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.

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

Eadha – The Aspen

Eadha (pronounced ‘EH-yuh’)
Represents letter(s): E
Divinatory meaning: Endurance, perseverance, persistence
Associated Tree/Plant: Aspen
Healing Properties: The sap of the aspen, or silver fir, is a diuretic in small doses. In large doses it induces vomiting, and may cause nausea. The bark may be used to treat headaches and fever.
Magical Uses: Aspen (fir) is one of the nine firewoods to be added to the Belfire for the festival of Beltane (May 1). The Nine Sacred Woods of the Belfire are birch, oak, rowan, willow, hawthorn, hazel, apple, grapevine and fir. Aspen magic is used for invoking power and insight. It can be used to create a change in a situation. The silver fir (aspen) is sacred to the Druids, and represents the hope of rebirth and new beginnings. Wands of aspen are used for shape-shifting. Its wood may also be used to create magical flutes to be used in rituals. The music of such flutes brings about change, so only use such a flute if you want something different to happen! The aspen is the traditional tree used for Yule decorating.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Cernunnos, Druantia

Onn – Gorse

Onn (pronounced ‘UHN’)
Represents letter(s): O
Divinatory meaning: Adaptation, transmutation, modification
Associated Tree/Plant: Gorse
Healing Properties: Tea made with gorse flowers aids against jaundice and stimulates urine production. This tea also helps dissolve kidney stones. Gorse seeds are an astringent.
Magical Uses: Gorse magic is the magic of fertility and prosperity. A gorse hedge around your home will protect it from dark Faeries, who cannot pass through it. Burning gorse wood protects you from curses and dark magic. The golden flowers of the gorse are said to attract gold, so gorse is good for money spells.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: On-niona

Ailm – The Silver Fir

Ailm (pronounced ‘AHL-m’)
Represents letter(s): A
Divinatory meaning: Energy, power, intensity
Associated Tree/Plant: Silver Fir
Healing Properties: The sap of the silver fir is a diuretic, and can stimulate mucous membranes if taken in small doses. Larger doses can induce vomiting, and may cause nausea. The oil can be used as a base for many essences used in aromatherapy. The Silver Fir is associated with the Moon, and as such it is a feminine power related to any Goddesses with lunar powers and associations.
The Silver Fir is associated with the Goddess Brighid in Celtic lore in her triple aspect offering learning, creativity and progress. It is also sacred to the God Attis, who was imprisoned in a fir tree. Fir trees have the ability to protect from lightning. A wand made of fir or pine will help in matters of perseverance and change. Wands or staffs of fir are also useful in the invocation of the Goddess. The silver fir is especially useful for rites at the equinoxes because it is a tree of balance and stability. Firs, pines and other evergreens are also helpful for grounding rituals. In its Crone aspect, the silver fir has power over shadowy places, dark secrets and the unconscious mind. Because of this, it may be used to tame these forces in your life. Carry a sprig of silver fir in your Crane Bag as a talisman for help in these areas. It may help to weave such a sprig into a ring.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Limetus, Danu, Cerridwen

Ruis – The Elder Tree

Ruis (pronounced ‘RWEESH’)
Represents letter(s): R
Divinatory meaning: Conversion, transition, rebirth
Associated Tree/Plant: Elder
Healing Properties: Fresh elder bark can be used to induce labor, or to relieve headaches. Steep the flowers of the elderberry to make a tea for soothing sunburn pain. Inhaling the steam from elderberry flowers eases asthma attacks. A poultice of elderberry flowers has anti-inflammatory effects. Elderberries ease hunger pangs when dieting.
Magical Uses: The elder is helpful in magic involving the powers of reincarnation and communion with the Otherworld. Psychopomps conduct the recently departed to the Otherworld, and elder magic is an aid in this duty. Elderberries and elderberry wine is often used to seek visions; especially visions pertaining to the Land of the Young. Elderberry wine is drunk to aid in divination as well. If you make a flute of elder wood, Faeries will come and dance to your tune. Twigs of elder wood worn in a bag about the neck protect you from physical attack. Elder magic is concerned with death and endings.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: The Mórrígan, Bran, Cailleach

Straif – The Blackthorn

Straif (pronounced ‘STRAHF’)
Represents letter(s): Z
Divinatory meaning: Control, authority, manipulation
Associated Tree/Plant: Blackthorn
Healing Properties: Sloe berries of the blackthorn stimulate metabolism, and are therefore useful in weight loss. They may also be used as a laxative and as a diuretic. Tea from blackthorn leaves is useful for a sore throat and for laryngitis. A tea made from powdered blackthorn bark has a calming effect.
Magical Uses: The blackthorn is known as the Dark Mother of the Forest. This is because this tree is associated with the darker side of magic and the Otherworld. Seeing a blackthorn tree in your path is considered an ill omen. It is used for working dark magic, spells of revenge and curses. In Scotland, Cailleach is said to have a walking stick made of blackthorn. She summons winter every year by striking the ground with this staff.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: The Dagda, Cailleach, The Mórrígan

n’Getal – The Reed (Slippery Elm)

n’Getal (pronounced ‘NYEH-tal’)
Represents letter(s): NG
Divinatory meaning: Health, harmony, balance
Associated Tree/Plant: Reed (In Great Britain, the Reed is a variety of elm)
Healing Properties: In Britain the dwarf elm, which is the Ogham ‘reed,’ is known as the ‘reed tree.’ In North America, the equivalent would be the elm tree. Powdered bark from the slippery elm tree can be made into milk for those who are lactose intolerant. In tea, this powdered bark is a mild sedative. It also eases an upset stomach. A poultice of elm leaves aids in treating poison ivy, burns, and infected wounds.
Magical Uses: Reed/Elm magic works for anything involving music. It is also a powerful magic for divination. Elm is associated with our darker impulses, and elm magic can be used to draw these out so that they may be dealt with in constructive ways. Twigs of elm worn in a bag around the neck are said to give the wearer eloquent speech.
Gods/Goddesses Associated with This Tree/Plant: Pwyll, Arawn

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