This is from a web site by Brendan Myers
http://www.uoguelph.ca/~bmyers/druid.html"), in a section entitled
"WHAT ARE SOME OTHER COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS OF DRUIDISM?" :
The Ogham Alphabet was not used by Druids for divination: Virtually all the Ogham inscriptions that exist are burial monuments, property divisions, or landmarks. The University of Cork has an excellent collection of them. It's not enough evidence to claim that Ogham was used as an oracular tool by Druids, however, many modern Druids do use ogham effectively for that purpose. Historians cannot be certain because any Ogham inscriptions carved on wood have rotted away long ago; only stones remain. Each letter in the Ogham alphabet was also the name of a tree, which may have had a mystical meaning associated with each tree.
This page is located at http://www.armory.com/~mortoj/magick/druidry/oorder.html
(as of January 2, 1999)
ORDER OF OGHAM LETTERS There are two different orders of the Ogham letters. The older is known as the B.L.N. [Beth-Luis-Nion] version, the more recent as the B.L.F. [Beith-Luis-Fern] version. Robert Graves devotes two chapters in his White Goddess to this question of order. It is strongly suggested that the book be obtained and read. The following two quotes are from the book and are just to serve as a memory jog; not a full explanation! "What complicates the case is that the ancient Irish word for 'alphabet' is 'Beth-Luis-Nion' which suggests that the order of the letters in the Ogham alphabet was orginally B.L.N. though it had become B.L.F. before the ban on inscriptions was lifted." p. 116 "But is not the answer to our question to be found in the 'Battle of the Trees'? What distinguishes the BLFSN from the BLNFS is that the letter N, 'Nion' the ash, the sacred tree of the God Gwydion, has been taken out of the dead period of the year, where it is still in black bud, and put two months ahead to where it is in leaf, while 'Fearn' the adler, the sacred tree of the God Bran, which marks the emergence of the solar year from the tutelage of Night, has been thrust back into 'Nion's' place. The BLNFS is a trophy raised by Gwydion over Bran. And is it not strange that a few years before the 'Battle of the Trees' was fought in Britain and the letter F humbled, the Greeks had made a dead set against their F, only retaining it as a numerical sing for 6? More than this happened when the order of the letters changed; Gwydion's ash, N, took the place of the fifth consonant, 'Saille' the willow, S, which was naturally sacred to Mercury, or Arwan; and Gwydion thereupon became an oracular god. Also, Amathaon who had evidently been a willow-god, S, took Bran's place at F and and became a fire-god in the service of his father Beli, God of Light. It only remained in this General Post for Bran to take over the maritime ash that Gwydion has relinquished and sail away on his famous voyage to one hunderd and fifty islands; yet sailing was no novelty to him, the tradition preserved by Virgil being that the first boats that ever took to the water were alder-trunks." p. 244
"If you treat this as poetry or new mythology, this is a great book. Inspiring, poetic -- great stuff. Unfortunately, it's presented as history and a commentary on ancient mythology -- and that it's not. I'm a medievalist; the quality of the historical "research" is exceptionally low. In fact, Graves is responsible for much of the historical misinformation that plagues Neo-Paganism. He invented the Triple Goddess motif (Maiden, Mother, and Crone), the "Celtic" tree calendar, and the notion that lunar calendars have thirteen months. So while I acknowledge the beauty of Graves' vision, I can't recommend his book highly. It's done too much damage."
From: Iain MacAnTsaoir <email@example.com> Subject: [CLANNADA] The Ogham Alphabet To: CLANNADA@LISTSERV.AOL.COM
>my book on the very topic of Ogham an excerpt Amongst the great many topics upon which is heaped tomes of misinformation, is the topic of the Ogham alphabet. Most of the misinformation, and not just on this topic, is attributable directly to New Age Gurus. Now I am not saying that someone cannot use Ogham for divinatory purposes. What I am saying is that the evidence doesn't back up statementsthat the Ogham is ancient from time out of mind. Fact is that it doesn't appear to be any older than 400 AD. Some variants of it could very well be. However there is no evidence, even scant, of it being older than that. Anyone who would make such unbased statements and insinuations, -a prioiri- , really does need to examine their own commitment to truth. If people, are going to create something new they need to state that it's new. To falsify a history for things Celtic is just as ugly for emerging Celtic approaches to spirituality, as it is for other paths. I think we can all agree that personally revelation and enlightenment does occur. I think we can all also agree that new approaches to religion and spirituality can be valid because they have been inspired. However, when bold face BS is presented as fact, in the face as fact, it detracts from the believablity in the inspired nature of that thing so lied about. In addition it constributes to the demise of the culture the thing is being stolen from... yes I said stolen. Regarding the Ogham proper, while I could provide quotes from many many academacians, from Green to Ross to Ellis. Here is one that sums it up rather nicely: "The history of Ireland's Celtic Iron Age and of the first four and a half centuries AD was not writen down at the time, because the Celts did not write, indeed they did not see the need to write. They commited things to memory and passed them on orally. This is what is called the oral tradition. Probably the áes dana, that is, the intellectual class knew how to write but deliberately did not commit their knowledge to script so as to concentrate the power of memory and to ensure the purity of the knowledge as it was passed down orally. There was also as element of keeping the secret in order to maintain superiority over others. When the Celts did begin to commit anything to permanence in the form of writing, their first script was a cumbrous and unimaginative usage of short horizontal or diagnal lines on stone slabs, known as Ogham or Ogam script, and limited to the recording of names and genealogies. It emerged in the early centuries AD and was a crude system that served to represent Greek or Latinletters. Generally thought to have been Irish in origin, Ogham inscriptions have been found in other Celtic parts, such as Wales, the Isle of Man and Scotland. As the script for recording historical events, listing laws, or defining religious procedures, for example, it can be seen from the photograph of an Ogham stone that is would have been well-nigh useless." (a) Iain (a)A History of Ireland, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry
Ogam, a system of writing used by the ancient Celts, is usually thought to exist only in the British Isles.
In his book,America B.C. (pub. Pocket Books, 1986), Barry Fell describes and translates several ancient ogam inscriptions found in North America. Another interesting book, In Plain Sight (by Gloria Farley, pub. Hoffman, 1994), contains descriptions and translations of ancient ogam inscriptions found in North America, and elsewhere outside the British Isles.
At several locations in Oregon, there are petroglyphs and pictographs that appear to be Celtic Ogam. At least two of these locations contain a ladder-shaped sign next to a rayed circle that may symbolize the sun. The ladder, which seems to be ogam, (GIF, 16k) has the rungs grouped left-to-right, 2-5-3, which is equivalent to ogam "G-R-N". In Ogam consaine, the vowelless type usually found in North America, this spells the Gaelic word "grian" or "sun".
This example (GIF, 56K) of ogam, from an Oregon site, is presently untranslated.
Is ogham a "runic" script? Could they be called "runes"? The word "runes" refers to ancient characters used in Teutonic, Anglo-Saxon, and Scandinavian inscriptions (such as Anglo-Saxon rune or Swedish-Norwegian runes). But if taken to refer to any culture's early inscription-type script, one could concievably include ogham in the definition. The New Colombia Encyclopedia defines ogham as an "ancient Celtic alphabet of one of the Irish runic languages. The ogham runes remain only as gravestone inscriptions..." Oghams were used to write very old Irish, from 3rd to 6th century of our era. The inscriptions were not used for record keeping, but usually occur as simple "X son of Y" inscriptions. Various opinions exist onto what is the exact origin of ogham. Some claim that it stems from a cryptic way of writing runes, some others say that it is inspired from the Roman alphabet, and yet others hold that it is independently invented. According to the New Colombia Encyclopedia, runes "were probably first used by the East Goths (c.300), who are thought to have derived them from Helleno- Italic writing. The runes were adapted to carving on wood and stone; they consisted of perpendicular, oblique, and a few curved lines. They were used extensively throughout N Europe, Iceland, England, Ireland, and Scotland until the establishment of Christianity."
Ogham a thugtar ar an aibítir a bhí ag na Ceiltigh in Éirinn fadó. (The ancient Irish Celts had a form of writing called ogham.) Faightear inscríbheanna ogham ar chlocha seasta nó galláin. (The surviving examples of ogham are on large standing stones.) Cuireadh grúpaí stríocanna nó poinc ar imeall ingearach na clocha. (Letters were formed by inscribing groups of dashes or dots on a vertical edge of the stone or gallán.) Ainmneacha a bhíodh ann de ghnáth. (They usually held the name of a person.) Tá feiche litir san aibítir agus léightear ó bhun go barr í. (The ogham alphabet contains twenty letters and is read from the bottom up.) See also this usage example.