Ogham, dispelling some of the Myths

I’m not too sure of readers familiarity with the Ogham and so having referred to it in previous blogs I wanted to explore the Ogham as best I can with readers. Since I am still discovering the wealth of information that is available there will be some mistakes in what I have to say. I do welcome any comments and corrections or perhaps points readers feel could do with some flushing out. I should preface this with stating that while I have experience of a basic introduction to linguistics, by what I have to say on the matter comes from a friend who is a linguistic by study. I don’t feel right in mentioning her by na
me here as she is quite a private person.

Below is a list of the understandings of the Ogham that we have given them based also on the linguistic work of Damian McManus. There is an extended hypothesis behind our divergence from Damian’s understandings. We’re all working from a linguistic interpretation of the the kennings, which are a collection of three poems which offer insights into possible interpretations of the ogham symbols or letters known as fid.

The image below contains some of the adaptions that myself and my friend have been working with based on continued exploration of the three kennings; Bríatharogam Chonchulainn, Bríatharogam Mac Indoc, Bríatharogam Morainn Mac Móin.



I shall be posting on the kennings specifically at a later stage as I don’t wish to overwhelm myself and readers alike. I would like to know what people think of this rendering of the ogham as a map of the world rather than a “tree alphabet”, which seems to be derived from Christian scholars examining the ogham and seeing certain trees depicted and based on other writings of the time attempted to fill in the blanks. This was not a conspiracy on behalf of the Christian church in Ireland as they were examining the ogham circa 1,000 years after it was last in use.

Traditionally in modern Irish the word file means poet but in Old-Irish the word meant seer. The reason for this seems to be that the structure for correct use of the ogham and associated poems took years of specialized study. I think the definitive word here is ‘study’ rather than learning and ‘study’ implies a degree of personal understanding through learning by rote rather that the learning by script or ‘book learning’ which came later. To be a successful file one had to complete the first seven years of learning the basics which include; 50 poems (ceart ogham), 20 stories, 6 of the basic poetic meters as well as the entire Auraceipt na nÉces (or Scholar’s Primer) including the foreword and appendices. Years 7 – 12 were spent studying more texts and poems including some intended for use as a means to employ the “seer’s sight”. After the 12 years a File had the basics by which they could cease study or if they wished to specialize in much the same way that law students in Ireland select specialities after their initial degree.

The real “magic” of a File was in their power to satirize a person. In ancient Irish law the emphasis was on restoration and so if a farmer had grieved against another then the aggrieved party could take some of the farmer’s cattle until restoration was made. This was all conducted under the legal system of the time as administered by the scholars or learned men. But what happens when the aggrieved person is a File? They have no property and so their words are their bread-crust. A formulae existed by which satirizing a person could be engaged. I will endeavour to post on the social structure of the time also at a later stage, for now I wish to show the focus on the sway that words had over people even before the written word came along. As such it makes little sense to postulate that the ogham is merely an alphabet let alone a tree alphabet.

Tarot on the Mind! lol

Wow weird that keeps happening! I just posted my personal development in terms of developing a Tarot style and wouldn’t you know it the current issue of JWMT an online magazine dedicated to the Western Mystery Traditions has dedicated the Autumnal Equinox to Tarot.
To visit the current issue click here as its well worth a read even if it doesn’t necessarily convert to your own take on the Tarot.
Blessed be!

Developing a Reading Style

This entry is titled ‘Developing a Reading Style’, and is my attempt to share some of the insights that I have gleamed over the years of studying Tarot and Wicca. Some of these have come from friends and acquaintances while others from books with a heavy personal flavour to them. When I first started doing public readings I was made to be aware that not everyone would be sympathetic to my “rookie” mistakes and that I would, as my best friend Oein says, have to work in order not just to be a good reader but a great one. This rang bells for me as I certainly wanted my readings to be for the client and not for myself. I asked what would help to develop myself as a reader so that the querents would feel not only comfortable but be able to understand and gleam some sincere meanings from the reading. His first suggestion to me was that I develop a style.
Part of my personal reading style for any day or event I attend is to meditate the evening before and cleanse myself the morning of. I also bring a candle and a table cloth and once I’ve set myself up I light the candle and say an opening prayer of thanks for the Spirits in attendance for their guidance in the readings. This ritual helps me to focus on the task at hand not to remove myself from my own concerns since one of the many mistakes readers make (whether professionals with many years experience or a new reader venturing out into the world) is to project their own issues and ideals onto their client.
Post set-up the next stage is to make sure that when the client comes in they are made to feel welcome. This can be tricky as I’m a very expressive person myself but many people find hugs very familiar and slightly intrusive. It hasn’t happened to me yet but other reader friends have pointed out how some people can come along with severe traumas often of one of the three main forms of abuse; physical, emotional and sexual. This means as a reader that hugs would be very inappropriate no matter how heartfelt because it automatically tugs on a person’s strings. I do like to great people with a handshake using both hands. If the area I’m using means I’m trapped behind a desk (happens more often than can count) then a handshake is best and also gives time to properly introduce yourself and find out whether they’ve attended a Tarot Reading before. If not I strongly suggest spending the extra few minutes explaining the process as it places the client at ease.
The Reading itself has it’s own little customs or rituals involved. These change from reader to reader but my preferred method is to box the cards (usually would have done this to start with but its nice for the client to see that there is no trickery involved) and then ask them to do likewise until they feel ready to stop or are satisified that the deck is appropriately shuffled. Then double checking to see that they have selected a specific area (its fine if not) or aspect of their life. Then I separate the deck into three piles, there is a psychological aspect to this but can’t for the life of me recall the details, I think it was closest one to dominant hand is looking at aspects of life from a control perspective, middle is close relationships and matters of the heart and after that I draw a blank but will endeavour to clarify this again because knowing this in the event of a General Reading can be insightful for developing responses [1].
So far I have overly relied upon the Celtic Cross Spread because as a 23-year-old reader it can be difficult in gaining people’s trust for more specific readings and I find that the Celtic Cross Spread allows us as Reader and Client to find specific things that may be underlining and explore them after considering the more general aspects of the client’s life. I try not to be insulted by this because in all fairness at 23 how much more to life I have to learn and experience including my ever encroaching Saturn Return! Its the astrologer’s fancy way of saying approaching or turning 30. 😉
One of the key things I’ve noticed in a reading is that despite people’s previous experiences with Tarot Readers they often ask at the start or occassionally the end of a reading, “So what does all that mean for my future…?” The truth is very little. While some Tarotists can be psychic/sensitive as well I do often suggest to people that they ask the person they are booking with whether the Reader is psychic and if so in what way. Some Tarotists adopt a purely psychological approach to reading the Tarot believing that the Tarot is a beneficial tool in placing certain issues into an easier form to understand and approach a situation with a solution. Neither approach is wrong or right but simply goes to how the reader works normally and this can impact on the quality of reading you have.
I realise that the latter part of this entry speaks directly to customers of Tarot readers but baring this in mind as readers can be beneficial because there can be nothing worse than a clear and strong reading for a client and for them to have a bemused look because even though it is what they asked/needed it wasn’t necessarily what they were expecting. I often explain that if strong psychic or sensitive information comes through I will share it but that the nature of this will usually be of an emotional nature as that is the avenue I often work through as an empath. I do get clairsentient moments but as most clairsentients will tell you these are also of a “feeling” rather than “seeing” nature. I don’t want to confuse my clients either so I often just leave out clairsentient because its not one someone hears of on a daily basis, heck it’s one I’m still developing myself.
To close a reading I usually recap and give a synopsis for the client because each card has it’s own associated “question” which in the course of the reading we’d have looked at but these are difficult for me to remember let alone the client. So synopsis and then I always ask them whether they have any questions or comments and if something didn’t make sense to let me know pershaps there was something I missed because usually I either don’t know them at all or know them and might have gone an avenue that didn’t apply to them as rounded individuals that I don’t get to see all aspects to. Which brings me to my next piece of sage advice: DON’T ASSUME YOU KNOW EVERYTHING!! The reason for this is as I said you tend to close off and become trapped in the need to be right about everything.
Rachel Pollack in her book, ‘Tarot Wisdom’, suggests being aware of the trap of accuracy. This advice echoes my own experiences where I have been so eager to please and assert myself as a genuine reader that I look for details for my client. This is highly inappropriate because like I said to start with my intention had always been to be of help to my clients and cheap tricks don’t serve either of us. Not to mention they may wow a person but if the reading isn’t beneficial then eventually the novelty of paying for something wears of. It’s like seeing CATS for the 100th time!
The next stage for me as a reader to grow has been for me to develop a few more spreads, ideally for specific questions surrounding finances, relationships, career, personal development, etc. Hopefully as I do this I can continue to grow in understanding as a reader and be able to offer more to my clients.
With the growth in popularity in Oracle cards I recently drudged up my Goddess Oracle deck for a reading. I wasn’t sure until at the event why I’d brought them and sure enough as one reading went well I felt I needed to pull a card for a client to help offer some more insights for them to take home and develop. This seems to have developed a natural way for the client to recall the reading as they just have one card to note with one piece of advice. If they follow this then they will be on the process towards working their way out of whatever situation they may be facing. On this note I leave you dear reader with a note from Sige from the Goddess Oracle deck: “Take some quiet time alone to rest, meditate, and contemplate”


[1]. I recall being told that a great reader will use all the tools at

their disposal including developing their understanding of their intuition.

The Ogham Enigma

Below is a diagram of Ogham Script as attributed to the Celtic or Druid Tree Ogham. This according to a discussion with a friend in the know on such things is a misnomer since the Tree associations seem to stem from 1000 years after the arrival of Christianity when the language was no longer used and subsequently some errors were made.

While there are some other interesting ideas in motion behind the Ogham script, such as Nuin whose letter value is ‘N’ being labelled Ash when following certain etymological lines the more correct association would be with the vagina or female genitalia. When one considers the arguement for female mysteries and birth its only natural that a society wish to explore this remarkable event whereby a life is created in seemingly miraculous fashion. I would be inclined to agree with my friend on this matter, perhaps being Pagan and witnessing the various ways societies have rendered female mysteries and motherhood as being hand in hand predisposes me to such thinking.
Also Gort, whose letter value is ‘G’, is given to the tree, Ivy, when even in modern Irish górtaigh means ‘[to cause] hurt’. Looking online now I see that gort also means field, its possible that this Ogham means two things but confirmation on Old or Middle Irish will be needed in this regard. Taking it to mean hurt a possible method to divine the injury of a person or indeed place may be involved.
However as I said the primary focus of this blog entry is on certain evasive attributations to the Ogham that culturally may have more meaning for a society than say their latter tree meanings. Also considering the structure that my friend gives to the readings these “older” meanings offer greater insights for the Ogham as a divinational tool.
With the above diagram Sraif is given the letter value of ‘Z’ and ‘SR’ and the tree value of Blackthorn (also called: sloe, wild plum, wishing thorn or mother of the wood), yet if we use our imaginations for a moment or two to explore another meaning we can see a level of complexity to the Ogham Script that is quite remarkable. My friend theorises that Sraif actually means ‘sulphur’. Looking at sulphur doesn’t at first seem likely because sulphur in chemistry [symbol: S] is seemingly very stable, but when one looks to the process of Alchemy we start to notice that not all chemicals are rendered properly for modern usage.
Things such as salt can mean any white powder, or mercury may not always mean just chemical mercury [symbol: Hg]. Because silver is less reactive silver nitrates will not exchange for silver. But silver nitrate might just exchange for sulphur. The thing is the Ancients may not have necessarily cared why something changed only that it did. The reason why we’re focusing on a chemical reaction here is because of the possible meaning to another letter which may mean airgead (money in Irish) and if airgead refers to copper then perhaps we might be onto something.
The following letter is Ruis, and this is given the letter value of ‘R’ and the tree value of Elder. Considering that Elder and Alder may better serve us towards the beginning and the end respectfully and thusly completing the cycle.
This will be updated upon further research. Please comment if any insight can be given on the matter, such as if you happen to know the common minerals in Ireland at the time of the Ogham script. Please remember that this friend retains her right to privacy and that if anyone wishes to lend a hand they will need to contact me here. Many thanks dear readers! x
Resources:

Ogham Reading – 01/07/2009

I had a very interesting discussion with a pagan acquaintance of mine over the Ogham. Previously I had heard it stated that the Ogham was a form of writing, and based on later usage of the alphabet this seems to be quite apt. Largely based on Old Irish (Sean-Gaelige) it’s complexities as a divinational tool were seemingly hampered by the well-meaning intentions of some monks who attributed the Ogham to trees. While many of the tree meanings are apt some are questionable and I look forward to sitting down with my acquaintance and learning more and hopefully learning to identify some overlooked avenues with the Ogham. While my own interest in linguistics is based on interest more than a valid area of study who knows what avenues might own in years to come.
Regarding the Ogham reading some interesting confirmations arose as I asked over general romantic situations. The reading had four quatrants. Closest to me was Personal issues, furthest away and opposite was what my acquaintance termed the Transpersonal, to my left was Barriers and opposite it to my right was Possible Resolutions. Nuin, which has been seen as another tree has been depicted as female genitalia (V) fell on the outside and well past the Transpersonal and Possible Resolutions which was interesting.
The overall reading highlighted recent sublimations of my own regarding the hurt that had a physical characteristic to it. In regards to this roughly around the same time of these hurtful encounters I developed epilepsy. It also pointed out that I had put up blockades or barriers after all this hurt. But now it seems that its a matter of regulating the deeper emotions. There was also mention of avoiding stagnation as well and this I liken to my recent exploits into the world of people! lol Recent months have provided retrospection and introspection and I have been endeavouring to reclaim my social life so this was very interesting. There was much confirmation to be gained from this reading made all the more interesting based on the fact this acquaintance hadn’t actually met me previous to this.
There seems to be a theme of becoming within the readings of late. Which I am feeling more and more empowered by myself. A separate reading offered by another person part-taking of tea and banter highlighted this point as a choice between two things but in truth a third or alternative Path may also be on offer.