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Ogham Divination

A Study in Recreating and Discovering
the Ancient Ways of the Druids

(copyright 1995 by Searles ÓDubhain, all rights reserved)

NOTE: We will have both an HTML and/or a PDF version available for students to purchase as a part of their class materials via downloading and/or CDROM.  In the near future, the electronic text will also be available to be purchased separately by those who are interested in Druids, Ogham and Divination. We've included the Introduction, the Acknowledgements and other initial sections of the book for your review, as well as a preliminary table of contents for those of you who are interested in our approach to the subject matter.

 


Ogham Divination

A Study in Recreating and Discovering
the Ancient Ways of the Druids


If you like the book, you'll love the classes!

Twice a year, Searles O'Dubhain teaches an eight week class on Ogham Divination based upon the material found in his book Ogham Divination: A Study in Recreating and Discovering the Ways of the Ancient Druids. These classes are eight weeks in duration and are taught on the Internet via IRC realtime lecture and discussion, 24 hour password protected message boards, and online download of weekly homework assignments and written materials. For more information on registering for the next Ogham Divination class, please contact searles@summerlands.com via email.

For those not familiar with The Summerlands, please visit our website at http://www.summerlands.com. The Summerlands is a non-profit, Online Celtic Pagan Community dedicated to the sharing of knowledge and tradition of both ancient and modern Celtic ways. The goal of The Summerlands is to create a safe, warm place where Celtic Pagans and others of good heart, mind and spirit and compatible beliefs can come to enliven their spirits and revive the old ways through knowledge and interaction with one another.

Some of the ongoing goals that The Summerlands has engaged to manifest are:

  • A Druidic Seminary where clergy in our faith may be trained, ordained and legally registered with credentials that are equivalent to any other religions' clergy members.
  • A land based Celtic Pagan community and Druidic enclave/seminary.
  • A Celtic Pagan Publishing house, where the hard to find ancient texts can be typeset, printed, and distributed to those people who do not currently have access to a major teaching library in their area.
  • The Brehon Project. The goal here is not to merely research the old Brehon Laws, but to truly understand them: bringing the old ways forward and merging the best of them with the laws and ways of our country in hopes of creating something that honors the past, serves the present, and lays the groundwork for the future.

Other books in production or under consideration for printing by The Summerlands Press are:

Searles O'Dubhain:

  • The Book of Wisdom Tales
  • The Astrology of the Druids
  • The Ways of Druid Magick

Deborah O'Dubhain

  • Handfasting for the Celt and Pagan
  • Tales from The Kitchen Witch Inn: Practical Magick for the Celtic Homemaker
  • Starlight, Starbright: Bedtime Stories and Rituals for Pagan Families

Ogham Divination

A Study in Recreating and Discovering
the Ancient Ways of the Druids

Searles O'Dubhain

The Summerlands Press
http://www.summerlands.com/press

 

© Searles O'Dubhain 1995

 

Published in the United States of America

in 2000 C.E. by

The Summerlands Press

http://www.summerlands.com/press

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized

in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,

without permission in writing from the Publisher.

Illustrated by Searles O'Dubhain

Cover Design by Searles O'Dubhain

Cover Illustration by Cari Buziak, AEO Designs

Typeset and Design by The Summer Set

Printed and bound in the USA by _____________________________, ________, TN

 

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data available

ISBN X-XXXXX-XXX-X

Printing 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 


CONTENTS

    Illustrations
    Tables
    Preface
    Dedication
    Acknowledgements
    Introduction

PART ONE Opening the Pathways

Chapter 1 Stepping onto the Path

    A Relaxed, Aware and Meditative State

    The Memory of Druids

    The Paintbrush of Perception

    The Three Worlds of Land, Sea and Sky

Chapter 2 The Stones Speak

    The Brugh na Bóinne

    The Stones of the Brugh

    The Symbolic Correspondences

    The Symbols of Brugh na Bóinne

    The Point, Infinity and The Void

    Symbols of Meaning

    The Star Speech Revealed

Chapter 3 The Elements of the Duíle

    The Dúile

    The Center of the World

    Nine Elements

    The Mystery, The Song of Amergin

Chapter 4 The Cosmos and the Self

    The Three Cauldrons

    The Three Worlds

    The Qualities of the Dúile

    The Wisdom of the Vedas

    The Three Gunas

    The Nine Qualities

    The Elements of the Cauldrons

    The Deities of the Cauldrons

Chapter 5 The Circles of Being

    The Stone Basin of Knowth

    The Cauldron of Wisdom

    The Cauldron of Vocation

    The Cauldron of Warming

    Circles within Circles

Chapter 6 The World

    The Cities of Magick and The Four Directions

    The Four Hallows

    The Four (Five) Directions, Masters and Qualities

    The Center of the Worlds

    Celtic Ritual Space

    Other Indo-European Ways

    Across Time and Space

    The Division of the World

PART TWO The Song of the Forest Trees

Chapter 7 Wood Wisdom

    The Knowledge of the Trees

    The Nine Hazels of Wisdom

    The Sacredness of Wood

    The Battle of the Trees

    Bri, Bua and Blood

    Ogham Types

    Masters of Wisdom

    Levels of Filidh

    Prim- Scéla

    Becoming a Poet

    The Ollamh, Master of Poetry

    Eochra Éocsi

Chapter 8 The Art of Memory

    The Father of Memory

    The Five Parts of Rhetoric

    The Mnemonic Principle

    The Artificial Memory

    Memory Groves of the Mind

    The Atrophying of Memory

    The Oral Tradition

    Modern Druidic Memory Systems

    Set Aside from the Mundane

    The Druids, Masters of Memory

    Memory Prompts and Symbols

Chapter 9 Spokes in the Wheel

    The Nine Branchess Of The Sacred Tree

    A Beginning for Study

    Singing to the Sun

    Wisdom Will Bloom

    True Music

    Music of the Seasons

    Words of Power

    Amrún

    Amergin’s Challenge

    Musical Instruments

Chapter 10 The Poets’ Secret

    The Harmony of the Spheres

    Tree Toning

Chapter 11 The Inner Circle

    Creating Sacred Space

    Gathering the Attention

    Achieving a Spiritual Union

    Cauldron Meditations

    Pathworking

    Fionn’s Wheel

PART THREE The Ogham Correspondences

Chapter 12 The Components of Meaning

    Coimgne

    First Steps on the Path

    Basic Ogham Correspondences

    Word Ogham (Briatharogam)

    Detailed Meanings

Chapter 13 The North

    B

    Beith (Birch) "The Lady of the Woods"

    L

    Luis (Rowan) "Elm in the Forests"

    F

    Fearn (Alder) "Shield of Bran"

    S

    Saile (Willow) "Tree of Enchantment"

    N

    Nuin (Ash) "Weavers Beam"

Chapter 14 The East

    H

    Huath (Hawthorne) "Horror, Son of Terror"

    D

    Duir (Oak) "King of the Grove"

    T

    Tinne (Holly) "The Sons of Tuirenn"

    C

    Coll (Hazel) "Wattles of Wonder"

    Q

    Quert (Apple) "The Silver Bough"

Chapter 15 The South

    M

    Muin (Vine) "The Tie that Binds"

    G

    Gort (Ivy) "Hallowed Walls"

    NG

    Ngetal (Reed) "Pathways of Life"

    ST

    Straif (Blackthorn) "I See it Crimson, I See it Red!"

    R

    Ruis (Elder) "The Lady’s Tree"

Chapter 16 The West:

    A

    Ailm (Silver Fir, also Elm) "The First and the Last"

    O

    Ohn (Furse or Gorse) "Nectar of Light"

    U

    Ur (Heather) "The Mantle of the Earth"

    E

    Edad (White Poplar, Aspen) "Voice of the Winds"

    I

    Ioho, Idad, Iubar (Yew) "Tree of Eternity"

Chapter 17 The Center, The Forfedha

    EA

    Eabha, Ebadh, Koad (Grove)

    "Gatherings"

    OI

    Oir ( Spindle Tree)

    "Pathways"

    IO

    Ifin, Iphin, Phagos (Pine, Beech) "Contentions"

    UI

    Uileand (Honeysuckle) "Journeys of the Spirit"

    AE

    Mor, Emancoll (The Sea, Witch Hazel) "Rewards"

Chapter 18 The Ogham - Dúile Correspondence Tables

    Aicme Beith

    Aicme Huath

    Aicme Muin

    Aicme Ailm

    The Forfedha

PART FOUR The Wisdom of the Ancients

Chapter 19 Entering the Cauldron

    The Interconnection Between Past, Present and Future

    The Stream Strand of Ferchertne

    The Spoils of Annwn

    An Imram Curaig Maelduin Inso

    The Spiral Upon the Wheel

Chapter 20 The Goodness of Days

    The Coligny Calendar

    The Modern Scottish Gaelic Calendar

    Those ‘Extra’ Moons

    Celtic Totem Moons

    The Irish Calendar

    Crois Ésca (The Girdle of the Moon)

    The Phases of the Moon (Na Céimeanna na Gealaí)

    A Druid’s Calendar

Chapter 21 The Houses of the Moon (Tiath an Éasca)

    The Houses of the Moon

    The Grave of Míach

    The House of Donn (Tech Duinn)

    The Eye of Goll (An tSúil Gholl)

    The Sacred Tree (Bile)

    The House of the Two Vessels (Tighe Dá Mheadar)

    The House of Red (Tech Ruaidh)

    The Sword of Ogma

    The Fiery Arrow (Breo-Saighit)

    The Feasting House of the Fomorii (Tech Míodhchuarta Fomorii)

    The House of Bres Dún mBrese

    Mug’s Half (Leith Moga)

    Conn’s Half (Leth Cuinn)

    The Hill of Allen (Dun Almu)

    Magh Mór (The Great Plain)

    The Cró of Lugh (The Hidden House of Lugh)

    The Evil Eye of Balor (Drochshúil Baloir)

    The Sídhe of Bri Léith

    The Gap of the Woman (Belach da Bend)

    The Goad of Lugh (Deled Luigh)

    The Collar of Morann (Sín Morainn)

    The Bed of the Poets (Leabaidh Filidh)

    The Depths of Domnu

    The Ring of Elatha (Órnasc Elathai)

    The House of Tethra (Tech Tethrai)

    The Triple Spear (Gae Bolga)

    Fec’s Pool (Dabhach Feic)

    The Dagda’s Cauldron (Coire an Dagdai)

Chapter 22 The Brughs of the Boyne Valley

    Cnogba

    The Sun Brugh

    Benn Edar

    Darkness Forever

    The Bull and the Little Herd

    Ogham and Achu

    The Navel String of Mac ind Oic

Chapter 23 The Wheel of the Sun (Roth Grían )

    The 8 Symbols of the Year

    The Metonic Cycle

    When the God Returns

Chapter 24 The Deities of the Wheel

    Danu

    The Dagda

    The Morrigan

    Crom (Crom Dubh, Crom Cruach, Donn)

    Bóann (Bóann, Bóannan)

    Angus mac n’Og

    Brighid

    Bres (Bress)

    Ogma

    Scathach

    Áine

    Bile

    The Goddess of Sovereignty (Banbha, Fodla, Ériu)

    Nuada

    Tailtu

    Lugh

    Manannán Mac Lir

    The Cailleach (Cailleach Bheara, Bui)

    Balor

    Choosing the Gods

Chapter 25 The Winds of Fate

    The Wind

    The Day of the Winds

    The Wheel Ogham of Roigne Roscadach

    Into the Crane Bag

PART FIVE Casting the Woods

Chapter 26 Magical Practices

    The Wattles of Wisdom

    Crannchur

    Four Staves of Yew

    Dichetal Do Chennaibh

    Kennings

    Geasa

    The Sacred Injunctions of the Fianna

    Violating Geis

    The Use of Associated Birth Signs

    Frith

Chapter 27 Into the Circle of Being

    The Casting Cloth is a Background

    Ogham Diagrams for Readings

    Saying the Ogham Names Aloud

    Projecting the Cosmos

    Other Guidelines for Readings

    Beyond Nine Waves and Back Again

    The Moment of Truth

    Ogham and Imbas

Chapter 28 The First Readings

    Several Ways to Read the Ogham

    A Dream Interpretation Using Ogham

    The Open Doorway Method

    The Future of Draíocht in Modern Society

Chapter 29 The Crannchur Method

    A Description of the Form and Content of the Nine Dúile Method

    A Brief Discussion of the Dúile Meanings

Chapter 30 Expanding the Reading to Nine Choices

    The Dúile Method

    The Nine Sacred Woods of the Future

    What Will Be

Chapter 31 An Ogham Meditation

    The Tree of our Being

    The Inner Journey

    The Return Path:

Chapter 32 A Time to Decide

    What Is

    What Was

    What Will Be

Chapter 33 The Death of a Princess

    What Is

    What Was

    What Will Be

    Final Words

Chapter 34 Matters of Love

    What Is

    What Was

    What Will Be

Chapter 35 Ogham Natal Readings

    An Ogham Natal Chart Reading for

    The Correspondences of the Self

Conclusion

APPENDICES

APPENDIX A The Year in the Gaelic Calendar

APPENDIX B Fire Scrying

APPENDIX C The Ogham Directional Correspondences

    The North - Words of Conflict

    The East - Words of Prosperity

    The South - Words of Song

    The West - Words of Knowledge

    The Center - Words of Sovereignty

APPENDIX D The Ogham Correspondence Tables

    Aicme Beith

    Aicme Huath

    Aicme Muin

    Aicme Ailm

    The Forfedha

APPENDIX E Modern Ogham Correspondences

APPENDIX F The Qualities of the Five Parts of Eireann

    North (Ulster) - Cath (Battle) ATÚAID - NORTH

    East (Leinster) - Bláth (Prosperity) ANOIR - EAST

    South (Munster) - Séis (Music) ANDEAS - SOUTH

    West (Connacht) - Fios (Knowledge) ANÍAR - WEST

    Center (Meath) - Riogacht (Kingship)

APPENDIX G A Pronunciation Guide for Irish and Welsh Deity Names

    Some Tips on Pronouncing Names in Irish (by Searles O’Dubhain)

    Additional Welsh Deity Names (furnished by Kathryn F. Hinds)

APPENDIX H Open Charts

Glossary
Bibliography
Index
About the Author

 


Preface

If we are seeking the knowledge of Druids, then we should seek such knowledge in the way that a Druid would seek it. We should do as they did when they took counsel before a quest or a battle. We should seek the best information that can be found in the tradition. We should observe and experiment with the ways that we actively experience the worlds. We should make inquiries into the extended nature of reality through metaphysical insight, meditation and spiritual discipline. If we take this threefold approach to understanding then we will be embracing the ancient Draíocht of the three Druids of Partholan. Their names: Fios, Eolas, and Focmart, mean Knowledge of Tradition, Knowledge of Experience , and Knowledge of Inquiry. All three forms of knowledge are necessary for completing our understanding of the ways of Druids. Even the gods sought this trinity of knowledge, these Three Gods of Danu, to guide them in their own undertakings. Can we expect to do any less in our quest for the teachings of the Druids? Triadic knowledge is the source of wisdom. Within the triadic kennings, we will find the secrets of the Ogham.

Before we begin our walk along the Druid Way to discover the realms of Tree Wisdom and the Circles of Song, I’d like to introduce myself to you more completely by recounting some of my personal history:

This book represents the imbas that illuminated the darkness of my threefold ignorance, to borrow a phrase from the life of Angus Mac ind Oic. This imbas had three parents in much the same way that knowledge is the offspring of the three Druids of Partholan. Its first parent in knowledge was the child of my youthful dreams, which I struggled long and hard to master. With ever increasing control, I was able to direct the activities of my dream-time and to create worlds in which to play and learn. It was during this time of dreaming that I first became aware of Otherworldly consciousness. At times, during my dreams, I found myself being instructed and taught to the vast amusement of my "instructors." Dreams became a struggle between my always rebellious spirit and the guidance of these other beings. It was also during this time that I experienced several accidents and illnesses which were themselves coupled with Otherworldly experiences and periods of "second sight." During these times of sickness and travail, I would sometimes be in a separate reality, foreseeing the events of the near and distant future. A Druid must see all of reality: the dreams, the visions, and the perceptions.

My adventures in the Dreamtime soon found themselves competing with my more formal education in the public schools. I dived into my secular studies with the excitement of a kid in a candy shop. Knowledge of the world and society was very fulfilling and rewarding, yet something was missing from the hallways of secular education. This lack of completeness within secular education caused me to seek beyond the ordinary for knowledge of a more esoteric nature. It was during my research into other forms of knowledge that I discovered the rudimentary techniques of shamanism and meditation. Shamanism described the more formal ways of the Dreamtime and the Otherworld of my youthful experiences. It also showed me a way to overcome social conditioning to more fully perceive all of reality. Until then, I had resisted having conscious visions as something that was perhaps abnormal. Transcendental meditation introduced me to Yoga and ways to control the breath, the heartbeat and the mind. As I gained control of my body, mind and spirit, through meditation, I began to experiment with ways of changing reality. At the same time I was questioning the teachings of traditional religion. I was seeking truth. A Druid must know the inner self and must reconcile tradition, perception and contradiction.

No matter how strongly I reasoned, and no matter what the initial assumptions and conditions were, all attempts at deducing a purpose to reality and a central control of it were doomed to becoming circular arguments. I despaired of ever finding a true solution to this matter. My only successes were in making my circles larger and larger before they turned back upon themselves in endless loops. It was within the quietness of meditation that I encountered the second parent of this work on Ogham divination. As I lay calling out into the darkness of my mind, I folded my perceptions back, one upon one another. I collapsed my reality until it was no longer around me. It became a black sphere of being and existed completely within my mind’s eye, until I could see all parts of it simultaneously. It was then that I met my guide. A being of shining golden flecks of light came to me out of the darkness and pulled me into its center. This center of darkness is the 'Not-World' that is sometimes called An t-Saoil Uile or Annwn in Celtic tradition. It is the dark womb of creation that connects to all parts of external reality in every place, though it is sometimes more strongly felt in some places than others. When one is within the Not-World, creation can occur and journeys can be accomplished to anywhere that the mind can conceive. Awareness is no longer limited by neural capacity and information is no longer limited to memory alone. The mind is re-united with its greater self and communication is a series of "knowings" rather than word sequences or symbols. Knowing replaces thinking and answers outnumber questions. The "Not-World" is the second parent of the knowledge found within this book. It taught me about the flows of imbas and connected me across time and space to the knowledge that creates. A Druid stands at the crossroads of the worlds.

The third parent of this work is the silence of the Druids themselves. They did not write their knowledge in words, nor did they trust to books for education. A Druidic student attained wisdom through verbal exchange and repetition, observation and experience; discipline and mind expansion. The existence of even one Druid was a guarantee that all Druidic knowledge was still retained and available to be taught and learned. Some think, that no Druids or Druidic teachings survived the twofold onslaught of Roman legions and the later legions of well-meaning Roman Christian priests. In the case of the legions, Druids were slaughtered without quarter at Mona in 61 CE. Only those who were elsewhere survived within isolated pockets, as resistance continued in the hills of Western Britain and Scotland. Fortunately for us and for Draíocht, the Romans never invaded Ireland in force. It is there that we find the best preserved information about Druidic practices within the traditions of the Filidh. In the centuries that followed, the new wave of Christianity swept into the British Isles promising a fulfillment of spirit in this life and the next to those who would convert. The Celtic people, as a continuation of their existing spirituality embraced the spiritual message of Christianity. It was woven into their tales and traditions to the point that stories such as the "Quest for the Holy Grail" were developed and the ancient Celtic deities were granted sainthood, while Brighid was said to have fostered Christ himself into the family of the Gael. Worship and honoring of the Old Gods continued in many Celtic lands even after the conversion to Christianity was said to have succeeded. The Tuatha Dé Danann became known as fallen angels who stood apart from those of Heaven or Hell. Many of the priests who ministered to the people recognized these dual ways. Priests who could provide spiritual aid and comfort in both the new and the old ways became known as 'Crane Clerics.' These Crane Clerics were a continuation of Druidic ways within the body of the Church. In a sense, some of these clerics became the new Druids though they also had to serve both the Church and the ways of the people, as well as the spirit of the land. A Druid is a creature of spirit, inhabiting a physical body, with a mind that has achieved clarity of insight.

As I traced my genealogy through several wars of independence and through hundreds, then thousands, of years of antiquity, I encountered the origins of my people within their burial mounds on the Plain of Brega, and within the chambered cairns of Cnogba. It was here that I discovered the roots of the darkness that became O’Dubhain. I found the dark well of our origins along the pathway of the Equinoctial Sun as it passed from the eastern entrance to the west within the hill of my ancestors. I beheld its many folded nature in the basin of the Nine Dúile and within the dark waters of their baptism. Considering these ancient origins my reality began to shift and I began to see the past unfold within my mind's eye. In one of these visions, I was taken to the Battle at the Ford between my ancestor Ferdia and his foster brother Cú Chulainn. That was where the stone breastplate of Ferdia was shattered by his bright brother’s three-pronged spear, the Gae Bolga. It was also within these visions and traditions that I discovered the symbolic language of the stones, from old to new. In a sense, I discovered stones that can speak, as well as stones that can cry out, and stones that can bear witness. Each of these stones is shaped by its purpose and covered with symbols. It was within these stone symbols that I once again beheld the gateways to the knowledge of bright stars and dark groves. The symbols upon the stones marched forward through the years until the first of the Celtic Wise recognized their speech. These symbols and marks became known as Fionn’s wisdom and were recorded upon stone and wood. In the Ogham, one such structure of wisdom and symbols is known as Fionn's Ladder. It was upon such a ladder that I discovered the progressions to wisdom of the Druids and it is under the ridgepole of their house that I will attempt to define it within this book. There are many doorways to knowledge that travel beyond our ignorance. It is to these doorways that we will apply the keys of the Ogham. A Druid dares to explore beyond darkness and ignorance.

I have opened each of these doorways to knowledge with its own key and its sacred song. I have discovered new knowledge and new doorways to knowledge beyond knowledge, as well as wisdom upon wisdom. Each step has provided access to a family of steps, as each leap brings understanding to another side of knowledge. The courage to open each door must be gained from the need to seek the truth that is hidden from the world. Such work is not suited for the timid or the shy. One must be on fire with the search for truth. The most fearsome adversary that will be met within this darkness is oneself and one’s shadow. Death’s dark eyes see truly, yet life’s warmth awaits us beyond the edge of darkness. If you are one who seeks truth beyond fear and Life beyond Death, then come step into my darkness, a world beyond fears, a Not Place of Making, an unmaking of worlds, a creation of others. The fire that lights your way must become a Seeking of Truth. Without that light, there is only darkness and fear. I am O’Dubhain. I have met myself within the outer darkness of the unknown and I have found myself within the inner light of Imbas. Come into the Ogham and journey beyond Fear. A Druid travels the ways of creation using the truth of knowledge as a guide to wisdom.


How to use this Book

This book was written as a practical, hands-on explanation of the wisdom and techniques of the Druids in performing Ogham Divination. It uses scholarly references where those are available, but it makes no attempt to limit itself to only the left-hand side of the brain, as reality is much more than the framework provided therein. The approach to the ways of the Druids that I have selected uses both sides of the brain, as well as the expanded mind that goes beyond limitation into worlds of action and creation. One must enter and become immersed in the waters of knowledge in order to learn how to swim toward wisdom. This book is divided into five major sections (as is fitting for any work dealing with Ogham). It attempts to address the five streams of the Well of Segos in the way that the flows of wisdom are created. These five parts of knowledge are:

    Opening the Pathways- a section that deals with how we perceive reality and how it has traditionally been expressed in symbols by our ancestors, as well as identifying the Celtic elements of the self and the Cosmos as represented by the Directions, the Dúile, the Cauldrons and the Worlds. An extensive discussion is provided concerning the three parts of being contained in the Cauldron of Poesy materials.

    The Song of the Forest Trees - a discussion of the ways in which Druids taught, learned and expressed themselves using Ogham as tools for constructing chants, memory groves, and a correlation of their storehouse of knowledge. The use of the Ogham as a form of musical notation for the harp is presented. The Ogham diagram Fionn’s Wheel is used to better orient the qualities of the Land as provided by Fintan and Trefuilngid Tre-eochair.

    The Ogham Correspondences - a presentation of the major uses and meanings of each Ogham in terms of its overall meaning, its two basic meanings, its three fold images and its nine-fold correspondences to the dúile. Additional tree lore is detailed and tied to the Ogham as well as a list of Celtic that are relative to each.

    The Wisdom of the Ancients – a discussion of Celtic Otherworldly cosmologies, deities and realms, as well as how these can be used in developing models for a casting cloth to be used during Ogham divinations. The cosmologies of the Sky and Sea are detailed using the Ogham diagrams of the Stream Strand of Ferchertne and the Wheel Ogham of Roigne Roscanach as well as traditions, such as, "The Voyage of Mael Duin’s Boat" and the Leabhar Gabála.

    Casting the Woods - interpretations of traditional Ogham readings and ciphers as well as kennings. The use of Ogham by Dalan and Cú Chulainn is presented and discussed. The techniques of crannchur, frith and geasa are presented for use in divination. A sampling of readings is given that demonstrates the methods, charts, and techniques presented in the book.

This work is used as a textbook in a course in Ogham divination that is taught at The Summerlands, an online, Pagan, cyber community (http://www.summerlands.com). It is also used as a textbook in a larger Druidic training program. This program includes a discussion of the many Celtic tales and traditions that are linked to each Ogham. Such a system of correspondences was included in the curricula of the schools of the Druids and the Filidh. It is my opinion that the Ogham were used to instruct Druidic students in all aspects of the common knowledge or Coimgne. This book may also be independently used by those already familiar with techniques of divination (and the tales) as a sourcebook for interpreting and validating their own readings.

Within the following pages are discussions of musical theory, symbolic language, magical pathworking, as well as several types of meditations and traditional ancient memory techniques. Any of these disciplines can be studied on its own as a guide in developing a greater level of personal skill and a deeper understanding of life in general. It is my recommendation that the greatest strength of the Druids is embraced when all of their techniques and knowledge are studied together within an integrated learning experience. This combination of separate studies is a confluence of knowledge that becomes a symbiotic tool of transformation for the willing student. A Druid is many skilled and capable, a fabric of interlocking threads and strong connections. A Druid’s cloak contains as many colors as the knowledge that it encompasses. A Druid’s quest is a strand of many pathways and passages within and beyond life, a second awakening within life itself. A Druid is the truth at the crossroads of the Worlds.


Dedication

To the Gods

To the Ancestors

To the People

To Luna and Julia Butterfly

To All Those Who Fight
For the Life of the Forests

To the Oaks of My Childhood
To My Parents

To Druids Everywhere

 


Acknowledgements

I would like to thank my entire family for supporting me in a multitude of ways that are even now becoming known. I especially thank my parents Zeke and Dorothy DeVane for their patience and love. Without them I would be undone in many ways. I would also like to thank my second set of parents O.B and Eloise Cleveland for showing me that magic lives in the hearts and lives of everyone. I especially thank my wife Deborah O’Dubhain for manifesting me into her life through the guiding star of manifestation. In many ways she has been one of my greatest teachers. In a similar manner, my daughters Corinne and Lauren have shown me that youth can be the Cauldron of Age, as each of them shows me things about myself and themselves that span many lifetimes. In those lifetimes, I thank the beings who can walk between the worlds, bringing their golden light into the darkness. I thank my brothers and their families and the families that have existed these countless centuries to bring my to this point in existence. I thank those forbears who warded their own tribes and were inspired by the ancestors at Cnogba. I understand the dedication of the Red Hand and its sacrifice. I am proud of those who sought to unify the land of my ancestors and also those who fought to free the land of my birth.

There are others beyond family to thank for their examples and their inspirations. I thank Rilla Mouldin and Jehana Silverwing who insisted that I pursue a study and teaching of Celtic tradition and Ogham Divination. I also thank many a Bard and a Druid that I have met along the way in this study of learning. Some of them follow hawks within shadows, others are the Moon’s shadow on horned wings, swiftly gliding the night. One might see through the eyes of a Bard upon a Tor, beyond illusion into spiritual realities, while others seek the gray steel of the wolf in truth and with relentless cunning. There is one who stands between the worlds and whose religious teachings span many pathways. There is another who is an Oak above kings. I especially want to thank all the Druids of the Henge of Keltria for their support and their pursuit of truth and harmony. I hope to someday teach as each of you teach, in subtle ways, as a strong upholder of the truth that stands clearly among the world’s many illusions


Introduction

This book came into being because my teachers would not permit me to do otherwise. I was required to seek out and to develop the knowledge of the Druids so that Draíocht would once again be a gift of the living from the never dying. If I’d had a choice in the matter, I would have remained safely at the knee of one of my teachers to learn this wisdom the easy way. I would not have done the work and research that’s been required to learn by experimentation and investigation. Ease in learning was wishful thinking on my part. A great truth is that one part of wisdom is the experience that is gained by being immersed in a subject up to the elbows. Many times it is this hard work that pays the greatest rewards, if we will only go the extra mile in our efforts. The hard lesson is the lesson that is not forgotten. Although I have relied on the best scholarship available, I have not limited my efforts to only its narrow constraints. I have utilized the best knowledge available from tradition, from experience and through inquiry. I have also sought divine knowledge through the Ogham themselves as well as through meditation and imbas. The results have always been verified through experimentation and use. I wish to thank those who have corrected my mistakes and acknowledge that the success of this work is the effort of many. All mistakes, any misimpression, misrepresentation or errors are my own. As this book is used in classroom as a guide to practical work, and as I receive notifications of needed corrections to the material, I will be updating and including such changes in all future editions. It is time to begin our journey to discover truth by learning from the teachings of Druids.

Good is the wellspring of measured speech.
Good is the home of the well of inspiration.
Good is the joining of their powers:
Strength is made durable.

It endures longer than any fortress.
It is better than any tradition.
It is our guide to wisdom,
As we free ourselves from ignorance.

Amergin White Knee in the Cauldron of Poesy Materials (circa 13th Century BCE)


Chapter 1


In the Beginning

Caidi aimser ocus log ocus perso ocus tugait scribind in lebor? Ni ansa:

What are the time, place, person, and the cause of the writing of this book? Not hard to say:

It is a common misconception within some parts of the academic community that the knowledge of the ancient Druids has been lost to us. Many authorities think that the oral nature of the Druidic teachings prevented their knowledge from being preserved in writing; in books and letters. It is also commonly accepted as a fact by these skeptics that the Druids ceased to be an organized group in the fifth century CE. If any of these perceptions and misconceptions were true, then the writing of this book would not have been possible and the words that you are about to read would still be hidden. It is very fortunate that the knowledge of the three worlds is not dependent on the recording efforts of histories alone. There are many sciences that retain the deeds of the past: biology, linguistics, geography, archaeology, and physics, being only some of them. It is also a godsend that wisdom is not restricted to what can be rationally quantified according to the rigid precepts of science or logic alone. Wisdom has been said by the ancient sages to be available to those who seek it spiritually as well. "When the student is ready, the teacher will come," is a saying that applies equally to the physical sciences, the mental disciplines and spiritual questing. Knowledge comes to us through tradition, through science and through inquiry. In the matter of divination, our inquiries are made of the gods. We will not be disappointed in our seeking of truth if we listen truly with our body, mind and spirit. These three approaches to investigating the subject of Druidic knowledge are essential to producing a complete understanding of information, knowledge and wisdom, but they are not the only sources for discovery available to us.

I have used the Ogham to perform divinations for many years, since I first discovered them while pursuing my Celtic roots. I was fascinated by the secret writings of the Druids. Since that time, I have read every book on Ogham that I could find. I have a set of Ogham (made from 6000 year old bog oak or 'faerie wood') that I use regularly. In addition to my studies, I have used the Ogham to interpret dreams as well as to determine the future (for myself, as well as others). If I really need to know the truth of a situation and it is beyond conscious knowing, I turn to the ancient wood wisdom of the Druids to show me the way. This work presents what I have discovered about the Ogham, the Self, the Cosmos and the Druid Way.

In our pursuit of the wisdom and secret knowledge of the Druids, we are faced with many obstacles. Having incomplete accounts of their knowledge in what they left behind created most of these obstacles. The ancient Druids did not write their teachings into books or upon paper. They considered the mind to be stronger and more powerful than books, as they also considered the tongue to be sharper than the pen or the sword. If we are to recover their ancient knowledge and wisdom from the remnants that were recorded during the Middle Ages, we must become as the Druids of old, and relentlessly devote ourselves to a pursuit of truth and the attainment of a total awareness of the reality that surrounds us. The attitude of the Druids was best summed up by these words:

"The Truth Against the World."

"An Fhirinne in Aghaid an t-Saoil."

"Y Gwir Yn Erbyn Byd"

What is sweeter than mead? - Intimate conversation (Ifin, Pine).
What is blacker than the raven? - Death (Idad).
What is whiter than the snow? - Truth (Luis).
What is hotter than fire? - Inspiration (Tinne)
What is more valuable than gold? - Strength (Duir)
What is swifter than the wind? - Thought (Saile).
What is sharper than a sword? - Understanding (Coll).
What is deeper than the sea? - Eternity (Quert).
What is longer than life? - Rebirth (Nuin)

Come share a cup of mead with me from the Well of Wisdom. We shall go into the darkness of death, seeking truth upon the swift wings of the wind, and trusting in the silver splendor of our sharp, singing swords! May the mead of our speech become a spell of truth. Let us become new creatures of thought. Let our knowing become understanding. Let our understanding lead us to wisdom! An Fhirinne in Aghaid an t-Saoil! Let us become as Druids! We shall read the Ogham and foresee the future.

Stepping Onto the Path

Is there anyone that has not wished they could predict the future? The need to have foreknowledge of coming events seems to be a basic part of our psyches as human beings. Many different esoteric disciplines have attempted to fill this need; everything from reading tea leaves to computer generated astrological charts. Some of these disciplines are more successful than others; giving us hints concerning the relative merits of the many different predictive techniques. At the roots of all of these disciplines is the art/science of divination. Divination is a discipline in which the Druids were considered to be masters. How does divination work? Who can do it? How can we hope to attain the level of mastery of the Druids in this esoteric art? Before addressing what we know about Druidic divination techniques, let’s look at the basics of divination in general.

Many people have performed a successful divination during the course of their own lives, although they may well be unaware that this is what they have actually done. Have you ever opened a telephone book to exactly the right page? Have you ever "known" that the phone was going to ring or even exactly who was going to be on the other end of the line? Have you ever gone to exactly the right place in a strange town without having any directions? Have you ever known that the "fish were biting?" If you’ve done any of these things or something akin to them, then you have performed an act of foretelling. You have performed a divination. Perceiving the future is something we humans seem to do everyday. The real key to divination is not whether we can do it but how efficient we can make it. Mastery of divination is achieved by developing a reliable means for using this ability, without having to await those rare and random moments of heightened sensitivity. In order to quantify how we can actually perform such "esoteric" acts, we must first understand the basis of the act of divination itself. Understanding this ability is grounded within our many connections to the surrounding reality as well as our own awareness of how we are tied to it. These ties lead us into realms of consciousness.

It is well known that we humans use but a fraction of our minds on a conscious basis. What is it that we are doing with the rest of our awareness? since our consciousness is only a fraction of our mind’s activities, the rest of our mind is characterized as the sub-conscious and the super-conscious. These two levels of consciousness are thought to connect with parts of reality that we do not normally perceive. These two types of consciousness are our best allies in the quest to predict the behavior of events. It is the super-conscious and the sub-conscious that allow us to do those mundane acts of "divination" that were previously mentioned. In order to perform a successful divination we must become more aware of our many layers of consciousness and how they are connected to the greater reality of the Cosmos that surrounds us. The connections of the Total self to Reality hold the keys to our ability to foretell the future and to fully understand the past, as well as the present. Divination centers around the use of our total consciousness to access the hidden answers within the greater Reality.

A Relaxed, Aware and Meditative State

In order for us to open the pathways that exist between the various levels of consciousness, we must first achieve a relaxed, yet aware, meditative state. There exist a variety of techniques for achieving this state. The method that works best for me is a form of meditation that I call the 'Cauldron Meditation.'. I try to individually relax each part of my Total self, starting with the body. To achieve this relaxation of the body I start at the extremities (the feet, hands, arms, and legs) and work towards my center of consciousness. When I am completely, physically relaxed and my mind is 'quieted' (without those constant 'hi there!,' 'what if?' types of thoughts), I float within a void which then allows the many streams of my consciousness to touch the Cosmos. This is the connecting phase of the divination. It is absolutely necessary to establish such a baseline of calmness before beginning the actual divination itself. The steps that follow this relaxation are the integration phase of the divination. These steps are the most crucial part of the entire process. During this phase, the total consciousness is allowed to seek information and touch the Cosmos. Afterwards, it can translate what it discovers using the symbols of divination. These symbols are one of the many tools that our higher consciousness uses to communicate divined knowledge to the deductive consciousness. Words are sometimes not powerful or universal enough to convey the knowledge of the divine. That is why divination uses symbols. The revelations of the esoteric consciousness are interpreted through the use of symbols, archetypes and a previously defined knowledge base. The divination techniques of Tarot, Astrology, Runes, Ogham, Casting Lots, all rely on such archetypal systems. The patterns and relationships revealed and defined within such archetypal systems are the means that are used by the conscious mind to interpret the revelations of the sub-Conscious and the super-Conscious. Since three levels of consciousness are involved in the acquisition of divine knowledge, three separate sets of symbols are required to efficiently complete the connection between the three levels of the mind. Let’s look at how the Celts viewed these matters of consciousness and Cosmos, as well as addressing the threefold nature of existence.

The Memory of Druids

To the Celts, the Cosmos was divided into the Three Worlds of Earth, Sky and Sea. This is not to say that they did not further subdivide each of these worlds into many different realms, assigning unique characteristics to each corresponding part. Celtic society itself had many levels of structure and organization. It should be no surprise to discover that their three worlds were also many leveled and multi-structured. This structuring within their society also extended to the family, the individual and the Self or 'Fein.' The Druids were keen observers of Nature and the world around them. They amassed tremendous amounts of knowledge as they traveled the world with the migrating Celts. This information was memorized by the Druids (and not written down) so that it could be instantly accessed when needed. Druids did not require writing to store their knowledge. In fact, they avoided writing their knowledge within books because such book knowledge was considered to be inert knowledge and not directly available for use. Being used out of context could easily corrupt such knowledge. Book knowledge was not as fully integrated as the knowledge that a Druid’s memory contained. Book knowledge could be easily changed by the uneducated and unenlightened. Book knowledge was not instantly available. It had first to be read, then digested and finally understood. Words in books were considered to be static representations of dynamic ideas; not the fully fleshed wisdom of a Druid. Books were not suitable for containing the Druidic Wisdom for the simple reason that Wisdom (and its application within Reality) is imminent, dynamic and alive; not dead, static or remote. Each Druidic memory was filled with living, breathing wisdom from across time. They were a rainbow of colors and melodies, harmonizing and surrounding the perceptions of the senses. Druidic memory was the cornerstone of Celtic Wisdom. The Druids did not require books to maintain this Library of Knowledge. What they did require were efficient keys to accessing their own memories. Such efficient access could only have been achieved within a structured, organized and categorized mind, the product of long study and disciplined mental training. The Ogham are the keys to Druidic memory. They are the eochra éocsi or 'keys of divination.' The very nature of the Ogham is structure, shape, tone and color. They are the grove of knowledge and the memory theater of the mind. The Druids in their systematic cataloging of knowledge used these characteristics. The Celtic divination system centered on the use of the Ogham keys. Ogham were used to unlock the massive amounts of knowledge required to become a Druid.

Much that was once known has long been lost. What was once held sacred within these great Druidic minds is gone, yet fortunately, there is much that still remains for us to consider. Our own knowledge base can itself be increased and expanded to include the realities and relationships of the Three Worlds. This knowledge includes: the ancient lore from the dindshenchas and the immrama; the stone symbols carved upon the Brughs of the Gods; the speech of the stars and the planets as they wander across the skies; the nature of the trees, the spirit of the beasts; the elements of the human self or the 'Duíle.' We will discuss the techniques of Druidic memory in a later chapter. We must first consider how perception is formed.

The Paintbrush of Perception

Intuition and Deduction are two schools of thought, just as Impressionism and Realism are two schools of painting. Both can be used to paint a picture or to capture a thought. As each approach is taken to its limit, the differences between the two forms disappear. They approach the same image, the object of art or thought. They each become more and more like the very thing that they are describing. The effect of discrete thoughts becoming more interconnected and detailed is the same effect given when the flowing hints of intuition become more focused. Both approaches are attempts at creating reality in the mind of the beholder. This marriage of logic and intuition is the fundamental basis of all occult knowledge. It is one of the guiding principles of divination. It is possible to 'see' the complete picture, even when only 'splashes' of color are present upon the canvas (this is why we can watch TV or look at a picture in a newspaper). The human mind and its many levels of consciousness are able to integrate a wide variety of images and thoughts into concepts and pictures that are much greater than their individual parts. If we want to become artists of divination, we must also become the scientists of divination. Not only do we need the 'gift' of seeing the future, we also must learn to study, organize and remember so that we may interpret and use our foresight.

When preparing to paint a picture there are many steps that must be followed. One must select the appropriate size, type and shape of the canvas as well as the frame. The color scheme must be considered. The techniques and style of the paints must be considered. What types of brushes and how many are required to get 'just the right effect' are major considerations. Lighting considerations and other factors such as artist’s mood, space to move around, noise and other distractions, quality of the environment, cleanliness, etc..., all of these must be considered as well. In preparing to perform a divination, we must take an approach that is similar to the artist’s approach. The canvas of our work is defined by our Cosmology. The preparation of that canvas must include the selection of qualities for the various factors within our Cosmology, such as: Ruling Deities, Hallows, Directions, Magical Attributes and Characteristics. The brushes of our divination are the Ogham fidh themselves. Each of them adds a unique descriptive capability to our foretelling. The Winds, the Sun, the Moon and the Stars all affect the environment that surrounds us while working. Their effects will appear in the picture that the Magic paints before us as we search for answers. In selecting the tools for our trade we must exercise great care in our choices. Only the best and truest will suffice. That is why we base our divination systems upon the teachings and writings of the ancients. They have gone before us to provide us with the wisdom of their experience. It is within the ancient texts that the form and manner of this Ogham divination system was first conceived. Our divinations and pictures will only be as good as the facts we have started with and the way in which we have swirled the colors. Let’s take a look at the sources for the basic concepts of Ogham Divination before we approach the canvas of our 'castings.'

The divination system described within this paper is based on the descriptions of the Three Worlds as described in several ancient Irish writings. The Underworld (Depths/ sea) aspects of the Otherworld are modeled after the imram, "The Voyage of Maelduin’s Boat." The Middleworld or 'Land/Earth' aspects of the system use the Tree Ogham as arranged around the diagram known as Fionn’s Wheel (from the Book of Ballymote). The directional aspects and qualities for the various divisions of the Land are those assigned to it by Trefuilngid Tre-eochair within the tale of the "Settling of the Manor of Tara." The Skyworld (Future/Deity) aspects are based upon the characteristics and practices of the Tuatha Dé Danann as described in the ancient tale, "Cath Maige Tuired," as well as, within the stories surrounding the Brugh na Bóinne and its many resident deities/owners. Any symbols that I have used are derived from these ancient tales and books, the Ogham themselves, as well as, the actual symbols found carved and chiseled upon the stones of the Brugh itself.

The Three Worlds of Land, Sea and Sky

To the Celts (and the Druids), the Cosmos consisted of the Three Worlds. These worlds are the Skyworld of the Gods, The Middleworld of the Earth and the Underworld of the spirits and Ancestors. The Crann Beithadh ('Tree of Life') or the sacred Bile interconnected these Three Worlds. Flows of Spirit, Fire and Water, moved through the many levels of this Cosmos, constantly going from one realm to another in cycles of birth, death and rebirth. The secrets of the Tree of Life are contained within the Ogham (which represent the Wood Wisdom of the Forest) and its many 'keys of knowledge.'

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