Paul Rhys Mountfort,
Ogam, the Celtic
Oracle of the Trees:
Understanding, Casting & Interpreting
the Ancient Druidic Alphabet

(Rider, 2001; Destiny, 2002)

In Ogam, the Celtic Oracle of the Trees, Paul Rhys Mountfort presents his complicated topic in a book that is at once scholarly, accessible and practical. His writing is lucid, warm, engaging and not at all dry.

The introduction describes how the book is organized and presents the sections into which the main text is divided. These sections are "Ogamlore," in which Mountfort presents the historical and folkloric background of the Ogam; "Ogamfews," which contains the actual Ogams and descriptions; and "Ogamcasting," a guide to using Ogams for divination and spiritual work.

In the "Ogamfews" section, Mountfort outlines each letter of the tree alphabet, providing both the symbol and a symbolic word, the name and translation, variants on the names, the botanical name and translation, the tree's "status" and sound. Next, he offers elaborations and word Ogams on the name, then offers a visualization, an analysis of the meanings of the Ogam that are also distilled into keywords, natural characteristics, storylines featuring the tree (or plant) and a section on related folklore and magic.

This impeccable organization allows the reader to access as much or as little information as one needs or wants. Furthermore, Mountfort's overall approach is not that there is only one way to cast Ogams or even create a set for oneself; rather, one should follow the way that seems to suit best. This down-to-earth practicality is refreshing and welcome.

Mountfort also includes a pronunciation guide, a thorough bibliography, endnote references and an index to the tree letters. The only thing lacking is a cross-referenced index.

Even if one is not given to divination, there is much to explore in Ogam, the Celtic Oracle of the Trees, and it is a worthwhile reference for anyone interested in Celtic lore and mythology.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 31 January 2004

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