Study in Recreating and Discovering
the Ancient Ways of the Druids
(copyright 1995 by Searles ÓDubhain, all rights reserved)
A Study in Recreating and Discovering
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
Other books in production or under consideration for printing by The Summerlands Press are:
A Study in Recreating and
The Summerlands Press
© Searles O'Dubhain 1995
Published in the United States of America
in 2000 C.E. by
The Summerlands 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
Printing 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
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 Center of the World
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
Masters of Wisdom
Levels of Filidh
Becoming a Poet
The Ollamh, Master of Poetry
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
Music of the Seasons
Words of Power
Chapter 10 The Poets Secret
The Harmony of the Spheres
Chapter 11 The Inner Circle
Creating Sacred Space
Gathering the Attention
Achieving a Spiritual Union
PART THREE The Ogham Correspondences
Chapter 12 The Components of Meaning
First Steps on the Path
Basic Ogham Correspondences
Word Ogham (Briatharogam)
Chapter 13 The North
Beith (Birch) "The Lady of the Woods"
Luis (Rowan) "Elm in the Forests"
Fearn (Alder) "Shield of Bran"
Saile (Willow) "Tree of Enchantment"
Nuin (Ash) "Weavers Beam"
Chapter 14 The East
Huath (Hawthorne) "Horror, Son of Terror"
Duir (Oak) "King of the Grove"
Tinne (Holly) "The Sons of Tuirenn"
Coll (Hazel) "Wattles of Wonder"
Quert (Apple) "The Silver Bough"
Chapter 15 The South
Muin (Vine) "The Tie that Binds"
Gort (Ivy) "Hallowed Walls"
Ngetal (Reed) "Pathways of Life"
Straif (Blackthorn) "I See it Crimson, I See it Red!"
Ruis (Elder) "The Ladys Tree"
Chapter 16 The West:
Ailm (Silver Fir, also Elm) "The First and the Last"
Ohn (Furse or Gorse) "Nectar of Light"
Ur (Heather) "The Mantle of the Earth"
Edad (White Poplar, Aspen) "Voice of the Winds"
Ioho, Idad, Iubar (Yew) "Tree of Eternity"
Chapter 17 The Center, The Forfedha
Eabha, Ebadh, Koad (Grove)
Oir ( Spindle Tree)
Ifin, Iphin, Phagos (Pine, Beech) "Contentions"
Uileand (Honeysuckle) "Journeys of the Spirit"
Mor, Emancoll (The Sea, Witch Hazel) "Rewards"
Chapter 18 The Ogham - Dúile Correspondence Tables
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 Druids 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
Mugs Half (Leith Moga)
Conns 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)
Fecs Pool (Dabhach Feic)
The Dagdas Cauldron (Coire an Dagdai)
Chapter 22 The Brughs of the Boyne Valley
The Sun Brugh
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
Crom (Crom Dubh, Crom Cruach, Donn)
Bóann (Bóann, Bóannan)
Angus mac nOg
The Goddess of Sovereignty (Banbha, Fodla, Ériu)
Manannán Mac Lir
The Cailleach (Cailleach Bheara, Bui)
Choosing the Gods
Chapter 25 The Winds of Fate
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
Four Staves of Yew
Dichetal Do Chennaibh
The Sacred Injunctions of the Fianna
The Use of Associated Birth Signs
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 Will Be
Chapter 33 The Death of a Princess
What Will Be
Chapter 34 Matters of Love
What Will Be
Chapter 35 Ogham Natal Readings
An Ogham Natal Chart Reading for
The Correspondences of the Self
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
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 ODubhain)
Additional Welsh Deity Names (furnished by Kathryn F. Hinds)
APPENDIX H Open Charts
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, Id like to introduce myself to you more completely by recounting some of my personal history:
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 Fionns 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 Duins 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 Druids cloak contains as many colors as the knowledge that it encompasses. A Druids 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.
To the Gods
To the Ancestors
To the People
To Luna and Julia Butterfly
To All Those Who Fight
To the Oaks of My Childhood
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 ODubhain 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 Moons 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 worlds many illusions
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 Id 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 thats 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.
Amergin White Knee in the Cauldron of Poesy Materials (circa 13th Century BCE)
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:
The time of the writing of this book is the fifth decade of the authors life, in the later part of the twentieth century, and during the 1935th year, after the Druids of Mona were attacked by Sueltonius Paulinius, according to the reckoning of the years of the Common Era (CE).
The places of its writing are the states of Virginia, Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama within the geographical United States of America and also The Summerlands (http://www.summerlands.com), a Celtic, Pagan, cyber community on the Internet.
The author of this work is Searles ODubhain, a student of Draíocht; a descendent of the chiefs of Cnogba and Barra; out of the lines of Daman and Niall; a free man of a free people.
The reason for the writing of this treatise is to recover and explain what can be known about the ways of the Druids. This writing will be accomplished from a study of what was written about the Druids, from the tales told within folk memory, and using the information that can be discovered through the use of discerning inquiry and the techniques of Imbas.
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:
"An Fhirinne in Aghaid an t-Saoil."
"Y Gwir Yn Erbyn Byd"
What is sweeter than mead? - Intimate conversation (Ifin, Pine).
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, lets 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 youve 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 minds 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. Lets 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 Druids 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 artists 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 artists 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. Lets 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 Maelduins Boat." The Middleworld or 'Land/Earth' aspects of the system use the Tree Ogham as arranged around the diagram known as Fionns 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.'