Ogham- the Celtic Oracular Alphabet

The Celtic Ogham alphabet dates from the fourth century. The alphabet is named for Ogmos, the Celtic god of knowledge and communication. Ogmos was associated with the Gaulish Ogmios and the Greek Hermes.

The alphabet consists of twenty letters, each named for a different tree believed sacred to the Druids. Each letter is made up of one to five straight or angled lines incised on a straight base line. Because the number of letters, and the number of lines that make up each letter, some scholars have theorized that the ogham may have originated as a system of hand signs.

Examples of Ogham writing have been found all over the British Isles, and even as far away as Spain and Portugal. All surviving examples exist as stone carvings, usually on tombstones and road markers.

Although it is commonly used by modern Druids and other NeoPagans as a divination system, there is no real relationship between modern and historical divination systems. When used as a divination method, the letters are usually notched into straight twigs and used much like runes. In this case, I’ve provided a print version (MS Word) you can print and cut into small cards if you wish to try a simpler way of divining with ogham:A B

The following table gives the characters of the and their modern divinatory meanings:

Stave: letter: name: modern divinatory meaning:
Birch/Beth Purification, cleansing, new beginnings
Rowan/Luis Protection, instinctual knowledge
alder F Alder/Fearn Decisions to be made; contact with the spiritual world
willow S Willow/Saille Equilibrium, attaining balance
ash N Ash/Nuin Restriction or limitations
hawthorn H Hawthorn/Huatha temporary limitations; obstacles
oak D Oak/Duir Strength, endurance
holly T Holly/Tinne unity; courage; guidance
hazel C Hazel/Colle Creativity, energy, “flow.”
apple Q Apple/Quert Choices, a fork in the road
vine M Vine/Muin (blackberry) Insight, spiritual growth
ivy G Ivy/Gort tread carefully; caution
reed Ng Reed/Ngetal disturbance, disruption, surprises
blackthorn St Blackthorn/straif confusion, strife
elder R Elder/Ruis endings, timelessness
elm A Elm/Silver fir Foresight, perspective
firze O Furze/Onn Discovery, abundance, goals met
heather U Heather/Ura Rest, suspension, hibernation
poplar E White Poplar/Eadha endurance; speech or communication
yew I Yew/Idho change, endings, maturation


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November 13, 2011 at 5:06 pm

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

amber graham January 31, 2018 at 5:04 am

hi wanting to know of a reliable website to download the ogham font for a mac. will pay just need a good one.

Ryan Clark September 16, 2016 at 4:50 pm

How do we/scholars KNOW that a particular Ogahm means something when most of what we know of the Druids/Celts has been lost? At least with the Runes, there is a historical line we can follow to their phoenetic and mystical meanings.

Jennifer September 17, 2016 at 9:32 am

We really don’t. Outside of the Book of Ballymote very little exists. We have to hope it’s accurate.

Tomm Huff March 11, 2016 at 5:14 pm

I live in Kentucky and have found Ogham writing engraved onto rocks while hiking in the woods…why would it be here and how could we translate them?..
P.S. I have photos of most of them I have found.

Mata May 31, 2016 at 1:18 am

Ever thought that someone else may know the Ogham alphabet and decided to carve it?
Also, I can most likely translate it for you. Shoot me an email. Main one is down, but I’m using a backup. [nootnoot25@aol.com]

sylvia clifton October 13, 2017 at 2:39 pm

we are the tribes of Israel and the ones who claim to be are the children of cain and you can confirm this by following and comparing the norse mythology the imposters have stolen our birthright or so they think

Lilly October 11, 2015 at 11:19 am

Is there a book with all the symbols on this site in it?

Jennifer October 18, 2015 at 3:46 am

Not at the moment, sorry. :)

Sinopa October 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Why aren’t the symbols showing up? Can someone fix it please? I really want to see what they look like.

Jennifer October 30, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Sorry, all repaired!

Mike January 23, 2012 at 9:09 am

Hi, can u show me the characters that would represent ‘free soul’ in Celtic symbols. Cheers.. Also the characters which represent the date 24-5-11. Thank you

Réamonn D'Arcy April 20, 2016 at 11:08 am

You could try writing it in Gaelic or As Gaeilge, the language of the Celts in Ireland.
‘Free Soul’ in Gaelic/As Gaeilge translates as:

‘Soul Saor In Aisce’.

I’ve never heard of a Gaelic translation for Soul (nor even Spirit for that matter) before but I do have several Irish dictionaries in my Library which I’ll check and add here later if I find one.

Anonymous September 5, 2018 at 1:28 am

Anim is the word for soul and name in irish. I think it was borrowed from latin also