Ogma is an important character in Irish Celtic mythology, an important god in Irish Celtic religion, and an important force in Neopagan Celtic religions of today. The first writing system they had was due to him, and he was also an important part of several of the major mythological battles in Celtic lore.
HOW OGMA WAS HONORED IN ANCIENT TIMES
Ogma seems to have often been seen as part of a triad with Lugh and the Dagda, though he’s also been worshipped seperately.
Ogma is also important, because he is supposedly the originator of the language of Ogham, the first written language of Ireland, one which uses very basic designs to convey meaning. Ogham sticks were made out of various kinds of tree branches and then, according to many stories from Ireland, cast to divine news about what would be going on in the world.
OGMA IN MYTHOLOGY
Ogma is seen a lot in the mythology of the Irish Celts. He is found both in the “First Battle of Magh Tuiredh” and in the “Cath Magh Tuiredh” which overlaps part of the first battle. During the course of this bit of mythology, Ogma helps the Tuatha de Danaan retake the island of Eirinn, or Ireland, from the Fir Bolg who are attempting to settle there.
People can also find this god in a later part of the mythological cycle about how the island of Ireland was taken. It’s said in this later section that the daughters of Ogma, named Eire, Fotla and Banba were promised that the one of them who could predict the future of the Tuatha de Danaan on Ireland would have the land named for her. Another variant of this says that each of them met with the bard Amergin, who’s known to be a real person and who came to Ireland with the sons of the Mil from the Iberian Peninsula. Amergin, author of the famous poem that reads like a riddle, apparently offered the naming of the isle to each of them and Eire won the honor of having her name be forever remembered as the name for the land.
People today still cast Ogham sticks for divining, and learn to write in Ogham, especially among modern druid organizations. This is very popular among the Neopagans, who want to try and get as close to the “old ways” as possible. Many organizations, websites and books teach how to make a set of Ogham sticks for yourself, and it’s recommended that if you want to use them you should do so. I have actually never seen a set of them sold in a store, even though tarot and runes are sold by the dozen!
Another way that Ogma is honored today is by the bards or the filid, since he is considered to be the “father of language.” You might pray to him or offer a sacrifice of a poem or story, or maybe you could sing to him via an altar.