Ogham 101

Compiled by Ceridwen Seren-Ddaear

Ogham (Modern Irish), ogam, ogum (Old Irish), oghum (ScottishGaelic).The Ogham alphabet is thought to be named after the Irish god Ogma.

Ogham is form of writing in which the letters are represented by combinations of parallel strokes in number from one to five, set in varied positions along a central stemline. It was originally intended for inscription upon upright pillar stones. The alphabet consists of twenty letters and five diphthongs; the letters were incised in groups of five, perhaps indicating some relationship to finger signs.

Ogham derives from the Chalcidic form of the Greek alphabet, once current in northern Italy, in Cisalpine Gaul, the Roman side of the Alps, the present provinces of Piedmont and Lombardy. He states that it was used for secret communication, being part of the signalling or gesture system of 'druidic freemasonry'. However, other authorities generally hold ogham to be based upon the Roman alphabet.

Ogham in Ireland...was used for magical or cryptical purposes. 'When paganism was waning the finger signs were used as a secret language and finally used for writing epitaphs'.

Ogham is the 'occult manner of writing used by the ancient Irish', according to the Highland Society of Scotland's Dictionary of the Gaelic Language (1828).

Pronunciations

Beith
bEv
Luis
lweesh
Fern
fEArn
Sail
sahl
Nion
nin
Uath
wahv
Dair
dahr
Tinne
tEEnah
Coll
kahl
Ceirt
kert
Muin
mwEEn
Gort
gort (phonetic as written)
nGéatal
gEEdahl
Straif
shtrAf
Ruis
rweesh
Ailm
eye-lm
Onn
ohn
Úr
er
Eadhadh
Ay-dav
Iodhadh
lO-dav
Éabhadh
Ay-vav
Ór
ohr
Uilleann
wEE-lan
Ifín
EE-vin
Eamhancholl
Ay-wan-kawl
Peith
pEv
Eite
ee-tah
Spás
spAYsh
Eite thuathail
ee-tah twa-val

Alphabet

Notable Features

* Type of writing system: alphabet

* Number of characters: 25

* Writing surfaces: rocks, wood, manuscripts

* Direction of writing: inscribed around the edges of rocks running from bottom to top and left to right, or left to right and horizontally in manuscripts.

* Letters are linked together by a solid line.

* The names and sounds represented by some of the letters are unknown.

* The Eite (feather) and Eite thuathail (reversed feather) symbols are used at the beginning and end of sentences respectively.

Ancient Manuscript Ogham Sample

 

Sources:

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/ogham.htm

http://ogham.lyberty.com/oghamintro.html

http://ogham.lyberty.com/smyth.html