Celtic Wisdom Sticks
An Ogam Oracle
by Caitlin Matthews
What I first noticed about these sweet sticks was their gentle scent, and the way they felt in my hands: delicate and authentic. They come bundled together in a length of twine, and one seriously wonders who burnished the ogam characters into each piece of straight wood. The magical, ancient language of ogam speaks immediately from these sticks, whether one is already familiar with it or not.
Ogam is an ancient language of the Celts. It consists of a series of line patterns or slash marks, mainly inscribed into pieces of twig or branch, or on standing stones. The alphabet was used for a number of purposes, to show the way, literally - as in marking a grave, or to show the way, inwardly. Each ogam letter corresponds to a tree, and represents all of the magical or spiritual meanings associated with that tree. Because the people who created ogam passed on their lore and history mainly through oral arts, there is some disagreement about the true development of ogam, or even its truest meanings. However, history does tell us that ogam was used for divining as well, and it is this aspect of ogam that the Celtic Wisdom Sticks focuses on.
Caitlin Matthews has devoted much of her life to studying the wisdom of the Celts, and to passing her learning along to others. She teaches, writes, and shares openly through her work (see her website for more information, linked below). In Celtic Wisdom Sticks, Matthews approaches her subject with warmth; her guidebook to using these sticks is simple and straightforward in language, yet poetic and insightful. I do mean poetic - each ogam letter or stick that one might draw is first introduced with a quatrain by Matthews. These short verses are lovely, and evoke a feeling of mystical history. The following quatrain is provided for Tinne:
"Within the burning glead, the dark fire glows,
A whirling brand that threeways, sunwise goes.
Echoed enchantments hammer out the song:
Who spins with this turning, shall live well and strong."
Matthews teaches how to divine, or simply look within, using the sticks and their specific poems. This is a surprisingly effective way of using the sticks, and of going deep within, in a nearly shamanic journey. There are of course other ways of using the sticks, and Matthews shares her very useful ideas on doing so. Each ogam is explained in detail, and full interpretive meanings are provided.
I cherish these little sticks, with their innocent but potent ogam markings. They became an immediate favorite of mine. Anyone who enjoys a Celtic heritage, or bringing Celtic wisdom to their spiritual path, will surely love these as much as I do.
* Set includes twenty ogam woods, indicator stick, burlap bag for storage, 96-page guidebook
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All writing and photography © N Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2019