Friday, March 26, 2010

Writing in English Using the Ogham (Old Irish) Letters

Writing in English with a non-English alphabet is difficult. For example, when using the Japanese katakana alphabet, you cannot write “led” and “red” since there is no difference between “R” and “L” sounds in Japanese. Similar problems also occur as well with the Ogham. For example, writing words that contain the English letters “V” or “X” are riddled with problems since neither exists as Ogham letters.

To write a simple paragraph of English using the Ogham, I encountered several problems. The English letter “P” has various representations. The Ogham letter Uileand is both “UI”, “P”, and “PE”, while Ifin is “IO” and “PH”. Although I do not speak Old Irish, I assume that English sounds for “P” differs from Irish. Likewise a similar situation exists for the letter “X”. The Ogham letter Eamhancholl is both “AE” and “X”. For the English letter “K”, Eabhadh is “EA”, “CH”, and “KH”. However for a hard “K” sound in English, I used Coll (“C”).

The sounds of different languages do not always replicate each other. For example, Japanese has “TSU” sound which English cannot replicate. Care should be used when using a non-native alphabet in writing any language. For those reasons, I could not write letter for letter in English using the Ogham letters.

When I was writing the word “squirrel”, I had a choice. I could be literal and use the Ogham letters Ceirt (“Q”) and Ur (“U”) or use the sounds that the letters Coll (hard “C”) and Ur (“U”) represent for the “QU” sound. I chose to be literal. However this exercise does highlight the problem that linguists often have in translating words from one alphabet to another alphabet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The most spectacular of the Tyrant Flycatchers is Vermilion Flycatcher. In his dazzling courtship displays, Vermilion Flycatcher dips and spreads his tail to show off his brilliant red plumage. Singing “pit-a-see pit-a-see” in soft tinkling notes, He ends his courting song with a high trill. While He is singing, Vermilion Flycatcher bounces across the sky on fluttering wings.

Living in pairs, Vermilion Flycatcher is usually found in open country or near bodies of water. His territory ranges from southwestern United States to South America. Although, Vermilion Flycatcher is easily noticed in his brilliant colours, little is known about his life. One of the few things that is known is that He will lose his red colouring when in captivity.

Vermilion Flycatcher lives a very public life while maintaining his privacy. He has actually two lives- one personal and one public. Learn from Him, what the difference is. Also, let Vermilion Flycatcher show you how to keep parts of your life private, as well.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Since He is the most aggressive of the Tyrant Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbird is called “Tyrannus tyrannus” (Tyrant tyrant). Because of his great daring, Native Americans called Him “Little Chief”. During the summertime, He vigourously guards his nest from intruders.

During the breeding season, Eastern Kingbird chases away Crows, Hawks, and other large Birds. Knocking Blue Jay off a close-by tree branch, He drives Him away. Afterwards Eastern Kingbird lands on a back of a near-by Crow. Eastern Kingbird pulls on her feathers to force Her to leave the area, also.

Often seen perched on a branch, Eastern Kingbird watches for intruders and of course Insects. Head held high, He is as focused as Cheetah in his pursuit of prey. Zeroing on Mosquito, Eastern Kingbird turns on a dime, and grabs Her in mid-air.

Since He is defending his nest, Eastern Kingbird is aggressive towards all. At other times of the year, He tolerates other Birds. Only during the breeding season does Eastern Kingbird engage in fierce fights. Standing guard over his Chicks, He often dashes out to harass any intruder.

Learn fierce protection of your children from Eastern Kingbird. Ever watchful, He sits erect guarding his Mate and their Chicks. With pluck, Eastern Kingbird repells all intruders. However do not become so aggressive that you become known as a tyrant.

Monday, March 22, 2010

TYRANT FLYCATCHER FAMILY: Seize Your Opportunities

Tyrant Flycatchers, one of the largest Bird Families, are found only in the Americas. Members of this Family are often named for the sound that They make such as “phoebe” or “kikadee”. These Birds also can be identified by their bristly whiskers and broad flat bills. This diverse Family of Birds ranges from the pugnacious Kingbird to Greater Kiskade, who can take down small Mammals. However all of Them hunt Insects as a rule.

The best representative of the Tyrant Flycatcher Family is Cattle Tyrant. Called “Jinete” (Horseman) in Venezuela, Cattle Tyrant rides on the backs of Dogs, Horses, Pigs, and of course Cows. He seizes every opportunity to catchthe Flies that these Animals disturb.

Tyrant Flycatchers are born opportunists. These versatile Birds are found throughout the Americas – in open country, rain forests, and woodlands from Canada to Tierra del Fuego. Wherever there are Flies, you will find Tyrant Flycatchers. Let Them show you how to find opportunities for yourself. Just do not ride on the backs of others to do it.

Science Notes:
1. Tyrant Flycatchers (Tyrannidae) are not related to Old World Flycatchers (Musciapidae).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Who I am in the Tarot (3)

The Sun (XIX), Page of Swords, The Fool (0), and Knight of Wands are the stages of my recovery. In The Sun (XIX), I am protected by the wall and watched over by the sun. However I am not holding on to my horse. The Page of Swords is me leaving the safety of The Sun. With my sword battling the sky, I am looking over my shoulder. Not watching where I am going, I am about to trip.

The Fool (0) is the child of The Sun (XIX) card grown up. Chin lifted, not looking at the ground, he is also like the Page of Swords. As The Fool, I am being watched over by The Sun, but the wall has crumbled behind me. Finally the Knight of Wands is me, fully equipped to meet the world. Riding my horse, holding my staff, I am paying full attention. Protected in my armour, I go out into the world unafraid.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who I am in the Tarot (2)

The Ace of Pentacles and Ace of Cups support the Page in his journey. Since both provide substance to me materially and emotionally, they gently remind me of the bounty of the Universe. Because this is a fearful time for me, I always go out with a staff (for balance). I am also wary of things falling out of the sky. Even though the Aces come from the sky, they protect me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Who I am in the Tarot (1)

For me, the following cards attracted me to them: The Ace, Three, Nine, Page, and Knight of Wands, the Aces of Pentacles and Cups, the Page of Swords, The Fool (0), and The Sun (XIX). The majority of these cards are Wands, which represents to me the physical aspects of life. In addition, I can feel the energy of the Aces.

The Nine of Wands and Three of Wands represent me today. I see them as front and back of each other. Holding my staff, I have a bandage on my head, and am standing waiting and watching. I am not moving, just standing.

The Page of Wands, wearing a helmet, has his head protected. Moreover, he is receiving his new staff from the Ace of Wands. Now the Page is ready to go out, and meet the world. Nattily attired, he is happy to greet everyone he meets.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Translating Ogham Stones

As I translated the various stones from the Celtic Inscribed Stones Project (CISP), I began to appreciate the linguists who struggle to interpret these stones correctly. I applaud their devotion in deciphering an old language and its culture. I also learnt how errors creep into people’s interpretations of old languages, and that these interpretations need to be reviewed from time to time.

I had several problems in reading these stones. First, I kept trying to read them in the “English language style” of left to right, top to bottom. As I encountered various stones that wrapped around, I became further confused. I refocused on how to understand the flow of Old Irish and its writing system.

Another problem that I had was the same one that various linguists had. I saw letters differently or ones that were not there. I began to understand why the later experts reread the stones instead of simply accepting Macalister’s translations done in the 1940s. Breakthroughs of the written alphabets of various languages do occur, and it is good to revisit what earlier linguists did.

My final problem was my desire to translate many of the letters into a form of MAQI (son of). I work on pencil puzzles for my brain exercises. As I worked on these stones, I began to think of the Oghams as another version of a pencil puzzle. Therefore when I came to “solve them”, I wanted to fill in the blanks. However, I was surprised that some of the experts were as stumped by the stones as I was. After reminding myself that the Oghams represented a language, I could finish translating.

After translating these stones, I came away with the idea that they were markers of some sort. They all contain male names, usually detailing their lineage. In the small town in the North Woods that my family came from, people commonly referred to each other by their lineage i.e. “He is the son of Mary’s oldest daughter, who was Burt’s youngest child”.

I noticed that place and time were not noted on the stones. I believe that both are modern conventions, since in older times people rarely moved from where they were born. Also, implicit in the listing of the lineage is the time or year.

I was disappointed that more details about the people were not on the stones. I reasoned that if they went to the trouble of inscribing the stones, then why not note the deeds of the person as well. Perhaps, these were famous people, whose deeds were already known. Perhaps as discussed by the scholars they could have been simply boundary markers.


Stone: Emlagh East EMLGE/1/1
My version: BRUSCCOS MAQQI (son of) C
Correct: BRUSCCOS MAQQI (son of) CAL(I)AC(I)
Notes: I got this one wrong because I read the stone backwards. When I finally reversed my reading, I did get something similar but was not able to read all the letters.

------, “Celtic Inscribed Stones Project”, Department of History and Institute of Archaelogy, University College, London, 2000,

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

ANTBIRDS: Enthusiasm

Recently biologists split the very large family of Antbirds into two groups –Typical Antbirds (Thamnophilidae) and Antthrushes or Ground Antbirds (Formicariidae). In addition, Antpittas are now in their own group, the Grallariidae. Once the groups were divided, Typical Antbirds became more homogenous (especially in describing their colour and behaviour.

Instead of being brightly coloured like many other Birds of the Amazon rainforest, these Birds are usually black, grey, and rufous. However Antbirds make up for their lack of colour with their enthusiasm. Gregarious by nature, Antbirds are the most vocal and conspicuous members of their mixed-bird flock. These small Birds, with rounded wings, sing loudly and enthusiastically with their “loud calls”. (Antbirds do have “soft calls”.)

These Birds are called Antbirds because of their favourite food - Ants. Gleaning Ants from leaf litter to following swarms is what Antbirds do best. They also eat the Insects escaping the path of marching Army Ants. Sitting sideways perched over the ant swarms, Antbirds seem fidgety however They are actively avoiding the Ants crawling about them.

Antbirds have pushed into every nook and cranny of the rainforests of South America. In fact, many scientists consider these Birds to be core species in the cloud forests, rainforest floors, and even in forests’ mid-story. This gives richness to their species, and delights birdwatchers with sightings of new Antbirds. Be enthusiastic as Antbirds, who have adapted to nearly all the environments that They are found in. Embrace life and enjoy it with zest loudly sing Antbirds to those who will listen.
Copyright: Virginia Carper, Animal Teachers, 2010