The Everyday Lore Project

5 February 2020 – Ogham

5 February 2020 – Ogham

So today is a total fudge as I’m running to stand still. I was going to give a big spiel about Ogham, the ancient Irish alphabet sometimes used to inscribe stones and employed as a memory device for bards. How it’s associated with treelore and Druids. How there’s some controversy over its interpretations (like folklore is ever controversy free). How it’s used for divination and riddles. Then I was going to say something terribly witty about being careful if using it for a tattoo as you don’t want to end up on a Buzzfeed list. And then I was going rework The Everyday Lore Project into Ogham before realising Ogham has no V, Y, P or J. And then the clock ticked on and I needed breakfast and sometimes, it’s just a bit of a struggle to learn a new thing, try it out, and write it all down in the time available.

BUT I did try it out, several times. And there is something insanely pleasing to a slightly anally retentive ex-groundplan draftswoman about marking straight lines on a page. Plus Ogham is fascinating. And if I had the time, I’d tell you that Ogham is read right to left and upwards, like climbing a tree hand over hand. And if I had more time, I’d tell you that many of the letters were named after trees like birch, oak, ash and yew. But I don’t. So I’m going to leave you with a puzzle (after all it’s said that Ogham was used for kennings, or cryptic clues)… 

And no cheating!


Carr-Gomm, P. and Heygate, R. (2014) The Book of English Magic, London, Hodder

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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