- Describe the geographical and temporal distribution of your chosen symbol set. If the symbol set was used cross-culturally, describe how each culture used your chosen symbol set. (min. 200 words)
In his book Ogham: the Secret Language of the Druids, Rev. Skip Ellison estimates that the ogham writing system that is estimated to have appeared around the 4th century CE ((Ellison Intro. Kindle loc 25 of 3288). ). Steve Blamires estimates that Ogham probably existed from the 4th through the 8th century CE (Blamires 4). Most of the Ogham inscriptions that have been found in the modern world are on standing stones throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom. The majority of the stones are in Ireland, with lesser amounts found in Wales, England, and Scotland (Blamires 4). The majority of these stones seem to have been place markers or memorial stones (Ellison Intro. Kindle loc 55 of 3288). with meanings that amount to “Bob’s Field” or “Here lies Jim”, as I like to tell people. Though the symbols are graphically simple, they were still carved in stone which would have made committing large passages to writing in this way very labor intensive and therefore inefficient and not really viable. Ogham very well may have been scribed onto softer surfaces like wood, but we have, to this point anyway, not found any surviving examples of Ogham on wood or “paper”. There is evidence of Ogham being carved into wooden twigs in the lore, but no physical evidence has been found. This is most likely because in the climate of Ireland and the UK, those artifacts would have deteriorated by now.
- Describe the division of sacred and profane use for this symbol set in cultural context (i.e. how was the symbol set used in everyday life, and how was it used in religious contexts?). If you find no such division, explain why you think that the set was either entirely sacred or entirely profane in the culture. (min. 200 words).
The most popular uses for the Ogham seem to have been as an alphabet, secret writing or code, as a mnemonic device and for divination and magic (Ellison Ch. 1. Kindle loc 92 of 3288). Per Ellison, use as an alphabet was probably the primary function. (Ch. 1. Kindle loc 92 of 3288) As a written language ogham is to be read from left to right then down the right side or, if the writing is only vertical, from bottom to top (Intro1. Kindle loc 65 of 3288). Ogham may have been used to encode messages that the writer did not want anyone else to know (Matthews 28). He mentions using the ogham as a divinatory way to determine if a baby would be a boy or a girl (Ch. 1. Kindle loc 158 of 3288). There have also been bones and beads found that have ogham inscribed on them for no apparent linguistic purposes. It is theorized that these may have been used as talisman or amulets (Ch. 1. Kindle loc 207 of 3288). Sortilege of casting of lots is probably the most popular and well known way of using the ogham as divinatory tools though there are few references to this practice as we see it today. Ellison does refer to a story in ‘The Wooing of Etain’ where a druid learns the location of Etain by using four staves carved with ogham (Ch. 1. Kindle loc 172 of 3288). There is a word that means “casting of lots” in Old Irish (Ch. 1. Kindle loc 172 of 3288). It is probably safe to conclude that the divinatory method was used, but the exact methodology and symbol system cannot be fully determined at this time.
- Describe what you have done to connect with this symbol set on a spiritual level, where your ideas came from, and how it has affected your method of learning this set. Some examples might include (but are not limited to) carving or sacrificing for your runes, gathering each kind of tree for a set of ogham, or doing volunteer service at your local zoo to get more closely acquainted with the behaviors of animals. (min. 300 words)
Over the last year I fulfilled a huge goal of mine and as it happens, achieving that goal also helped me answer this question! My goal was to publish a book. That book ended up being a book on the Ogham. It is a series of short stories, poems, and essays inspired by each tree of the Ogham. I researched the lore, read some interesting (and not so interesting) books on the Ogham, and learned as much as I could about historical and current usage of the trees. I let that information rattle around and soak into my brain, then used that information as inspiration for writings that would illustrate at least one meaning of the specific tree I was working on. This process greatly expanded the meanings each few has for me as an Ogham reader. I also created illustrations for each chapter that will soon become an Ogham deck. Through the research and the illustration, I gained a greater sense of each tree. I also gained a greater appreciation of the importance that trees had for the ancient people. It was one of those things that I “knew” but this really drove it home.
Another way I connected with the Ogham was through using it more frequently and reading for other people. I know it seems trite, or even flippant, but I truly believe that constant, consistent use of whatever symbol system you work with is probably the best way to forge a deep connection with said symbol system. I was the house reader at a metaphysical shop in Michigan for almost a year and got the opportunity to read Ogham for lots of people. The more I read, the more the meanings flowed and the more I began trusting my intuition as well as using “standard” meanings of the fews. A side benefit of forging a deeper connection with the Ogham is that my readings have gotten richer and more accurate.
- Describe the overall symbology of a chosen divination method as well as each individual symbol in that set. Review and compare to your answers to this question from Divination 1, explaining how and why those views have changed over time. If you have changed your primary symbol set, why did you change? (min. 400 words for the descriptive essay and 100 words per symbol)
On the most basic physical level, the ogham symbols are really very simple. Each symbol begins with a vertical line. In the first four aicme, the different letters are designated by the type and number of lines drawn to the right, left, or through the central line. In the last aicme, the forfeda, the symbols are more complicated and may extend to the right or through the central vertical line (Ellison Intro. Kindle loc 55 of 3288).
The bigger question may be “Why trees?” We know that there are a variety of ogham correspondences out there, so why THESE specific trees. That is a question we may never know the answer to with one hundred percent accuracy. We can, howeve,r make suppositions and guesses. Here are my thoughts on the matter: Trees would have played a very important role in ancient people’s lives. The provided shelter, food, and building materials. Without trees, ancient humans would have been in dire straits from a purely survival standpoint. Along with the basics of survival, they also provided hints at answers to larger questions and concerns that people may have had.
How do I find the beginning of a path?
It’s by the bright, silver, easily recognizable birch.
How do I know when water is around?
Is there a Willow tree nearby?
The food I want/need is through that patch of briars/blackthorn. Now what?
If I want to eat, I’ve got to get through it no matter the pain.
I noticed that the Hawthorn blooms right around the start of spring.
I will look for that sign next year.
These types of experiences, along with observances of trees and plant through the seasons, were probably passed down through the generations and became some of the divinatory meaning we use today. In modern times we have developed different uses and associations with some of these plants. This coupled with the fact that we all have our own experiences and therefore draw our own specific meanings for things combine to form a whole host of other probable associations for the Ogham symbols. Most will be similar from seer to seer, but there will always (and I believe should be) a personal variation as well. This serves to enrich the meaning of the Ogham symbols by giving the seer a deeper well of meanings for their intuition/inspiration to draw from when interpreting a reading.
On another level, I see the Ogham as signposts on a journey. Some are helpful, some tell you what to watch out for, some offer encouragement, and some protection. They are there to guide you.
The meanings listed below are an amalgam of the traditional meaning I learned when I first starting studying the ogham and the expanded meanings that I have encountered through regular readings and the research I did for my book. Some of the fews’ meanings have stayed pretty consistent, others have expanded greatly.
Birch – Beith
The Journey Starts Here!
New beginnings: Spiritual, physical, mental, or a combination of the three.
A signpost or beacon indicating where the journey is to start.
Cleanings and purification at the outset of a new endeavor or journey.
Illuminating the path that needs to be taken.
Indicates you need a fresh start. Let go of the stagnation that you have found yourself surrounded by.
Early adopters – you may be the first to tread the path, exploring and charting for those that will follow.
Journey with a purpose. The time for wandering is over. The path to your goals is well indicated, it is up to you to start.
New opportunities appearing.
The need to clear out the old energies and detritus from the past so that the new
journey is possible.
Shelter from things that go bump in the night.
Beautiful and strong
Keep your wits about you.
There will be things that try to entice you from your chosen path.
Distractions are coming.
Keep your feet on the path. Don’t get caught falling down rabbit holes.
You will have assistance in your defense against ensorcellment.
Assistance with keeping focus on your goals.
Protection against enchantment and distraction.
Magick – especially protective magicks.
Works to keep you on the path.
Wards against distractions whether they be mental, emotional or physical.
Know that you are protected in all ways and you continue on your journey. Wherever you are meant to go, you shall arrive safely.
I consider Alder the first of the “Badass” trees. While it signifies future sight, it is also a tough tree that can stand up to a lot of abuse and pressure. This including acting as a natural firebreak.
Seeing beyond here and now
Considering how current actions may affect future generations
Ravens and prophecy.
The building of a legacy. What are you leaving for future generations?
Protection for you and yours.
Toughness during adversity.
Ability to withstand great pressure.
Standing strong in the face of adversity.
Supporting and protecting your community.
Thinking outside your immediate influence and situation. Looking out for others.
Willow is a water loving feminine tree full of mystery and associated with the moon. So get in touch with your feminine side and learn to follow those female instincts!
Things that are visible only in the “Darkness” – physical or metaphoric
Mystery and Illusion
Seeing with otherworldly eyes
Emotions – learn to work with them in a constructive way. Don’t fear them.
Supportive structure. Laying down roots of support.
Become aware, or more aware, of your Female Energy.
Check your “gut” reactions. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
Follow your Instincts.
Make sure all is as it appears to be before trusting someone or moving forward with plans.
Ash spans the worlds and links us all together. Everything is linked, no matter how tenuous or distant those links may appear to be.
Bridging the Realms
“No man is an island”
Remember that what affects one affects all
Inner and outer worlds linked
What happens in the macro is reflected in the micro and vice versa.
What are your connections and how do they affect you?
Holograms: If you take a holographic medium and cut it to pieces, the information is still present in all the parts and the entire hologram can be created from that one part.
Spooky Action at a Distance – We affect each other even if we are far away from one another.
Make connections with those around you.
Look for connections unseen by others. They are there and will be advantageous to you.
The ogham of spring and…spring cleaning.
Time to purge that which no longer serves.
Things may be unpleasant but they are absolutely necessary.
Make sure that you are purging appropriately.
Preparations for the birth of new things.
If you don’t get rid of the stuff holding you back, there will be no room for the new stuff that move you forward.
New beginning, but hawthorn signals that it will be a rougher start than what you would see with birch.
Setting goals – figuring out what you want to grow in your life.
Setting in the appropriate supplies for the journey.
Badass tree number two. Oak is a powerhouse. It is protective and supportive.
Strength both within yourself and lent by others.
You are formidable and solid.
Support there when you need it.
An opening or opportunity to do something outside your comfort zone.
A decision needs to be made whether to stay in the comforting monotony of your known world, or take a chance on something that is unknowable at the present time but may be fabulous and new.
Should you decide to go into the mysterious unknown there will be strength and support available as you make the transition.
Badass tree number three. The leaves and berries of the holly plant don’t become edible or attractive to the animals that eat it until after the first hard frost. Just like some people, it gets stronger and better through adversity.
May signal the need to introduce more balance in your life.
In-between points of action.
Waiting for the time to be right before acting.
Learn to rebalance. Anyone can balance for a moment, but learning to right yourself after having been dealt a blow without overcompensating is an art and a skill worth learning.
“Best in Battle”
Ready to move forward from a strong and balanced position
“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
Creativity and Creative potential.
Knowledge coupled with right action.
The ability to Pass on the knowledge you have gained to others.
Becoming a teacher.
Teach to Learn.
Help others ignite their creative spirit.
Pass along your knowledge to others. There are people anxious to learn from you.
You have a knack for explaining things in a way that most people can understand.
Finding a mentor or teacher that you click with and receive knowledge from.
Ability to “cut through the crap” and get to the truth at the heart of the matter.
Accuracy in divination – may be too accurate for some people’s liking.
Good things abound!! The sun is shining, birds are singing, and you can have whatever flavor of ice cream your little heart desires!
Beauty and Delight.
Positive signs for your endeavors.
There are many options or paths to your goals and all of them are good.
No matter what decision you make, it will lead you to good things and positive outcomes.
The paradox of choice: Indecisiveness due to too many pleasant choices.
Frustration and stress brought on by trying to do everything all at once.
Don’t get stuck trying to choose the best of the best. PICK ONE and move forward.
Drinking, and dancing, and altered states: Oh My!
Intoxication – physical, emotional, or spiritual.
A shift in consciousness and perception of the world and events.
Get outside your normal thinking patterns. They won’t serve you in this situation.
Situation calls for non-linear and non-logical thinking.
Shut down the inner critic/rational busy body in your head.
Especially if this appears with not so positive ogham it can be a reminder to take time to get out and have a little fun.
Go with the Flow.
Trance, meditation, and other types of altered states that can lead to or assist with prophecy and divinatory operations.
Stubborn and clinging. Binding together for good or ill.
Tenacity and perseverance.
Clinging to things out of desperation. Sometimes it is healthier for all to just let go.
You have to know when your efforts have gone from insulating and protecting to destructive.
Pulling things and people together.
Holding loved ones close.
Binding people together.
Hold on tight, but don’t smother
There is inner work required. It’s time to take a look at yourself. What is going right? What is going wrong? Move to a quiet place within, insulated from outside chaos and sit with yourself for a while.
Things won’t always play out the way you think they will. Be open to alternative routes to your goal.
Bend don’t break.
Focus and Flexibility
Ability to remain focused on your desired outcome is if things around you become chaotic,
Ability to make goals and keep yourself focused on them.
Ability to be focused but flexible; to shift and flow if circumstances change, always keeping your goal in mind. Your idea of the path to attainment may be different than what actually happens. Be open to other routes to completion.
Be aware that the only way to achieve a goal or complete a journey is to focus and direct your energies to that task.
Planning and goal setting may be in order.
You may have too wide and scattered a focus for the achievement of your goal.
Feared, but oh so healing and magical.
All your options are bad. No matter what you do or which way you go, things are going to be painful.
Your fate is out of your control for the time being. Larger things are at work.
There is no choice but to push through and face the challenge.
It will be rough and completely unpleasant, but there will be deep healing once the ordeal is over.
Deep transformation and transmutation.
You will have protection during the transformation process.
Pure Alchemy and Magick.
Transformation of one thing into another.
Before creation and growth there must be destruction.
Stuck in the middle. Waiting for the show to start. Be patient.
Endings in Beginnings. Beginnings in Endings
Something is wrapping up and from that ending something new will appear.
Liminal time and space.
Feeling of being “In Limbo” waiting for the next thing to start.
Patience is called for. Enjoy this bit of downtime and relax.
The waiting will be worth it.
Sometimes a pause is needed to incubate the information learned and knowledge gained from the last go round before creation of a new way can begin.
Things are still turning and you’ll be active again soon enough.
“I can see for miles, and miles and miles” ~ the Beatles
Ability to rise about the noise and get out of the weeds to solve a problem.
See the goal and reaffirm or redirect the path to it.
Look back and see how far you have come. Celebrate the accomplishments you have made to this point.
Pause to take a mental overall view of a situation.
High level look at a situation is called for.
You may be mired down and need to see the big picture to find the best way forward.
You can scout ahead for pitfalls and either avoid them or, at the very least, prepare for them as best you can.
I call this the “Don’t be a Hoarder” ogham. It is all about collecting wisely.
You are good at collecting:
Many interesting bits will be crossing your path.
Make sure the ones you collect will help you on your journey.
Don’t get weighed down carrying around things that don’t serve you well.
Not all of the things that cross your path will be useful and some might be downright harmful. You have to trust your intuition and use discernment to decide what to keep and what to leave in place. Sometimes this ogham serves as a warning and at others it validates that you have the ability to keep only that which serves you well.
Whenever I see this ogham I know that inner work is needed. Usually there is some kind of healing that has to be done in order for a person to move forward.
Inner work required to heal.
Healing can only come from within.
You are in control of your own healing.
Link this realm and the otherworld.
Take time to meditate/ do trance work in order to receive messages from otherworld.
Bring together what is within you and what is outside yourself.
Bridge the gap.
As above, so below. As within, so without.
Listen and head the council from the otherworld.
Ah, the talkative tree! Things are trying to communicate and it is up to you to listen and decipher the message.
Sharing of information for the betterment of all.
Transmitting of information from one party to another.
You may have many people giving you advice. Some is good. Some is bad. Heed the good council, toss the rest. Part of the path is learning to tell the difference.
Find solace and answers in nature.
Go into nature to receive clarity and cut through the clutter.
You have knowledge and support throughout the realms. You just need to filter out the true message.
This is the last of the original ogham and signals an important ending, but also the promise of rebirth.
Big Cycle coming to an end.
Out of death, new life springs.
Give yourself over to changing tides.
These large cycles go on whether we like them or not and we would do well to learn to work with and within them rather than against:
Day to night
Phases of the moon
Everything continues and is recycled.
Energy can be neither created or destroyed, but it will be changed.
There are new possibilities that will spring forth from perceived destruction.
Grove is the first of the Forfeda. These ogham are more graphically complicated and also have more intricate or “bigger” meanings. I compare them to the Major Arcana in Tarot.
Vast Collection of all knowledge.
Access to all the resources you need for your journey.
Information needed to answer your questions is available to you.
This is not passively received information. You must be responsible for reaching out, retrieving, and then putting the information to appropriate use.
You have to be an active participant in the fulfilling of your own life. No one can do it for you. You are in control of your own destiny.
When you just want to get the thing done, already!
Working on a long term project.
There have been ups and downs and it is almost complete.
May be stuck or missing a vital component needed for completion.
The void will be filled or the answer will come when you least expect it.
There will be a sudden jolt of inspiration or insight and things will fall into place.
The feeling of elation, giddiness, and relief you get after the completion of a challenging and prolonged project.
Completion may come through collaboration.
Celebrate when things are completed. You’ve earned it!
Hidden knowledge is needed to suss out the heart of the matter. This won’t be easy and you will have to go deep within.
Keep on the path and it will lead you to the center of yourself/your spirit.
You will be able to block out the distractions as you dive deep within on your journey get to the center of everything.
Look for the root cause of the issue. Fixing stuff on the surface may be easy and make things look pretty, but if you don’t know what the actual cause is, the wounds will just keep reappearing no matter how many times you spackle over them.
Could also mean coming across a bit of information you forgot, or information that is found while digging for some other answer.
Just because it is old, doesn’t mean it won’t work! Sometimes you have to look to the past and respect the knowledge there.
Old knowledge imprinted now.
Finding that old knowledge/information is the key to a current situation.
Old can mean anything from ancient dusty tomes, stories told by your elders, or something you yourself have learned in the past.
Information/techniques/ideas that were once thought to be out of date hold the key to solving problems and answering questions today.
Look to the past to see what we need today.
We build the future upon the foundational knowledge of the past.
The Sea is the final ogham and signals the end of a major journey and the start of something completely new.
Go Forth Fearlessly and carry the knowledge and wisdom gained from prior journeys with you as you begin again.
The return home after a long journey.
Travel to a large body of water.
Travel to or on the ocean.
The deep personal past that we all carry and the knowledge that can be mined from it.
Moving into unfamiliar territory.
Getting well outside your comfort zone emotionally, physically, spiritual, and/or mentally.
“And now for something completely different” ~~ Monty Python’s Flying Circus
- Describe the primary sources available regarding your chosen symbol set, explain the place of inspiration in your interpretations, and describe how the synthesis between historical source work and inspiration plays in your personal practice. (min. 600 words)
Like most things “Celtic” there are not a lot of source materials available when it comes to the Ogham. Along with this lack of historical information, the writings we have are, well, not exactly definitive and one hundred percent consistent. There are a many, many different variations of ogham (Ellison Ch. 1 Kindle loc 78 of 3288), of which the tree ogham is only one, thought it is probably most popular and recognizable to people today. Even within the category of Tree Ogham there are also variations. Some have the symbols in a different order and others have different symbols for different trees (Ch. 1 Kindle loc 78 of 3288). This can make things interesting to say the least.
The source that is most often mentioned is “The Scholar’s Primer” (Matthews 16). It is unique in that it shows both the ogham AND the translations so that they can be compared to one another. This is the source most people see as THE historical reference for the ogham. It is a modern compendium of older sources that include the Book of Ballymote and the Yellow Book of Lecan, among others (Ellison Intro. Kindle loc 25 of 3288). “The Scholar’s Primer” was put together in the early 20th century by a man named George Calder and even though the sources that he drew the information from were older, they are still more contemporary than the language itself. The sources are from medieval Ireland, whereas the ogham was active from the 4th – 9th centuries CE (Ellison Intro. Kindle loc 25 – 39 of 3288). . This means that the sources were not written by users of the language but by people, probably scholars and/or priests, that lived much later and who may have colored the meanings and translations with their own biases. This is, unfortunately a frequent issue when studying most things ancient, and especially, Celtic.
While I value the historical meanings of the ogham and feel that the basic and traditional meanings should be learned by the beginner, I have found that the more you work with the symbols and the Ogham, or any divination system really, the more your own intuition/guides/whatever you want to call it, comes into play. You start making connections and using interpretations that may not be one hundred percent “by the book” but are, in fact, more accurate and meaningful. This ability to trust yourself and your intuition can only come with regular and repeated practice.
I now use intuition quite frequently when I do readings. I will start with basics then intuition will take over and there are times when I don’t really remember the details of a reading because my conscious brain isn’t the one in charge at that point. This intuition is, of course, fed by the knowledge I have of various meanings of the Ogham symbols as well as knowledge gained through my own experiences, research, and associations of the trees and plants symbolized by the fews. Inspiration needs that deep well of knowledge to draw from in order to work correctly. I also have found that intuition plays a huge role in deciphering the context that the fews are in. By context, I am speaking of the way the meanings can shift depending on the few’s position in a spread and what other fews surround it. You can have a few’s meaning memorized, but if you don’t take into account how it interacts with the other fews in a reading and therefore how they affect and shape the meaning of the message being transmitted, your translation of said message is going to fall short, if not be completely inaccurate. A lot of this is letting your intuition guide you and getting out of your rational/logical headspace and that involves lots and lots of practice and a willingness to continue learning.
- Maintain a journal of regular divinatory practice (entries at least weekly; daily is ideal) for 5 months. At the end of that five month period, write an essay reflecting on the importance of daily practice; the results seen (including whether your ability to work with this symbol set has increased and why you think it has); and your feelings about the symbol set’s strengths and weaknesses after this period of work (min. 800 words).
August 2016 through the present (November 2017) has been a chaotic and transformative time for me and as I look back on omens I have taken for myself, I see that chaos and transformation reflected back at me. While I do not take daily omens, I do take them at least one a week and average 3 times for a regular practice with other more in-depth readings taken when I am trying to resolve a particular issue, or need a bit more guidance than a one Ogham draw is providing. My normal routine is to pull one Ogham as a “what do I need to focus on or be aware of” type omen. Doing this on a regular basis allows me to have a focus for the day or week, as well as providing a source of meditative focus for devotions. I feel this keeps me in tune with the Universe, if you will, and allows me to keep and strengthen my connection to it which then strengthens by intuition when it comes to doing longer readings for myself and/or others.
Regular readings have also given me a greater understanding of the Ogham. The repetition helps cement the meanings and reflecting on the events post omen have helped to expand my awareness of how the meanings can be seen “in the real world.” I think this makes for a better seer. You have to be able to relate the information you see or feel when doing a reading and then translate it into language and phrasing that the client (or yourself) can first of all, understand, and second of all, relate to. If you don’t know how the meanings of the system you work with play out in the real world, how are you going to confidently convey the message they have to other people? The best way to get that kind of experience – well the only way, really – is to do the work and do it regularly.
One thing that I did while looking back on my months of omens, was to create a spreadsheet containing all of the fews pulled and analyze it for frequency of symbol. Elder, Grove, Beech, Ivy, Yew, and Honeysuckle appeared the most frequently and so I will discuss what they meant to me below.
The full table and pie chart showing the number of occurrence per tree is as follows:
As you can see, Elder appears more often than any other few. This indicated a couple of things to me.
First: Something is coming to an end and out of that ending there will be the
beginning of something else.
Second: Stuck in the “in-between”. It is that frustrating place of waiting for
something to end and waiting for the next thing to begin. That point
where perseverance and patience have to be relied upon.
Both of these things were true this last year. I was stuck at a job that I loathed, with a plan to move on, but I had to stay in limbo for several months while trying to get all my ducks in a row to make the big move.
Yew was another indicator of endings and beginnings, but more along the lines of rebirth. That was also true. I ended up moving about 360 miles and beginning a new career!
Thankfully Grove also appeared with some frequency indicating that I had access to all that I needed to get through the static time and make the new beginning happen. And I did. I tapped into resources I knew I had, and others appeared just when I needed them.
Beech and Honeysuckle both signified diving deep for knowledge. Beech was looking to the past and Honeysuckle within myself. Both suggestions served me well during the transition.
The last few to show up with great frequency was Ivy. This one also had a dual meaning for me.
First: Tenacity and stubbornness! Keep on keeping on – and I did!
Second: Spiraling inward and doing inner work. As with Honeysuckle, this few
advised me to look within for knowledge and wisdom.
All in all I enjoy using the ogham as a divination tool. My first love is tarot but I find that Ogham well and they work well together. The simplicity of the Ogham is both a blessing and a curse, especially for a beginner. There are only 25 symbols and they are simple and easily reproducible, so making your own set, should you want to, is extraordinarily easy. If you can draw lines, you’re golden! The downside if this simplicity of symbol is that there are no visual clues to meaning like there are with the tarot so you have to memorize everything until it becomes ingrained. Once you get to that point, it is as powerful as any other system, especially if you trust your intuition during readings.
- Describe your method of taking an omen or doing divination in your private practice, from start to finish. Include any prayers said, deities invoked, or sacrifices made. (no minimum word count)
Like most things, my method is really very simple. I center myself, usually using the two powers. I take a series of deep breaths until I feel myself going into a light trance then start to focus on the purpose of the reading while I “jiggle” the Ogham in their bag. When I feel I have done that enough, and still thinking of the purpose of the reading, I reach into the bag and feel around until I find the Ogham that needs to come out. I repeat the reaching in and pulling out stage until I have the correct amount of fews for the type of reading I am doing.
I then look at each individual few to get a basic feel then, if it is a multi-few reading, I look at where the fews are in relation to each other and how they influence each other.
When I am done, I write everything down and draw a picture of the spread if I pulled more than one few, thank the Ogham for the information given and then go on with my day.
General divinatory prayer:
“May I/they/we learn what needs to be learned, receive what needs to be received, and understand what needs to be understood.”
- Describe the results of nine divinations you have done for others (without assistance from a book). (min. 100 words per reading, and 600 words for a summary)
I love reading for other people. Full stop. I could easily become the “Ogham Stalker of Erie.” This past year I had the wonderful opportunity to be house reader at Artes and Craft in Hartford, Michigan and I loved every minute of it. I once called it “Pastoral Counseling with Visual Aids”. I have found that using a divination tool can help some people open up to message or options that they might not normally allow through their biases. It seems to act as a neutral third party of sorts. A tool like the Ogham doesn’t judge the quality or subject of the question or the validity of the request. It just answers. Clients might not like the answers or suggestions they receive, but as I said before, they are more apt to at least listen.
I think readings also give people a feeling of having a bit of control over the outcome. When I read for someone else, I always have them reach into the bag and pull their own fews. This allows them to get their energy directly in there and they know that THEY picked a certain symbol, not the reader. I feel this is a very important step.
This year one few kept appearing over and over and over again: Honeysuckle. I would be at the shop between clients or at an outing with like-minded friends and we would all pick an ogham and I would interpret. Honeysuckle appeared at least three times per instance. I guess there was a lot of hidden knowledge to be found and inner work to be done this past year.
My general method of reading for others begins just like my preparatory process for reading for myself. I center myself, usually using the two powers. I take a series of deep breaths until I feel myself going into a light trance then start to focus on the purpose of the reading while I “jiggle” the Ogham in their bag. In this case the purpose is that the client will learn what needs to be learned, receive what needs to be received, and understand what needs to be understood. When I feel the Ogham are ready to go, I hand the bag over to the client and have them mix the fews up then, when they are ready, pull them out one by one.
I go thru and name the trees they have pulled and interpret them one by one, then go back and talk about how they weave together to make a deeper picture. A lot of times this will lead to conversations about how the reading might relate to a certain situation or how the client can see the influence already. These conversations are also a key part of the reading. I believe it allows people to put things into words that they may be afraid to talk about with others, but in conjunction with a divination tool they see as unbiased, they can get those things out in the open.
Once the reading is over I put the fews back into their bag and thank them for their service, then envision them surrounded by a white/purple light that serves to clear them of the previous client’s energy. The process starts over with the next client.
It is so uplifting to see the transformation of a person that comes in kind of down trodden and frustrated and through the use of a simple set of symbols, leave feeling a bit hopeful or like they are more in control of their own life. This doesn’t happen with everyone, of course, but it does quite frequently and I am honored to be part of that process.
What follows is a selection of readings that I have done for people. All of my interpretations are without textual aids and I don’t ask what the question is beforehand.
There is a period of stress and frustration coming as this group learns to bind balance. Each member of the group needs to look within to see what healing is needed and what issues need to be resolved before they can move forward successfully together. Once that is done they will be able to stand in balance and their combined strength will allow them to stand strong against forces that may act against them as well as survive the changes and cycles that are inevitable as groups evolve and develop. There is some bit of knowledge that is needed to complete this process and it is not information that will “just appear”. They will have to work together to get at it and put it into practice.
There is a resolution coming for a long tern issue or project. It is something that had gone in fits and starts and through delays and setbacks but the end is finally in sight! Take time to celebrate this accomplishment. Let yourself enjoy the sense of satisfaction at completing this stage. This resolution/completion will open the door for many great possibilities in the future. All of them will lead to positivity for the client but they should think about the long term and what they want to leave for others as they chose which of these new opportunities they choose to embark upon.
The inner and outer worlds link together. There is a lot of inner work that needs to be done. There is an issue in the outer world that needs inner work to resolve. The knowledge needed to solve the problem or resolve the issue will not come from outside sources. There is a need to find the root cause of the issue. Don’t just “Treat the symptoms”. A deep dive inwards is needed. This inner work will require tenacity and perseverance to be successful. If done correctly the hidden knowledge found inside will have direct impact on the outer problem.
Inner work in called for. It won’t be easy, but you have resources, strength and support to help you. You are facing a choice. You can stay where you are or journey into unknown territory. What you need is through that doorway. You will be supported, both by your own tenacity and fortitude and that of others. This will be a long project, but when completed it will brings elation, joy, and a sense of accomplishment that make it all worth it. You may need to insulate, or sequester yourself from the outside world for a time while you do this inner work. Please realize that this does not mean cutting yourself off from your support system, but instead, be willing to “sit with yourself” in solitude and get to know yourself again.
New beginnings!! A new chapter is starting for this couple. They have woven their lives together and that inner weaving will allow then to support each other through periods of sadness, frustration, and uncertainty. They act as insulators for each other against the harsh weather that life can bring. They hold each other and their wills close. This will allow then to search TOGETHER for wisdom hidden. As they go on this search, they will act as each other’s support and sounding board. It is only together that they will be able to find, and put into practice the knowledge that they are searching for.
Working on a long term project but have gotten stuck. Things aren’t coming together like you think they should and frustration has set in. The key to working through this is two-fold. First, look to the past. At some point you, or someone else, has encounter a similar situation. Look back to see how things were done at that time and determine how that knowledge can be applied to the current situation. This will require getting out of your normal headspace. You will have to stop thinking so linearly and logically and let your creative brain take a turn. You may feel out of control and out of sorts, but your current thinking is not working and a new view is required.
You need to look at the big picture. You are too mired and “in the weeds” to truly know what is going on at this point. Obstacles are coming. They are the kind that can’t be avoided. You will need to push through them. They will be painful but transformative and when you get to the other side of the turmoil you will find yourself in a better position than when you started and further along than you through you would be. During this time it is important to stop regularly and look at the big picture. Double check your progress and reaffirm your goals. Also, look back and celebrate your accomplishments and progress to this point. That will do a lot to help you through the no-so-great parts. Also, let yourself have some fun once in a while!!!
Something new is starting. The universe is saying “Hey! Over here!” You have a clear indication of where to start your new journey or project. This project is one that will build connections between you and others. You need to consider how the things you do and choices you make will affect them as well as how they will affect you. There is some information that you will need that you will need to go searching for. This might mean searching through your own memory, or through outside sources. Either way, you are going to need this information to complete the task. It is, in fact, going to be the key to it all.
Prickly inner work is coming up. You are going to have to dive deep. The healing that you have been looking for has to be done by you and no one else. It won’t be pretty. In fact, the process will well and truly suck sometimes. For all the pain it will cause, you can’t avoid it any longer. You are strong and can make it through. It is time to get in touch with your “Inner Badass”. You have the ability to survive the turmoil. This journey and its hard time will actually serve to make you stronger as well as lead to healing. Don’t give up!!!
- Describe the method you would use for drawing an omen in public ritual, how it is different from any private practice you do, and how it is different from taking an omen for another individual. (min. 300 words for the essay)
My public ritual omen taking method is very much like my method for taking an omen for personal use or reading for clients. I center myself, usually using the two powers. I take a series of deep breaths until I feel myself going into a light trance then start to focus on the purpose of the reading while I “jiggle” the Ogham in their bag. In this case, I reach out to the Kindred and ask that we will learn what needs to be learned, receive what needs to be received, and understand what needs to be understood. When I feel I have done that enough, and still thinking of the purpose of the reading, I reach into the back and feel around until I find the few that needs to come out. I repeat the reaching in and pulling out stage until I have pulled three fews. I then look at each individual few to get a basic feel then I look at where the fews are in relation to each other and how they influence each other. I find that especially in ritual, the messages just flow. I am not consciously aware of all of them, which is a little freaky but very cool all at the same time. I try to leave the omen on the altar until after the rite then take a picture or record it in a journal. If, for some reason, I can’t do that, I put the fews in my robe pocket and record the omen later. Once everything is written down I thank the Ogham for its service.
In the last year I have noticed that after taking and interpreting the omen, I remember the overall message and key concepts but the detail of what I actually say during the interpretation don’t stick with me. This makes documentation interesting.
Give and explain the results of three omens taken by you in public ritual. (min. 100 words per omen)
This omen was taken shortly before the 2016 Presidential Election and that turmoil is reflected in it.
There are times ahead that are going to suck. They are going to be difficult and hurtful for many, but we have no choice but to forge ahead and push through. During this time, find solace in nature. Turn off the news, go outside, and breathe. Talk to one another. Communicate your fears and hopes and rely on the wise counsel of others. There is a lesson hidden in this period of strife. We will all have to dig deep into ourselves to figure out what knowledge we need to find. Once we have found that knowledge, we need to share it with others in the community, joining all that knowledge together will help everyone weather the stormy times ahead.
This omen speaks of a beginning out of an ending with a period of rest and waiting in-between. The feeling of being in limbo will test patience, but will eventually end. We must use our intuition to help determine when things are ready to move forward. We must also be on guard against the illusions that our darkness will try to cast during this period. Don’t over think! Our imaginations can invent more horror and trouble than actually exists. Be aware of this and make sure we are not freaking ourselves out OR putting a positive spin on something that really isn’t. Remember to have fun. Go out and enjoy yourself during this period! Don’t just stay home waiting. Stay active and enjoy the downtime before the action starts again.
Summerland 2017 Main Rite
This is one that I wish I could remember the actual words spoken, but they passed through me without sticking. Luckily I did retain the overall message and key points.
We are going through a period of transformation. It is, and will be, painful but it is absolutely necessary. We can weather this. We have the strength and the fortitude, but we must do so together. We must support each other we must look at the future and what we want to leave for future generations of ADFers. It is not just about us as individuals and our individual views and agendas. We have to think longer term and more about how things affect others in the future. We are magical and we need to stand strong against those that threaten to burn us down or send walls of crashing waves to try and destroy us. To those that threaten, we need to draw a line and say “enough is enough”. ADF can, and will, prevail but will be transformed into something greater.
Blamires, Steve. Celtic Tree Mysteries. Llewellyn Publishing. Woodbury. MN. 1997. Kindle E-book
Ellison, Rev. Robert Lee “Skip”. Ogham, The Secret Language of the Druids. Ar nDraioght Fein Publishing.
Tuscan, AZ 2007. Print
Matthews, Caitlin & John. Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom. Element Books. Rockport, MA. 1994. Print