The Ogham as a Spiritual Tool

The Knowledge of the Trees

"The father of Ogham is Ogma, the mother of Ogham is the hand or knife of Ogma."

- The Book of Ballymote - 14th Century, Ireland

"The Ogham Alphabet consists of symbols chosen to represent different types of trees, sounds, ideas and images from ancient Druidic lore. The Irish God of Eloquence, Ogma, was said to have invented Ogham as a "proof of his ingenuity...". The Irish God Manannán Mac Lér was said to have provided the additional symbols representing the Sea and other abstractions, called the "Crane Bag" (this group is also known as the Forfedha). Each tree or abstraction in the Ogham Alphabet has special Magical properties, as does its corresponding symbol.... " Searles O'Dubhain

It is my hope that I can give you a few ideas of what the ogham is, where it might have come from, and how I (and others) use it as a spiritual tool.  I wish to disqualify myself as an historical expert on the subject.  What I have learned has been a process of finding sources, assimilating what parts helped to enhance my spiritual journey and forgetting the rest, or if not forgetting, hanging on to until I was ready to use them.
It is not important to me, personally, that I be historically correct.  What is important is how I apply what I have gathered to my own life and to the lives of women I mentor.  I know that the system is old, very old.  Many experts believe that the ogham was a tool used by the Druids containing their sacred teachings.  Theirs was an oral tradition and each of the letters contained certain teachings as well as a Mystery (or several that were all related).  Perhaps they used the letters as visual symbols of those teachings.

It is not known for sure if the ogham was actually used as an alphabet.  It is not known for sure if the ogham was ever used for divination.  And finally, it is not known if the letters were ever used to designate lunar cycles.  That is something Robert Graves put forth as his theory in his book The White Goddess.  What is know is that there were many oghams – the letters themselves, bird oghams, tree oghams, etc.  The letters being symbols for certain words, not all trees as it thought by most today.  What we have is a system that uses several oghams in combination that is not necessarily historically correct but that which works for us as a tool for learning.

So what we have are those teachings, or at least those teachings we have managed to hang on to because so much of what the Druids kept in their memories was lost when the Romans set out to annihilate the Druids as keepers of the history and leaders of the Celtic people.  They knew that the Druids, as keepers of the history, were what held the Celtic people together.  By removing their Druids, they conquered the people.
There are two versions of the letter ogham.  One is called the B-L-N version and the other the B-L-F.  They are different in the order in which they are expressed and visually, in direction that the letters face.  The actual teachings in each are however, no different.

This website deals with those teachings set in a framework of the lunar year.  The letters are assigned to the same months that Robert Graves used. I use the B-L-N version because I believe it is the older of the two and therefore, the original.  I cannot really prove that, it is simply what I was taught and am now very accustomed to using it in that way.

Each of the ogham letters as offered here has correspondences associated with it.  With each letter, you will find these typical associations: its name, symbol, a Mystery (the teachings), trees, birds, animals, stones, goddesses, gods, days of the week, numbers, and finally a quote from the poem known as the Song of Amergin.
Our primary reference for much of our material does come from The White Goddess by Robert Graves.  We also added herb lore to our teachings as associated with the trees and seasonal information based on energies present throughout out the turning of the wheel.

Robert Graves proposed that the Year should begin with the Return of the Light, and so began his year the day after Winter Solstice.  While surely Winter Solstice is the “birth” of the new sun, we have chosen to follow the more traditional witches’ year, beginning our Year at Samhain.  It is our belief that while a physical birth may be observable at the time of emergence; true birth begins in the dark.  And so we begin our year as we enter the Dark of the Year, gestating what is to be.  As a mother, having carried each of my children in the womb, it is very easy for me to relate to this concept.  My child’s life began in the darkness of my womb, secure and protected, beginning as a small particle, and then, safely within the womb, grew until such a time as she was ready for emergence into the light.

We do not, however, place the first consonant there.  Beth is placed on the day after the Day that is Not a Day, or the Extra Day of the year.

Amergin means “Birth of Song.”  According to legend, Amergin was one of the leaders of the “Men of Mil” (Milesians), who battled the Tuatha De’ Danann (The Faerie Clan) for possession of Ireland.  The Song of Amergin is the song that he sang as he claimed the land, and was a challenge to the Tabatha De Danann, who were considered to be the gods.

His ships sailed to the shores in a cloud of fog, hiding their entry and so were undiscovered in their approach.  Amergin invoked the powers of the Land as he stepped ashore in Ireland. These words came from Amergin's “poetic inspiration” and marked the start of battle over sovereignty of Ireland.  Amergin claims the elements of Ireland. He displays his wisdom and power over the elements. He is actually "becoming"... all of these elements.  In this invocation, he joins with the spirit that controls the elements of the Cosmos. The wind died down and the Gaels claimed sovereignty on Ireland.

It is interesting to reflect, that even though Amergin claimed dominion over this land resulting in the fact that the Tuatha Dé Danann went to live in the Otherworld (within the mounds of Irish lore); the Gods of Old still retain their power and to this day are the principal Gods and Goddesses of the Celtic people.  It is my own personal opinion that the invasion of Ireland by Amergin and the Milesians was but a merging of peoples upon a sacred Land.

There are many excellent sources for researching the ogham and the history of the Celtic people.  Our intent here is not to dig into that history, but to provide an outline.  I would fully recommend that over time, you research and learn on your own, the rich roots of this material.

To conclude, the source material we are using to plot our year is the Ogham as the primary too for sharing the Mysteries of the Seasons and Cycles, which are placed within, formed and shaped by the energies of those cycles and seasons, as given to us by the Song of Amergin in his song.

Song of Amergin


I am a noise of the Sea


I am an ocean wave


I am a stag of seven tines


I am a lake upon a plain


I am a wind over the sea


I am a tear of the sun


I am a hawk upon a cliff


I am a beautiful flower


I am a god that sets the head on fire


I am a keen spear that pours forth battle


I am a salmon in a pool


I am a hill of skilled ones


I am a boar in battle frenzy


I am the womb of every holt
Who but I know the secrets of the unhewn dolmen?


I am a blaze on every hill


I am the queen of every hive


I am the shield for every head


I am the tomb of every hope