Sigils, the Elder Futhark runes and the Ogam can be used for divination and magick. A sigil is a dot, series of dots, line, series of lines or shape that has power. Examples of sigils are pentacles, moon shapes and spirals. The Elder Futhark runes and the Ogam are alphabet systems that also have power, and they are also considered to be sigils. I am a Celtic Wiccan, and I happen to work with the Ogam.
The Elder Futhark runic alphabet has 24 characters, and a blank rune makes 25. The letters in the spelling of the word “Futhark” correspond with first 6 characters of this runic system.
The Ogam alphabet has 20 characters that are agreed upon by authors. There are 4 or 5 more special characters that authors do not agree upon. You may choose the author to go with when it comes to those special characters, if you decide to work with the Ogam. To create multiple characters marks are made along a single line. See picture below.
Before you run out to buy a set of runes or Ogam staves, please know that you can easily make your own set. Save your money and instead invest it in a good book on runes or Ogam. See Suggested Investigation below. (I included a couple of the best online resources I could find so you could get a taste. But if you seriously want to work with Ogam or runes, get a book.) When you create them with intent, they are much more powerful than manufactured sets. Materials you could use are clay, stones, wood or bones. The idea is that you will have pieces or staves that are about the same size and shape.
Roll out clay like cookie dough. Hint: roll out the clay sandwiched between two pieces of waxed paper. Cut out tiles into squares (recommended), rectangles, circles or triangles. With a pointy stick you may choose to draw a rune on each tile. Then bake or fire the tiles. If desired draw each rune with marker, paint or glaze.
Paint, use marker or scratch stones with a knife to create the runes. River rocks are a wonderful to use. I have also seen beautiful sets made of crystals like rose quartz.
The runes or Ogam may be carved on bones. Make sure the bones or slices of bone are about the same size. You could mark them with markers, paint or by carving them. Although I have not tried it on bone, I imagine you could use a wood burner to mark them.
Use paint, marker or a wood burner to create runes on wood tiles to create a set of runes or Ogam. When I made my first Ogam set, I did not have to, but I got as may of the different kinds of wood as I could. I chose a species of wood for those characters that corresponded with bushes or plants. See picture below.
You could also make wooden Ogam staves. You may use marker, paint, carve them or use a wood burner to create the marks. I like using a wood burner. If you decide to use a wood burner, please treat it with caution. The tip of my wood burner can get up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit so I treat it with care. Even after use and unplugging it, the wood burner will be hot for a little while. To get the feel for it I practiced with a cold wood burner first. Then I practice on a piece of scrap wood with a hot wood burner. I chose to use dowel rods of birch because birch is the first character of the Ogam alphabet. Also dowel rods are easy to work with and are available in birch. To learn more see video below.
Just as in Tarot there are various ways you can work with the runes and Ogam for divination. I suggest that you learn as much as you can about the meanings of runes or Ogam if you choose to work with them. Keep a journal for divination not only to write down what you drew or cast and your impressions, but also of what happened. Drawing and interpreting a rune or Ogam a day is a good practice. Generally you pull runes out of a bag after giving it a good shake. If you decide to work with the Ogam, learn not only the meanings, but also the characteristics of each tree/plant, the uses of each tree/plant and the storylines behind each one. (If you are looking for something wood for a magickal purpose such as a wand or a besom, knowing this information is very helpful in determining what kind of wood to choose.) There are various spreads you can use. Make a spread for Past, Present and Future plus one for Overall Impression. Draw 8 for the Wheel of the Year plus one for Overall Impression. For an Elemental spread draw 5, one each for Earth (physical realm), Air (mental realm), Fire (will, creative realm), Water (emotional realm) and Spirit (divine realm). Ogam sticks may be cast (tossed) on a piece of cloth. This is harder to interpret than the other spreads and is best done when you are familiar with the Ogam. These are just some of the ways you can use the runes and Ogam for divination.
You can also use runes and Ogam for magick. Draw protective Elder Futhark runes such as Algiz on windows with essential oil to ward them. Draw the rune Ur for strength on your barbells. Draw or attach a tile or stave with the Ogam Fearn for guidance on the front bumper of your car. Incorporate the Ogam Ur which means love in a wreath for your home. The runes and Ogam can even be found in jewelry. These are just a few examples of how you can use runes and Ogam in magick. Feel free to get creative as you gain knowledge and experience with the Elder Futhark runes and/or the Ogam.
Enjoy learning more about sigils, the Elder Futhark runes and/or the Ogam!
Have a festive and meaningful Beltane! The moon will be a waxing gibbous so magick revolving around abundance is very appropriate!
I will continue to post on Wednesdays.
Grimoire, The Pagan. “The 24 Elder Futhark Runes and Their Meanings.” June 14, 2022, pagangrimoire.com
Laurie, Erynn Rowan, Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom, Megalithica Books, 2007.
Mountfort, Paul Rhys, Ogam: The Celtic Oracle of the Trees, Destiny Books, 2001, 2002.
Paxson, Diana L, Taking Up the Runes, Weiser Books, 2021.
Wigington, Patti. “Ogham Symbol Gallery.” Learn Religions, February 8, 2021, learnreligions.com/ogham-symbol-gallery-4123029.
Zakroff, Laura Tempest, Sigil Witchery: A Witch’s Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols, Llewellyn, 2018. A great book on sigils, but it is not a reference book for Ogam or runes.