Now, print out the card set I provided the link for above, and let’s try some:
- Do a three card lay-out, either for yourself or another subject. Your choice of past-present-future or you now-challenge you face-best outcome spread, and note the answers you get.
- Do the Runic Cross lay-out, either for yourself or another subject, and note the answers you get.
- Do the Five-Card lay-out illustrated above, either for yourself or another subject, and note the answers you get.
- Extra Credit: do the Five-Card lay-out as Colin Murray did it, with a past, present, and going-forward circle, and note the answers you get.
- Now look at the results you received for each spread. Was there any one of these lay-outs which lent itself best to use of the Ogham? Are there any other lay-outs, such as the Celtic Cross layout, you would want to try with the Ogham?
- What do you identify as being the strong and weak points of using the Ogham alphabet as a system of divination, based on the readings you’ve just done?
Suggested Reading About the Ogham
This is not a comprehensive or even balanced bibliography on the subject, just several books I have on hand about the Ogham:
McColman, Carl. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Celtic Wisdom. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books, Chapter 23, pp. 300-308. ISBN: 0-02-864417-4.
For a good basic introduction to the Ogham, which doesn’t get too far into the weeds about the folklore, history and meanings, there are few better than this one. This author only discusses the first twenty Ogham fews and leaves the fifth aicme out.
Graves, Robert. The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. Chapters 10, 11 and 14. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright 1948.
This classic work, though some question it as a work of authoritative fact, nonetheless is good at giving the reader some of the folklore associated with the various trees, which can be helpful background information when considering the Ogham’s meanings.
Murray, Liz and Colin. The Celtic Tree Oracle: A System of Divination. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 1988
This book came in a boxed set with a beautiful set of cards, illustrated by artist Vanessa Card. It gives a little history and folklore about the Ogham and the Druids, covers the meanings of the each Ogham card, and finishes with a section on how to read with them. Liz and Colin Murray do use the fifth aicme, which I prefer as well. This book pointed out the five Ogham Aicme have a phonetic difference in their letters are pronounced, which could be why they’re grouped the way they are. I’m sure Graves must’ve mentioned it, but it didn’t sink in with me until I read it in the Murray’s book.
Matthews, Caitlin. Celtic Wisdom Sticks: An Ogam Oracle. London: Connections Book Publishing. 2001. ISBN: 1-85906-053-6
This book also came in a boxed set, but with an actual set of sticks, an ogham letter burned onto each stick, and a burlap bag to keep them in. Given the format, Matthews prescribes a different set of layouts, and the meanings of each stave will vary, depending on where they land. For those who want to take a more traditional approach to the use of the Ogham, this boxed set may be your cup of tea.
Mountfort, Paul Rhys. Ogam: the Celtic Oracle of the Trees. Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books. Copyright 2000, 2001. ISBN: 089281919-7
This book covers only the twenty original Ogham fews. Instead of the fifth aicme, Montfort uses the Four Treasures: the Stone of Lia Fal, the Sword of Nuada, the Spear of Lugh, and the Cauldron of the Dagda. In addition to a lot of history, folklore, and divining with the ogham, this author spends an average of four to five pages on each of the first twenty Ogham fews. He breaks each section down into description, visualization, meaning, natural characteristics, storylines, and folklore and magic sub-categories. Each section on an Ogham few has an illustration which looks like it was designed as a deck of cards. In the meanings, he gives both the upright and reversed meanings of each symbol in his set, which I haven’t seen anywhere else. I suspect there’s a card deck for this somewhere, or was supposed to be. He includes a pronunciation guide at the back of the book for those tongue-twisting Gaelic names, which I like.