Ogam & Native Florida Plants

Druidry and related paths look to plants and nature for wisdom, and the study of the Ogam – an ancient Irish alphabet- is a worthwhile way to this wisdom.

In modern usage, each letter is linked with an Irish ‘tree’ (woodland plant) and its symbolism. This basic rich plant symbolism of the letters has been expanded upon in recent centuries to include additional divination, astrological, and other associations. I’ve found that Ogam studies continuously reveal the depths and lessons that are waiting to be discovered in our wild places.

hawthorn-5-11-12-kg-5

How to find your own Ogam

Breastagh Ogham Pillar.png

Breastagh Ogham Pillar, Co Mayo, Ireland, 1895

Studying the Ogam involves finding and knowing it’s plants . But as many of us don’t live in northern Europe, we have to look to our own region for plants that correspond to the traditional Ogam fews. This can be as simple as finding any local tree of the same species, or a non-related plant that matches some basic features of that few.

 

I was surprised to find many matching species for fews in the Florida region. I also tried for plants that can be reasonably easy to find, which unfortunately left out our endangered Yew and Torreya trees.

 

The table below shows the basic letters (including alternate spellings), their Irish name, symbol, associated European tree, and a corresponding north central Florida plant. There are links to a page for each few, with plant photos and information, modern associations, and some related folklore. This is generally accepted information that can be a starting point for your own study. There are many references out there, and the ones I use for these Ogam pages are listed after the table.

Ogam alphabet structure

Acime: a set of five letters. Originally there were 20 letters (3 groups of consonants and 1 group of vowels), but 5 more letters (of dipthongs – mixed vowel sounds) were added for a total of 25 letters. Each acime is named for their first letter. Plural= acimi.

Few: an individual letter (translates as “tree” in Irish). Plural= feda.

Flesc: a series of notches crossing a central column or line (translates as “twig” in Irish); used in the first 20 feda.

Forfeda: extra letters. This includes the later 5th acime – the Acime of Eabhadh- and other additions. [The Acime of Eabhadh was added to allow the use of words borrowed from Latin. I also include 2 other common modern forfeda in the table below (Ellison, 2007) .]

Ogam beginnings

The Ogam (or Ogham in New Irish) alphabet dates to about 300 C.E. in Ireland, and was carved on wood or stone and used in manuscripts. The letters in this alphabet originally had numerous systems associated with it. The ‘tree’ Ogam – versions of which is most commonly in use now -was just one of 150 different types used historically (Ellison, 2007).

An Ogam system uses a category (like trees or birds), and then finds an item that starts with the Ogam letter sound. The ogams had short phrases or kennings (word ogams) applied to explain the meanings of the names of some of the letters of the Ogam alphabet. (Wikipedia, Briatharogam.)

There is evidence that besides being a regular alphabet, the Ogam was used for secret messages, ciphers, mnemonic lists, sign language, and perhaps in divination (Ellison, 2007).

Ogam today

Over the years the original and varied Ogams, kennings, and treelore have combined into our modern tree Ogam. It has resulted in a system of correspondences and associations that are well suited for use as an oracle or in divination. As in times past, new associations and uses are still being debated and developed.

A study of the Ogam will often include ongoing studies in the life sciences, finding your local trees, and developing your own associations and kennings for the feda. The rich symbolism and wealth of associated myth and lore provides a unique framework for learning about and communing with the ‘woods’ where you live.

My hope is that sharing this Florida Ogam will inspire others to go out and develop Ogams for their local areas.

[EBStable width =”100%” style =”table-bordered table-hover” responsive =”true” class=”Ogham table”]
[EBStable_head]
[EBSth_column][EBSbutton style=”btn-default btn-sm” type=”button” title=”NAME & SYMBOL“][/EBSth_column]
[EBSth_column][EBSbutton style=”btn-default btn-sm” type=”button” title=”ENGLISH ‘TREE’“][/EBSth_column]
[EBSth_column][EBSbutton style=”btn-default btn-sm” type=”link” target=”false” title=”FLORIDA ‘TREE’” link=””][/EBSth_column]
[/EBStable_head]
[EBStable_body]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]AICME OF BEITH[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]BEITH

Beith vertical[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]BIRCH
(Betula alba,
pendula,
or pubescens)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]RIVER BIRCH
(Betula nigra)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]LUIS

Luis[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]ROWAN OR
MOUNTAIN ASH
(Sorbus aucuparia)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]BLACK CHERRY
(Prunus serotina)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]FEARN

Fearn[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]ALDER
(Alnus glutinosa)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]HAZEL ALDER
(Alnus serrulata)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]SAILLE

Saille[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]WILLOW
(Salix fragilis, alba,
viminalis, or caprea)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]WILLOW
(Salix caroliniana
Michaux, eriocephala,
or floridana)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]NUIN

Nuin[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]ASH
(Fraxinus excelsior)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]WHITE ASH
(Fraxinus americana
Linnaeus)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]AICME OF HUATHE [/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]HUATHE

Huathe[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]HAWTHORN
(Crataegus monogyna
& oxyacantha)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]HAWTHORN
(Crataegus uniflora M.)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]DUIR

Duir[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]OAK
(Quercus rubur
or petraea)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]LAUREL OAK
(Quercus hemisphaerica)
WATER OAK
(Quercus nigra)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]TINNE

Tinne[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]HOLLY
(Ilex aquifolium)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]AMERICAN HOLLY
(Ilex opaca)
TOPAL HOLLY
(Ilex x attenuata Ashe)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]CULL

Cull[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]HAZEL
(Corylus avellana)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]AMERICAN HORNBEAM
(Carpinus caroliniana)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]QUERT

Quert[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]APPLE
(Pyrus malus or
sylvestris)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]SOUTHERN CRABAPPLE
(Malus angustifolia M.)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]AICME OF MUIN[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]MUIN

[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]VINE
(grape vine)
(Vitis vinifera)

BRAMBLE
(Blackberry)
(Rubus Fruticosa)
[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]MUSCADINE GRAPE
(Vitus rotundifolia
Michx.)

SAND BLACKBERRY
(Rubus cuneifolius)

[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]GORT

Gort[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]IVY
(Hedera helix)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]VIRGINA CREEPER
(Parthenocissus
quinquefolia)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]NGETAL

Ngethal[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]BROOM
(Cytisus scoparius)

REED
(Phragmites australis)

FERN
(Pteridium aquilinum)

[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]SWEETBROOM
(Scoparia dulcis)
SWITCHCANE
(Arundinaria gigantea)

BRACKEN FERN
(Pteridium aquilinum)
[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]STRAIF

Straif[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]BLACKTHORN
(Prunus spinosa)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]HOG or FLATWOODS
PLUM
(Prunus umbellata E.)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]RUIS

Ruis[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]ELDER
(Sambucus nigra)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]ELDERBERRY
(Sambucus nigra Canad.)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]AICME OF AILM[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]AILM

Ailm[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]SCOTS PINE
(Pinus sylvestris)

 

 

SILVER FIR
(Abies alba)

ELM
(Ulmus glabra)

[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]LONGLEAF PINE
(Pinus palustris Mill.)
SLASH PINE
(Pinus elliottii Engelm.)

 

LOBLOLLY PINE
(Pinus taeda Linnaeus)

WINGED ELM
(Ulmus alata M.)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]OHN
(or ONN
)

Ohn[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]FRUZE, GORSE
(Ulex europaneus)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]SICKLEPOD
(Senna obtusifolia)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]UR
(or URA)

[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]HEATHER
(Calluna vulgaris)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]HAIRY WICKY
(Kalmia hirsuta Walt.)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]EABHA
(or EADHA)

[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]ASPEN
(Populus tremula)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]SWEETGUM
(Liquidamber
styraciflua L.)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]IOHO
(or IDHO)

Ioho[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]YEW
(Taxus baccata)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]BALD CYPRESS
(Taxodium distichum)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]AICME OF EABHADH
(THE FORFEDA)
[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]
[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]EABHADH
(or EBAD)

[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]ASPEN
(or a grove of all trees)
(Populus tremula)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]SWEETGUM
(Liquidamber styraciflua L.)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]OIR

[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]SPINDLE
(Euonymus europaeus)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]AMERICAN
STRAWBERRYBUSH
(Euonymus americanus L.)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]UILLEAND

Uilleand[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]HONEYSUCKLE
(Lonicera
periclymenum)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]CORAL HONEYSUCKLE
(Lonicera sempervirens L.)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]IPHEN

[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]GOOSEBERRY
(Ribes uva-crispa)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]HIGHBUSH BLUEBERRY
(Vaccinium corymbosum)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]EAMANCHOLL
(or PHAGOS)

Eamancholl[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]BEECH
(Fagus sylvatica)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]AMERICAN BEECH
(Fagus grandifolia)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]OTHER FORFEDA[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column][/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]PEITH

Peith[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]SWAMP ELDER
(Viburnum opulus)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]RUSTY BLACKHAW
(Viburnum rifidulum)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[EBStable_row]
[EBSrow_column]the
UNSPEAKABLE

(or blank)

the Unspeakable[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]MISTLETOE
(Viscum album)[/EBSrow_column]
[EBSrow_column]MISTLETOE
(Phoradendron
leucarpum)[/EBSrow_column]
[/EBStable_row]
[/EBStable_body]
[/EBStable]


221px-Ogma-Lawrie-Highsmith.jpeg

Ogma, sculpted bronze figure by Lee Lawrie. Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C. 1939.

In Ireland Ogma was one of the ‘ three gods of skill’ with his brother The Dagda and his half-brother Lugh. It was said that Ogma invented the Ogam alphabet, which is named after him.



 The poet Robert Graves developed a Celtic calendar in his 1948 book White Goddess. While this calendar had no relation to any historical Celtic calendar, many people still use his version today.

Modern calendar versions of Ogam calendars vary so widely, I choose not to include a calendar in the first version of these pages. (An actual Celtic calendar is the Coligny calendar from 200 C.E.)

I did eventually add information on a version of a Celtic calendar that uses 13 of the feda for a 13 month system, and that starts November 1st with Samhain – the Celtic New Year. (The Celtic Tree Oracle, by Liz and Colin Murray.) I’ve found that this calendar matches up with seasonal folklore well, but there certainly are others that can be used.


  ACIME OF BEITH:

Beith  Luis  Fearn  Saille  Nuin

 

ACIME OF HUATHE:

Huathe  Duir  Tinne  Cull  Quert

 

ACIME OF MUIN:

Muin  Gort  Ngetal  Straif  Ruis

 

ACIME OF AILM:

Ailm  Ohn (or Onn)  Ur (or Ura)  Eabha  Ioho

 

ACIME OF EABHADH (THE FORFEDA):

Eabhadh or Ebad  Oir (or Or)  Uilleand  Iphen  Eamancholl (or Phagos)

 

OTHER FORFEDA:

Peith  The Unspeakable (or blank)

Date of Publication

This Florida Ogam page was originally published on 6-6-2012, with many revisions including:

  • May 10, 2015- revised table structure, and added general Ogam information.
Resources

Blamires, Steve (2002). Celtic Tree Mysteries: Practical Druid Magic & Divination (Llewellyn’s Celtic Wisdom)

Bríatharogam (2015) in Wikipedia.

Ellison, Rev. Robert “Skip” (2014-03-16). Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids . ADF Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Laurie, Erynn Rowan (2007). Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom. Megalithica Books

Matthews, Caitlin (2001). Celtic Wisdom Sticks: Ancient Ogam Symbols Offer Guidance for Today

Mountfort, Paul Rhys (August 1, 2002). Ogam: The Celtic Oracle of the Trees: Understanding, Casting, and Interpreting the Ancient Druidic Alphabet. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.

Murray, L. & C. (1988). The Celtic Tree Oracle: A System of Divination. London: Rider & Co. Ltd.

Ogham (2015) in Wikipedia

Paterson, Jacqueline Memory (1996). Tree Wisdom: The Definitive Guidebook to the Myth, Folklore, and Healing Power of Trees. London: Thorsons

The Shrubs and Woody Vines of Florida: A Reference and Field Guide (Reference and Field Guides) by Gil Nelson (1996)

The Trees of Florida by Gil Nelson (2010)

Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants

Floridata Plant Profile List

University of Florida Herbarium (FLAS)

USDA Plants Database

School of Forest Resources & Conservation IFAS, University of Florida Forest Trees (and Plants) catalog

North Dakota Tree Information Center

University of Texas, Austin- Wildflower Center

USDA Fire Effects Information- Plants

University of Michigan, Deerborn Ethnobotany Database

Medical Herbalism: The Science Principles and Practices Of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffmann (2003)

Botanical.com, A Modern Herbal (tends to only have European species, and limited American species listed)

For reports of uses by American Indians (by plant species)- University of Michigan, Deerborn Ethnobotany Database

HerbMed (search and get results of scientific articles on herbs)

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NIH

Other Local Ogams

Dryadia’s Native Texas Oghams. (2007). Dryadia

A Pacific Northwest Ogham. (2003). John Michael Greer

An Australian Ogham by Taran

Australian Ogham Correspondences by Kirsty

Special Thanks To:

The staffs at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and Morningside Nature Center in Gainesville, FL

Julio Reis for his Ogham Symbols (2006)

 


Tree & Plant Photos: by Dana Wiyninger