Whispering Woods Ogham course – Lesson Eight – Word Oghams (Briatharogam)

Whispering Woods Ogham course – Lesson Eight 
Word Oghams (Briatharogam)  

In addition to the well known finger letters of the Ogham, there is another form of Ogham called “Word Ogham”.
This is done by taking the first letter of an associated group of words to represent the Ogham letter.
The Ogham (oh-yam) was a writing system, which is believed to have originated in Ireland around the late second century.

It is thought that the earlier writings in Ogham were written on wooden pieces as a method of keeping count and it was not until the late fourth century that writings were recorded on stone.
According to Celtic legend, it was Ogma, God of speech and Writing and Eloquence, and a member of the Tuatha De Danann who gave the Ogham to Lugh as a secret warning.
This secret warning was inscribed on birch and was the first letter of the Ogham “b” (beith, birch) repeated seven times.

The inscription was translated by Lugh to mean “your wife will be carried away seven times to the Otherworld unless the birch protects her.”
Following are examples of the Word Ogham:
The three phases of body, mind, and spirit are associated with the Word Ogham of Morainn (the physical), the Word Ogham of Cuchulainn (the mental), and the Word Ogham of Aonghus (the spiritual). They can also be considered as being representative of Past, Present, and Future.

Word Ogham of Morann Mac Main (the physical aspect)
Feocus foltchain, faded trunk and fair hair, that is for birch, b, in the Word Ogham, because names which Morann gave of himself to the Ogham letters, these are they which take the effect of letters in the Word Ogham.

Feocus foltchain for b, for these are two aspects of the birch, and it was hence put for the Ogham letter which has taken a name from it.
Li sula, delight of eye, that is luis, quicken tree, l, to wit, the flame.
Airinach Fian, i.e., shield of warrior-bands, i.e., shield for fern, f, with him owing to their redness in the same respect: or because the alder, the material of the shield was from fernae given to the Ogham letter which has taken a name from it.

Airenach Fian, i.e., shield, that is fern, f, with him.
Li’ n-aimbi’, hue of the lifeless, i.e., hue of one dead, to wit, am for denial, so that he is not living but is dead. Li’ n-aimbi’, again, to wit, that is sail, willow, s with him, and hence it was put for the Ogham letter.
Cosdad sida, checking of peace, that is nin, ash, n: it is the maw of a weaver’s beam as applied to wood: a sign of peace is that. A checking of peace with him is that from the ash of the weaver’s beam.
Conal cuan, pack of wolves that is uath, thorn h, for a terror to any one is a pack of wolves. Conal cuan said of the Ogham h, owing to the affinity of the name, for they are a thorn, in the same way.
Ardam dossaibh, highest of bushes, that is dur, oak, d, with respect to its wood in the forest. Trian, t, another thing the meaning of that today.
Cainin fedaib, fairest of trees, that is hazel, c, owing to its beauty in woods.
Clithar mbaiscaill, shelter of a hind, i.e., a fold: to wit, boscell, lunatic, that is bas-ceall, death sense, it is then his sense comes to him when he goes to his death.

Clithar boscell, again, that is an apple tree: or boscell, that is, hinds, to wit, they are light. Clithar boiscell, again, i.e., lunatics or hinds: quert, an apple tree, q, with reference to its letter.
Tresim fedma, strongest of effort, that is muin, vine, m, with him, i.e., owing to identity of name with muin, back of man or ox, for it is they that are the strongest in existence as regards effort.
Millsin feraib, sweeter than grasses, that is gort, ivy, g, with him owing to the identity of the name with the cornfield.

When it is in the blade, sweeter than any grass is that grass, to wit, the cornfield.

Hence for that letter in Ogham owing to the complete identity of the name between them Luth legha, a physician’s strength; that is broom, ng, because it is strength with the physicians, and there is an affinity between cath, battle, and getal, broom.

Tresim ruamna, strongest of red, that is str with him in Ogham. Straif, sloe, according to fact; for in the sloe red for dyeing the things is stronger, for it is it that makes the pale silver become azure, making it genuine (?) silver.

It is it which is boiled through the urine into the white gold so as to make it red. Tresim ruamna is the sloe according to fact. Hence it was put in the letter named str, owing to identity of name between them, i.e., straif is the name of each of them.
Tinnem ruccae, intensest of blushes, that is ruis, elderberry, r, from the reddenirig or shame according to fact, for by r it is written, and it is a reddening that grows in a man’s face ’through the juice of the herb being rubbed under it. Tindi ruccae, an ingot of a blush, again, said of the ruis, elder-berry, from shame or from reddening, for it is by r that it is itself written.
Ardam iachtadh, loudest of groanings, that is wondering, that is ailm, fir, a, with him; for it is ailm or ‘a’ a man says while groaning in disease, or wondering, that is, marvelling at whatever circumstance.
Congnamaid echraide, helper of horses, the onnaid of the chariot, i.e. the wheels, that is onn, furze, with him, for it is by onn, o, that the wheels of the chariot are written. Also, comguinidech, equally wounding, i.e. whin. Hence it was put for that letter which is named onn, o, owing to identity between them, for onn is a name for each of them; and it is from whin that the name onn was put for the Ogham letter o.
Etiud midach, robe of physicians, cath, panacea (?). Hence it was put for getal, broom, ng.
Uaraib adbaib, in cold dwellings, that is ur, fresh, with him, for from uir, the mould of the earth is the name uaraib adbaib. Hence it was put for the letter named ur, heath, in Ogham, owing to identity of name between them, each of them is ur, and it is written by u.
Ergnaid fid, distinguished wood, that is aspen with him, for ergnaid fid is a name for the trembling tree. Hence it was put for the Ogham letter named edad, aspen, for hence was edad, e, put for it.
Siniu fedaib, oldest of woods, that is idad, yew, with him; for siniu fedaib is a name for service-tree. Hence it was given to that letter in Ogham named idad, yew, i, for hence the name idad was put for it; for idad, yew, is a name for ibur, service-tree.
Snamchain feda, most buoyant of wood, that is ebad, aspen, with him, for fair swimming is wood; that is a name for the great raven. Hence it was put for the letter named the Ogham ebad, for e is a name for salmon, and it is written by ea like the alphabet of the fauna: i.e., by stag (deer), eo by eonasc (ousel).
Sruitem aicdi, most venerable of structures, i.e., oir, oi, spindle tree, according to fact. Hence it was put for the letter owing to the identity of the name that is between them, to wit, oir is the name of each of them.
Tutmur fid uilleann, juicy wood is woodbine, that is woodbine with him, for it is a name for honeysuckle. Hence it was put for the Ogham named woodbine, ui; for hence was woodbine put for it, for it is a name for honeysuckle.
Millsem feda, sweetest of wood, that is gooseberry with him, for a name for the tree called pin is millsem feda. Gooseberries are hence named. Hence it was put for the letter named pin, for hence pin, or ifin, io, was put for it.
Luad soethaig, expression of a weary one, i.e., ach, ah! uch, alas! that is emancoll, ae, with him, for emancoll is taken for ach, though it may be taken for something else. Finit WordOgham of Morann.
Word Ogham of Mac ind Oic (the spiritual aspect)
Glaisium cnis, most silvery of the skin, that is the birch of the Ogham from birch of the forest, for hence birch, b, was put for it.
Cara ceathra, friend of cattle, elm. Cara, dear to the cattle is the elm for its bloom and for down. Hence it was put for the Ogham luis, quicken tree, l, for hence was quicken tree, l, put for it.
Comet lachta, guarding of milk, that is the Ogham alder, f, from alder of the forests, for it is it that guards the milk, for of it are made the vessels containing the milk.
Luth bech, activity of bees, that is Willow s, for its bloom and for its catkin. Hence it is put for the cognate Ogham letter.
Bag ban, fight of women, ash, n, of weaver’s beam, i.e., maw of weaver’s beam. Hence for its cognate letter.
Banadh gnuisi, blanching of face, fear, huath, h, for blanched is a man’s face when he is encompassed with fear or terror. Hence for the Ogham letter owing to identity of name between the same two, uath stands for each of them.
Gres sair, carpenter’s work, oak, d. Hence it was put for its cognate Ogham letter.
Smir guaili, fires of coal, that is holly. Hence for its cognate, Ogham letter, i.e., tinne, t, for tindi is a name for holly.
Carg bloisc, friend of cracking, coll, hazel, c. Hence for its cognate Ogham letter.
Brigh an duine, force of the man, queirt, q, apple tree. Hence for its cognate letter.
Arusc n-airlig, condition of slaughter,muin a man’s back, m. Hence for its synonymous letter.
Med nerce, ivy, g. Hence for its synonymous letter,  Aforad run, increasing of secrets, sloe, str. Hence it was put for its synonymous letter.
Ruamna dreach, redness of faces, sap of the rose which causes the redness of the faces, so that blushing is in them. Ruamna dreach, again, said of the Ogham ruis, elder, r, from the blush or from the reddening, for it is by elder, r, it is itself written.
Tosach fregra, beginning of an answer, that is ailm, a; for the first expression of every human being after his birth is a.
Fethim saire, smoothest of work, or fedem, onn, stone, o.
Silad clann, growing of plants, that is ur, heath, u with him, for it is uir, the soil of the earth, that causes the growing of the plants that are put into it. Growing of plants, again, said of the soil of the earth, is said of the Ogham letter which has taken the same name with it, each of them is ur.
Comainm carat, synonym for a friend, aspen, e, in the forest. Hence for its synonymous Ogham letter.
Crinem feda, most withered of wood, or sword, service tree, i. Hence for the Ogham letter, which has taken a name other than it, idad, yew.
Cosc lobair, corrective of a sick man, woodbine for the Ogham letter, which has taken a name other than it, ebad, aspen, ea.
Li crotha, beauty of form, heath. Hence for its synonymous letter, the Ogham oi.
Cubat n-oll, great equal-length, woodbine, i.e., honeysuckle. Hence for the Ogham letter which it has taken from it, woodbine, ui.
Amram blais, most wonderful of taste, pin or ifin, gooseberry. Hence for the letter that has taken its name from it, pin or iphin, io.
 Sow Ogham 
Group B prius. White b, grey l, black f, amber s, blue n.
Group H. Accompanying litter of a white (i.e. milch-) sow h, grey d, black t, amber c, blue q.
Group M. Litter of a white sow m, grey g, black ng, amber str, blue r.
Group A. Pig-in-pen of a white sow a, grey o, black u, amber e, blue i. Diphthong group here: Hog-in-pen of a white sow ea, grey oi, black ui, amber io, blue ae.
River Pool Ogham 
Group B. Barrow b, Lower Shannon 1, Foyle f, Shannon s, Nith n.
Group H. h-Othain (Fahan) h, Dergderg d, Teith t, Catt c, Cusrat q.
Group M. Muinten m, Gaval g, Graney ng, Sruthair str, Rye r.
Group A. Aru a, Eobul, Uissen, Erbus, Indiurnn.

Fortress Ogham
Group B. Bruden, Liffey, Femen, Seolae, Nephin.
Group H. h-Ocha, Dinn Rig, Tara, Cera, Corann.
Group M. Meath, Gabur, nGarman, Streulae, Roigne.
Group A. Ae(Cualand), Odba, Usney, Navan, Islay.

Bird Ogham 
Group B. besan pheasant (?), lachu duck, faelinn gull, seg hawk, naescu snipe.
Group H. Aadaig night raven (?), droen wren, truith starling, querc hen.
Group M. mintan titmouse, geis swan, ngeigh goose, stmolach thrush, rocnat small rock (?).
Group A. aidhircleog lapwing, odoroscrach scrat (?), uiseog lark, ela swan, illait eaglet (?).

Colour Ogham
Group B. ban white, liath grey, flann red, sodath fine-coloured, necht clear.
Group H. huath terrible, dub black, temen dark grey, cron brown, quiar mouse-coloured.
Group M. mbracht variegated, gorm blue, nglas green, sorcha bright, ruadh red.
Group A. alad piebald, odhar dun, usgdha resinous, erc red, irfind very white.

Church Ogham

Group B. Bangor, Laith, Ferns Saigear, Noendruim.
Group H. h-Irard (Cluain), Durrow, Terryglass, Clonmacnois, Kildare.
Group M. Mugna, Shrule, Rahen, etc.
Group A. Armagh, etc.

Man Ogham 
Man or hero for group B, one man, two,’ three, four, five men.
Minna nobles (or women) or clerics for group H, i.e., a woman, two, three, four, five women.
Youth for group M, one youth, two, three, four, five youths.
Boy or lad for group A, one boy, two, three, four, five boys, one boy for a, two for o, three for u.

Woman Ogham 
Heroines for group B after the same procedure (or method), one for b, two for 1, thus all down.
Nuns for group H.
Maidens for group M.
Girls for group A, one for a, two for u.

Agricultural Ogham

Group B. biail axe, loman rope, fidba hedge-bill, srathar pack-saddle, nasc ring.
Group H. huartan; dabach cask, tal adze, carr waggon, cual faggot.
Group M. machad, gat withe, ngend wedge, sust flail, rusc basket.
Group A. i.e., Arathar plough, ord hammer, usca heather-brush, epit billhook, indeoin anvil.

Water Ogham 
Rivulet for group B, one rivulet for b, five for n.
Weir for group H, one weir, two, three, four, five weirs.
River for group M, one river, two, three, four; ’five rivers.
Well for group A, one well, two, three, four, five wells.

Dog Ogham 
Watch-dog for group B, one watch-dog, two, three, four, five watch-dogs.
Greyhound for group H, one greyhound, two, three, four, five greyhounds.
Herd’s dog for group M, one herd’s dog, two, three, four, five herds’ dogs.
Lapdog for group A, one lapdog, two, three, four, five lapdogs.


Ox Ogham 
Bull for group B, one bull, two, three, four, five bulls.
Ox for group H, one ox, two, three, four, five oxen.
Bullock for group M, one bullock, two, three, four, five bullocks.
Steer for group A, one steer, two, three, four, five steers.


Cow Ogham 
Milch cow for group B, one milch cow, two, three, four, five milch cows.
Stripper for group H, one stripper, two, three, four, five strippers.
Three-year-old heifer for group M, one three-year-old, two, three, four, five three-year-old heifers.
Yearling heifer for group A, etc.

Finger Ogham 
The fingers of the hand about the shinbone for the letters and to put them on the right of the shinbone for group B.

To the left for group H.

Athwart the shinbone for group M.

Straight across for group A, viz., one finger for the first letter of the groups, two for the second letter, till it would reach five for the fifth letter of whichever group it be.

Nose Ogham 
The fingers of the hands about the nose, viz., similar to right and left, athwart, across.
Saint Ogham
The name of the Saint with which it will commence is taken for the letter, viz., Brenainn, Laisren, Finnen, Sincheall, Neasan. .H-Adamnan, Donnan, Tighearnach, Cronan, Ciaran. Manchan, George, nGeminus, Strannan, Ruadhan. Aed, Oena, Ultan, Ernen, Ita.

Art Ogham 
Livelihood, pilotage, poetry, handicraft, notary work.
Trisyllabic poetry, wizardry, turning, harping, fluting.
Soldiering, smithwork, modelling, deer-stalking, dispensing.
Sovereignty, harvesting, brasswork, fowling, fishing, or yew wood work.

1. Which three of the Ogham, represent the three phases of body, mind, and spirit?
2. “Gres sair, carpenter’s work, oak, d. Hence it was put for its cognate Ogham letter”, is found in which ogham?
3. “mbracht variegated, gorm blue, nglas green, sorcha bright, ruadh red” belongs to which ogham?
4. This describes which ogham; “The fingers of the hands about the nose, viz., similar to right and left, athwart, across”?
5. Another name for word ogham is _________.
6. This represents which group of the Pool Ogham; Aru a, Eobul, Uissen, Erbus, Indiurnn?
7. Which ogham does this come from; “Millsem feda, sweetest of wood that is gooseberry with him, for a name for the tree called pin is millsem feda. Gooseberries are hence named. Hence it was put for the letter named pin, for hence pin, or ifin, io, was put for it”?


Source: Researcher & Author: Crick

Website: The Whispering Woods

Whispering Woods Ogham Course – Lesson Two – First Aicme

Whispering Woods Ogham Course
Lesson Two – First Aicme



The most familiar Ogham system in use today is the Tree Ogham. The Tree Ogham is split up into; eight Chieftain Trees, eight peasant trees and eight shrub trees. In lessons two through five we will take a look at each group of five and their associations. We can develop a deeper understanding of each letter by understanding its connections with each tree.
1st Aicme:
Ogham Symbol Sound/Letter Name Associated Tree
Beith – pronounced (BETH) Birch (Betula pendula Roth)
Beth (BEH), birch – The silver birch is the most common birch in much of Europe. It is one of the first trees to colonize an area after a mature forest is harvested; this is probably a large part of its symbolic connection with new beginnings. It grows up to 100 feet high, but is more often found in spreading clumps on sandy soils. The common birch (B. pubescens Ehrh.) is almost as widespread as the silver birch, but grows primarily on acid or peaty soils; it can reach 65 feet in height.
The word “birch” derives from a root meaning ‘bright’ or ‘shining’ Because of its connection to renewal; the birch has been utilized in many cultures. In Scandinavia, switches of birch are used on the body to stimulate the process of purification in the sauna. In ancient Britain the birch rod was used as a rod to purify the criminal of their misdeeds, and in some cases it was used to expel evil spirits from those deemed insane.In many cultures, including the Shamanic beliefs, the birch is seen as the “Axis Mundi”, (Cosmic World Tree). Often, baby cradles were made out of birch because of its power to drive out evil influences and its association with renewal.
Luis – pronounced (LWEESH) Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
Luis (LWEESH), rowan – the rowan, or mountain ash is related to serviceberries. The red berries were historically used to lure birds into traps, and the specific epithet “aucupari’a” comes from words meaning “to catch a bird”. Rowans thrive in poor soils and colonize disturbed areas. In some parts of Europe they are most common around ancient settlements, either because of their weedy nature or because they were introduced by humans. Rowans flower in May. They grow to 50 feet and are members of the Rose family (Rosaceae). They are cultivated in North America, especially in the northeast.
The rowan is sometimes called “the Whispering Tree” because it is thought that the tree held secrets. The rowan is also associated with protection against witchcraft and bad luck. Rowan twigs were placed above doorways and barns to protect the inhabitants against misfortune and evil spirits.
Rowan stakes were driven into corpses to stop their ghosts from visiting, especially when they died from acts of violence. The Druids used rowan fires with incantations to summon spirits to help them portend in forthcoming battles.
Scottish tradition does not allow the use of the Rowan tree’s timber, bark, leaves or flowers, nor the cutting of these trees, except for sacred purposes under extenuating circumstances.
Rowan is also called the Witch Tree, or Wicken Tree, and can be used for divining precious metals.
Fearn – pronounced (FAIR-n) Alder (Alnus glutinosa Gaertner)
Fearn (FAIR-n), alder – The common alder is often found along lowland rivers, where it grows with aspens and willows. Like willows, alders sprout from stumps–this allows them to regenerate after heavy flooding. In protected sites they may grow to 65 feet tall. Their leaves are more blunt-tipped than most North American alders, which look more like the grey alder (A. incana (L.) Moench). Like ashes, European alders are not widely cultivated in North American (they are often sold as black alders), but several native species are. Alders are members of the Birch family (Betulaceae).
The old superstition of “whistling up the wind” comes from making a whistle out of Alder.
Alder figures into a couple of ancient mythologies. Scandinavian mythology tells us the first woman was fashioned from an Alder trunk. In Irish mythology the first man was said to be made from an Alder.
The Alder is known as the “King of the Fairies”.
In Homer’s Odyssey Alder is named the first of the three trees of resurrection. The two other are White Poplar and Cypress.
In Denmark and Germany, the spirit of the Alder tree was said to carry children off to the Otherworld. An example of this belief can be found in Goethe’s ballad “The Erl-konig” (The Alder King).
Sail – pronounced (SHAiLuh) Willow (Salix spp.)
Saille (SAHL-yuh), willow – Like North America, Europe is home to a large number of willow species Two common tree willows are the white willow (Salix alba) named for the whitish undersides of its leaves, and the crack willow (Salix fragilis) for the propensity of its branches to “crack” off (probably another adaptation to flooding). Both species grow along with poplars and alders along lowland rivers. They can reach 80 feet in height, and they both vigorously sprout from stumps. The white willow is sometimes grown in cultivation in North America. Willows are members of the Willow family (Salicaceae).
The Willow is often the symbol for the Ovate Grade of Druid. According to Druidic mysteries, two scarlet snake eggs were hidden within the Willow. The Universe was hatched from these two eggs, one containing the Sun, the other the Earth, relating to both cosmic birth and the birth of mankind. Traditionally, in spring rituals, these were replaced by hen’s eggs, colored scarlet for the Sun and eaten at Beltane. This rite later became the Christian celebration of Easter.
In Sumer, 4000 BCE, Ishtar’s predecessor, Belili, was known as the Willow Mother.
Orpheus, the poet, was said to have received his Gift by touching the Willows in a grove sacred to Persephone. Brighid has Her Fire festival, Imbolc, or Brigantia, during the Willow month
The Willow tree has been associated with death, grief and cemeteries, the leaves themselves symbolizing unrequited love or the loss of a lover. The leaf has also been worn as a charm to protect against jealousy.
Willow has been used in the Sacred Pipes and the tobacco blends of many Native Americans because it is thought that it is most effective in carrying messages to the Great Spirit.
Nion – (NEE-uhn) Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
Nion (NEE-uhn), Ash is a major tree of lowland forests in much of Europe, along with oaks and beeches. It grows to 130 feet in open sites, with a broad crown reminiscent of American elm trees. Ash was and still is an important timber tree, and is a traditional material for the handle of a besom; it is also a popular wood for wands. The common ash is occasionally cultivated in North America, and similar native ash species are widely grown as street trees. Ashes are members of the Olive family (Oleaceae).
The wood of the Ash is thought to be enchanted and was used by the Druids to fashion wands and spears.
At one time, children would be passed through the branches of an Ash in order that they might be protected and to cure them from illness. Ash leaves were placed under pillows to induce prophetic dreams or placed in bowls of water to ward off ailments.
The Celts believed that the Ash originated in the Great Deep or the Undersea Land of Tethys. It belongs to the trilogy of sacred Irish trees (the other two being the Oak and Hawthorn) and is said to offer particular protection from death by drowning.
The seeds of the Ash have long been used in love divination. If the seeds did not appear on a certain tree, then its owner was thought to have been unlucky in love or a future venture would be unsuccessful.
In Northern England, it was believed that if a woman placed an Ash leaf in her left shoe, then she would be fortunate enough to immediately meet her future spouse. In Greece, the Ash was sacred to the Sea God Poseidon.
In Norse mythology, the Ash is known as “Yggdrasil” (Cosmic World Tree). It was from this tree that Odin hung upside down from for nine days in order to obtain the runes. Also in Norse legend, it was an Ash which spanned the universe, with its roots in Hel and its boughs supporting the Heavens and Earth at its center.
In Celtic lore, the Ash connected the three circles of existence; Abred, Gwynedd and Ceugant.
1. Stakes from which tree was used to stop ghosts from visiting?

2. The Celts believe that the Ash originated from where?

3. Whistling up the wind is associated with which tree?

4. Bright or shining refers to which tree?


Researcher & Author: Crick

Website: The Whispering Woods