Circle of Life Divination

A rune (few) casting cloth – I sometimes tie the four corners of such a cloth, making a bag to carry my ogham fews in.

This method of divination with ogham fews requires a circle, about 12” to 18.” If doing this divination outdoors, you may draw the circle on the ground. Alternately, you may draw a circle on a piece of paper, or carry a cloth in your crane bag, with a circle of the required size drawn on it. You would then lay the cloth on the table or the floor.
Have the person for whom you are doing the reading shake the crane bag to sort the fews, then have them dump the contents of the bag onto the circle. This works best if the person is standing over a circle on the ground, but may also be done on a table. Any fews that fall outside of the circle are not read. These are placed back into the bag. Start your reading by interpreting the few closest to the center (it may help to draw a dot in the center of the circle for this purpose). The center few represents the person’s current state. If this few is face-down, then its meaning is just the opposite of its face value. For example, if the inverted few in question was ‘nuin,’ which represents ‘wisdom, knowledge, and learning,’ then its inverted meaning would be ‘ignorance.’ Do this for every inverted few within the circle. If there is more than one few at the center, blend the interpretations. If these interpretations cancel each other out, then proceed to the next nearest few to the center.
The few(s) nearest to the center represents the prevailing force(s) at work in the person’s life. Proceed outward from the center and read each few. Those closer to the individual’s few at the center are the more powerful influences, and the ones farther away are the less significant influences. If two fews are overlapping, the top one is exerting influence over the bottom one. And again, if one or both of the overlapping fews are inverted, they have just the opposite meaning of their face value.
The Circle of Life reading is good for getting an overall picture of all of the powers at work in an individual’s life. It is especially useful as a prelude to a healing ceremony or ritual.

Reading the Omens

Many Druid traditions include a reading of the omens as part of ritual or circle. This is sometimes done using a set of ogham fews. If you’ve been following along with this blog series on the ogham, you have created your own set of ogham fews.

Before beginning any ogham reading, you may wish to call upon a God or a Goddess for assistance in interpreting the reading. If you have a Patron God or a Matron Goddess, you may call upon them. Alternately, if you are doing a reading for an individual, you may have them to ask for assistance from their own God or Goddess. It may help for both of you place your hands on the crane bag containing the ogham runes while invoking.
There are many methods of reading the ogham. As you gain experience, you can decide which work best for you. Today’s blog will cover the basic omen triad. Future posts will cover two more types of divination. Experiment with them and see what sort of results you get. You may also create your own ways of reading the omens using ogham. There is no right or wrong way to do so, as long as your method works for you.

Basic Omen Triad
This method works well when reading the omens during a ritual, since it is quick and efficient. Draw three runes out of the crane bag, one at a time. The first few represents the past. The second few represents the present, and the third few represents the future. Interpret the fews one at a time, focusing on the transitions from past to present, then from present to future. For example, if you drew ‘eadha’ for the past, ‘nuin’ for the present, and ‘koad’ for the future, their divinatory meanings are as follows:
Eadha = Endurance, perseverance, persistence
Nuin = Wisdom, knowledge, learning
Koad = Achievement, accomplishment, victory
A possible interpretation would be that you have used endurance, perseverance and persistence in the past to arrive at wisdom, knowledge and learning in the present, and if you persist on this path, you will reap achievement, accomplishment and victory. The transition from a past of persistence to a present of wisdom has already awarded you with some accomplishment, and if you transition from wisdom and knowledge in the present by continuing to endure, your reward will be victory in the future.
You may also use this technique with other triads; for example, try ‘mind, body, spirit,’ or ‘emotion, reason, wisdom,’ or ‘maiden, mother, crone,’ or ‘golden child, warrior, sage.’

If doing an omen reading for your grove or circle, don’t put too much interpretation on it yourself other than just stating the basic meanings of the fews. Allow each person attending to draw their own conclusions about the meaning of the omen.

Next time we’ll cover the Circle of Life method of divination.

Creating your Ogham Fews

Divination with the ogham is done through a set of runes called “ogham fews.” In order to begin working with the ogham for divination, you will first need to create your own set of fews.

There are two popular methods of creating your own ogham fews. The first is to create sticks about the length of your hand and the diameter of your index finger. If using this method, you would cut a notch in the middle of each stick and mark each with a character from the ogham. I like to mark mine using a woodburning tool, but you may mark them in any way that seems appropriate to you.

The second method is to cut a staff or branch of wood into disc-shaped sections. Once you have a stick or a disc for each letter, carve or burn one letter of the ogham on each. The ogham fews are usually carried in a crane bag. This is a bag made of natural materials (usually leather, cotton, linen or silk), big enough to hold a Druid’s prized possessions, including his ogham fews. The crane is a symbol of justice and longevity, and the ‘crane’ in ‘crane bag’ refers to these qualities, and not to the materials used to make the bag.

       When choosing wood for your ogham, it is best that you harvest the wood yourself, preferably from a place that has sacred meaning to you. You will want to select a wood that is compatible with the powers of divination and the Otherworld, if possible. Good woods for this include hazel, apple, rowan, ash, elder, poplar, and elm. If possible, harvest the wood for your ogham fews after Beltane but before Samhain so that the life energy is strong within the branch. You may need to dry wood that is still green before cutting and carving or burning the characters into your fews. Be sure to offer a libation to your tree before harvesting the wood for your fews.

Next time we’ll discuss how to use your fews for divination.