According to research these extra letters were added some time after the original were in use, probably around the 4th to sixth century. They seem to have been around in medieval times where they were being used as a magical alphabet, rather than land marking devices. It is for this reason that I have chosen to include them as a legitimate part of the alphabet, but the truth of these letters may never be known. They have presented a challenge to many researchers and a great riddle of mythological and magical contemplation.
Robert Graves (The White Goddess) would have us believe that poets or Bards used the alphabet as a secret code, which was not just written on stone or wood but signed like deaf and dumb language between Druids, Ovates and Bards. Graves’ approach to the Ogham is from a poetic perspective but he barely mentions the Forfeda in the White Goddess.
In another of his books “The Crane Bag and Other Disputed Subjects” there is however, a short essay on the Forfeda connecting it to the legend of a crane bag and Manannan – God of the Sea. A crane bag is a medicine bag which shamans and Druids use to hold their sacred power objects.
There are many wonderful Celtic myths in which Manannan appears – but he was said to have strong ties with the Isle of Man. Manannan Mac Lir was the legendary sea-god of the Tuatha de Danann. (People who lived in Ireland during the Bronze Age.) The Tuatha de Danann believed that Manannan was connected through mists with the other worlds, where the souls journeyed in the after-life. He was also said to have been associated with a ‘cauldron of regeneration.” He plays a powerful role in the cycle of life and death.
He is said to have had in his possession many magical things, which he kept in this crane bag: language, birds, hounds and a very magical pig which provides food the the gods and then regenerates each day. A magical goblet of truth, a flaming helmet and a sward named Fragarach and a breast-plate which could not be pierced. He also had a magical boat called ‘wave sweeper’ which sailed without sails and a horse called ‘Enbarr of the flowing mane’ which could travel over water just as easily as over land. He was a master of tricks and illusions. Graves gives his own interpretation of the said contents of the crane bag and associates them with the diphthongs – or extra letters.
Spindle : OI or OE The King of Lochlainne’s Helmet
Honeysuckle : Ui or UA The bones of the Whale
Gooseberry: IA or IO The bones of Assels swine
Beech: ae The shirt of Manannan
Guelder Rose: Pe Language, learning, books
There are various different listings of these Extra letters which can prove to be quite confusing and contradictory, but I have used those chosen by the Order of Ovates Bards and Druids who lists them is as follows, I have faith in the Orders research team to have presented the most authentic representation of their ancestral religion. Meanings and explanations of the final five letters coming soon. © Jyoti Eagles – Druid Priestess