Ogham Alphabet Meanings, History, and Divination For Beginners
For those interested in nature spirituality, trees have always held wisdom and been considered sacred. Each Ogham alphabet symbol derives its name from Celtic mythology and metaphorical tree meanings.
While many pagans, witches, or those interested in nature spirituality use the Ogham symbols for divination, there is no evidence stating these were the actual or intended uses. Oghams were often used as an Irish alphabet, to mark graves, indicate land borders, and connect with nature or ancestors.
Oghams are full of symbolism and spiritual magic, and their meanings can hold many different messages. It’s essential to understand and respect those who have used them over the years. Oghams are sacred and impactful to those who used them (and continue to use them) for spells, sigils, and magic. They help you to connect with the energy of each tree and the spirit of nature.
Remember there is a LOT of information to learn about Celtic Ogham rune symbols and their meanings, and this is an overview for beginners. I did my best to try to keep it very informative but as simple as possible. I’m in no way an Ogham expert, but I do have a deep interest in them. I did a ton of research for this post and referenced all of my sources at the bottom of this article.
How Do You Pronounce Ogham or Ogam? Which spelling is correct?
Pronunciation – Oh-mm or sometimes pronounced as oh-am
Ogham is spelled with a “gh” in Modern Irish. However, in Old Irish, it was spelled “g” (Ogam).
Ogham versus Runes – Is Ogham the same as Elder Futhark Runes?
There are some similarities between the gods that created them (Ogma and Odin), and they may have been used simultaneously around the same time period. However, Oghams have no direct connection with the Elder Futhark Rune symbols.
However, it is interesting to note the English word “rune” is from the Norse word runa, which means secret or mystery. Likewise, the Irish word rùn also means secret or mystery.
Ogham History and Folklore
Most of what we know about Oghams and Ogma-the-Sun-Face god has been pieced together by different Gaelic historical writings and stories. Legend states Ogma (god of wisdom and education) invented Ogam, but no additional details are given.
There is no evidence to indicate its existence before the Roman era, and it’s believed to be developed by one person around 200 – 300 CE.
Some theories indicate Latin origins due to Ogham structure, sounds, and vowels. Similar to Latin, Ogham has five vowels, while Gaelic has ten. Again indicating Latin origins.
Oghams were often carved into trees or bark to document genealogies and for magical intentions. There are over 300 stones currently in Ireland that have Oghams etched into them. Some seem to have moved, so it’s not entirely clear if they were used to mark graves, define land borders, or something else.
In 1940, Robert Graves published The White Goddess, which sparked modern interest in Oghams. Robert Graves was the grandson of the Ogham scholar, Charles Graves. However, Robert embellished a bit of the history and interpretations. While quite beautiful, it is not completely historically accurate.
While this translation can still hold spiritual meaning and importance to those who work with Oghams, it’s important not to let modern developments overshadow the original intentions. Let your intuition and spirituality guide you when working with Oghams.
How to Read and Use Ogham Runes
Originally Oghams started with twenty symbols (called feda (pronounced fey-duh), meaning ‘trees’ or ‘wood”) and were assembled into four groups called aicme (ack-meh), meaning family or class, and were based on the direction of the symbol’s strokes known as flesc (pronounced flay-shk), they were created to embody the Irish language.
Five additional letters (called forfeda, meaning “supplementary letters’) were added later to add in sounds felt to be missing from the original alphabet and align them a bit more with Latin.
The letters are composed of notches that look similar to tree branches. You’ll notice the original twenty are much more simple and easier to carve into wood. The additional five letters are more intricate and more difficult to carve.
Oghams were written vertically when carved into stone and read bottom to top (as you would climb a tree). They were later written in manuscripts and read left to right.
What are Ogham Staves? How do I Use Ogham For Divination?
Ogham staves are typically comprised of wooden sticks with the Ogham symbols carved or painted onto each one, then used as a form of divination. I’ve seen some beautiful sets where each stave is made of the corresponding tree it’s connected to, but some are as simple as popsicle sticks. The choice of creating or buying your own is entirely up to you.
Even if the original Ogham alphabet wasn’t divinatory, as some historians have stated, each symbol has deep magical and mythical meanings associated with them; and makes for an effective divination method. The Ogham alphabet has much knowledge to convey if we only take the time to slow down and learn their unique meanings.
The most popular way to practice Ogham divination is by selecting a certain number of staves to cast. The number chosen can vary on the practitioner, but standard amounts are 3, 6, or 9. You can do this by reaching into the bag or container where you store your staves and picking each Ogham randomly. Other folks will lay out each stave and hold their hands over them while thinking about their question or intention with their eyes closed and then choosing.
Take a few moments to meditate with them in your hands; deep ruminate on your question or concerns and when you’re ready, cast them out in front of you. Alternatively, you can also pull one Ogham stave and use that alone to answer your question.
Another popular divination technique is to draw three Oghams for a spread or layout. What the layout represents is up to you, but here are a few ideas to get you started –
- Past, Present, Future
- Spiritual, Physical, Emotional
- Spirit, Ancestor, Deity
Some believe that each Ogham doesn’t have a reversed meaning and that its intention is the same, whether up or down. However, some find reversed meanings a helpful tool in divination, so I included it in each description below for your reference.
It’s important to remember that each Ogham can have various meanings, and it’s essential to keep an open mind when using them. Instead of looking for yes and no or good and wrong answers, keep an open mind and consider various viewpoints and possibilities. Remain flexible and unbiased and let your intuition guide you more than anything written in each Ogham description.
Celtic Ogham Rune Symbol Meanings
Each Ogham corresponds with a tree and can have various metaphorical meanings. Oghams are mixed with different meanings and symbolism and are deeply connected spiritually and culturally. The Ogham alphabet has much knowledge to convey if we only take the time to slow down and learn their unique meanings.
The First Aicme
Pronunciation – Beh
Tree Association – birch
Meaning – Most associated with joyful beginnings (childbirth, relationships, job, a new phase in life, etc), creativity, and cleansing. Remember, change can sometimes be uncomfortable and challenging. Now is an excellent time to start preparing and laying the groundwork for the transformations ahead. What can you do to prepare yourself for the changes ahead?
If reversed – Stagnant and stale energy. You are stuck in the past and need to let go of negative thoughts so you can move forward.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Fresh beginnings or overcoming challenging moments or cleansing energies, body, or space. Try inscribing on a broom handle, sweep away negative energy, and make way for new intentions.
Folklore – Birch trees were frequently used for love magic. For this reason, birch trees were often used for maypoles to symbolize renewal and fertility. Birch was also used in Ireland and Scotland to create a crib and was believed to provide newborns safety.
Luis or Lus
Pronunciation – Lwee or loo-s
Tree Association – rowan
Meaning – Defense, herbalism, control of one’s actions, in defense of animals (particularly cattle), growth, and fresh ideas. It can also symbolize a threat to your prosperity, joy, or physical or mental wellness. When luis appears during divination, it can indicate a sudden burst of creativity or inspiration. It may also be a sign of comfort that you are being taken care of and have what it takes to conquer any challenge presented to you.
If reversed – You may be vulnerable or susceptible to negative intentions. This means that you need to be cautious and take proper measures to circumvent any possible threats.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Wear an amulet with this symbol for protection and safety. You could also place it on your front door with a wreath. Symbolize your ancestors or departed loved ones to allow them to aid in your protection.
Folklore – Due to Rowan’s defense and protection symbolism, it was frequently planted at sacred locations. Rowan was believed to be protected by dragons and snakes.
Fearn or Fern
Pronunciation – Fair-n
Tree Association – alder
Meaning – Spiritual guidance, creativity, choices, emotional security, and safeguarding yourself against harm. Be open to advice from an elder or someone whose opinions you deeply value. Remember to also follow your gut instinct and listen to your intuition. Now is an excellent time to gather knowledge and information to make the best decisions possible going forward.
If reversed – Stubbornness, you may be disregarding good advice. This can also symbolize that you have hit a creative wall. Try relaxing and looking at things from another viewpoint.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Helpful when feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Use to connect and converse with the universe, ether, or otherworld. Inscribe on a charm to help attract prophetic dreams and good counsel. Carve into a candle when working with spirit guides.
Folklore – Alder is water-resistant and was often used to make buckets for milking. The receptacle holding milk corresponded with the Celtic myth of magical cauldrons and cups of inspiration, including the Holy Grail.
Saille or Sail
Pronunciation – Sahl-yuh
Tree Association – willow
Meaning – Balance, intuition, closely connected to the moon’s cycles, perfect timing (astrologically), sentimental feelings, the flow of water, and tides. Willow trees (often found near water) and the moon are closely linked due to their connection with water. Saille is also associated with divination and intuition. Keeping your connection to your Self open and healthy is an empowering trait and very valued.
If reversed – You’re feeling defeated, distracted, or lost. Use your knowledge and intuition to guide yourself back to alignment.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Wonderful for Moon Water, moon magic, cyclical intentions, or working with the element water. Allow the flexibility of the willow tree to influence your spiritual life. Let yourself be a bit more fluid; keep yourself and your intuition open.
Folklore – willow was often used as a witching rod to locate water and also for basket weaving due to its flexibility. Four thousand years ago, Sumerians used Willow bark for pain relief, as did other ancient civilizations. Hippocrates recommended chewing on willow bark or brewing it for tea to treat fevers and relieve women’s pain during birth. During the nineteenth century, scientists found out Willow tree contained salicylic acid when used in aspirin today.
Nion or Nin
Pronunciation – Nee-uhn
Tree Association – ash
Meaning – transitions, renewal, the strength of women, growth, peace, supportive friendships, and fate. Struggles and challenges are a natural part of life and are imperative when evolving or growing, and it’s essential to accept this truth. Nin symbolizes the coming together of friends, families, and communities for a positive purpose. Ash is also representative of fate, but this does not mean you are bound to a particular course but indicates a unique path that is specific to you. Boundaries are not a disadvantage because they can help make us aware of connections, links, and develop creative solutions. Create the life you most desire with zeal and confidence!
If reversed – A need for assertiveness and control of your life. If you find yourself suffering, locate the root of the problem. It might be a good time for shadow work. Consider delaying any action, so you have time to contemplate and potentially change your perspective entirely.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Wonderful for manifesting your desires and intentions. Use for help with imagination, creativity, new perspectives, and spiritual and emotional healing.
Folklore – In some Celtic magic, a branch of Ash is traditionally used to make a magical staff or wand. They are frequently carved with spirals and considered very sacred.
The Second Aicme
Pronunciation – Hoo-ah
Tree Association – hawthorn
Meaning – barriers, despair, protection, loneliness, strife, or feeling suffocated. Don’t avoid problems or issues in your life. You may be experiencing setbacks or misfortune, but it will eventually pass. Remember good times and difficult times are a natural part of life. Now is not the time for aggressive reactions, be patient. Look for solutions while remaining humble and open to new possibilities without dismissing your original intentions or goals.
If reversed – You’ve come to an impasse or standstill. If you continue to be forceful and aggressive, it will lead to embarrassment or misery.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Use to help clear your thoughts of negativity and open your intuition and insight. Huath offers patience, wisdom, and empathy to your spirituality.
Folklore – In Irish mythology, the hawthorn is a Faery tree that acts as a barrier, allowing only those to pass who are deemed worthy. Since the hawthorn blooms in May, a wreath of its leaves was often placed on top of the maypole, and its flowers were brought into the home at Beltane for good luck. However, superstitious belief indicated that bringing Hawthorn blossoms into your home would also invite disease and bad luck during any other time of year.
Duir or Dair
Pronunciation – Doo-r
Tree Association – oak
Meaning – Strength, security, resilience, endurance, wisdom, sacred spaces, leadership, and kindness. All your hard work and education have paid off. Like the oak, you stand tall and mighty. You are in a beneficial situation (family, work, financially, creative, relationship, etc.), and this circumstance will stay that way for quite a while. Trust yourself! Also, oak represents the intense energy and power of storms and wind. Symbolic of the endurance and stamina you possess that allows you to flourish and thrive.
If reversed – cowardly, uncertain, or frail. You have not been acting kindly or fairly in your leadership role. It’s ok to lack knowledge and facts, but do not make it a common practice.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Inscribe this ogham on an acorn for good luck in job interviews, courage, or pursuing justice. Duir is an excellent ogham inscription to keep at work. Helpful when working when storms, lightning, or the element air. It can also be used in healing or for those who need reminders of their resilience, profound strength, and tenacity.
Folklore – Oak trees are considered sacred guardians. They are an excellent place to meditate beneath or seek strength and assurance. If you catch an oak leaf before it touches the ground, you will have excellent health throughout the cold winter months. Representative of the Oak King, who marks the beginning and climax of the Summer Solstice.
Pronunciation – Chin-yuh
Tree Association – holly
Meaning – Expertise, analysis, protection, transformation, and talent or skill. It may feel as if you are secretly being sabotaged, or there is an underhanded plot against you. Either in your relationships, at work, spiritually, or all of them combined, and you may feel a lot of anger. Now is not the time for revenge; instead, choose harmony, wit, and bravery to find solutions to the current contention. Also symbolic of your creative talents and skills, this can be spiritually, personally, or at work. Either an indicator you need to push through any creative barriers you’re struggling with or encouragement to continue along this artistic path.
If reversed – Attack, hardship, or aggression. Choose your battles wisely; now may be a time to retreat and regroup. Do not be embarrassed and trust your instinct; you may need time to adjust to new situations or spiritual transformations. Alternatively, you may be avoiding a creative skill you would ultimately flourish in; this is a sign to pursue and learn more!
Inscription and Magical Uses – Place beneath your doormat to protect your home. Use when trying to adapt to new conditions or circumstances or when you need a new outlook. Helpful when needed creative inspiration.
Folklore – Wood from a Holly tree was highly regarded by warriors and protectors and frequently used to make weapons. Holly was often planted around a home to keep out evil spirits. Representative of the Holly King, who marks the beginning and climax of the Winter Solstice.
Pronunciation – Cull
Tree Association – hazel
Meaning – Enlightenment, knowledge, creative inspiration, daydreaming, rituals, proficiency, and practicality. An ogham of great wisdom and considered quite lucky. It was believed this source of knowledge came directly from nature and by using all five senses you would comprehend this wisdom.
If reversed – Ignorance, insensitivity, creative barriers. Focus on growing and development; you lack education. If life has been disappointing you recently now is a good time to change your perspective and find the simple joys in everyday moments.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Helpful to use with meditation when searching for creative inspiration, insight, or deep knowledge. Carve or wood burn into hazelwood to use as a wishing wand to help manifest intentions and dreams.
Folklore – The hazel tree was considered so sacred that one would receive the death penalty for chopping it down. An Irish myth references Finn mac Cumhail, an apprentice who gained extraordinary knowledge from eating a salmon that fed on nine hazelnuts from the Well of Wisdom. (FYI, in case you didn’t notice, Coll is the ninth ogham).
Quert or Ceirt
Pronunciation – kwairt
Tree Association – apple
Meaning – Physical and mental wellness, rest, wholeness, spiritual harmony, and choices. These positive outcomes typically take place after suffering, pain, or sadness. Representative of a profound connection to the universe. A reminder that you matter just the way you are. There’s no need to prove yourself through productivity or work. It’s ok to rest, slow down, and be still. Alternatively, associated with having to make choices, hardship, mental illness, or self-destructive behaviors.
If reversed – Despair, ailments, and overall unhappy energy. Your body or mind may be forcing you to rest because you’ve not made it a priority. You may also be suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental issues that are causing you extraordinary sadness. Please find a professional that can offer you the best advice and who can help you recover.
If you’re in crisis, remember there is always someone there to help! For confidential assistance in the United States, call – 1-800-273-8255
Inscription and Magical Uses – Helpful to use with meditation when pursuing a spiritual awakening, prosperity, or healing. Wonderful to use when giving healing and positive energies to a loved one. Use to bind negative behaviors or intentions, focus them away from you, or shield yourself.
Folklore – Linked to positive magical outcomes and Avalon, an island where wild apple trees, grapevines, and grains grew naturally; it’s considered paradise. Those who lived on this island had very long lives. Apples are often associated with love, and when an apple is cut in half, the seeds form a star and are sometimes used in divination.
The Third Aicme
Pronunciation – M-win, Moon
Tree Association – Vine
Meaning – Goals are coming to fruition, persuasion, celebration, relaxing, harvesting, and play. Muin wonderfully symbolizes the metaphor of reaping what we’ve sown. Now is a time for pleasure, to rest, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Vine produces grapes which creates wine that allows us to let go of self-conscience thoughts, allowing for creative inspiration, a relaxed altered consciousness, and revealing truths. It also represents deceit, fallacies, or denial of facts. Remember to continuously pursue the origin or source of any information you receive. Proceed with caution before acting on any facts or advice you’ve been given.
If reversed – a sign of extreme indulgence and serves as a reminder that outstanding achievements also require self-discipline. Watch for indications of dishonesty, misrepresentation, or tall tales.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Helpful when seeking creative inspiration, inner growth, seeking truth, spiritual wisdom, or help with communication.
Folklore – Vine is connected with the Green Man and Bacchus (god of wine) and is often depicted with vine leaves around his head or as a crown.
Pronunciation – Gort
Tree Association – Ivy
Meaning – Spirals, tenacious, wildness, development, abundance, gratitude, rest, and reawakening. The beautiful spiraling of ivy is symbolic of our soul’s search for meaning, our DNA, and the galaxies in the universe above. The Celts viewed spirals as representative of life and spirit, showing how we can also grow and expand. Ivy also represents a form of tenacity and an ability to flourish in conditions where many plants cannot. Use your unique skills to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles as you pursue goals and dreams. Even if growth or progress seems slow, remain persistent. However, remember how important it is to rest, so you have the spunky energy to stay relentless.
If reversed – Arduous, imposing, aggressive, and challenging. Forces outside of you have been infiltrating and inhibiting your growth. Do not linger, or it may consume you. Sever your connections and focus your time and energy where it may be more productive.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Helpful to use when needing strength, encouraging support, or eliminating toxic individuals from your life. Place in your home for harmony and creativity or in your sacred space for abundance.
Folklore – When growing on or near a home, Ivy is believed to protect loved ones inside. Ivy is no longer used in modern-day medicine but was previously believed to cure whooping cough, ulcers, and eliminate hangovers. Often represented with Dionysus and considered sacred to Osiris.
Pronunciation – Knee-eh-tl
Tree Association – Broom
The accurate meaning for nGeatal is a broom. However, it is often represented as a reed due to Robert Graves’ interpretation in his book ‘White Goddess’. This interpretation was later expanded on by Liz and Colin Murray in The Celtic Tree Oracle but was not the original meaning.
Meaning – Health, vitality, strength, wounding, healers, and herbal remedies. A broom is a bush with bright yellow flowers and slender branches and was often used to create besoms. Besoms cleansed and removed unwanted or harmful energy from the home or sacred space. NGeatal is also symbolic of prioritizing physical and mental wellness by living a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
If reversed – Sickness, chronic illness, pain, suffering, need to purge or cleanse. Can indicate a lack of wellness in your life – physically, mentally, or spiritually.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Useful for all healing – meditations, ointments, remedies, or gifts to those recovering from illness. Perfect for incorporating into candles, oils, soaps, or lotions. Add to Moon Water you intend to consume to assist with health or physical well-being.
Folklore – Used to make the shaft of broom handles by witches. Broom was used to cleanse a space of negativity and apply natural remedies or hallucinogenic ointments (hence the term “flying”). The cream was absorbed through her sexual organs and quickly into her bloodstream.
Pronunciation – Str-ef
Tree Association – Blackthorn
Meaning – Adversity, omens, secrecy, and is sometimes known as the tree of the dead due to its connection with spirits and the Underworld. This thorny tree-shrub is symbolic of the sword, arrow, and spear. Now is a time to focus on the root of a problem instead of its effects. Confront challenges head-on, and do your best not to become overwhelmed by the difficulties that lie before you. Brace for the unexpected; life may be taking an unforeseen turn. It can be an excellent time to keep knowledge and information to yourself until the path ahead is more apparent.
If reversed – Transitions, changes, and death. Straif reversed is a sign of caution. Things may be falling apart in your life right now so that they can come together more positively later.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Use this ogham wisely. It can help to develop the courage and fortitude you need to overcome the unpredictable challenges headed your way. Change is headed your way, helpful for use in keeping your mindset upbeat and instilling hope.
Folklore – Blackthorn has developed a bad reputation over the years since it thrives in winter when everything else seems to be dying. It is often associated with cailleach (Dark mother or Crone) and the Morrighan. Blackthorn was often used to create a shillelagh (Irish walking stick) which was often the weapon of choice for bataireacht (BAHT-air-ahct) (Irish stick-fighting martial arts).
Pronunciation – Wriss
Tree Association – Elder
Meaning – Shame, jealousy, obsession, remorse, vengeance, and karma. Often refers to the color red, symbolizing anger, blushing from embarrassment, or passion. Look inside yourself and do some serious self-reflection or shadow work. You may need to redirect the path you’ve been on to one that better aligns with your goals. Now is a time for growth, development, and maturity. Find a way to gain some self-control and release your anger. Let go of vengeful thoughts.
If reversed – This is a sign that you’ve not been doing self-reflection work. You may be justifying your actions instead of reflecting on them or just in complete denial. Do not dwell on the actions or lives of others. You do not know their whole story. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side, but take the time to tend to your garden.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Useful when seeking wisdom and knowledge. Beneficial in shadow work and for self-transformation.
Folklore – A popular superstition conveyed that witches were able to turn themselves into an elder. Elder was believed to keep cows in milk and was often planted near barns. Elderflowers and berries have long been used for medicinal and healing purposes.
The Fourth Aicme
Ailim or Ailm
Pronunciation – Ahlm
Tree Association – (Silver) Fir or Pine
Meaning – Joy, excitement, euphoria, creation (conception), pregnancy, and spiritual awakenings. You may be on the edge of something new and exhilarating, but remain patient! Fir trees are known for their height and allow for a beautiful vantage point that can easily change your mindset. Ailim will enable you to rise above your immediate surroundings and have more precise vision when you view things from above.
If reversed – Fear, panic, or anxiety – these feelings may be paralyzing you or causing intense sadness and suffering. Do your best to analyze these emotions. Start to process why you’re experiencing them and how you can heal from them.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Helpful when seeking spiritual awareness, intuition, understanding, spiritual growth, and connection with the universe. Useful when using the law of attraction and attracting a positive mindset. Giant fir and pine trees are some of the oldest beings in the forest and work well when connecting with your ancestors. Also wonderful to use in conjunction with children, ease labor pains, or during each stage of pregnancy.
Folklore – Pine was often burned around the Winter Solstice to entice the sun back and encourage the longer, warmer days to return. It is also burned during childbirth to protect the mother and child.
Pronunciation – uhn
Tree Association – Gorse
Meaning – Spiritual paths, lust, arousal, spiritual guidance, and movement. Onn also represents the health and vitality of intimacy and sexuality. Do not feel bashful about what you desire and allow yourself to experience pleasure fully. Onn can also represent forward motion or movement similar to a wagon wheel. It can be indicative that you need to examine and deepen your connection with your spiritual journey or change your life’s direction. Movement can also indicate an actual trip or moving to a new home.
If reversed – Complications, peril, unhealthy behaviors, and danger. You may be putting yourself in jeopardy by taking too many chances. Do your best to slow down and find the path that is right for you.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Helpful for safe journeys or travel, physical movement issues (health or physical therapy), or to remove obstacles from your path.
Folklore – Gorse was believed to be protective obstructions when planted around the home and would keep the Sidhe (faerie folk) away. It was also used in a famous saying – “When gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season.”
Pronunciation – Oor
Tree Association – Heather
Meaning – Relationships, connection, fairies, good luck, death, graveyards, magic, and memories of loved ones who have passed. Heather represents sexual connections but differs from gorse because it indicates a deep relationship between partners. Urh means moving beyond desire alone and into respect and partnership. Uhr is often connected to the Fae, magical intentions, and spiritual development. The representation of death represents the cycle of life and our deep connection to the earth.
If reversed – Deception, deceit, disagreements, and issues. You may be experiencing conflict in your relationship. Slow down and work together to solve issues or it may split you apart.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Uhr can be effective for removing unwanted negativity in your life or cord-cutting. Create your own magical besom bristles using heather to cleanse a space. Wonderful when working with the earth element and the natural land around you. It can be used for terminal loved ones to help them move peacefully from this world to the next.
Folklore – Heather’s sweet flowers were often used to make ale, and Scottish warriors often wore Heather into battle for good luck. Heather was used when creating besoms to create the bristles or for other magical tools.
Eadhadh or Edad
Pronunciation – Eh-yuh, edath, or eh-dad (I found a few pronunciations on this, and they were all from reliable sources, so I put them all here for your reference)
Tree Association – Aspen
Meaning – Brave, defeating your fears, perception, and divination. Representing the visual quaking of an Aspen tree, Edad symbolizes fear and how acknowledging your worries can empower you and help you to overcome them. Remember that Aspen is quite solid but flexible. Remember this when working to overcome challenges. Edad can also represent enlightenment and connection to the universe through an altered state of consciousness (be that through meditation, trance, dreams, intoxication, etc.), but make sure you slow down and differentiate between hallucination and factual truth.
Please Note – I am in no way endorsing or encouraging you to consume alcohol or drugs.
If reversed – Addiction, terror, or the feeling of defeat. Now may be a good time to gain some perspective on your current situation. You may be letting your worries gain control over your actions and mindset. Can also warn against the dangers of overusing addictive substances.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Helpful when doing divination, shadow work, or when trying to communicate with the universe or spirit world. Use around Samhain to release negative emotions and prepare for the new year.
Folklore – Aspen was often used to create shields, and magical intentions were placed in them to protect and prevent danger.
Idad, Idho, or Iodhadh
Pronunciation – Ee-dad or ee-yoh
Tree Association – Yew
Meaning – Ancestry, history, aging, dying, transitions, thoughts, and memory. Idad can represent the wisdom that comes from elders and the strength we now have from ancestors who came before us. Aging is not to be feared but celebrated! Not everyone is lucky enough to have gray hairs, and it’s truly something to be grateful for. Idad is also a fantastic representation of the natural cycle and connects back to the first Ogham (Beith), representing joyful beginnings.
If reversed – Physical death, sadness, and mourning. Death is inevitable for us all. However, it’s essential to reflect on the cycle of our life as well as others. In the natural cycle of life, endings come with new beginnings.
Inscription and Magical Uses – Helpful when trying to connect with ancestors, meditation, or when contemplating life and the natural cycle.
Folklore – The Yew tree is deeply connected to the Druids and their history. It was considered sacred, and many built their temples around them.
Since forfeda letters were added at a later time, not everyone chooses to work with them. However, others feel working with forfeda strengthens their ogham work so let your intuition help you determine if you’ll include them in your practice. There can be many different variations on meaning, so I will only cover them briefly.
Ebad or Eabhadh
Tree Association – Aspen or elecampane.
Meaning – Spiritual wisdom, the strength and intelligence to transcend petty everyday problems, reaching the enlightenment phase of spiritual contentment, and the ability to be in harmony with those around you.
Oir or Òr
Tree Association – Spindle tree, ivy, or heather
Meaning – Abundance, creativity, and honoring family, loved ones and community.
Uillean or Uillend
Tree Association – Honeysuckle or beech tree
Meaning – resilience, change, chasing dreams, private thoughts, and exposing secrets
Ifin or Iphin
Tree Association – Pine or gooseberry
Meaning – Enjoying everyday life, vision, divination, and releasing emotions of guilt or shame.
Amhancholl or Emancholl
Tree Association – Witch hazel
Meaning – disease or illness or need to purify or cleanse negative energy.
I hope you found Celtic ogham rune symbol meanings helpful!! Feel free to ask me any questions below! Lots of love to you and remember as always…
Mountfort, Paul. “Ogam The Celtic Oracle of The Trees.” Understanding, casting, and interpreting the ancient Druidic alphabet. Destiny Books 2001 (I would highly recommend this book)
Laurie, Erynn Rowan. “Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom.” Megalithica Books 21 June 2015 (I would highly recommend this book)
“The Book of Celtic Myths.” Adams Media, a division of F + W Media, Inc. 2017
“Learn Ogham – Irish Pronunciation for the Celtic Alphabet.” YouTube uploaded by Lora O’Brien, 20 September 2018.
Ellison, Robert. “Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids.” ADF Publishing 16 March 2014
Kynes, Sandra. “Magical Symbols and Alphabets.” A practitioner’s guide to spells, rites, and history. 2020
Additional Recommended Reading –
YouTube – Lora O’ Brien – Authentic Connection to Ireland or her website Irish Pagan School (not an affiliate link)