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.

Ogham Divination

A set of ogham fews

In the blog posts over the past few weeks, each letter of the ogham is given a divinatory meaning. This meaning is derived from the nature of each tree or plant that the letter represents. The descriptions given are brief, and not necessarily all-inclusive for the meaning of each tree. Consider the divinatory descriptions as a place to get you started exploring the ogham. As you continue your study of the trees and plants of the ogham, you will come to know more and more about the nature of each. This enriched knowledge will aid you in determining the deeper meanings of each ogham few for divinatory purposes. To begin exploring these deeper meanings, consider first the Gods and Goddesses associated with each tree. What do they represent? What is their energy? How can their archetypal energy assist you in reading the ogham?
Next, explore the healing properties of each plant. If you read an ogham few associated with this plant, how would its healing properties influence the meaning of the reading? For example, Phagos, the Beech tree, has healing properties that help soothe irritations of the skin. In considering this quality for divinatory purposes, you might think about any sources of irritation in your life that might be represented by this few. Also, since beech is good for treating irritations of the skin, and the skin is on the outside of your body, you may explore the idea that this source of irritation is something that is external to you. Try exploring the various healing properties as metaphors for divinatory meanings, and your understanding of the ogham will increase.
Finally, look at the magical properties of each tree, and experiment with relating these to the divinatory meaning of each few. Heather’s magical properties involve shamanism, dream work, and meditation. If you were reading this few in a divination, how would those properties influence the outcome? Could there be hidden influences at work? Are the fews telling you to increase your meditation practices in order to find an answer?
Practice reading the ogham fews at least once a day and see what knowledge you can gain through this work.

Active Druid Meditations – Volume One

I’m currently in the studio working on the next meditation album, Active Druid Meditations, Volume One.

Meditation is a process of inner contemplation in which you elevate your consciousness by directing it to specific activities. There are two basic types of meditation: Active Meditation and Passive Meditation. Passive Meditation is about leaving the Doing Mode of existence and moving to the Being Mode of existence. In Being Mode, you do not have to go anywhere. You do not have to do anything. You are free to simply exist with your experiences in the present moment.

This is accomplished by leaving thinking mode and entering sensing mode. In sensing mode you leave your thoughts behind and focus only on your physical sensations. What do I see? What do I hear? What do I smell? What do I taste? What do I touch?

Active Meditations are meditations that are conducted for a specific purpose. On Volume One of the Active Druid Meditations album, the following meditations will be included:

Tree of Life
The Tree of Life meditation is a powerful grounding meditation that allows you to tap into the energies of the earth so that you do not have to rely solely on your own energy for magical workings.

Druid’s Egg
The Druid’s Egg is a protective meditation that shields you from negative energies.

Sacred Space
The Sacred Space meditation allows you to create your own landscape in the Otherworld. Once created, you can always retreat to this space when you need a respite from the cares of the day-to-day world. 

The Cave (Overcoming Fear)
This meditation helps you to travel to the depths of your unconscious mind to evaporate fear and anxiety.

Active Druid Meditations, Volume One will feature guided meditations by Sencha the Vate accompanied by Native American flute music and the sounds of nature. This album will be available in time for the holiday season 2017!

Mor – Witch hazel

Mor (pronounced ‘MOHR’)
Represents letter(s): X
Divinatory meaning: Destiny, surprise, unpreparedness
Associated Tree/Plant: Witch hazel
Healing Properties: Witch hazel is a powerful astringent available in most drug stores. Make a tea of equal parts powdered bark and leaves and gargle with it to relieve a sore throat. Drink two cups of this tea to cure diarrhea. It may also be used as a douche for healing vaginitis. An infusion may be applied topically to skin irritations and rashes.
Magical Uses: Charms made of witch hazel mend broken hearts and diminish attention from unwanted suitors. Witch hazel sprigs and blooms placed in a vase by the bed promote chastity. The blooms also offer protection in matters of love. Give your partner a charm of witch hazel to promote fidelity. Witch hazel makes powerful dousing rods (hence the ‘witch’ part of the name).
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Angus Mac Og, Branwen

Phagos – The Beech

Phagos (pronounced ‘FAH-gus’)
Represents letter(s): PH, F
Divinatory meaning: Cleansing, purification, chastity
Associated Tree/Plant: Beech
Healing Properties: Beech leaves rubbed directly on the skin help heal frostbite and minor burns. An infusion of the leaves may be used to treat diaper rash or rashes from poison ivy. It also treats other skin inflammations. An infusion of beech bark has antiseptic properties.
Magical Uses: The blossoms of the beech help to keep intolerant people away. If you carve a wish on a beech stick harvested on the new moon, your wish will come true by the full moon. Once you have carved your wish on the twig, tie it to the beech tree from which it was cut. A fallen branch from a beech tree is considered to be an invitation from a Faerie to make a wish. Push this branch into the ground after carving your wish on it, and the Faeries will take it to the Sidhe for consideration by the Faerie Queen. Beech rods are favored by water dousers.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Sequana

Uilleand – Honeysuckle

Uilleand (pronounced ‘ULL-enth’)
Represents letter(s): P
Divinatory meaning: Attraction, enchantment, binding
Associated Tree/Plant: Honeysuckle
Healing Properties: Honeysuckle blossoms produce a very sweet sap that has the ability to purge toxins from the blood and the liver. A tea made of honeysuckle blossoms contains tannins that soothe a sore throat and ease fever symptoms. Make a balm with honeysuckle sap and apply it to skin rashes or mild burns. A note of caution: Honeysuckle leaves contain toxins, and if ingested the leaves could be poisonous, especially to small children.
Magical Uses: Honeysuckle’s magical powers involve the realm of psychic magic. Weave a dreamcatcher of honeysuckle to chase away nightmares. A charm of honeysuckle worn about the wrist or neck improves the intuitive abilities of the one who wears it. Honeysuckle blossoms are used to attract money or financial success.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Gwydion, Aidin, Danu

Oir – Pink Dogwood

Oir (pronounced ‘OR’)
Represents letter(s): TH
Divinatory meaning: Talent, creativity, genius
Associated Tree/Plant: Spindle (Also called ‘Indian Arrowwood’ or ‘Pink Dogwood’)
Healing Properties: An infusion of the bark of the spindle stimulates digestion in small doses. In larger doses, it causes stomach irritation and vomiting. This infusion is also a mild diuretic, and aids in promoting regular bowel movements. It is especially good for treating ailments of the liver.
Magical Uses: The spindle is the tree of balance. It helps you to understand your shadow side and to express it in positive rather than negative ways. Its magic helps you to communicate clearly with those around you and to avoid misunderstandings. It is a tree of endings. If you have difficulty completing tasks, a charm of spindle wood will help you to see through to your objective. It may be used in divination to help you to find a solution to a difficult problem. Spindle’s magic helps you to put aside masks and pretensions and to find your true self.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Angus Mac Og

Koad – The Poplar

Koad (pronounced ‘KO-ud’)
Represents letter(s): CH
Divinatory meaning: Achievement, accomplishment, victory
Associated Tree/Plant: Poplar
Healing Properties: Use tea made of poplar buds for treating fevers. This tea is also useful in treating arthritis. An infusion of poplar leaves helps treat diarrhea. Poplar buds exude a sticky substance. This sap can be used as a stimulant. Make a tincture of this sap for chest complaints or rheumatism. It is also high in vitamin C, and may be used to treat scurvy. Make a balm of the sap to heal bruises and swellings more quickly.
Magical Uses: Black poplar aids in divination. Rune sticks carved of this wood will be powerful. The abilities to protect, shield, and resist temptations are poplar’s gifts. Poplar aids in overcoming fear. Poplar buds carried in a bag worn over the heart help to heal a broken heart. A charm of poplar wood eases stress in the life of the one who wears it. Poplar wood is traditionally used for carving statues of the Goddess. If using poplar for magic tools, never let the wood touch the ground once harvested. This discharges its energy.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Blodeuwedd, the Dagda, Taranis

Ioho – The Yew

Ioho (pronounced ‘EE-yoh’)
Represents letter(s): I, Y
Divinatory meaning: Deception, illusion, trickery
Associated Tree/Plant: Yew
Healing Properties: This plant is poisonous and should be used only with extreme caution! Extract of yew needles has been used to treat lung diseases and bladder problems. A new cancer drug, Taxol, has been derived from the bark and berries of the yew.
Magical Uses: The yew is associated with death and dying. Its magic, like elder magic, is involved in reincarnation and contact with the spirit world. Yews are often planted in graveyards as silent guardians and protectors. Yew wood is sometimes used for wands; especially by those whose magical gifts involve reincarnation or the power of life and death. Incense made of yew wood is said to summon the dead when burned.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: The Mórrígan, Brighid

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