Ogham basics: keywords and interpretation ideas

Ogham basics: keywords and interpretation ideas

Last week, as I was celebrating my very own version of Ogham Day, I found myself having the urge to go back to basics regarding my relationship with the Irish Alphabet. Basically, it means that I had a good look at the various meanings and keywords I developed and associated to the Feda during the years I’ve been working with them.

And as I was writing in my journal, realizing that it hadn’t actually change that much over time, I thought it might be a good idea to share these basic keywords over here too. Perhaps it will spark you with some inspiration for your own construction of meanings and interpretations. Or even give you a starting point if you aren’t familiar with the Ogham yet but are tempted to see if this system can work for you (I’m sure it will).

Wooden Ogham Set

First let me clarify something. I have largely moved away from the Tree Alphabet that you most usually find when you look for general info about the Ogham. So if you’re looking for that specifically, you won’t find it in this post. Good news though, there’s plenty of articles available for you on the Internet. And books, online courses, and decks of cards, lots of various supports to choose from.

Don’t get me wrong, I still use a Tree Ogham from time to time, but so do I with other variations of the system, like that ocean-inspired Ogham I imagined for myself and called Seven Seas Ogham. You won’t find this one anywhere except in my Witchy Books. I may talk more about it in the future if you’re interested, but just to give you an idea, it relies on animals, plants, and symbols related to the ocean, like seagulls, starfish, and shells.

That’s what I like most about the Ogham: when you have a good understanding of the basics, you can imagine and build anything on it. It’s like a frame that you can fill with symbols and meanings of your own. You can have a Bird Ogham, a Color Ogham, a Crystal Ogham… I don’t know, a Mythical Creatures Ogham. Whatever theme stirs your imagination!

In fact, that’s one of the reasons why, most often, when I pull a set of Ogham to give myself a reading, I just lean on the most basic form of interpretation using the meanings I’m about to share. So that I can build on it and expand with the symbols that resonate with me in the moment. Sometimes it even takes the form of unexpected Signs and Omens later in the day.

My own interpretation of things comes from my understanding of the Bríatharogaim (i.e. the various kennings, or poetic circumlocutions expressing the essence of the Feda) and the brilliant work of Erynn Rowan Laurie compiled in her book Ogham: Weaving Words Wisdom. After years of practice with the Ogham, if I was asked for one book recommendation, it would definitely be this one, as I keep going back to it again and again.

All right, enough with the rambling now. Let’s get right into it!

🍂 1st Aicme

  • Beith: Purification – Cleansing – Preparation – Clarity – Intention
  • Luis: Inspiration – Sacred Flame – Spark (think Awen, if you know what I mean)
  • Fern: Protection – Contain & Guard – Shelter – Shield
  • Sail: Flow – Tide – Flexibility – Cycle – Timing – Moon & Water
  • Nin: Connection – Weaving – Network – Community – Link

🍂 2nd Aicme

  • h-Ùath: Fears – Anxiety – Bad Luck – Curse – Challenges – Resilience
  • Dair: Strength – Resistance – Stability – Endurance – Firmness
  • Tinne: Skill – Talent – Mastery – Craftmanship – Work – Creation – Making
  • Coll: Wisdom – Knowledge – Tradition – Enlightenment
  • Ceirt: Uncertainty – Instability – Difficulty – Chaos – Destruction

🍂 3rd Aicme

  • Muin: Communication – Voice – Self-expression – Speaking
  • Gort: Growth – Cultivation – Garden – Nourishing – Fruition – Abundance
  • nGétal: Wound & Healing – Balance – Well-being – Regeneration
  • Straif: Shape-Shifting – Change – Transformation – Transcendence
  • Ruis: Passion – Intensity – Energy – Sexuality – Frenzy – Raw Emotions

🍂 4th Aicme

  • Ailm: Birth – Beginning – First Step – Threshold – Initiation
  • Onn: Motion – Bringing Movement – Journey – Travel – Direction – Wheel
  • Ùr: Death – Ending – Grief – Release – Rest – Earth & Ground
  • Edad: Vision – Consciousness – Dream – Divination – Otherworld
  • Idad: Memory – Roots – Ancestors – Transmission – Legacy – History – Longevity

And here’s your (non-exhaustive) list of Ogham Basics, have fun with it! I should probably have mentioned that I don’t use the Forfeda, the fifth Aicme that was later added to the alphabet, so no more keywords from me. But if you do use them, please feel free to add yours in the comments below, as it could help somebody else who’s looking for it.

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