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Reasonably Good but...,
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This review is from: Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom (Paperback)
This is a reasonably well researched book on the ogam and provides more than average information on the Ogam.
However in criticism of the book: the authors makes it clear that she is into Celtic Reconstruction and not the so called fabrications of other authors - with very critical comments about other respected authors in the field such as Robert Graves, the Matthews etc. Whilst claiming others have written information which is near fabrication or perhaps personal interpretation and slating them for it, the author then goes on to do exactly the same... UM...
The best part of book refers to the Ogam and it is true that she goes to the Scholars Primer by Calder the translation of an original Irish source document for the Ogam. This in itself is interesting, but some of the interpretations made are highly personal - nothing wrong with this as the author states she is doing this anyway. But you will find that particular ogams interpretation are vastly at variance with other authors yet the author is to be commended for doing so... I will give examples shwoing what I mean
- The exploration of U-ath (usually the Hawthorn ogam) is excellent and scholarly and indeed does refer back to calders meaning.
- But when it comes the Edad ogam (usually aspen or poplar) she refers it to the Amanita mushroom ?? This is not mentioned in the scholars primer at all and therefore reinforces my point made in the initial paragraph of the review.
- Another example is the Elder ogam - the correspondances for that are completed way off if you compare it with other books whilst at other times for example the Straif ogam as sulphur tallies up with Calder.
I would say this is an advanced work on the ogam however if you are new to studying the Ogam in depth, I would say - first read a simple book on ogam, read caulders scholars primer translation and then read this book - to see exactly what the author has done. Yes it does refer back to caulder and others sources but only partially and selectively at the authors whims.
The author also includes music notes for the ogam which is interesting to see, however I found the association of the ogams to planetary bodies (that ancient celts or druids could not have even seen without a telescope eg Pallas, Chiron etc) quite ridiculous, the author is attempting to expand its correspondances, whilst interesting from the intellectual point of view, I fail to see the point. However if this is such an accurate reconstruction of the Ogam why does the author not mention the differences between the BLF and BLN forms of the ogam ? (she uses BLF as do most modern books).
There are some interesting rituals and divination spreads in the latter part of the book, as well as some material on fions shield and the three cauldrons.
The author clearly knows a great deal about the ogam - but the books falls short in that it appears to try to be more clever than it really is. It does contain good references however and a reasonably good pronounciation guide to gaelic terms used in the text - which is needed as the author tends to overuse gaelic terms, as if non-speakers should be learning the language..
And I would put no stock at all in the recommendations by those on the outer cover and forewords... I detected quite an anti Neopagan Druid order and anti-European author tone unless they came out of deepest darkest Ireland... which I guess is CR ! Yes people make assumptions about the ancient celtic systems of magic but at the same time making assumptions that those assumptions are wrong or unfounded - may not be true in themselves because they are assumptions as well. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
I would recommend it however, for its refreshing look at the ogam, but at the same time have to mark it down for the above reasons. It worth a look and a buy.