Celtic Awareness

February, 2009

What is the Ogham? And where do they come from?

The Druid Ogham alphabet fits flawlessly into the mystic culture of the Celts. The rareness of the Ogham alphabet makes it easy to see why the Celta believe that it was bequested to them by the Tuatha de Danaan God Ogma (the God of Eloquence).

The source of the Ogham is shadowed in mystery. Unclear as to where and when the ogham alphabet began to be used. It has been said that Julius Caesar, (first century BCE), aknoledged that druids used the Ogham in Gaul, nevertheless, scientistific research to date has not been able to find any evidence of Ogham carvings previous to 300 CE. This gap in time shows to be mysterious and furthers the belief that the Tuatha de Danaan may well be responsible (this is my belief). Nevertheless, putting all mysteries aside let us move on to the important question of what we do know about this mystical alphabet and the individuals who used it?

Primaraly carved onto wooden staves this practice can be seen in Bardic Irish literature, and in fact by the names given to them (named after trees)early in th Oghams history. In the medieval manuscripts of Ireland the Ogham alaphabet known as the Beth-Luis-Nion referring to the first three letters of their Galic names, which coincedentaly are also names of trees. Beth is the birch, Luis mountain-ash or rowan, and Nion the ash tree.

In addition to the Oghams being used and recognized by their names they were also used in the Celtic Tree Calandar. These Druid Oghams comprised the Celtic calander in which it had  thirteen months, the extrady in the Celtic calandar was observed as a day of ritual to renew the year.

According to Míchealín Daugherty (2006)

The Celtic Tree Calendar is a system that  provides a means pf following the lunar changes in the year’s energies as well as the solar ones. The thirteen trees are representative of the thirteen new moons that occur each year. The Druids believed the human race originally descended from the trees. Each tree had particular magical qualities. They encoded these mysteries in a secret shamanic alphabet, known as the Ogham, the origin of which is ascribed to Ogma, the Celtic God of

    • Poetry

  • ” (p.1).

    And inturn created  the druid calandar in association with the trees that the Oghams were linked to.

    Shone the sunset red and solemn: Muirgen, where he leant, observed

    • Poetry

  • :

    Down the corners of the column letter-strokes of Ogham carved.
    “Tis, belike, a burial pillar,” said he, “and these shallow lines
    Hold some warrior’s name of valour, could I rightly spell the signs.”
    Letter then by letter tracing, soft he breathed the sound of each;
    Sound by sound then interlacing, lo, the signs took form of speech;
    And with joy and wonder thrilling, part a-thrill with fear,
    Muirgen read the legend plainly, “Fergus son of Roy is here”.

    ~ Sir Samuel Ferguson, (1865)

    So in conclusion one can see that even though there may never be a scientific explanation as to where and when th Ogham first came to be thouse of us who believe know it came from Ogma God of  the Tuatha de Danaan.

    Bibliography and Works Cited:

    Daugherty, M. (2006). The Celtic Tree Calendar. Irelands Own. Retrieved January 21, 2009, from

    Sir Samuel Ferguson, Lays of the Western Gael, 1865.