A MYTHIC HISTORY OF OGHAM .pdf
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CELTIC OGHAM SCRIPT - (The Beth-Luis-Nion) The shapes are used for all the Ogham series,
letters named after Trees, Forts, etc. The name gives BLN as the order. All known written scripts
use BLF. Diphthongs were a later addition to original 20 letters (B-I).
Oak or Bush
Gotli or Gad
Palm or Fir
Note: there is some controversy on the names of the trees. These are common.
A MYTHIC HISTORY OF OGHAM
"There exists an occult and sacred alphabet which the Hebrews attributed to Enoch, the
Egyptians to Thoth or Mercurius Trismegistus, the Greeks to Cadmus and Palamedes. This
alphabet, which was known to the Pythagorians, is composed of absolute ideas attached to signs
We tend to be very uninspired about our script. Letters need to be written, preferably typed in
black and white, in neat ordered rows. We extend ourselves somewhat to accept as proper letters
written on stone or parchment although more reluctant to accept calligraphy, relegating it to an art
form. We also demand our letters be strung into words to carry our thoughts.
Older spells were far more flexible. They might appear as tongues of flame or be written in the
sands of time. Messages appeared in tealeaves or were read in passing clouds. Older scholars
could read the trees and understand the language of birds.
While researching a number of ancient alphabets, I found symbols chosen to illustrate the letters
were not only mnemonics for sound to record speech, but for an ordered path guiding seed and
soul through life. Promising a return after death, the path eventually morphed into the 'spell'
magic of runes and such alchemeical traditions as Masonry, the Kabbalah, China's I-Ching, the
Tao, and Mysteries of the Golden Fleece and aging Vine Kings. They all include the promise of a
resurrection, a return into the circle of time.
The order of an ancient pattern shared by several early traditions, though not necessarily its
shapes or sounds, was further adapted to create a number of alphabets including Ogham. My
interest has been in the symbols chosen to represent early scripts, not in the transliteration or
translation of those scripts.
Ogham is a Celtic script of 20 stick symbols appearing early in the Common Era. An ancestor
was Phoenician, 22 letters carried about the world by wandering traders. The virtue was that its
simplified 22 hieroglyphs, each standing for a sound, could be quickly learned. The letters were
used to write a number of unrelated languages including Semitic Hebrew and Arabic or Indo
European languages including my own English. The symbols becoming our ABC's named such
objects as: Aleph/Bull, Beth/House, Gimel/Camel or Rope.
Hidden among its unfolding symbols I found a hermetical guide. Objects naming letters are
ciphers for an unfolding reality. Oral traditions have long memories. I believe the Guide existed
long before its appearance in the Phoenician script. When the Phoenicians scooped up an order
of 22 symbols, each object standing for a sound writing the spoken word, they also acquired an
ancient mnemonic spelling the wealth of each New World into existence. This underlies the
widespread memory among many peoples that the alphabet is indeed magical.
"Heaven rained down ripe grain the day that (letters) were first invented." (H.N. Humphreys,
Origin and Progress of the Art of Writing, 1853)
Ogham undoubtedly existed as an oral tradition before physically appearing in Ireland around
300 CE. A secretive code script, it was not used for general writing. Rather, it appeared primarily
on tombstones and boundary markers suggesting the scribes were aware of the Spells, letters in
a correct order, of older alphabets promising resurrection and travel between the worlds.
The letters are composed of groups of 5's arranged in a vertical line intersected by 1-5 cross lines
at various angles. The shapes give no clue to their meaning. However, each ogham represents
Eliphas Levi, (La Clef des Grands Mysteres), Transcendental Magic (1896), A.E. Waite, trans,
1992, p. 95. There is a tradition that the Patriarch Abraham (c. 1750 BCE) studied the mysteries
with Enoch who created the alphabet saved by Noah from the Flood (Enoch is ancestor to Noah,
but possessed an eternal life).
an object and has a set order to the script. Thus I can look at the myths associated with the
objects chosen to represent each ogham and compare them to symbols in other ordered
traditions. When considering symbols of various traditions as ciphers, you must consider the
story, NOT the sound or shape associated with the symbol. Although each people chose objects
from their own word-hoard, an underlying pattern endures.
The attributes demanded of each character are determined by their number placement in the
series. Comparing oghams to other patterns, I found either the first or second letter must be
skipped to keep the pattern consistent. I chose to skip the second. My reason will become clearer
as we explore further.
"It seemeth that they had them (the letters) from the nation that came out of Spaine." (Spencer,
1596) No oghams have yet been found in Spain. It may be the pattern of the script was acquired
in Iberia and changed into the unrevealing code letters of Britain after the move across the sea.
Adding weight to the tradition Ogham came from Spain, I offer illustrations of several scripts I
term Milesian (see Table). Included is a script from Spain (Iberian) that drops letters, 2nd and
15th, from the 22 in the Phoenician script. Using this as template, I also skip the second and
fifteenth when describing the ogham symbols. This keeps Ogham's myths congruent with
characters chosen by other traditions.
INVENTION OF OGHAM
Although credited with the transmission rather than the invention of early scripts, Phoenicians are
intimately involved with the history of writing and Mystery Religions. Their very name recalls the
return into the circle promised by their alphabet. Phoenix: the resurrecting bird of fire gives them
A honey-tongued Hercules as Ogmios invented Ogham. As an alphabet-transmitting Phoenician,
Hercules is the Greek name for Phoenician god, Melquart (King of the City). Pillars being a mark
of Phoenician temples, the Pillars of Hercules once stood in temples built in SW Spain. Cadiz was
one of the many trade cities established (c. 1100 BCE) by Phoenicia's sea-going traders. Their
temples are long gone but two rocks marking the passage from the sheltered Mediterranean into
the wide Atlantic still bear his name.
Known popularly as the Celtic Tree Oracle, the earliest oghams were primarily named after trees.
Qualities associated with the 20 trees mimic qualities associated with objects chosen for the
same position in other patterns. That is, all first symbols contain similar attributes, as do the
second, and third, etc. There is some disagreement about the original trees, but all the choices
seem to relate properly to the unfolding Creation myth of the original template. Ogham, like the
Five Books of Moses, begins Creation with the blessings of B (Beith/birch tree).
After the Tree alphabet, a number of later ogham series developed. Named for other collections
of objects (Assistants, Birds, Colors, Arts and Crafts, Forts of Ireland, Pools of Water (Lin), etc.),
each collection uses the same initials as the Tree script. These later oghams are simple
mnemonics, not containing the richer qualities inherent in the original tree symbols. They seem
almost a schoolboy's exercise to find a symbol fitting the original template. The ogham script is
given in the charts attached to this chapter. All collections begin with symbols whose names start
with a B, L and end 20 letters later with a word starting with I.
The later ogham series often refer to events around the Black Sea, an area of early scripts and
Mystery Religions. This was the location of Troy, Miletus (settled by people from Crete), and the
tale of the Golden Fleece. First Bird Ogham, for instance, is Besan, 'pheasant'. A bird from the
Black Sea area: "Pheasant, the phasian bird, the Phasis, a river of Colchis" (Oxford Universal
The historian Herodotus (c. 450 BCE) traveled to the city of Tyre in Phoenicia to visit a temple of
Hercules. He saw the temple's two pillars. One was made of gold; the second was a green
emerald. The Pillars of Hercules in Cadiz were bronze.
Dictionary). Colchis hosted the adventures of the Golden Fleece, another story associated with
golden mysteries, the secrets of metallurgy, great goddesses, and astrological serpent-trees. 72
languages were spoken in that land. Note: Ancient Iberia, in addition to Spanish Iberia, named a
kingdom located near Colchis.
Oghams constantly hint at their hidden mysteries and measurements. B & I, first and last letters
bookending all Ogham scripts, are the initials of two masons: Boaz and Iachim. They were
brought from Egypt by Phoenicians to build the Temple of Solomon. Their initials were inscribed
on the Temple's pillars flanking the door into its mysteries. Known for both his knowledge and
material wealth, "Solomon obtained in Babel's Tower all the sciences of Asia's land." As an
ancient fate goddess, Asia's arts would have included divination and astrology.
The lands of the goddess Asia included Anatolia and the Near East, home of carved temple
complexes dating back to 10,000 BCE and to the great proto-script writing cities of Old Europe
prospering around 5000 BCE. Thousands of years before the Bronze Age of the ancient world of
Greece, Egypt and the lower Near East, these prosperous farming people around the Black Sea
knew the secrets of metallurgy and the vine.
"Even if one rejects the scenario of Proto-Greeks in Colchis a millennium before the Argonauts,
this does not rule out the attribution of Greek-Caucasian parallels to a continuum of cultures
stretching across Neolithic and Bronze-Age Anatolia, linked by trade route sand migration if not
always by common ancestry."
A variant tradition about the creation of Ogham attributes the script to Scythians, gold-loving
warriors traveling between the Black Sea, India and China. According to medieval texts "ogham
was first invented soon after the fall of the Tower of Babel ... by the legendary Scythian king,
Fenius Farsa. … Fenius journeyed (with) ... a retinue of 72 scholars ... to study the confused
languages at Nimrod's tower ...After ten years ... Fenius created ... the Beithe-luis-nuin."
(Ogham). Fenius also written as Phoeniusa, hints at his connection with the Phoenicians. His
wife, Belait, recalls Baalat, feminine form of Phoenicia's Baal. His stepson is Hercules.
Nimrod's legends include knowledge of astrology, measurements, and building the Tower of
Babel. This ties him to legends of Masonry, another group inheriting the secrets of measurement:
"At ye making of ye toure of Babell there was a Masonrie first much esteemed of, and the King of
Babilon yt called Nimrod was a Mason himself and loved well Masons."
Nimrod is one of many names for Giant Orion, the measurer god who once ruled a Golden Age.
Thousands of years ago he rose near the Winter Solstice, Around 6000 BCE he appeared the
morning of the Spring Equinox. While fixed stars (as opposed to the wandering planets) rise
faithfully in the proper season, they eventually lose control, their season under the sun passing.
Due to a slow eastwards slippage of stars (Precession of the Equinoxes), Orion went traveling
eastwards over the waves. Number 72 is the rate (1 degree every 72 years) of the Precession,
which causes once fixed stars to slip backwards through the equinoxes.
Every 2200 years a new star will rise to rule the Spring Equinox. Having passed through the ages
of Gemini/Orion; Taurus, Aries, Pisces, we are now entering the Age of Aquarius. This precession
Mabinogian, The Red Book of Hergest, Lady Charlotte Guest, trans, 1877, p. 427. sacredtexts.com
Kenneth Tuite, Achilles and the Caucusus,, 2007, paper published
Lebor Gabala Erenn (11th c.), & Auraicept na n-Eces 14th c.)
Wikpedia/ogham. Also, see Graves, White Goddess, 1948, pp. 121, 236. A Scythian priest of
Apollo, Abaris, studied with Pythagorus c. 500 BCE.
York MS No. 1 wikipedia.org/wiki/Nimrod>
slowly causes stargazing towers and pyramids aligned to a fixed star to fail and fall out of sync
with Heaven's calendar. Knowledge of astronomy was an important part of the training of
secretive Celtic druids.
Returning to Fenius Farsa, he was a "grandson of Magog and the King of Scythia," Magog,
grandson of biblical Noah, was mythic ancestor of Germanic tribes and Celts. Noah is credited
with safely carrying the Arcana of the Mysteries, including writing and the Art of the Vine, safely
over the Waters of the Deluge. "...This Art was first imparted to Adam...and He prophesized... the
world must be renewed, or, rather purged with water. Therefore his successors erected two stone
tablets, on which they engraved a summary...in order that this arcanum (might be preserved)....
After the Flood, Noah found one of these tablets at the foot of Mount Ararat in Anatolia."
In addition to these ancestors British Celts claim descent from an Egyptian pharaoh's daughter,
Scotia, and the sons of Mil. Milesians came from the city of Miletus located south of the Black
Sea near Troy. Script-writing people from Crete settled it. The sister of Cadmus, a Phoenician
who brought his alphabet to Greece, had been carried off to Crete on the back of a great bull.
Dropping alphabet letters along her path, Europa founded the family of Minos in Crete. Her
ancestress was the great Isis of Egypt. The temple of Isis/Hathor, Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai,
is home to the earliest letters, simplified hieroglyphs adopted by Phoenician.
After arriving in Spain (Iberia), the sons of Mil sailed to Ireland to conquer the Fairy race. Mythic
genealogy referencing cultural as well as physical lineages, Celts also claim the Israelites, the
Kabbalah tradition linking alphabets, number magic and other mysteries coming into open fashion
in Spain about the time of Ogham's appearance . The Israelite, Cae of the Fair Judgments sailed
from Egypt with black Scotia, bringing the Laws of Moses to Ireland.
PALMISTRY AND OGHAM
While many traditions follow the alphabet's promise of a return into the circle, I will use the circling
fingers of palmistry as template for the first 5 symbols of Ogham. Because one can start a journey
with the either the dark shadows of evening or with the rising of the white sun, first symbols of
hermetical traditions are usually black, white, or black and white.
First Tree Ogham is Beth, the Birch. First finger, little finger belongs to quicksilver Mercury also
known as Hermes. At this stage of Creation the One, also appearing as a herm, a pillar, a
Number 1, is androgynous, not yet split apart. As a Herm, his sundial traces out the shadows of
the shining sun marking out the year. Light and Dark circle each other at the Genesis of each new
Herm tracing a year's shadow
Like shining Mercury slowly blackening with age, Birch is a black and white tree. Young trees are
intensely white against the shadows of the dark woods. As they age, white birches darken.
Like hermaphroditic Hermes not yet separated into male and female, the tree contains both
sexes, not needing a partner to propagate: "Birch bears no fruit; yet without seed it brings forth
suckers, for it is generated from its leaves." (Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem, Birch)
Edward Kelly, Theatre of Terestrial Astronomy (16th C.), Alchemeical Publishing, 1988, p. 9.
One possible story for the great Deluge in Anatolia occured c. 5600 BCE when the rising seas
caused the Mediterranean Sea to break through a small land bridge separating a much smaller
Black Sea and cover the farming cities around the former fresh water Black Sea.
Eugene O'Curry (1873) On The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, pp. 20 ff., Goggle
Books. The Kabbalah was expanded in Spain and Gaul.
Hermaphroditic Janus Stone, Boa Island, Ireland
This Irish herm, like Birch and Hermes, contains both male and female features. The waters of
the young male and female have not yet separated. That can't happen until the twin magic of
duality. As first symbols, they stand as boundary markers, as guides through the material life of
coming manifestation. Like the Janus stone, they face backwards as well as forward.
Like wandering quicksilver, birch is a pioneer, moving into foreign territory before other trees.
Messenger of the gods, Mercury is considered one of the inventors of writing. The first ogham
message was written on Birch, further tightening the connection between the symbols for a scribe
basing his oghams on an ancient mystery.
"Birch... if he be laid low, promises abiding fortune" One for the Money guides traders and
travelers through the material world of Earth's bottomless pit. Mercury also promising wealth,
"They worship as their divinity, Mercury in particular... and regard him as the inventor of all arts,
they consider him the guide of their journeys and marches, and believe him to have great
influence over the acquisition of gain and mercantile transaction." (Caesar, The Gallic War 6.17)
A quick look at another B-Ogham shows the scholar finding characters that follow the pattern
begun by Birch/Mercury/Hermes. Lin Ogham, named after pools of water associated with Irish
goddesses, is Banba. Keeper of pigs, Banba like the messenger Mercury is "the vertical link
between the worlds." Like Mercury the Guide, Celtic pigs act "as guides indicating where
churches and other settlements should be established, the sacred center of Glastonbury owing its
site to the choice of a wandering herd."
Hungary, c. 5500 BCE
Magician linking Earth and Sky.
APOLLO AND THE HIDDEN HAME OF GOD
"It will be remembered this name (Apollo) for the god of day was the title of the planet Mercury
when he appeared as a morning star."
Apollo, who began his journey as a god of wild animals and deep forests, eventually became a
sun god. His mother traveling as a wolf was the Fateful Leto/Nemesis. One tradition has her born
in Anatolia. Another states: "Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis was born on this island of the
Hyperboreans, said by some to be Britain...the inhabitants are looked upon as the priests of
Apollo... the god visits the island every nineteen years, the period in which the return of the stars
to the same place in the heavens is accomplished." (Diodorus, c. 60-30 BCE)
Astronomy being an important source of the alphabet's measured progression, every 19 years,
the cycles of the moon, sun and Mercury realign. Above I mentioned Oghams seem to hide the
Anthony Weir, Irishmegaliths.org.uk by permission.
Song of the Forest Trees, Poem-book of the Gaels, Eleanor Hull, ed., p. 99.
Michael Damas, Mythic Ireland, Thames & Hudson, 1991, pp 203-205.
Nicholai Tolstoy, Quest for Merlin, Little Brown, 1985, p. 73.
Gimbutas, Language of the Goddess, Harper & Row, 1989, p. 16. permission of author.
Five thousand years later, the shape linking earth and sky becomes Hebrew letter Aleph
Allen, Richard, Star Names (1899), Dover, 1963, p. 224.
Gerald Hawkins, Stonehenge Decoded, Doubleday, 1965, pp. 129-30.
#19 is a 'golden' sun number. 19th ogham is the fire-yellow furze (skipping 2nd & 15th)
second symbol. Two is a number associated with the Apollo, the Deuce as Deus. (Second finger
of the hand, for instance, is Apollo's finger). Because the name of G-d is not to be spoken, being
'priests' of Apollo offers a reason. His reflective twin is the virginal moon as Artemis.
THREE FOR A WEDDING
This makes Tree Ogham's Luis (Rowan) comparable to the third symbols of other traditions. The
third symbol, like 'three on a match' contains the stories of the seeding of moist earth and the
appearance of dry land on the third day of Creation. Red Rowan is also known as the Quicken
Tree, a quickened womb being a full womb.
Palmistry gives the finger to Saturn. Third finger, Fool's finger, F-finger belongs to earthy Saturn.
The reader need only consider the middle finger while folding the others to recall its powers of
recreation. This is not an aged aspect of Saturn retiring at 50; nor Old Father Time turned upside
down on Twelfth Night. Third position belongs to the potent sower of the seed in his prime.
"Saturnus has been another title (for Orion) but its connection here I cannot learn."
Sex makes a fool of us all. The three stars of the Fool, another name for Orion, now pleasure his
Earth, making her laugh to bring fertility. Following this pattern, Lomna (Lumneach) third Lin
Ogham, was Fionn Maccumhail's Fool. Owning the Bonds of Orion, the Fool seeds an expectant
Earth. Once seeded, the flowing waters and Red Seas of pregnant Earth dry. They remain bound
until she delivers a new people.
Assistant Ogham are named after 25 assistants out of the 72 who helped Phoeniusa Farsa create
the 5 Irish languages out the circle of confusion after the fall of the Tower of Babel (360/72=5). As
above, this is the number associated with eastwards slipping stars, slowly causing towers to lose
their orientation to the star. The L-Assistant Ogham is Lot.
When the Fairy People (later conquered by the Sons of Mil) came to Ireland, they
found entrenched a hideous one-eyed people known as the Fomorians. Monsters or
not, they intermarried, spoke the same language and settled down more or less peacefully. The
mother of the leader was Lot. Like Greek Baubo illustrated here, she was a female 'head' her lips
hanging down to her chest. The clowning of Baubo made a sorrowing Earth (Demeter) laugh
and thus become fertile again, giving birth to a son.
Symbols can have multiple interpretations. Orion being The Fool (Hebrew name K'sl), "The Fool's
French name, Le Fou, is cognate with … fire." Lightening-striking phallic gods appear as third
symbol in many traditions (Mars ruling our third month and day, Thor, and Egypt's Set among
others). While we expect 'if it is this, it is not that' our ancestors had no problems accepting the
constant changing faces of the gods. Luis, Rowan's fertilizing quickening tree is also translated
'Fire'. Color Ogham is Liath, meaning 'flame' and 'delight of the eye'.
FOUR FOR A BIRTH
The knots and bonds imposed by the third stage of creation will last until delivery through the
mouth or delta, of the fourth symbol. A Sun King and Moon will emerge to rule.
Allen, Star Names (1899), 1963, p. 308.
In several traditions, the second day, second symbol includes the separation of the waters.
Adolescent male and female waters now appear, mandating purification.
Peter Ellis, Irish Mythology, Oxford, 1987, p. 153.
Nichols, Sallie, Jung & Tarot, Weiser, 1980, p. 30.
"Solid space … is 4...Since material things exist only in space, they too are number and the
tetrads generates them all" The concept of the tetrad (four) is attributed to Pythagoras. It is
depicted in the shape of fourth letter D's generating delta.
Like Ogham, a gift of Phoeniusa Farsa, the mysteries of measured mathematics have links to
Phoenician wanderers. Son of Apollo and a Phoenician mother, Pythagoras studied 22 years in
Egypt. "Others have him wandering … all over Egypt, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, India and even
Gaul ... (absorbing) all the knowledge and wisdom of the Hebrews, Persians, the Arabs, and the
blue Druids of Britain."
"When April with her showers sweet, the drought of March has pierced to the root." (Chaucer)
With the powers of the fourth charm, we loosen the bonds and fetters binding the waters of the
third. The earthy birth now taking place can emerge either through the opening (os) of the womb
of the Earth Mothers or spoken from the mouth (os) of a male God. By the time Ogham
appeared, the word of gods, rather than a mother's delta, created new worlds. Nion/ Ash (Old
English aesc), original Tree Ogham for this position, is derived from Indo-European 'os'.
Number four is a number associated with the supreme gods of the ancient world. Jupiter as king
whose symbol is
rules the fourth finger, the directive pointer. In another tradition: "We may
note that a sequence which intimates the Greek term tetra. This is , טטרcontains the string מיטטרון
interesting in that tetra seems to invoke the most holy name of God, the four-lettered name
YHWH which itself is often referred to as the “Tetragrammaton."
BATTLE OF THE TREES
Multiple names and spellings are a constant when dealing with ancient traditions. One name for
Ogham is Beth-Luis-Nion, The oldest letters are based on the names of trees (Birch (Beth),
Rowan (Luis), and Ash (Nion). All written oghams, however, use Beth, Luis, Fearn (alder). Before
Ogham became a written script, a warrior king symbolized by the Ash tree, Spear tree, traded
places with an older king, the red Alder. Robert Graves, in his book The White Goddess,
discusses this 'Battle of the Trees' and their fight for the coveted position.
Although the fourth position is associated with the Word of Kings and Emperors, I believe the
Battle was fought over the sixth position (skipping the Deuce/Deus) because it was associated
with the throne of the Queen herself. A Celtic king could not rule by power alone. He must marry
the Land herself after proving his ability to make her fertile. Mounting her Throne of Glory occurs
among the honeymoon myths of the sixth symbol. Presumably after his move to the Queen's 6th
position, Ash became the wood "for supporting the kings thighs" (throne).
Fearn, the red alder tree, is associated with a defeated giant named Bran, meaning alder, grain or
raven. The word 'alder' ultimately derives from Proto Indo-European 'el', El being one of Orion's
many names. I believe Bran/El was, defeated by the changing skies of the Precession observed
as warriors migrated into farming lands.
Orion with El-Wand belt stars
Bell, Eric, Magic of Numbers (1946) Dover, p. 163.
Bell, Magic of Numbers, p. 85.
M. T. Miller, Journal for the Study of Judaism 44 (1012) 1-17 p. 6.
Robert Graves, The White Goddess (1948), Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1966, p. 203.
The stars of Orion's belt are known as the 'el wand'. They are L-shaped like a mason's square.
Originally the Alder (Fearn) occupied sixth place, Nion (Ash) being fourth ogham. A Dark King
and Light King competed for Earth's favors. After defeating the Alder (Bran) during the Battle of
the Trees, the white ‘spear’ tree Ash (Nion) left the fourth position. I think the move among kings
represented by ogham symbols was mandated by the powers associated with the sixth magic:
Possession of the Queen. The sixth symbol, sixth day, is associated with the Bride. Marriage to
her legitimized the new Kings of the Land.
The original 6th Phoenician letter is Vav, the hook or nail marrying Heaven and (vav) his Earth
(22nd letter, Genesis 1). Nion has also been translated hook (Nin), possibly after his conquest of
the Bride and her Throne.
The following story describes an earlier victory before Alder (Fearn) lost his throne. The F Fort
Ogham (all oghams named after a fort) is Femen. "I envy no one old, excepting only Feimen: as
for me, I have worn an old person’s garb; Feimen’s crop is still yellow. The Stone of the Kings is
in Feimen." (Hag of Beare, Gerald Murphy translation) The old ways fading, the Hag identified
with Scotia mourns that she will no longer return young to pleasure young kings in the Spring.
Some 'F' oghams, possibly affected by (Fearn) Alder's move to fourth position, are concerned
with voice and prophesy. F Bird Ogham is 'Faelinn (seagull). Gull derives from we lsh 'gwylan'.
Named "'wailer' from its cry'"(OED). The magic of Mother-birth through her generous delta was
diminishing by this late time. Worlds are now spoken into existence. Lin Ogham is Febal, the
father of Bran. This Bran sailed away to the underworld. He was the inventor of the bardic arts,
which of course, include the speaking of fables.
SINGING WILLOWS AS FIFTH SYMBOL
“The most important finger is the thumb, which among other things, is strong in virtue and power.”
(Book of Beasts, 12th c.) In palmistry, each finger is named after a god with an astronomical
identity. The important thumb, around which other fingers circle, belongs to Hercules. Under the
name of Ogmios, Hercules transmitted the wisdom of Ogham to the Celts.
Each symbol chosen for an ancient alphabet letter must contain a sound needed to represent the
language. As hermetical tradition, it must also reflect the stories determined by its placement in
the series. Tree Ogham's choice of Willow (Saille) has many of Five's qualities. After harvesting
the delivered world of Letter Four, the fifth symbol's attributes include a rather chaste circulation
of learning and wisdom by Priest Kings and teachers to their pupils.
Teacher-priests shave their heads to preserve their power for wisdom. Willow seed also
constrains potency. “If anyone drinks it, he does not have children, and it makes women
S-Bird Ogham is Seg, the hawk. Making his lazy circles in the sky, he is known for his keen
eyesight, pupils associated with the wisdom passed on by priest-kings. ""The words 'church; and
'kirk' are related to circle and the Greek word 'kirkos (hawk) was the name for priesthood."
Color Ogham is Sodath, Primrose. This 5-petal flower is also known as Paigles, Our Lady's Keys
or the Keys of the Kingdom eventually acquired by the supreme priest, the Pope. Earlier it
belonged to an angel thrown from heaven.
Because the sighing wind through the Slough Tree, the sigh tree, the willow is associated with the
transmission of wisdom, never tell a secret to a green willow tree. An Irish king once had horse
It is physically third, but as explained, Oghams hide the second letter.
T.H. White, Book of Beasts (12th century), Putnam, 1954, p. 219.
T.H. White, Book of Beasts, p. 218.
Sally Nichols, Jung and the Tarot, Weiser, 1980, p. 40.
ears. Only his barber knew the secret. He whispered the information to a willow that was later
made into a harp. When played, the willow sang out the King's secret.
Another symbol of wisdom is the S-Assistant Ogham, Saliah. He may reflect the biblical Shelah,
which has been identified with Shiloh where the 5 Books of the Law stored in the Ark of the
Covenant rested when it wasn't being carried about the countryside (Joshua 18:1)
Lin Ogham is Sinaind. Old Irish spells by gathering together likely letters, throwing them down
and marching on from the scene of the accident. Sinaind may be Sinann, goddess of the River
Shannon. This goddess "sought after the secrets of magic wisdom" until she finally found the
source. There the hazels of wisdom drip slowly into the water "And then the five salmon that were
waiting there would eat the nuts and their color would come out in red spots of their skin and any
person that would eat one of those salmon would know all wisdom and all poetry."
Having reached the end of the fingers and the scope of this paper, I conclude with a few final
Oghams, the I-Oghams, the series beginning with the letter I.
All Ogham series begin with a misleading B and end with I promising a return into the circle.
Tree Ogham beginning with a mercurial black and white Birch, ends with the 'Yew' (Ioho) planted
near graveyards. Vats of Yew once stored the blood of the harvested Vine King. Yews as
symbols of eternal life are among the oldest trees in the world. When the Deluge comes again,
the Yew Island of Iona will endure: ‘Ireland and grey-green Islay may sink below the great tide
before the Day of Judgment. But the island of Columba (Iona) will swim above the waves.’
Ogham's script hinting at a return after death: When a person dies, his soul remains. Below is an
ancient image of the Cow Head of our letter A. This is equally the shape of a woman's birth giving
womb and a shape used for ancient graves. Next to it are the prints of the Prince who has left his
sole behind as he stepped off the earth.
Grave shapes with Soles, Paleolithic Spain
The necessity for the new Prints to be able to fill his father's shoes is very old.
Last returning as first determines the choice of Islay as final Fort Ogham. Islay is a small western
island northeast of Ireland. A ceremony "took place on the Council Island when appointing a Lord
of the Isles. (There is) a large rock with a depression shaped like a human foot, into which the
elected chief placed his foot, denoting that he should walk in the footsteps ... of his
predecessors'." There is also a stone circle, the Stones of Cultoon, aligned to the Winter
Solstice, the day the sun dies and then is reborn as days once again grow longer.
Grave in form of letter 'A', Yugoslavia c. 6000 BCE
Lady Gregory, Gods and Fighting Men (1904), Macmillan, 1976.
Ernest Dobihofer, Voices in Stone, Viking, 1961, p. 21.
Gimbutas, Language of the Goddess, 1989, p. 156.
COMPARISONS OF PHOENICIAN, OGHAM AND MILESIAN ALPHABETS
Scripts from David Diringer, Alphabet, 2 vol., 1968
Note missing second letter, the Deus/Deuce. Most also drop the 15th letter, a letter associated
with a Devil, a demonized deva (god)