The Ogham is a most powerful and beautiful tool for personal growth. It positively exudes spiritual understanding and cosmology and connection to magic and the vastness, and yet is fully rooted in the Earth: the energies of trees. Ogham is the alphabet of ancient Ireland and its Druids. It is beautiful and tantalising, and the Ogham Paths that run across the Celtic Otherworlds are inhabited by awesome, beautiful, terrifying and inspiring beings. It expands our mental and spiritual awareness. It makes us more magical and powerful and able to live fuller lives.
The Ogham is very ancient and its growth through time shows the changes and mergers of different Celtic alphabets, but each Ogham alphabet letter or ‘Few’ represents the soul and energy of a tree. And each letter is also a pathway that runs across or between the Celtic Otherworlds. These Celtic Otherworlds are a magnificent inter-realm cosmology which maps different, and sometimes overlapping states of consciousness and perception, each inhabited by their own beings.
The main division is three-fold: in addition to this world, Middle Earth, there is also the Underworld and the Upper World. To the ancient Irish, Middle Earth was known as Bith; the Underworld was known as Tir Andoman, and the Upper World was known as Magh Mor. But each of these worlds has four realms within it in relation to this particular system of learning: the unfoldment of the total energies of the Ogham Celtic Tree Alphabet. Twenty paths run through this cosmology: four across each world and others running between them – and each path is imbued with the spirit and energy of a tree. But not only this, each letter provides a key for us to connect to the beautiful and inspiring otherworlds of the ancient Celts. And each letter teaches us ways of navigating across and between these worlds, and expanding your consciousness so as to be able to achieve this. For example, there’s the famous Tir na N’Og, the land of eternal Youth, or there’s Magh Mell: the state of Abundance, the Plane of Delight. In teaching the Ogham I use a system or cosmology of twelve otherworlds in all, with the twenty Ogham letters energising the pathways across and between these worlds.
When you study the Ogham, you develop the increasing magical consciousness that each letter of this alphabet epitomises. Each letter is a deep meditation on the energy and wisdom of a tree. Each letter can thus connect us to very special natural-based state of consciousness. So when you learn the Ogham, you learn the energy of each tree. So each Ogham letter is a magical guide to life. Each Ogham opens your mind to the otherworlds and mystery. You learn how to do powerful and profound Ogham divination readings. You become inspired to write the alliterative poetry of the ancient Irish. Great personal guidance and spiritual growth seeps – osmoses – into your being: Timeless Wisdom that is relevant and needed today. You gain clarity and insight into your life, using this deep ancestral understanding. You meet the Celtic Gods and Goddesses. You can transform your life and consciousness. And you can magically empower yourself by working through my Distance Correspondence Ogham Course. This is totally personal and inspired sharing and learning.
Learning the energies and mysteries of each of the Celtic tree letters can be done partly by journeying: by guided meditation with trance drumming and maybe chanting and divination. Each journey always starts (and ends) at your Divine Centre, here at the centre of Middle Earth. You need to start with a very strong sense of your Divine Centre before learning about the Ogham and the otherworlds. You learn to visualise it. And you must always return to it at the end of a journey. I found that mine was an ancient Irish Lake Village by the sea.
Basically, four pathways radiate out across Middle Earth, radiate out from your Divine Centre. At the end of each path is a Tower: a tower on the shores of the surrounding limitless Ocean. My towers are always Grace O’Malley’s Castle at Renvyle in Connemara, near my family home of Cashleen, and by the cemetery where my blood-line ancestors lie buried. Grace O’Malley was the famous Pirate Queen of Connemara at the time of Queen Elizabeth I of England.
As I said, each of the Ogham alphabet letters or ‘Fews’ represents the soul and energy of a tree, but also they are also pathways that run across or between the Celtic Otherworlds. Now, it’s important to note that the location of the pathways through the worlds is defined by an energy-unfoldement. So this means that the order in which you journey the pathways across the otherworlds, that I teach, is actually different from the order the letters come in the Ogham alphabet.
So, in order to introduce you a little to the energy of the Ogham and the Otherworlds, let me give you the first two journeys as a small example. First of all, I’d like you now to visualize yourself in your Divine Centre at the centre of Middle Earth. You see that there are four pathways radiating outwards: Alder to the North East; Holly to the South East; Broom to the South West and Heather to the North West. These are the triple notch Oghams: Alder, Holly, Broom and Heather, called in ancient Irish: Fern, Tinne, Ngetal and Ur.
Looking out from your Divine Centre, visualize the first four tree energies you will contact with in studying the Ogham, and, for the purpose of this introductory example, you will travel from your Divine Centre along the first two of these pathways. In journey order these two trees are Alder and Holly, as follows
Journey 1 is the 3rd Ogham letter, the Alder Tree. The Alder pathway runs across Bith, or Middle Earth. It runs from the Divine Centre towards the North East Tower. At this stage you are not ready to walk the pathways that go beyond Middle Earth, but, as with all four of the Towers at the ultimate corners of Middle Earth, you can see that one pathway goes downwards from the tower to the Celtic underworld, and one goes upwards to the upper world. Now you begin to attune to the energy of the tree of the first pathway: Alder. The energy of the Alder tree, Vearn, includes: prediction, prophetic ability, oracular knowledge, scrying, the spiritual warrior, the shield of the warrior band. The main being or entity of the Alder path is Bran, the God of Prophecy: the Head of Bran, this is Sidhe energy. Alder consciousness guides us through swampy land. It represents guidance from within or without. But also, from the nature of the wood, it brings into our consciousness, durability. And, as I said, the Alder Path runs across Middle Earth to the North East, so you see that the Alder path actually runs between the boundaries of two of the four Middle Earth realms: it runs between Blath in the East and Cath in the North, and as is briefly mentioned below, each of these realms is linked to a system or awareness of energy unfoldment, and each of these four realms of Middle Earth is occupied by one of the four spiritual weapons of the famous Tuatha de Danaan – weapons you can learn to access and use for your spiritual power in your life.
Let’s turn to a second journey as an example. Our second Journey is the 8th Ogham letter: Tinne, or Holly. The Holly Path runs through Bith or Middle Earth from your Divine Centre, out to the South East, so now you travel between the realm of Seis in the South and Blath in the East. Obviously, the energy of Holly is totally different from Alder. Holly gives you the chance to develop protection from unwanted energies. It provides you with powers of challenge and defence if you learn about it and visualize it and call it into your consciousness when needed. The energy of Holly is Trial. It’s Spikey energy, it’s endurance. In life, you have to cope when the going gets tough. It’s best to realize you should shine in adversity. Keep positive. And on the Holly pathway, you meet two wonderful entities: the Holly King and the Green Giant. There’s a lot to understand about each of these. It is unforgettable to meet the otherworldly beings of the ancient Celts you can encounter them to empower yourself and extend your consciousness. If you have these as your friend they bring you lucky protection. But like everything in life, energies are always two-sided: positive or negative, challenging or harmonious. When encountering Holly in life or in a reading, beware hatred, jealousy and revenge, but honour the imperative for balance: do unto others as they do unto you.
I did mention that there are ancient objects of power or spiritual weapons that you can gather on the way as you travel the four pathways across Middle Earth. These are the four wonderful spiritual weapons of the Tuatha de Danaan. They are The Stone of Eriu in Cath, the North realm; the Spear of Lugh in Blath, the East realm; the Sword of Nuada in Finias, the South realm, and the Cauldron of The Dagda in Fis, the West realm. In order to give you an example of ways of accessing the power of these four weapons, here’s a possible meditation to gain the power of the first weapon, the Stone of Fal (which is Earth, or Pentacles in the Tarot):
Beating your drum, prepare your spirit to travel out to find and touch the Stone of Fal. From your Divine Centre, you go out across Middle Earth, along the Alder Tree path, the tree called Fearn, your aim is to seek to touch the Stone of Fal, your first weapon of power. You find your spirit heading from the Divine Centre and you are walking the Alder path – the Alder path which is by the banks of a river that runs in several streams or course-ways in boggy misty country. In the Alder grove, you feel the place of watery misty prophecy signifying closeness to the Otherworld: the Alder is a tree that grows on the boundary between the worlds, where water meets the earth: this is the Alder path, the path of the Spiritual Warrior. A quality of the Alder wood is it hardens when wet so it gives protection and steadfastness when you walk in connection to the tree’s spirit and energies: Its wood also changes colour to red when wet which the ancients signified as connected to fairy and vision. Alder is a path of self-discovery, challenging that which does not ring true. Now, see the Being of the alder path: the head of Bran, God of prophecy. Know that Alder brings us prophecy either from within ourselves or from without. You may ask Bran to prophesy for you.
Now, turn North off the Alder path for a while. Travel into the North realm of Middle Earth, Cath, to see and touch the Stone of Fal. This is the coronation stone for the High Kings of Ireland. When the rightful High King of Ireland put his feet on it, the Goddess of the Land within the Stone would shriek in joy. This was the stone bequeathed by the Goddess Eriu, deity of Erin. The stone gives the gift of grounded power. Hear the words, ‘the king and the Earth are one.’ See that the stone is the Navel of the World, the bedrock of existence, the foundation of Being. Sense its solidity, its weight. Touch it. Remember its quality. Commit it to mind. Know that inner cry of recognition – the shriek of the Stone – when you harmonise with your true purpose, your calling. The Celts understood stones were “plugged in” to the belly of mother earth and were conduits for her high energy, and their very solidity stood for trueness.
Wrap yourself round the stone. Feel the link right from the womb of the earth where all things go back for renewal. Remember that connection: the need to get grounded: the solidity and authority for the rock, the deepest or inmost purpose of your existence, commitment to your unique fate path.
Reverence and thank the Stone, then journey back to get onto the Alder path again. You reach it and you see that the Alder path continues one way to the Tower that stands at its end, the Tower that stands on the shores of the surrounding endless ocean, but, this time, you do not go to the Tower, you turn round the other way instead, and you head back to the your Divine Centre. And as you head home, you know that now you carry forever within your consciousness and the cells of your body, the meaning and sacred values of the Stone of Fal. The Stone of Fal is now firmly in your consciousness.
I did mention that the energies of each of the four realms of Middle Earth are part of a ‘system of energetic unfoldment’ (and this goes for the four realms of the Underworld and the Upperworld, too), and this is the reason why I don’t teach the ogham Celtic Tree Alphabet in the order of the letters in the alphabet, but in the order of the Journeys through the Otherworlds. So I thought I’d end this very brief introduction to the Ogham, by simply sharing what that energy-unfoldment pattern is. First of all, you start of centred: you start from your Divine Centre. Then you move to the south realm, Seis, inhabiting the realm of balanced forces. But then as you journey through life’s experiences, you move on to the West realm, Fis, which is imbued with the energy of ‘going on a learning spiral’. Then you move to the North realm, Cath, which means you encounter a realm of conflict or resistance where you have to understand and internalise your new level of awareness, and cope with its challenge. Then you move to the East realm, Blath, where, because of the learning and integration you have achieved so far, you are able to manifest your new energies and awareness, and so then you return to your Divine Centre again – and you get ready for the next learning spiral in your life!
So, in summary, the Ogham Celtic Tree Alphabet is a wonderful doorway to the consciousness of trees and it taps into the Druid wisdom of ancient Ireland. It expands your mind as you travel all the interlocking states of awareness that are the Celtic Otherworlds and you encounter the Beings of the pathways and the four spiritual weapons of the Tuatha de Danaan.
As a final item, I want to reflect on the difference between the two ancient alphabets of the Ogham of the ancient Irish and the Runes of the ancient Norse (and other Northern peoples).
I have been teaching the Runes since 1994: magical, visionary and personal empowerment. My mother’s blood line comes from Connemara, Co Galway, on the far west coast of Ireland, I don’t know if there’s ancestral memories coming out here: past lives manifesting here, past life skills. I think there are. There were quite a lot of Viking invasions and landings on that coast of Ireland, so a tie-up of the Ogham and the Runes would have been possible there. I have already described the Ogham. Let’s briefly mention the Runes. The Runes are the alphabet of the ancient Norse and other peoples of Northern Europe. They are powerful and ancient magic. Each Rune tells us about a key facet of our life. Each Rune is a key to deep personal transformation, and they are also a system of Divination. But they are also Gateways to new ways of being, ways of bringing in needed change. With the Runes, you enter the wonderful world of Odin, the Norns, Freya, Heimdall and Tir. You learn how to transform your understanding of the events in your life. You use the genuine magic of making a Rune, chanting its name, rune stance and journeying for its true meaning as applied to your life at the present.
But the Ogham, too, is in my blood-line (and my grandmother was a fortune teller and match-maker in Connemara, though her family the Kyles originally came from the Western Isles of Scotland), and the Ogham is the Celtic Tree Alphabet of the ancient Irish Druids. I have meditated a lot on the difference between the Runes and the Ogham and I think they are very different magical and visionary worlds. I feel that the Runes are more linear and maybe they are ‘will-based’ magic: the first eight Runes (Freya’s) are about what it is to be a human being, valuing yourself, having enough strength, being able to defend yourself properly and so on. With the second eight Runes (Heimdall’s Aett) you take a step onto the Rainbow Bridge that leads to the God Realm and you learn to perceive situations in ways that are above the human, and in the third Aett (Tir’s Aett) we actually co-create and share in god-consciousness. The Runes feel more active and masculine.
The Ogham, however, is not linear like the Runes. In the Ogham Worlds, the different Otherworlds merge and interpenetrate. There’s no sense of linear progression, but of merging with totality and experience of so much magic and vision, of meeting the beings and entities of the Ogham paths, who are very non-linear and heroic and laws unto themselves. There’s real fairy magic and the ancient wisdom and power of the Sidhe in the Ogham, it’s elusive, mysterious, gentle and spikey The Ogham feels even more out of time and multi-dimensional than the Runes. It’s much more rooted in the Earth. But what a privilege it is to have both of these ancient magical systems of power and vision flowing through our veins.
How do you feel the Ogham can contribute to your future? Learn the use of the twenty Trees of the Ogham Tree Alphabet of the ancient Irish Druids to expand your consciousness and your connection to the land. Open a magical doorway to divination, contemplation. Travel to the Celtic Otherworlds and the energies and beings of the Ogham pathways. See my web site: http://www.earthstarweb.com.