Friday, July 30, 2010

YELLOW WARBLER: The Wholeness of Self

One of the most common of the Wood-warblers, Yellow Warbler is easily noticed in his bright yellow feathers. Known as the “Wild Canary”, He is famous for his cheerful call of “sweet, sweet, sweet”. Until nesting season ends, Yellow Warbler’s ringing song can be heard throughout the riversides.

The name “Yellow Warbler” refers to a sub-species complex that numbers between thirty five and forty-three Birds. Together, They make up Dendroica petechia. This comples is usually divided into three sub-groups. The one that most people see is the aestiva group, which is referred to as “Yellow Warbler”. The petechia group, which is known as “Golden Warbler”, lives in the mangrove swamps of the West Indies. “Mangrove Warbler” (the erithachorides group) inhabits the mangrove swamps of Middle and South America.

No matter where They live, all these Yellow Warblers have similar lives. Building a cup nest, Female Yellow Warbler uses fine grass, cobwebs, and down from plants. If a larger Cowbird should lay their eggs in the Warbler’s nest, She will rebuild her nest on top of theirs. During breeding season, Female Yellow Warbler will sneak back and forth, to steal nesting materials from the other Warblers. Meanwhile, her Mate, Male Yellow Warbler sneaks off to court other Females.

These “Wild Canaries” bring joy and fun into people’s lives. People enjoy listening to Yellow Warblers as They sing their songs. Watching these Birds dart about eating Gypsy Moths and Caterpillars can be entertaining as well.

The wholeness of self is embodied in Yellow Warblers. Their aspect of light is the joy They bring to us. Their shadow self is how They sneak off like thieves to steal from others. We accept Yellow Warblers in their entirety, both their good and bad. “Embrace all of you,” urge these Wild Canaries, “and become whole”. Do not deny either part of yourself.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Active Meditation: Better Living through Handwriting

My favorite form of meditation is handwriting. I do it daily. As I move my pen across the page, my mind is freed to ponder the attributes of each letter. I am practicing graphotherapy, which changes the neuropathways of my brain by adopting new letter shapes.

According to Vimala Rogers, the author of “Your Handwriting Can Change Your Life”, by changing the shapes of your letters, you can train your mind to think differently. She states that by altering specific letter strokes, you can change certain aspects of your personality. To that end, she developed an affirmative alphabet to practice.

For example, the letter “A” that is often taught in schools emphasizes the ego instead of the soul. The attribute of Ms. Rogers “A” is “spiritual stardom, transforming ego into spirit.” The affirmation for “A” is “Today I will notice how my personality affects others and grow from that knowledge.” Writing her “A” repeatedly has helped me to internalize those things.

Ms. Rogers has set up a letter writing program to accomplish these ends. She instructs people to fill two sketch book pages, positioned in the landscape position. First, you write the letter across in one line, and then in the next line you write the attribute. After that, the following next three lines are filled with the letter, then the affirmation, and then finally the letter again. You do this over and over until both pages are filled.

Doing repetitive writing frees my mind to absorb the qualities of the letter I am writing. The meditation focuses my mind on one thing. As I write I can feel the junk leave my brain. When I am done, I feel refreshed. I do this daily meditation because it fills my mind through activity and thought. I am actively doing something instead of sitting passively chanting. The active meditation engages more of me, and is one that I enjoy.

NOTE: Vimala Rogers’ Alphabet can be seen at


Rogers, Vimala, “The International Institute of Handwriting Studies”, 2008, , (17 July 2010).

------, “Transform Your Life Through Handwriting”, Sounds True, Boulder CO, 2009.

------, “Your Handwriting Can Change Your Life”, Fireside, New York, 2000

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Patterns of Nature: Divining

I constructing my divination box, I had “yes”, “maybe”, “dunno”, and “no” as choices for my answer of the day. I interpreted “maybe” as almost a “yes”, and “dunno” almost a “no”. This meant not only that would I capture shades of “yes” and “no”, but also that I would be more accurate in my answers.
After careful reflection, all of the answers that I received to my questions came true. What surprised me was that in one instance I thought I knew the answer but I was proved to be wrong. At first, I asked questions of things that I thought that I knew the outcome of, but were often contradicted by the “oracle”.

For example, I needed a name of a doctor to testify for a court case. I knew that the person I asked would provide me with one. However, the answer from the Divination Box was “no”. After I got the name, I thought that the answer that the Divination Box gave me was wrong. However, in later discussions, it turned out that I could not use this particular doctor. So the “oracle” was right.

Of course, this unsettled me that the “oracle” seems to have all the correct answers. Pondering this, I realized that by interpreting “maybe” as a near “yes” and “dunno” as a near “no”, I increased the accuracy. I inadvertently added more chances to “yes” and “no” by building in two extra tries for “yes” and “no”.

Afterwards, I decided to ask questions that were purely random: such as sighting a particular bird. What I discovered was that if the answer was “yes”, I would look for that bird. Otherwise, I did not pay much attention. Through my actions, I ensured the accuracy of the “oracle”.

My questions therefore have caused me to be more observant. The day that I asked whether I would see a goldfinch, I encountered all types of gold animals. I had “gold” on my brain, and saw “gold” everywhere – bees, butterflies, etc. I had created my own patterns of divination.

I believe that another factor in the accuracy of the box was my desire. I became unknowingly invested in every answer that I received from the “oracle”. Unconsciously, I had set up the outcome to be true. In addition, my questions were phrased in a way to ensure the outcome predicted by the divination box. I had set up a matrix of “seeing”, and set about filling it in. The adage of “if you have a hammer, then everything seems to be a nail” held true. I had a hammer, and wanted to pound nails. So I looked for birds when it said I would see them.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Unlike other Birds of Prey, Secretary Birds kicks her prey unconscious with her stout feet and stubby toes. Instead of swopping down and grabbing her prey, She treks in the African veldt looking for food. Spying a Lizard or small Mammal, Secretary Bird stamps her feet to flush Them out. After knocking her prey out, She eats the unfortunate Animals.

Famous for killing Snakes, Secretary Bird runs a zigzag pattern after Adder. As She runs, She flaps her wings, confusing the Snake. When He strikes at Her, Secretary Bird easily moves out of the way using her long legs. With her scaly feet, She strikes Snake hard behind his head, thereby fracturing his spine. Since She is so good at killing Snakes, farmers in some areas have “domesticated” Secretary Bird to keep their farms clear of these Reptiles.

Because of her distinctive differences from the other Birds of Prey, scientists have placed Secretary Bird in her own group – the Sagittariidae. Unlike the other Raptors, She has long stork-like legs, and a long stiff tail. Resembling Crane or Stork, Secretary Bird is the only Bird of Prey who walks long distances instead of flying. In fact, some scientists think that She represents an older branch of Raptors.

A fanciful story claims that her name is from her long plumes on her head, that resemble quill pens. The Arabs called Secretary Bird “saqr et tair” which means “hunter bird”. This was pronounced in French as “secretaire” which sounds in English as “secretary”.

Secretary Bird is highly regarded by many Africans. She appears on the Coat of Arms of South Africa and the Presidential Seal of Sudan. As the national emblem of Sudan, Secretary Bird represents vigilance and military might.

Let Secretary Bird inspires you to defend what is rightfully yours. She walks the veldt in search of deadly Snakes. Brutally blunt in her hunting methods, Secretary Bird gets her prey. Walk with Her and feel your own power.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Soul Protectors (tarot spread)

“The Soul Protectors” spread from the “Celtic Wisdom Tarot” is one that appeals to me. I like it because it is easy to use and is intuitive as well. I use it for daily readings, and to practice with. For me, it offers detailed information on what sort of day that I may have.

This spread is laid out like a “Celtic medicine wheel”. According to the author, “east” is what has happened, and “west” is what will happen. “Left” denotes what will challenge you, while “right” shows what will support you. “Below” is what empowers you and “above” what inspires you. The spread is called “Soul Protectors” since it links people with their allies in the Otherworlds – Gods, ancestors, and nature spirits.
3          7        4
Left Within Right
Card. 1: “What opens the way for me today?” What is in store for me?
Card. 2: “What motivates me?” What spurs me into action?
Card. 3: “What challenges me?” What is going to hinder me?
Card. 4: “What supports me?” Who is helping me?
Card. 5: “What empowers me?” What will help me in achieving the outcome?
Card. 6: “What inspires me?” What do I look forward to?
Card. 7: “What accompanies my soul today?” Who is My higher power today?
Matthews, Caitlin, “The Celtic Wisdom Tarot”, Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, 1999.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TOCO TOUCAN: The Otherworlds

The popular pet, Toco Toucan is easily one of the more recognizable Birds in the world. His bold black and white plumage combined with his large bill makes Him a striking sight. Often used in advertisements, Toco Toucan sets people to immediately think of the Tropics, where He lives.

Toco Toucan is unlike other Toucans in several ways. For one thing, He eats small Lizards and Snakes along with the usual fruit. Also, Toco Toucan lives in wood savannahs, and other open areas, instead of just the rainforests. In fact, people will often see Him in sugar and coconut plantations.

Because of his chanting call, Toco Toucan sounds like a shaman summoning human beings to the Otherworlds. Because of his differences from other Toucans, to some indigenous people regard Him to be sacred. They say He can connect this world of the living with that of the spirits. Toco Toucan is their sacred Bird on whose back the Shamans ride. Let Him carry you to the world of the Spirits. Just remember to come back to the living.

Monday, July 19, 2010

TOUCAN FAMILY (Ramphastidae): Adventurers of the Dark Woods

Think tropics and Toucans come to mind for many people. With their large colorful beaks, these Birds invite people to enter the dark rainforests, and experience the unknown. For a lot of folks, They have come to represent jungle adventures.

Scientists divide Toucans into five groups. The biggest are the Ramphastos, who people regard to be typical Toucans. The smaller, more slender Toucans are the Aracaris (Pteroglossus). These more colorful Toucans have calls that sound like motorbikes. The Green Toucanets (Aulacorhynchus) live in the cool mountain forests. Their cousins are the Mountain Toucanets (Andigena). Meanwhile, the less social Dichromatic Toucanets (Selenidera) differ markedly in sex, which is unusual for Toucans.

Toucans often nest in the cavities of tree trunks. Often They will choose the same tree each year to rear their Young. Since They are restless Birds, Toucan Parents will usually change places every hour or so in sitting on their eggs. At the sign of an intruder, these very shy Birds will leave their nest. However, the two Parents will return later to incubate their eggs.

Toucans have two notable characteristics. One is their remarkable bills. Hollow and very light, a Toucan’s bill has a network of rods to strengthen it from the inside. These large bills of Toucans have been a subject of curiosity and conjecture by many people. In fact, Toucans use their bills in many ways. For example, They preen with them. Male Toucans play jousting games with each other. Most notably, Toucans use them to spear fruit, which then They toss the fruit in the air; grab it with their tongue and swallow the piece whole. However, scientists have determined that the bill is used primarily for regulating heat in Toucans.

The other characteristic is their ability to roll Themselves into a ball. Toucans often sleep with their bills tucked amongst their back feathers. Then, Toucans will fold their tails up over their bodies to resemble a ball of feathers whilst sleeping. They can do this because their three vertebrae are fused together, and are attached to their spine with a ball and socket joint.

Toucans entice us to enter the wild, to go into the untamed places of our lives. These Birds with their colorful bills makes the untamed foreboding jungle seem friendly. They beckon you to come into the dark woods, where They take you further in on more wild adventures. When you finally emerge, you are more mature than when you first entered. Now, you have adventures that you can draw upon as you journey through life.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tarot Spreads and me

The Tarot Spread that I enjoy doing the most is the “Diamond Spread”, a five card spread. For me, it is constructed with the right amount of cards – enough to answer a question without overwhelming the reader. The questions of the spread flow into each other ending with the resolution. For me, I found it excellent for problem solving and general reading.

The spread I disliked the most is the “Celtic Cross”. I have always regarded this spread to be pretentious and redundant. I find that the layout itself is pretentious by being in the shape of a Celtic cross. This goes beyond many other simpler and intuitive spread shapes. Also the information is repetitive with the ten cards. For me, the essential questions are covered in the first four cards, and the outcome card. I think that people use it since it offers a great deal of detailed information on a particular topic.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mantra Meditation: We are related in the Sacred Circle of Life

My first task in doing this meditation was to choose a mantra to chant. I wanted something that was meaningful to me but not boring. Also, I did not want to chant the usual “ohmmm”. The chant, I finally decided upon, was “We are all related in the Sacred Circle of Life.”

My next task was to differentiate between the “mantra” meditation and the “no-mind” one. Instead of breathing and counting to four, I had to focus on chanting the mantra. Sometimes in the beginning, I would doze off, but then I would remember to chant, and remain awake.

As I practiced this mediation, it did get easier to meditate whilst chanting. Each session, I usually started feeling jittery, but once into the chanting, I would calm down. The longer I chanted, the more the tension left my body, and the more relaxed I became.

I now understand why people chant mantras for relaxation. The more you do it, the more refreshed you are. As I did the meditation, I could feel the junk leave my brain. Afterwards, I became more lucid, which surprised me.

Although I was reasonably successful in this meditation, I would not use it in regular practice. I prefer visual meditations to aural ones. I relate to the world through sight and not sound. However it was a good learning experience for me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tarot Rreading for Others (3)

Since in a reading, I am an open channel for the Universe, I must be careful to always tell the truth. However, I need to present the messages that I receive from the Tarot in a positive, uplifting manner. I would of course give lucid reasons as to why I interpreted each card the way I did.

I see Tarot readings as a map for the querent to use. There is the known path that the cards represent. However, there is the unknown that the querent may wish to explore with the guidance of the cards. The querent can chose which areas that they want to explore further. The Tarot cards act as guideposts on the querent’s journey, empowering them with their life choices.

Since my brain injury, I feel self-conscious in reading for other people. There are gaps in my memories, and I often use Tarot cards “with training wheels”. With a good reference, I can read, but my impulse control is bad, so I would often blurt out things without thinking. At this time, I do not feel confident in doing readings for others.
Works Used:

Bartlett, Sarah, “The Tarot Bible”, Sterling, New York, 2006

Bennett, Stella, “The Star That Never Walks Around”, Red Wheel, York Beach (ME), 2002

Drury, Nevill, “The Tarot Workbook”, Thunder Bay, San Diego, 2004

Ellison, Robert (Rev), “Ogham, the Secret Language of the Druids”, Ar DraiochtFein Publishing, 2007

Pollack, Rachel, “Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom”, Harper Collins, London, 1997

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tarot Reading for Others (2)

Beyond these issues, there are things peculiar to the Tarot. What do you do when “bad cards” come up? Death (XIII), The Devil (XV), The Tower (XVI), and the Ten of Swords are frightening cards. They “reek” of death and destruction. However, an experienced reader will know how to present these cards to the querent in a helpful manner.

Many Tarot readers will often downplay these cards. Most will explain that they represent transitions and not actual death and destruction. What a Tarot reader should do instead is to invite input from the querent. Including the querent in the reading process is vital, and further empowers them in choosing what to do next.

In my own experience, I now have more readings with these particular cards showing up. Because of my brain injury, they reflect my current state of affairs. However, before the wall fell on me, none of these cards came up in a reading. Therefore my interpretation of the Tarot spread would be based on current happenings in the querent’s life.

Furthermore, by inviting the querent to participate in the Tarot reading enables them to become empowered. What I may consider important, they may not and vice-versa. For example, one card that I find personally distressing is the Five of Cups. To me, it symbolizes the loss of hope. The querent’s nightmare cards may not be the standard ones. Therefore, they will need to be consulted by the Tarot reader during their reading.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tarot Reading for Others (1)

Tarot readings for others can be rewarding. First, you are using your gifts of divination. Second, you are helping people with their problems. Third, you are acting as a conduit for the Universe and its messages for others.

However as Spider-Man often says, “With power comes responsibility”. Therefore, basic guidelines are to be heeded when you do Tarot readings for people. Since you have a gift and knowledge of the Tarot, you need to take care with your readings, and not read in a flippant careless manner.

Be mindful that in some regions, Tarot reading is in violation of local witchcraft laws. Where Tarot readings are allowed, readings for minors are discouraged. Children and teens often regard the Tarot as a party game, instead of as a divination tool. So a careful Tarot reader will read only for adults.

For adults, a wise ethical reader will keep the reading confidential. However, if any one tells the reader that they intend to do harm, then it is incumbent on the reader to report this. The ethical reader also does not read for a third party without their permission.

When reading for others, it is important to explain that the Tarot is neither magical nor are you all-knowing. You can offer your insights to the querent, but you are not a licensed professional. As an ethical reader, you should encourage the querent to seek expert help when needed. Another pitfall to avoid is having the querent too dependent on you. Your main objective in your reading is to give the querent ample information to make their choices.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

KITE SUB-FAMILY: Lightness of Being

Flying effortlessly in the skies, Kites amaze people with their grace and style. One of the most graceful Birds, Kites soar in the wind, stabilizing their flight with their tails. These long-winged Raptors feed on Earthworms, Insects, and small Mammals, swooping down and surprising them. “Kite” is a derivative of the old English word “cyta”. This word in turn comes from “skut” which means “to shoot or go swiftly”. This is in reference to Kites’ habit of swooping on their prey.

Unlike many other Raptors, Kites often live where people are. Red Kite was once so abundant in London that Shakespeare wrote, “When the kite builds, look to your lesser linen.” Red Kite has a habit of stealing people’s clothes for her nesting materials. Meanwhile, Black Kite raids garbage areas while dodging overhead cables in various cities. During nesting season, Mississippi Kites will often choose golf courses to raise their Chicks. And, many an unwary golfer have been attacked by the protective Parents.

The graceful buoyant flight of Kites has earned Them the respect and awe of many people. Mississippi Kite astounds people further when She catches Dragonflies while on the wing. Because Kites can soar in the air for hours on end, the toy “kite” was named for These Birds.

Kites teach the value of the lightness of being. Buoyantly, They fly effortlessly through the skies. Become lighthearted, shed your burdens and fly unencumbered. Like a toy kite, you too can float on the wind. Just remember to anchor yourself to the ground, so you do not float away.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yantra Meditation: Tree of Life

To do the yantra meditation, I chose to focus on the Tree of Life mandala. This Tree symbolizes the uniting of Heaven with Earth. The Tree in the mandala is in full fruit and leaf, with clouds encircling the roots. The fruits on the Tree symbolize fertility from the union of the two worlds.

While practicing this meditation, I became less jittery. As I settled into doing the meditation, I focused on the Tree, letting it fill my mind. However, to avoid falling into a seizure trance, I had to keep my eyes moving over the Tree. First I followed the twisty roots, and then the swirling clouds. Then I took in the shades of greens, browns, yellows, and blues. Afterwards, I moved up the tree trunk to the branches which curved around and around ending round fruit.

One day while I was meditating, I felt sad. In the midst of this meditation, the Tree reached out to me and I felt better. I think that the Tree was working her magic with me. Perhaps this is one of the benefits of the yantra meditation: to unite with the symbol. Once that happens, the symbol can be used to calm your mind.

I was more successful with this meditation than with the non-mind one. Since I had an object to focus on, I could sit still longer. However, I doubt I would use it for my main meditation since I had problems in zoning out, while staring at the mandala. But it was an interesting exercise and I got to know the Tree of Life better.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Meditation: No-mind

To quiet my racing mind, I decided to try different types of meditation. After my brain injury, there are times when my brain is “on fire”. This means that my brain will zip around and become an electric current, zapping me. After an episode, I usually pass out.

For one week, I did the “no-mind” meditation for ten minutes a session. Like a child, I cannot sit still for a long time. Unfortunately for me, this meditation was sheer torture. I began to hate this meditation with a purple passion.

At first, it just hurt to sit still for ten minutes, and not do anything. However, as I practiced the meditation, I was able to sit still longer. But it was simply too difficult to sit and think of nothing. Often I would fall asleep.

I did count to four and watch my breathing. That alone would put me to sleep. Then I counted 1001, 1002, 1003, and 1004, which kept me awake. But the “no-mind” meditation then became one of counting instead.

When I did have an incident of brain fire, I used the “no-mind” meditation. It helped to calm my brain, so I did not pass out. However as meditations go, I will not be doing this one on a regular basis. It is simply too hard for me.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


In many cultures, Storks are highly thought of, with numerous examples abounding. In European and Islamic societies, Storks are symbols of constancy and pilgrimages. For the peoples of Northern Europe, Storks bring abundance and harmony. Meanwhile in China, these Birds bring messages from the Gods. In Ancient Rome, the Stork Law (“Lex Ciconia”) ensured that elderly parents would be cared for in the way that Storks were perceived to care for theirs. The Arawak of North America believe that Stork brought tobacco to the people.

Scientists usually divide Storks into three groups. The first group is the Typical Storks, the Ciconiini. Most people know this group as the Birds who bring babies. The bills of these Storks are long and heavy. In addition They will walk slowly, looking down to search for their prey.

Mycteriini is the second group. These Storks often have down-curved bills like the Ibis. Open-billed Storks use their bills for eating Mollusks, while Wood Storks feed by touch, wading slowly with their bills in the water. Also, Mycteriini live in colonies in the tropics.

The third group is the Leptoptilini, the Great Storks. They are Jabiru, Marabou Stork, Greater and Lesser Adjutant Storks. Because They tear at carrion with their huge bills, these Storks lack plumage on their heads. They will often follow Vultures in search for food.

Well known for centuries, the courtship of Storks has even been depicted in 13th Century manuscripts. Their courtship is referred to as the “up-down”. One stork greets his mate. Then the two Birds raise and lower their necks in a stylized manner. Afterwards, the Storks clatter their bills and make greeting noises. This is an important aspect of their pair bonding.

After a long migration Storks return to their old homes, as always. Each spring, They come back to their old nests to raise their young. Many of these nests are enormous since each year Storks keep adding sticks to them. Learn constancy in your life from Storks, and have a large nest to live in.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


One of the largest members of the Stork Family, Marabou Stork often feeds on carrion instead of fish. He will haunt the local village dumps for food. Furthermore, Marabou Stork will wait patiently for workers at slaughter houses finish their work, to grab the remaining offal.

Known as the “Undertaker Bird”, Marabou Stork resembles a Vulture instead of a Stork. His bald head is encrusted with scabs. His heavy bill, resembling a meat cleaver, is supported by his bare red throat sac. With his black wings and skinny white legs, Marabou Stork looks quite sinister.

Preferring dry open savannahs to swamps, Marabou Stork relies on Vultures to find dead animals for Him. After the Vultures open up the animal’s hide, Marabou Stork uses his meat cleaver of a beak to retrieve large pieces of meat, which He swallows whole. However, if there are no animal carcasses available, Marabou Stork will eat anything He can catch, while walking or wading.

Unlike the friendly Stork that brings babies, Marabou Stork escorts souls to the Heavens. In African lore, a flying Marabou Stork is a psychopomp for the departed. He takes the freed souls to where they belong.

Marabou Stork is the “Shadow” Stork. Instead of bringing life, He ushers the dying to their final resting place. Accept your shadow side, and its rightful place in the scheme of life. To be a whole person, you need both the shadow and the light. Let Marabou Stork free your shadow self.

Friday, July 02, 2010

WHITE STORK: Fertility

Since She is often the first Bird seen in spring, the Ukrainians refer to White Stork as “The Messenger of Spring”. In northern Germany, White Stork returns to her nest in March, nine months after Midsummer. When White Stork returns in the spring, She adds more sticks to her already enormous nest. Often building her nest on the roofs of people’s homes, White Stork will then line it with paper and clothing from the humans. Since She brought prosperity to any family where She nested, people encouraged White Stork to make her home on their buildings.

As portrayed in books, White Stork brings babies to people. Since Pagan times, many people in Europe believed that She brought fertility (hence babies) to people. There is such a strong association between White Stork and babies that newborns often have “stork bites”, small pink patches on their eyelids or upper lips. These patches are believed to be “gifts” from the White Stork.

Many people associate White Stork with fertility and prosperity. However, most modern people often think of fertility only in terms of babies. But, fertility also encompasses abundance, and of course prosperity. Let White Stork nest on your roof, and experience abundance in your life. Be fertile in all areas of your life.
Science Notes:

1. Oriental White Stork (Ciconia boyciana) is not a subspecies of White Stork (Ciconia ciconia). The White Stork has two subspecies: European (Ciconia ciconia ciconia) and West Asian (Ciconia ciconia asiatica).

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Uses of the Ogham (Irish Writing)

The various Oghams are used by the Irish in several ways. The Oghams were foremost an alphabet used for writing Irish. Numerous examples of boundary markers and other inscribed stones abound with people’s names written in letters from the Tree Ogham.

The Oghams have other uses as well. Some scholars think the Druids may have used them for a code language. Three Oghams often used for this purpose were the “Head in Bush”, “Head under Bush”, and “Serpent about Head”. The “Cattle Raid of Cooley” (“Ta’in Bo’ Cuailnge”) gives an instance of this. Cu’chulainn left an oak hoop with writing as a warning to the invading army. It was written in code that only Fergus mac Roi’ch, a Druid, could interpret. Fergus translated the writing this way: the army could not pass unless someone other than himself could duplicate Cu’chulainn’s feats.

In addition, several Oghams were used as mnemonic devices. For example, the Tree Ogham lists by letter - trees that are important to the Irish. Other such Oghams are “Animal”, “Bird”, “Colour”, and “River Pool” to name a few. How these worked are as follows: First Aicme, Fourth Few letter would be in English “S”. In the Oghams, “S” would be “Sionnach” (fox in Animal Ogham), or “Seg” (hawk in Bird Ogham) or “Sail” (willow in Tree Ogham).

Some of the Alphabets such as the Foot Ogham and Nose Oghams were used as sign languages. However unlike the Sign Languages of Deaf people, these Oghams were used by hearing people, as a gesture type language. This gesture alphabet could be used to communicate quickly and quietly between people. Moreover, two people could hold a secret conversation while they were speaking out loud about general topics.

Another use for the Oghams is for magical purposes. In the British Museum, there is an amber bead inscribed with magical powers. The words on the bead cannot be translated into conventional Irish. Moreover, the O’Connor family who owned this bead used it to cure eye problems. They also used it in easing childbirth.

The modern use for the Oghams is divination. Where this modern notion comes from I do not know. Perhaps, the ancient Irish did use their Oghams for divining. Neighbouring societies such as the Germans used their Runes for divination. In addition, many ancient societies thought that their alphabets had mystical properties. Also, the Irish did have myths of divine origins for their Oghams.


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

Ellison, Robert (Rev), “Ogham, the Secret Language of the Druids”, Ar DraiochtFein Publishing, 2007