The Runes & The Ogham Script Connection
Several of the runestones still remaining have running around their edge a different alphabet from the
runic, but one which still uses short, straight lines. This is the Ogham script (also seen as Ogam, but
Ogham is connected to the Celtic god Ogma, Ogmios or Ogmiua, who had connections with the sun.
Whilst Odin seems to relate to Mercury, Ogma is linked with Hercules as champion of the gods.
Just as Odin is said to be the father of the runes, so Ogma is credited with having invented the Ogham
script. This method of writing seems to have begun in Ireland, spreading to Wales, Scotland and parts
of southern England.
Like Odin, Ogma was a poet and considered wise and powerful. Ogham was a secret method of
communication, again only known by the learned. The connection with poetry has led Ogham to be
termed ‘the secret language of the poets’. To some, Ogma was merely a man, whilst to others he was a
god. This is especially true in Ireland, where he is linked with the Tuatha de Danaan, the primal gods
The Ogham script has various styles and its ancient texts would seem to have contained information
on early Druidism, forming a sacred system, as well as carrying coded messages which only the
privileged understood. Sometimes the Ogham script was carved around the edge of a stone in order to
immortalise a hero, whilst at other times it seems to have been used purely to mark boundaries.
It is certain that the Druids used the Ogham letters, and again it is interesting to note that Druidic
teachings of that time were oral, like those of the Kabbala and of the runic alphabet.
Each of the 20 letters of the Ogham alphabet was linked with an element of nature, and some
researchers suggest that each letter was linked with a tree (like the Bobileth to some degree), with
each tree further associated with mythological tales and belief systems. Furthermore, certain trees
were supposed to have links with particular months and the rites and rituals practised during that
month. In much the same way, as we will discover, runic symbols were also often connected with
plant, animal, bird and tree. The Ogham letters corresponded to several trees also used within the
The Ogham alphabet was arranged in groups of five, which contrasts with the runic Futhark, which is
arranged in families of eight, with the blank rune remaining outside the ‘family’ group. The carvings
were straight lines, as with runes, but above, below or through a central line, known as the druim. It
was written from left to right.
In the same way that the runes were cast to seek help for a questioner, the Ogham script was used on
branches or twigs, which were cast onto the ground, a process called Crannchur (casting the woods)
and ‘read’. Other methods included the use of wooden dice, which were thrown in a similar way to
modern dice. Thus the Ogham script not only became a means of communication but also took on
magical properties, being used for the writing of spells and charms and engraved on amulets and
talismans, and considered as magic in itself. Those who have studied its form suggest it was probably
the most powerful alphabet of them all.
Owing to feelings within the early Christian Church that such alphabets were evil, connected with
paganism and witchcraft, the Ogham script was banned, and has to all extents and purposes
disappeared in modem usage, which is a shame, except for those who have made it their life’s work to
research and rediscover it.