The Feige Find is a graphic representation of the Celtic underworld. It comes from the Book of Ballymote, circa 1390 C.E. In it multilple books are combined among others also Lebor Ogaim (“The Book of Ogams”), also known as the Ogam Tract, is an Old Irish treatise on the ogham alphabet. The Ogham Tract is independent of the Auraicept, and is our main source for the Bríatharogaim. The Ogam Tract also gives a variety of some 100 “scales” of variant or secret modes of writing ogham (92 in the Book of Ballymote), for example the “shield ogham” (ogam airenach, nr. 73). Even the Younger Futhark are introduced as “Viking ogham” (nrs. 91, 92). Some of these are word lists based on the alphabet, and some seem to involve a numerical system of tallying.
The letter names are interpreted as names of trees or shrubs in manuscript tradition, both in Auraicept na n-Éces (‘The Scholars’ Primer’) and In Lebor Ogaim (‘The Ogam Tract’). They were first discussed in modern times by Roderic O’Flaherty (1685), who took them at face value. The Auraicept itself is aware that not all names are known tree names, saying “Now all these are wood names such as are found in the Ogham Book of Woods, and are not derived from men”, admitting that “some of these trees are not known today”. The Auraicept gives a short phrase or kenning for each letter, known as a Bríatharogam, that traditionally accompanied each letter name, and a further gloss explaining their meanings and identifying the tree or plant linked to each letter. Only five of the twenty primary letters have tree names that the Auraicept considers comprehensible without further glosses, namely beith “birch”, fearn “alder”, saille “willow”, duir “oak” and coll “hazel”. All the other names have to be glossed or “translated” with a plant name.
The training of the Gaelic poet or file involved learning one hundred and fifty varieties of ogham – fifty in each of the first three years of study, and it is clear that most of these are the varieties given in The Ogam Tract. This can be seen them as evidence of ogham’s cryptic nature, and as serious examples of how the alphabet was used for secret communication.
The Book of Ballymore, or In Lebor Ogaim (“The Book of Ogams“), also known as the Ogam Tract, is an Old Irish treatise on the ogham alphabet. The Feige Find (also sometimes spelled as ‘fege’), or Fionn’s Window, contains the five groups of five letters of the Ogham, in five circles.
The word fege means a ridgepole used to hold up a house’s roof. The arrangement of the ogham alphabet in this manner is probably meant to invoke the image of a circular Iron Age house. The alphabet is named after Fionn mac Cumhaill.
The Feige Find is sometimes referred to as ‘Fionn’s Window,’ or ‘Fionn’s Wheel,’ after the Master Bard Fionn, who was said to have been trained by the Druid Finnéigeas. Since it symbolically incorporates the trees and plants, the stars, the moons, and divination, it represents the source of all knowledge.
|The ogham letters|
|Aicme Beithe||Aicme Muine|
|Aicme hÚatha||Aicme Ailme|