- November 7, 2020 at 12:11 pm #12456
I have just read a very interesting article by Luke Eastwood on the Ogham language, it does touch upon some of the issues raised on the cultural appropriation thread but the argument here is mostly about the subject of the language. There are some important issues to consider when working with Ogham. The official Irish language, An Caighdean Oifigiuil, is a new modern alphabet which has several more letters than the Irish language used to have. This is in drastic contrast to something like English which has not changed recently. To make things more complicated modern Irish has four different dialects. The modern alphabet Gaelige has been called Beith-Luis-Nin, which should be immediately recognisable to anyone who has any experience of Ogham, as these are amongst the Ogham letters. Contrast this with ogam, note the difference in spelling here, which is actually an older form of this language. As you may already know, Ogham has twenty letters. The Scholar’s Primer or Auriacept na Eces is the key text to refer to when studying this language. While the original 1917 edition is understandably very expensive, there are much cheaper hardback versions which are easy to obtain and easier to afford. Briatharogams or kennings, there are three key lists which are used in understanding Ogham. One big surprise is that the Ogham may not be a tree alphabet strictly speaking. Be aware that there are variations which relate to different concepts such as cows or birds, for example. Luke Eastwood does not discourage people from using the Ogham, only that they make some effort to understand it; this is like a similar point made by Lora O’Brien, people should understand what they are talking about when it comes to Irish culture, not speaking wildly from a position of relative ignorance. I must admit that compared to what I have learned modern studies appear very narrow and speculative in nature, with a lot of personal opinion and invention. Making up facts and distorting history can be very unhelpful and misinformative. I wish that we had a higher standard in some of the available writing.November 7, 2020 at 7:39 pm #12457Anonymous
Hi David, Ogma, bald with wrinkly dark skin, has a bow and club, and is thought to be the inventor of ogam script. However, ogam does not show up until christianity pokes its big nose out of the book of history with the arrival of the christ man’s religion in the uk, and the druid stories are all originally written down in latin and then Irish. there are lots of ogam stones in Kerry and cork. I doubt the druids even used ogam. but I have had great success using greywolf’s tree cards that have ogam letters on them, same thing with the tarot cards, those came from about 1920 with the golden dawn coven. I do feel that people are really making a bigger deal about ogam than need be, and that the druids did not use ogam, the real beauty of ogam is that it is based on the names of trees, and we may be able to find some real druid tree lore from looking at ogam. remember, that it took the skins of 500 cows to make the vellum that the book of kells is written on, so without paper and inkjet printers, or even a printing press, writing was a rare thing until the invention of paper, which came much much later. I see most stuff with the druids as happening with the spoken word, and I don’t think ogam has anything to do with the original druids. also, there is a weird thing that goes on with the druid stories, where the christian monks set the druids at the feet of christ, and talking with mosses, and have genius farad, going to the Tower of Babel, it is all bullshit christian propaganda, plus the scribes used goose quills to write, and crow quills for the detail. they used iron oxide or oak tree bumps for the black ink,oak gall and iron gall, writing as we know it did not get going until about 1475 with Clayton’s printing press,. the oldest written form of language is called old Irish 600-900, and has connections with latin and greek,. it is a member of the indo-euoropean family of language, the word mother in Irish is mathair and in latin it is mater, so you can see the relationship,. as a druid I favor the use of memory for storytelling anyway. the druids really had great memory ability, something we have lost in our age of tweets. a good book on it is The Irish hand by t O’niell. good tidings WilliamNovember 8, 2020 at 8:43 am #12462
I will consider that William, thank you for your recommendation. I think that one of the points which struck me about Luke Eastwood’s article is that we do not really understand what ogham is, there are so many oghams obviously there is a deep mystery to the language which needs to be discovered through study and careful contemplation.November 8, 2020 at 7:57 pm #12468Anonymous
David, as I understand it, Ogham was largely used for commemorative purposes, like tombstones, or other markings or major cultural events, like who won the battle or who was king. I do think it is interesting that the ogham letters can be used for divination, and they seem to work, or at least for me. I have a pack of greywolfs cards that I do find is very effective for divination. David I think that you would really like the book “An introduction to Early Irish Literature, by Muireann ni bhrolchain,”. I have been reading it and it is opening my mind up to all the magic and wonder of the Celts. For I do find at times I lose my interest in the Celtic magic, largely because there are so many people with so many negative opinions about the wonder of druidry. It does seem that the early Celts did see the earth as a goddess, or more like many goddesses. An as a pagan I see the earth as a living goddess and the the earth and trees and plants are conscious and communicate with each other, and I think that science now proves this. It is a scientific fact that trees can communicate with each other through scent, and electric impulses through the root system and fungi system, although they do talk very very very slowly, which is no problem if you are a tree because you live a long time and there is not much else to do except dance in the wind. the trees also get together to decide which years they will produce more seeds, and the trees talk about the predators that can hurt the trees. Also, tress love other trees and send other trees sugars through the root system. So, I guess one of the ways to talk to trees is to just slow down and listen, it takes time,. also, just because ogam really gets going at the time the romans decide to bring the party to the uk, does not mean that the ogam is not authentic druid stuff. I think the druids were going strong until about 900 ad, and they died out from the christians persecution. Plus, remember, my take on the whole druidry way of life is much different from the uk view, because I reincarnated in the USA, but don’t think I don’t long for home, Scotland the brave. I am descended from the Scotch-Irish who moved to the blue ridge mountains in sweet Virginia. So, the druids in the uk are much closer to the source or druidry and do have a different take on it than I do, for I am very Neo-pagan. Good tidings WilliamNovember 8, 2020 at 8:29 pm #12469DowrgiParticipant
On the one hand, a lot of Ogham “mythology” is drawn from Robert Graves, and we’ve discussed the issues with this before. Moreover, there’s not much to back up any pre-Christian use of Ogham in Ireland, or the parts of Britain whither it spread. On the other hand, however, Celtic cultures didn’t just stop in the Iron-Age, sub-Roman age or Medieval period. I don’t see anything wrong working with Ogham as long as it isn’t passed off for something it isn’t.
The bardic cultures of the Celtic peoples were, in a sense, a continuation of those cultures that had birthed or nurtured druidism, so I’d say take the Ogham for what it is and work with it, but don’t try to turn it into something it never was.
/|\November 8, 2020 at 9:58 pm #12470
As far as this subject goes I am still only learning and have only just started, so I don’t know what I am going to find or what is possible yet. I am going to take things carefully until I know a whole lot more.
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