The Ogham Script as Symbols for the Celtic Flora
“The what?” you say.
How to pronounce the word is kind of debated upon, but I’ve narrowed it down to two favorites:
“oh-gham” and “oh-am“
Essentially, it is an ancient Celtic script. It’s actually one of the oldest known to man, with artifacts dating back 4000 years being found with the script. Pretty cool, right?
**You don’t need these to be earth-based! They are simply a really cool tool broken down. Whether or not you choose to explore them on your own is entirely up to you. 🙂
There are 21 oghams in traditional practices, 26 in modern ones.
Here is a picture I made of the main 20. (If you click on it, it’ll get big and easier to read!)
As you can see, the main twenty are:
Birch, Rowan, Alder, Willow, Ash
Hawthorn, Oak, Holly, Hazel, Apple
Bramble, Ivy, Reed, Blackthorn, Elder
Fir, Gorse, Heather, Poplar, Yew
The 21st ogham is Mistletoe (aka Ocelot, pronounced oo-che-lot), and that doesn’t have its own ogham symbol – you get to make one for yourself.
The modern additions (aka the Forfeda) are:
Aspen*, Spindle, Honeysuckle, Gooseberry, Witch Hazel and Beech
*I know, I’ve listed six. That’s because Aspen and Poplar are debated in terms of which one is in the primary list. But, considering that the Aspen is actually a type of Poplar, I think the argument is mute.
What are these things for?
Many websites focus on ogham as a form of writing, and that’s great, but I find that kind of useless in today’s world, unless of course you speak old old old old Gaelic or Irish. You can be creative and use the sounds attributed to the different oghams for today’s English, but that also doesn’t really float my boat.
What I like is the script in terms of symbols for the 20 fauna sacred to the ancient Celts. I find this to be a particularly effective method for almost everything – healing, finding answers, getting help/guidance, divination, etc., and this is how I use them.
Think of them rather like a tarot deck – just a LOT older and “rooted” in trees…pun intended. 😛
The best thing to do is to get out and look for them on your own. Grab a guide book, or make a guide yourself, and go for walks and adventures and see if you can’t find them all. If you’re not in an area that has all these different trees and shrubs, then I guess you’ll have to make do with other sources and your imagination.
Your introduction to these amazing, insightful and earth-based symbols can vary widely, but I’ll share with you how my teacher introduced them to me.
She works primarily with the ogham in an essence form, crafted and purchased in Avalon by a really wonderful artisan. She has each of the ogham in their little bottles, with the name facing away from you, and you pick up the bottle and hold it in your hand and describe whatever scene comes up before you as you hold the bottle and then smell the essence. You’d be surprised how spot-on your images are to what the ogham represents and means!
The ways for you to work with these is endless – cards, sticks, essences…you are only limited to your imagination! I even heard of one gentleman who uses dance and yoga positions for the ogham in his work.
I’m in the process of compiling a nifty guide with all the oghams I actually found in my region. When it’s done, I’ll share it for sure! I’ll also be compiling a handy-dandy chart with each ogham and its main attributes. Hopefully I can get these things done by the end of this calendar year.
Thoughts? Experiences you’d like to share? Feel free to chat with me in the comments section below. 🙂