our disassociation with physical death in the West and our ultimately to our separation with nature itself. Ioho, the Yew, represents old age, the ancestors, divination, death and reincarnation or rebirth.
The Forfeda (Fifth aicme):
An Introduction to the Forfeda (extra letters)
I explain what the Forfeda are and what my intentions will be for the following five posts. I share the crane-bag found in myth and its importance to the Ogham. I also express my personal belief that mystical encounters, either spiritually, evolutionary or psychologically, are part of the human experience. I admit that the meanings of the final five letters, the diphthongs, are shrouded in mystery.
Koad (Salmon or the Grove)
In this post I discuss where the association of the Grove for this letter came from. We also take a look at the King of Scotland’s Shears. I then share, in some depth, the story of Culwch and Olwen . I then mention one of my favorite sites and non profit organizations, Trees for Life, which actually offers an opportunity for anyone to plant a sacred Grove. The Grove can represent a meeting point of intention, a magical encounter, or even a holy place.
Oir (Gold or Spindle)
Oir, the Spindle tree or Gold itself, is a very mysterious few. It is not mentioned often in myth directly but is associated with the spindle used in the making of garments. We then explore the legends of the King of Lochlainn as well as his helmet found in the crane-bag. The Spindle tree has come to represent a sudden positive change in one’s life. It has also come to represent wealth or inspired knowledge in modern times.
Uillend (Elbow or Honeysuckle)
I cover the various interpretations of this letter and go on a short rant, again, about the supposed associations listed by many Ogham writers to various other cultural deities, the zodiac, etc. We take a look at the Hook of Goibne and what this tool could actually have been. I then challenge the reader to look for knowledge hidden in plain sight within the Celtic tales of old. Uillend, or Honeysuckle, is a few of protection, binding, flexibility and sweetness.
Iphin (Honey or Gooseberry)
We discuss the elusive nature of the Gooseberry and the various other interpretations for this few. We then take a look at the Bones of Assail’s 7 Pigs that are found in the mystical crane-bag of Mannanan Mac Lir. I also share why these posts may seem to be getting shorter. Iphin, the Gooseberry, has associations with sympathetic magic. It represents that which is tasteful and the divine influences that surround us in the sweetest of ways.
Mor (Twin of Hazel or the sea)
While the actual name of this few was Emancholl, later interpretations have often left us with the meaning of ‘the Sea’ or Mor. This 25th letter has come to represent Manannan the Sea god or even the Sea itself. We finally take a look at the very shirt of Manannan found in the crane-bag. I then try to interpret what the symbols in this bag might actually mean!Finally, we reflect upon the ancestors that recorded our myths and honour some of them as Samhain approaches. Mor, the sea, represents that which is other. It can represent the Sea itself or the Otherworld.
[i] Researching the Ogham I came to realize that the Celtic stories (in relation to the trees) are often not mentioned in various books relating to the Ogham. Shortly after this post I began to focus on Celtic myth and folklore almost exclusively. Many writers speak of what the trees listed in the Ogham meant to other cultures despite the Ogham being a Celtic(irish) alphabet. I believe that with the use of the internet, and the ability to search through various books and documents in today’s day and age, that I can offer something a little bit different, and in some ways more authentic.