THE TREE ALPHABET

WRITING SYSTEM

The Tree Alphabet will act as the primer for learning about the Ogham characters, their meanings, and their tree associations.

 

Trees were of great importance to the Celts of ancient Ireland, and not only provided shelter and sustenance but were sources of magic and power. The word 'Druid' itself comes from the Celtic name for the oak - 'duir'.

Druids gave the trees symbolic importance, and by understanding the trees, and the solar and lunar cycles, the Ogham characters not only allowed communication between each other, but the associated symbols and meanings were ways to tap into the subconscious, the other world, the land of the fae, to divine your way in this world.

THE 5 AICMES

The original 20 letters are formed with simple shapes of straight and diagonal lines. They could be easily formed with fingers, used as a secret language, and carved into wood or stone, for navigation, passing of knowledge, and marking territories.
 

These 20 letters were split into 4 groups, with each group (aicme/family) named after the first tree in that group: Beith, Huath, Muin, and Ailm.

Five additional letters called Forfeda were introduced mainly in the manuscript tradition several centuries after the peak of ogham usage. They appear to have represented sounds felt to be missing from the original alphabet

1st Aicme - Beith

ogham-wheel-circle.png

1ST AICME

AICME BEITH

Right side strokes

2-rowan.png

L : LUIS

ROWAN

4-willow.png

S : SAIL

WILLOW

1-birch.png

B : BEITH

BIRCH

3-alder.png

V/F : FEARN

ALDER

5-ash.png

N : NION

ASH

ogham-wheel-circle.png

2ND AICME

AICME HUATH

Left side strokes

7-oak.png

D : DAIR

OAK

9-hazel.png

C : COLL

HAZEL

6-hawthorn.png

H : HUATH

HAWTHORN

8-holly.png

T : TINNE

HOLLY

10-apple.png

K : CEIRT

APPLE

1st Aicme - Beith

ogham-wheel-circle.png

3RD AICME

AICME MUIN

Across strokes

12-ivy.png

G : GORT

IVY

14-blackthorn.png

Z: STRAIF

BLACKTHORN

11-blackberry.png

M : MUIN

BLACKBERRY

13-fern.png

NG : NGEADAL

BROOM

15-elder.png

R : RUIS

ELDER

1st Aicme - Beith

ogham-wheel-circle.png

4TH AICME

AICME AILME

Notches (Vowels)

17-gorse.png

O : ONN

GORSE

19-aspen.png

E : EADHADH

ASPEN

16-silver-fir.png

A : AILM

SILVER FIR

18-heather.png

U : UR

HEATHER

20-yew.png

I : IODHADH

YEW

1st Aicme - Beith

ogham-wheel-circle.png

5TH AICME

FORFEDA

Later additions

22-spindle.png

OI : OIR

SPINDLE

24-gooseberry.png

IO : IPHIN

GOOSEBERRY

21-white-poplar.png

EA : EABHADH

WHITE POPLAR

23-honeysuckle.png

UI : UILLEANN

HONEYSUCKLE

25-witch-hazel.png

AE : EAMHANCHOLL

WITCH HAZEL