A Short Introduction to Celtic/Druid Ogham or Ogma Alphabet and How to Use it For Divination

The Celtic’s used a writing system called Ogham or sometimes spelled Ogma which dates hundreds of years BCE (Before the Current Era). Most of the time the credit for the alphabets origins are given to the Druid Priests. As only they could read the meanings of the “Ogham Staves” when they were thrown. The Ogham alphabet consists of 25 different symbols which in turn are associated with specific trees or shrubs.

The alphabet can either be written vertically or horizontally but the actual marking for the symbol or letter always appears on the same side and location on the straight line that all the symbols/letter stem off of.

The Ogham Staves are used as a form of divination. You can use them the same as you would Runes or Tarot cards. To make Ogham Staves they should be craved into a piece of the tree or shrub they are associated with, all 25 pieces of wood should be the exact same length and when possible diameter.

How to use the staves is simple you hold them together in both hands, and roll them on your palms while you ask your question of them (be sure to keep your question clear and concise). When you feel it is time and with the question firmly fixed in your mind you let the staves drop from about 4 to 6 inches off the ground. Those closest to you are the future, the middle ones are for the present, and those furthest away are read for the past which led up to the present which will lead into the future.

Here is a picture of the alphabet writing, name of symbol/letter, and which tree or shrub is associated to it:

Other examples of the alphabet:

Here is are the symbols/letters on the tree or shrub they are associated with:

This is the first in a series of posts on the use and meanings of the Ogham alphabet and staves. I will also be posting an Ogham Symbol for the day starting Monday, August 13th both on here and on WOTC.

If you have questions about this topic please write to LAdy Beltane at covenlifescoven@gmail.com Please put Ogham Question in the “Subject line”

 

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Eleven Principles Or Codes of Conduct For the Contemporary Druid

Eleven Principles Or Codes of Conduct For the Contemporary Druid:

 

1. Every action has a consequence that must be observed and you must be prepared to compensate for your actions if required.

2. All life is sacred and all are responsible for seeing that this standard is upheld.

3. You do still living in society and are bound by its rules and laws.

4. Work with high standards.

5. Make an honest living.

6. Be a good host as well as a good guest.

7. Take care of yourself. (Health was held in high esteem amongst the Celts so much that a person could be fined for being grossly overweight due to lack of care.)

8. Serve your community.

9 Maintain a healthy balance of the spiritual and mundane.

10. Uphold the Truth, starting with yourself.

11. Be sure in your convictions, particularly when judging or accusing someone, but also when debating. Ask yourself: are you really sure? Do you really know that this is the case, do you know the whole situation, do you know the whole truth.

 

Nine Elements of the Druids

Nine Elements of the Druids

 

 

The importance/significance of the number three in Celtic mythology and spirituality has been documented in many sources. It makes some sense then, that three times three would be a particularly auspicious number. There isn’t much in the way of documentation to support this, however the speculation has a great deal of support in the Celtic Pagan Spiritual Community. There are probably as many different ways of looking at these nine elements as there are groups who consider them important.

The Nine Elements, and correspondences

Macrocosm

Microcosm

Directions

Sun

Face

South

Moon

Mind

Inwards

Sea

Blood

West

Wind

Breath

East

Sky or Heavens

Head

Above

Green-growing things

Hair

Outwards

Land

Flesh

Below

Stone

Bones

North

Clouds

Spirit

Through

As you can derive from this table, the Celts do appear to have grasped the concept of microcosm vs macrocosm quite well, albeit without the fance nomenclature.

The elements composing the tree principal realms of Land, Sea and Sky; also compose three of the most primary element of human life: Flesh (Land), Blood (Sea), and Breath (Sky or actually “wind”). Actually all nine elements would be considered needful for life, however these three would be the most obvious to our ancestors (with one obvious exception – the head – but we will get into that discussion in a moment. No _Highlander_ correlations yet!)

If a body lacked flesh, or that flesh became diseased or too old, the body died. If the body lacked blood, the body died. And if the body did not breathe – lacked wind – the body died. Simple, and I’m certain quite obvious to the ancient Celts.

The next most obvious fatal deficiency is the lack of a head. Physically, losing one’s head will in fact make you quite irretrievably dead. However, it is rather doubtful that the ancient Celts understood the finer points of neurology (although there is evidence that the ancients did practice some fairly advanced neurosurgical techniques). The ancients believed that the immortal spirit resided in the head: if the head were separated from the body (or in some cases, cut open sufficiently) the spirit of the person would leave – and the person would therefore die. Their ‘fire in the head’ would be lost (Insert _Highlander_ theme music here).

For those of you familiar with the _Highlander_ shows, perhaps their special effects aren’t that far from off. Upon the death of the physical body, the Celts believed that the spirit – the immortal being – was released, to be ‘reborn’ in another form. Contrary to the series, it isn’t re-absorbed by another immortal, but may be reborn as a new person, or into a spirit of an animal, plant or even an inanimate object: all depending upon the lesson needed by that particular spirit. The technical term here is transmutation. We’ll discuss this more thoroughly at another time.

The elements of “sun” and “moon” may seem a bit odd to our modern sensibilities, used to a more “scientific” analysis of the elements. Even for those more familiar with the Pagan (really Wiccan) wheel of elements will find the whole of the Celtic nine elements a bit unusual. In the Celtic elements, the Sun element takes on some of those properties familiar with the Wiccans’ fire element. The Sun correlates with the human face: preservations of this can be seen in common speech. A person’s face may be “shining”, or the Sun may be “smiling”. The moon, on the other hand, has long been associated with aspects of the mind. Specifically, the moon (in folklore) directly affects madness/sanity. Even today, common folklore reflects this: lunacy or lunatic (luna = moon). Superstision holds that the full moon drives a person insane. This may actually be related to superstitions regarding werewolves.

The correlations between the element of “Green Growing Things” and human hair may not be too obvious at first. It may have been as simple as the human hair being likened to the slow-growing English Ivy – they actually grow in length at about the same speed. This outward growth is a clear expression of the direction most associate with this element: that of “outwards”.

Stones were seen as the bones of the Earth: hard, shapable into toods, and maintaining the structure of the “body” (that of the person or the world). Even through the great stone circles pre-date the Druids (and perhaps the Celts), one has to wonder if there’s some relation between these stone monuments and the Celts own belief in the significance of the stones.

 

Source:

Empathy’s Mystical Occult Site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Druids and Sacrifice

Druids and Sacrifice

As modern individuals walking a Druid path, we are faced with a primary obstacle: How do we construct a way of worship which complements the path already inscribed within our hearts? There are no “Grand Grimoires” of the Druids (or the Wiccans, for that matter!). Little, if anything, exists in ‘ancient written records’ as to the beliefs and practices of the Druids. What records do exist were generally written by outsiders (such as Caesar, Strabos, and Deodorus) – beyond that, zip, zero — nothing. We therefore must go to the origins — the people and cultures which defined the faith of the Druids. By so doing, we may gain enough understanding to construct some semblance of the Druid’s religion.

It is neither practical nor advisable to attempt to recreate the ways of the Druids identically in minute detail (besides, human sacrifices are so inconvenient!) Yes, there is enough evidence that we can say that the ancient Celts did practice one form or another of human sacrifice. There is a great deal of evidence that these sacrifices were voluntary in nature. These were intermediaries, in their deaths they took the petitions of their people directly before the Gods of their clan. Modern pagan clergy takes on this role today (obviously without the death requirement) as intermediaries between the Gods and their grove/coven/kindred. It is generally accepted in modern pagan culture that the greatest pagan principle is to harm none.

Most groups include the self as part of the ‘none’ we are to avoid harming. Taking the life of another or yourself is quite a large ‘harm’, and probably is the most often-used reasoning behind the discontinuance of sacrifice. Actually, blood sacrifices were discontinued long before the tenet of ‘harm none’ was ever placed on paper. There are no authenticated evidences of Druid sacrifice beyond about the first century CE, while the tenet of ‘harm none’ is usually accepted as dating from the late 19th – early 20th centuries (generally attributed to Gerald Gardener, Doreen Valiente, or Aleister Crowley). Today, our sacrifices are herbs, incense, flowers, oils – all wonderfully acceptable to the Gods. Those other supposedly ‘dire’ sacrifices are best suited for cheap horror flicks.

To follow a Druid path in the modern age, it is not necessary to reconstruct any of the ‘exact’ rites of our ancient predecessors. It is equally important to follow our own hearts, as well as the spirit of those ancient cultures. Modern elements and the fancies of our imaginations can be just as appropriate to a ritual than the most arcane sounding lines found in some dusty old tome. What we must not do, however, is try to claim ancient unbroken lineage for something we made up yesterday (this has caused some authors no end of trouble in the past!). An ancient source does not make something more authentic. Although there are those who still insist that the only correct way is the most ancient one possible: intact, with no changes; if it comes from the heart, the Gods know.

 

 

Source:

Empathy’s Mystical Occult Site

 

 

Druidic Ritual Basics

Druidic Ritual Basics

Delineating sacred space

In the Druidic faith, all ground is sacred ground, so it is impossible to ‘create’ sacred space. Instead, we choose to delineate a portion of already-sacred space to ritual use either permanently, or for a certain period of time. Permanent sacred areas may be established on private land, and include such amenities as the planting of a grove of sacred trees, or the erection of a henge or similar structure. Temporary sacred space delineations are accomplished by means of focussed energy and various ritualized movements. One of the simplest forms of this type of ritualized movement consists of circumambulation of the given area while:

  • holding a lighted candle
  • wafting incense
  • sprinkling charged water

Further temporary demarcations may be visually set up with torches, ribbons, or other simple visual markers.

Once the ritual area is appropriately delineated, the ritual participants must be prepared for the upcoming activities. These preparations are completed via the pre-ritual briefings and meditation. The pre-ritual briefing is just that: a briefing to organize everyone’s thoughts to a specific purpose. Questions in regards to timing, organization, and general ritual purpose can be cleared up at this point. Following the briefing, participants use a grounding and centering meditation to bring themselves into a sacred mindset and into harmony with the other participants. This may be accomplished either as a group or separately, with separate meditations being the most commonly used. Often with the individual meditations, a specific focus of meditation may be assigned to the group as a part of the preritual briefing.

After a set period of time, the meditation period will be brought to a close and the participants will be summoned to the ritual area. This summons will take many different forms, the most common two are discussed here. The summons to the ritual area may be made by a musical que: drumming, horns, bells, or a particular piece of music. There is considerable historical precedent for this kind of summons. The other most common summons is a personal one: a designated individual, similar to the Gardnerian/Wiccan “man in black” or “summoner” would verbally announce that ritual was to commence and that persons should assemble.

Once participants have been summoned to the ritual area, they will enter through pre-determined ‘gateways’. In permanently erected ritual areas, these may be physical gateways, or breaks in the boundaries such as hedgerows or tree plantings. In less permanent settings, they may be delineated by some physical indicators, or may only be a position agreed upon by consensus. As the participants enter the gateway’s), they receive a preliminary blessings and/or anointing by either the senior druid or a designate.

Depending upon tradition and circumstances, various symbols may be used in the anointing of the individuals: the forehead may be anointed with the symbols of the three rays of Awen (inspiration), or perhaps the sword-and-chalice imagery of the Celtic Cross. Other sigils may be traced on hands, foreheads and the like. Participants may be sprinkled with sacred water or smudged with the smoke of sacred herbs.

Another special blessing that may be administered to entering participants is that of a blessing cup, or shared hospitality. Each participant sips from an offered common cup of blessing, and ceremonial words are exchanged. This blessing cup may be used with or without the other forms of blessing mentioned above. All methods described aid in establishing a common mindset and focus for the ritual work to come.

Once the participants have entered into the ritual area and settled into their places, the initial welcomes are pronounced. The first offering follows thereafter. This first offering is to the spirits of the place and of the Earth Mother, in acknowledgement of their blessings and in thanks for the use of the ritual area. These may be offering to a sacred fire, but would more commonly be one of cornmeal (or perhaps herbs or even birdseed) scattered to the periphery of the ritual area. An additional thought would be to also pour a libation from the blessing cup used in the entrance ritual.

An additional offering is also made to the “outsiders”, any potentially disruptive entities or energies not desired within the confines of the particular ritual. Many different items may be used for this offering, however the preference would be for sweets and/or alcoholic beverage, as these items appear to be particularly preferred by those types of energies. Out of habit, these offerings are placed in the south of the ritual area, simply because of it’s associations with such totem entities as Coyote and Loki (some of the most ‘chaotic’ and ‘trickster-ish’ entities).

Once these items are settled, the main elements of the ritual can commence. The first major elements of ritual comprise the acknowledgement of the three Celtic realms of existence. The first realm to be so acknowledged is the realm of the Land. In the Celtic cosmos, the Land is the realm of substance, where the clans exist in harmony with the natural world. The second realm, the Sea, is the gateway to the other worlds. Land is seen to float on the surface of a great, spiritual sea. The Sky is a realm of mystery as well as of many Gods – it flows above that of the Sea and the Land. As each realm is acknowledged, an offering is made to the realm, it’s gatekeepers, and its native spirits.

Once the realms have thus been acknowledged and offerings made, the gateways are summoned (or conjured) open, permitting the three worlds/realms to simultaneously exist within the ritual space. This bears resemblance to the Wiccan ritual effort of creating a time and place within the ritual circle that is completely removed from ‘ordinary’ time and space: “a time that is not a time, a place that is not a place”. However, in Druidic practice the opposite is the case. Druidic sacred space and opening of the realm gateways, is practiced to place the participants within all time and all places (the appropriate quotation for this then becomes “all time is now, and all space is here”). There is no true linear time in Druidic practice. Time is seen as circular, or even web-like: no beginning, no ending, and myriad different permutations. The methods of “anchoring” and traversing these three realms lies within the context of the Sacred Tree. This tree is an axis between the three realms, via which the trained practitioner may journey to experience other realities. Within and around the Sacred Tree (or Tree of Life, if you prefer), exists the essence of the Divine Spirit: the sacred Fire, the manifestation of the Sacred Dragon Energy.

At this point, any special magical workings would be inserted into the standard ritual format. The ritual processes should be inserted smoothly into the balance of the ritual format. The activities will segue without difficulty if written in a similar tone.

After these specific ritual elements are completed, the next appropriate step is that of the giving up of offerings to the Gods. These offerings may consist of many items such as herbs, foods, oils and other items. Generally these items will be offered to the ritual fire, previously established using the nine sacred woods. Omens may be taken from how these offerings burn; the movements of the flames themselves or of the smoke. Omen-takings are not limited to the sacred fire, but may be taken from any appropriate source available at that time. The final offering given up to the Gods is considered to be the ‘dire offering’, that of blood or flesh. In ancient times, this would have involved the sacrifice of a live animal, or in some cases a human being.

This type of sacrifice is not acceptable today because of the multitude of different offerings available to modern Druid practitioners. The blood sacrifice offered upon the modern Druid’s need-fire is a simple offering of meat. Anything from hotdogs to steaks/roasts is acceptable and appropriate. After all other sacrifices have been burned, the fire is “brought up” quickly – that is, caused to burn quite hot for a brief period of time in order to burn off all residue, then a grill or spit is place appropriately over the fire. The meat offering is then ritually placed on/over the fire. When the meat is cooked, or durring the cooking process, a portion of meat is dropped completely into the fire, to be consumed by the flames entirely. The balance of the meat is given to the celebrants as a portion of the feasting after ritual. This process has great precident in many cultures, including the Judaic faith (‘kosher’ foods are ritually processed, and actually offered in sacrifice to their God). This method of sacrifice to the fire (what really amounts to a sacrificial Barbeque) also helps to aleviate problems realted to the open fire. While many localities regulate the use of outdoor fires, or entirely prohibit outdoor burning, if the fire is for the purpose of cooking, many areas permit such fires without restriction.

Here, I insert a ‘nod’ not only to the ancient progenitors of our faith, but also to the more recent impetus for these ideas. DragonHart Coven, a British-traditional group with whom I practiced years ago, used an open fire pit in the back yard of their covenstead for rituals. In that locale, ‘open burning’ was prohibited. So at every ritual, cooking forks and marshmallows became a familiar – if never used – addition. If problems arose, those articles could have been produced as evidence that the fire in the fire pit was for cooking – a non-restricted fire use. In keeping with the Druidic Code of Ethics, when we incorporated this particular fire offering into the rituals, we would truly be using the fire for those reasons.

The closure of the ritual follows a similar, albeit reversed, path as that of the construction. The sacred tree is once again reverenced, the previously conjured gates are closed, and appropriate honours are paid to any personal or clan divinities previously called upon. A clear, concise closure of the ritual is made, and any surplus energies are grounded in an appropriate manner. The ritual participants are then dismissed to the feasting area (which of course is centre pieced/highlighted by the previous meat offering) for feasting and merriment.

The preparation of the ritual feast involves somewhat more than just the presentation of the fire offering as the main course. Ideally, most of the items for the ritual feast will be provided “pot-lick” by most or all of the participants. Foods may range from simple to more complex: there is very little that would be considered inappropriate for a ritual feast. Common items will always include fresh fruits and vegetables, and various baked goods – both sweet and savoury. With outdoor rituals, particularly in warm weather, it is probably best to avoid foods which must be kept at a certain – very cold- or -very hot- temperature to avoid spoilage. These would most particularly include such things as products containing mayonnaise, or cold cuts. By observing these few cautions, it is possible to have a grand feasting without food poisoning.

 

Source:

Empathy’s Mystical Occult Site

 

 

Practical Druid Paganism – Gods and Goddesses

Practical Druid Paganism

Gods and Goddesses

Patron deities are a part of any ritual, as well as a part of everyday life. People who are familiar with Wiccan rituals are used to the invocation of “The Goddess” and “The God” in circle: either by a specific name, or just a “Goddess and God”. While many people who practice a Druid path have a patron Goddess/God or both, they are not limited to just one or two divine beings in a ritual. Nor must they always use the same divine beings. We may refer to one, two or twenty God/desses in the coarse of a single ritual. After all, the more the merrier, right?

Actually, it is just slightly different than that. As we see it, Druidry has many Gods and Goddesses: all different, and all equally valuable and valid. Where most Wiccan groups believe that “all Gods are one God, all Goddesses one Goddess”, we see many different divine beings, with many different relationships with both humans and with each other. We many honor one or several different God/desses in a ritual: as patrons of differing sacred precincts, as workers of specific energies, or as representative of particular relationships on the earthly plane. Aesclepius might be asked to aid in a healing work, within the same ritual where we have called upon Demeter, Persephone and Hades (celebrating the change of seasons as well as the sacrifice of love); and seek Charon’s aid for a meditative journey. Of course, the Gods and Goddesses should come from the same pantheon, as the interrelationships are already established. It may not be impossible to work with Isis, Cernunos, Kwan Yin, and the Corn Maiden in the same ritual, but it would be infinitely confusing.

Separate and unique from the Gods and Goddesses is an all-encompassing sacred energy. Separate, yet intrinsically connected and part of each other. The Christian concept of the Holy Spirit is similar: an immense, genderless, sacred “being”, which our particular tradition (and a few others) refer to as the Dragon. The Dragon is quite literally beyond true description: it is without gender and flows through all things, places, and people. John Boorman touches briefly on this concept in his movie Excalibur. The Dragon is unseen, yet can be seen all around us: it’s breath in the wind, it’s scales in the bark of trees. It is said that the Dragon’s energy can be felt in the ancient holy places (which may contribute to the fact that the mysterious energy lines which connect ancient sacred sites are called “Dragon Lines”.

If you have ever experienced this ‘Dragon Energy’ at one of it’s focus points or along one of the ley lines, you may have some difficulty describing the experience. Of course, each sacred site has it’s own “feel”. It has been reported that particularly sensitive individuals can tap into the ‘energy’ of another sacred site while working at a site along the same energy line. In theory, this seems entirely possible, although I don’t personally know too many individuals who have experience this phenomenon. However, it is this mysterious Dragon Energy along with the myriad of Gods and Goddesses who make our world what it is to the Druid: alive, breathing, and powerful.

 

Source:

Empathy’s Mystical Occult Site

 

 

History of Modern Druidism

History of Modern Druidism

Modern Druidism, that is, modern Pagan Druidism, owes a debt of gratitude to the monotheistic fraternal Druid orders that comprise their not-so-direct predecessors. Some of these organizations still exist: many continue today as fraternal orders (much as the Elks Lodge and similar organizations), others have developed into more Pagan groups, as has occurred with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). More groups seem to appear on a regular basis, some lasting only a brief time, others leaving a lasting mark on society.

Probably the oldest purely American Druid Organization is the RDNA (Reformed Druids of North America). Originally, this group seems to have been almost anything but Pagan. However, some offshoots are quite Pagan in nature. The Major offshoots of the RDNA are Ar n’Draiocht Fein and Keltria.

Ar n’Draiocht Fein (ADF) was founded by a former member of RDNA, and at one time boasted the largest “Neo-Pagan” Druidic membership in the United States. ADF strongly advocates the “Indo-European” theories behind their spiritual traditions. Many local congregations maintain a traditional Celtic focus, while others strive to promote Norse, or even Greek, Druid systems.

Partially as a result of this broad spectrum outlook, and partially for other reasons, the Henge of Keltria was formed by members dissatisfied with ADF’s brand of Druidry. Keltria follows a narrower focus, that of purely Celtic origins.

Other Druid Groups and organizations appear to have come forth out of other organizations and other traditions, as well as many which came forth from the love and inspiration of a few devoted members.

The Druid Clan of Dana originated within the Fellowship of Isis. These Druids cling closely to not only Celtic, but also Irish roots and structure.

The Divine Circle of the Sacred Grove (DCSG)is an organization which calls itself Druidic and Pagan, but displays a decidedly eclectic basis. It also claims to have lineage to British Traditional Orders that are decidedly non-pagan fraternal groups. Some of the early history of the organization has some questionable entries, but it is unclear if the organization currently follows such practices.

The American Druidic Church was formed by dissatisfied members of the DCSG, but is little heard of outside of their California community.

The Druidic Association of North America (DANA) is a fledgling organization of Druid groves, based in the New England area. The Grove of the Golden Leaves is the founding and most substantitive of these groups. DANA places a high emphasis on scholarship and study in the traditional disciplines. The Celtic Traditionalist Order of Druids is discussed in depth in another article. While members of CTOD have been, and continue to be, involved in other organizations, CTOD does not claim to be ‘descended’ from any of these groups.

 

Source:

Empathy’s Mystical Occult Site