(and a tip of the hat to John Michael Greer for his reviews in Oak Leaves magazine.)


Our ADF ArchDruid, Skip Ellison, published What Do We Know About Ogham? in 2002. It is now called The Druid Alphabet, and available through Amazon. I highly recommend this- it’s the “just the facts, ma’am” book on Ogham. It’s also the only Ogham book with photos of the 122 different Oghams in the Book of Ballymote and what they represent. Each tally is given with pronunciation, a list of correspondences (not just trees), quotes from old Irish about the tree associated with the tally, and Skip’s own divinatory meanings, gleaned from his years of practice. Skip also has simple cards that can be ordered if you don’t wish to make your own staves. My advice- start with Skip’s book, then, after you’ve worked a while with that, and have started to intuit your own meanings from the Ogham, look at the other Ogham books. That way you’ll go into it with a clear head. This can be had at ISBN: 1-59405503-3. Earth Religions Press.
(Note how many other books on Ogham are focused exclusively on the trees, and don't mention everything else connected with the letters!)

One of the first Ogham books to come out was Liz and Colin Murray’s Celtic Tree Oracle. This was in 1988. I used this for many years. Liz and Colin Murray were members of The Golden Section Order, a sort-of magickal Druid group. They took the Ogham and put it in a Tarot format, complete with card layouts. Cards are good to work with, as they remind you visually of what each tree stands for. As with most Druidy things, the system is more complicated than it needs to be. I found it was better for long-term divination than short-term, but it did work, and it did provide insight for myself and others I’ve done readings for. The Murrays' based their system on Graves. They reworked Graves’ tree calendar a bit, but connected each tree to the first new moon in our solar calendar, and used the thirteenth for the 3-day period of the Celtic year at Samhain. They connected each few, each stave, to various stories concerning each tree. All in all, it’s a good system. ISBN: 0-312-02032-5, St. Martins Press, NY NY.

The second Ogham system to come out was from Nigel Pennick in 1992, the New Celtic Oracle. Pennick has a number of books out on divinatory games, earth mysteries and such-like. Like Robert Graves, he associates just about everything he can into each tally, and winds up swamping the whole boat. He relys much more on Medieval lore, Arthurian lore and such than he does on things that actually would have been connected to the Druid Ogham. While I have the book, I don’t have the cards that go with it, and both are now out of print. I’ve never used it as a Magickal device and a divination device, but I suppose it would work. The book is an interesting read. ISBN: 1-898307-56-3. Capall Bann Publishing, Berks, UK.

Edred Thorsson, a big figure in the Norse community and an authority on Norse runes, came out with The Book of Ogham in 1994.Thorsson was helped by Tadhg MacCrossan, once an ADF member, and later the founder of Druidactos, his own Druid group, which has since disbanded. I’ve never seen a copy of The Book of Ogham, but from what I’ve heard, this system is well-researched, and solidly based on historical data. It is also out of print. ISBN: 087542-783-9. Lewelleyn, St. Paul, MN

And, Caitlin Matthews came out with a divinatory deck in 2001, the Celtic Wisdom Sticks. She’s created a number of Celtic divination systems, including The Celtic Book of the Dead, which I have and enjoy. She has a strong reputation in Druid and Celtic communities for scholarship. You get a burlap bag of sticks with the 20 Ogham marked on them, and an additional stick with the Forfeda- the five extra characters. You draw one or more Ogham, and then toss the forfeda stick to see which of four different interpretations you’re taking from the Ogham you drew. I’ve never used this one. ISBN: 185906-053-6. Connections, London.

Paul Rhys Mountfort published Ogam: The Celtic Oracle of the Trees in 2002. This has been highly recommended by folks at ADF because it’s well-researched, there are references to the natural characteristics of each tree, discussion of traditional Celtic stories about the tree in question, divinatory meaning and magic and folklore connected to the tree. I liked it-- also highly recommend it. ISBN: 0-89281-919-7. Destiny, Rochester, VT

Steve Blamires' Celtic Tree Mysteries came out in 1997, following his notorious book on Druidry, Glamoury. This one gets strong recommendations from folks in the ADF Druid community. It’s not a divination system, rather it’s a system of religious and magickal training. You work with each tree, learn about it, perform simple rituals. (I like Mountford's book better, but then I wasn't a big fan of Glamoury either....) ISBN: 1-56718-070-1. Lewellyn Publications. St. Paul, MN

Laurie, Erynn Rowan; Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom; Stafford: Megalithica Books; 2007. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve read some of Erynn Laurie’s lectures, and found them both scholarly and inspiring. I trust that her book would be responsible and scholarly and inspiring as well. I'll post here when I'm done reading it.

Ellen Evert Hopman’s Tree Medicine / Tree Magic. Good book on tree lore, folklore, natural magick. Not a lot about Ogham, and what’s there is based almost completely on Graves and the Murrays. ISBN: 0-919-345-55-7. Phoenix Publishing, Custer, Washington.

The Celtic Seers Source Book
, edited by John Matthews. This reprints source material-- essays by various antiquarians-- from the 1700s through the 1900s about all sorts of Celtic divination methods. A lot of cool stuff in here, but presented with very little critical qualifications. For the hardcore only. ISBN: 0-7137-2780-2. Blandford, London.

The White Goddess
by Robert Graves. The grand-daddy of Ogham books, and much more. As I said, Graves’ system is batshit insane, but perfectly in keeping with what the ancient Druids would have been doing with the Ogham alphabet. There is no reason why Graves, (or, if he’s right, Taliessen) shouldn’t use Ogham to build up his own system of poetic correspondences. He’s stuffed a whole lot of folklore and myth into a workable magickal, divinitory and cultural system, one still in use that many Pagans take for granted. Remember tho, that this book is inspired poetry, not rigorous scholarship, and its main theme is poetic inspiration, not Ogham. ISBN: 0-374-28932-8. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

George Calder’s edition of The Scholar’s Primer is out of print, but recommended nontheless. This is the source of much that’s in the other books. ISBN: 1-85182-181-3. Four Courts Press, Portland, OR.

RAS Macalister’s Corpus Inscriptionum Isularum Celticarum is considered one of the master works on Ogham. Lists and shows Ogham inscriptions in the British Isles. ISBN: 1-85182-242-9. Four Courts Press, Dublin, Ireland.

Damiean McManus- A Guide to Ogham. Written to update and correct Macalister, and should be used with Macalister.
ISBN: 1-870684-75-3. Leinster Leader, Ltd., Kildare, Ireland. This is the current scholarship on the subject.

Web sites:
Everything Ogham on the Web. (No Kidding.)
Dr. Peter Berresford Ellis’s “The Fabrication of Celtic Astrology”:
The Ogham Tract from the Auraicept na N-Éces (Mary Jones’ website The Celtic Literature Collective):
Origin of Ogham and where the trees were....
Lots of cool links, photos of stones:
Stuff on the uses of various trees:
Your name in Ogham
"The Voice of the Woods", A Celtic Ogham Divination Site

(also poke around the site and the store!)