h-Úath - Hawthorn || Learning Ogham

Next up on our ogham journey is h-Úath. Not sure what ogham is? Here is a quick refresh…

Ogham is an ancient Irish inscription alphabet that was used to inscribe headstones and other important markers. In mythology, it was created by the God Ogma (OH-muh) to warn Lugh about a plot to steal his wife. Today, Ogham is used in magic and divination.

If you want to learn more about what ogham is in general, I wrote about that here: Irish Tree Language - The Ogham :evergreen_tree:

I also have a video explaining the origin story of ogham that you can watch here: https://youtu.be/CWEm2pcAFc8

Image Source

h-Úath, pronounced “hoo-ah” or “oo-ah”, is the first fíd of the second aicme in the Ogham alphabet. With a literal translation of “terror”, h-Úath is one of the ogham fíd that many find daunting. The appearance of h-Úath in a reading can herald anything from night terrors to emotional despair and everything in between. It is also connected with a tree, Hawthorn, that was used by the Irish Filid for cursing and malevolent magic. According to Erynn Rowan Laurie, the Hawthorn tree may be associated with cursing and death because of the blossoms of some varieties smelling like rotting flesh.

Erynn Rowan Laurie also states that Hawthorn trees often grow on sídhe mounds, connecting them with the Othercrowd and the unknown. For this reason, Hawthorn trees are rarely cut down and the blossoms were never brought inside unless it was Bealtaine. In this regard, we see the Hawthorn’s connection with protection magic. It truly is a tree of two sides.

According to Weaving Word Wisdom, there are three word oghams associated with h-Úath. They are as follows.

  • condál cúan - pack of wolves
  • bánad gnúise - blanching of faces
  • ansam aidche - most difficult at night

We can read part of these word oghams from The Ogham Tract.

Conal cuan, pack of wolves, that is uath, thorn h, for a terror to any one is a pack of wolves. Conal cuan said of the Ogham h, owing to the affinity of the name, for they are a thorn, in the same way.

The Ogham Tract

The word ogham condál cúan, pack of wolves, immediately brings to mind the protection and terror associated with h-Úath. Wolves are pack animals and will do what is necessary to protect those in their pack. This is a vital component of wolf behavior and it can be a terror to witness if you are on the other end of that protection. Wolves are beautiful creatures, but they are also wild animals with dangerous capabilities. It is important to remember that, too.

The Hawthorn Tree

As I mentioned above, the Hawthorn tree often grows on sídhe mounds. This connects the tree with the Othercrowd and the Otherworld. If I dare say so, it makes the tree itself a liminal place. From a practical perspective, Hawthorn is used as a hedgerow, protecting land and drawing boundaries in the physical world. According to The Tree Council of Ireland, only untrimmed Hawthorn trees can blossom and fruit. Otherwise, it is necessary to keep them trimmed back for hardiness. However, even the oldest of Hawthorn hedges will regenerate if given the proper care and treatment.

In Irish lore, the Hawthorn tree is associated with a curse known as glám dícenn.

…where seven Filid stood on a hilltop beneath a thorn tree at the juncture of seven territories reciting poems appropriate to their grade; in one hand they held a stone and in the other the thorn from a hawthorn tree…

Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie

She goes on to explain that several translations of this glám dícenn have the Filid reciting satire against a person and then piercing a poppet of the person with the thorns of the Hawthorn tree.

For cultural context on the satire, please see the following quote.

Praise and satire were powerful tools in early Irish literature, feared by those in power. Satire was perceived as a demonic power and could physically harm those who were satirized. The effect of a poet’s satire was so great that it is still feared in Ireland to this day. In ancient Ireland, only noblemen were allowed to travel beyond the borders of their tuath without permission, such was the fear of satire.

The Old Religion and the Druids: Lifting the Veil on the Mysterious Priests of Early Ireland

In Divination

The keyword associated with h-Úath is misfortune. While the literal translation of the word is terror, misfortune covers the divinatory meaning much better. This is not a fíd to take lightly, and the meaning may change depending on the situation or other fíd around it. In ritual, pulling h-Úath may represent a hard no from your deities, especially if you asked a question or gave an offering.

In other readings, h-Úath may be an indication that you are going in the wrong direction. It is not just an indication, though. It is a hard stop - you will be forced to turn around and go in a different direction. It is also a fíd of bad luck. It is inescapable - bad luck is something we all have to deal with in life. We may try to avoid it to the best of our ability, but pulling h-Úath for a reading is a warning to be strong in the face of your challenges.

h-Úath may also show up in a reading as a warning to protect what is important to you. It is a reminder to put up physical barriers where necessary, and emotional boundaries where you are able. Someone or something may be trying to force their way through your protections and energy - guard yourself.

Here are some keywords I’ve come up with in my studies for h-Úath regarding divination.

  • terror
  • bad luck
  • no
  • protect your loved ones
  • pack mentality
  • fears, either real or imagined
  • anxiety and worry

In a magical sense, this fíd can be useful. However, Erynn Rowan Laurie recommends working with h-Úath only after extensive study and connection with the fíd because it may come back to stab you. If you want to work with h-Úath magically, it can be helpful for cursing and baneful magic. This fíd may also help stab through anxiety and depression, though it must be done so very carefully.

At the end of every fíd in her book, Erynn has questions and linked concepts to think about for each one. For h-Úath, she writes the following…

Where do my fears hold me back? How do my fears protect me?

A Personal Note

I have never personally worked with h-Úath but it is a fíd I am familiar with. When I pull this fíd in a reading, I am immediately on guard. I know it is h-Úath without looking up the letter because the energy attached to this fíd is distinct. I hope I never have to use h-Úath for its baneful connection, but it is there if I ever need it and that is comforting.


Screenshot from Wikipedia

Sources and Further Reading

Celtic Ogham Symbols and Their Meanings
The Ogham Tract
– [1] Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie


Crazy that I was just thinking about my ogham staves yesterday. Yes they still are uncarved :laughing: I really need to just do a couple at a time so I forced myself to get them done. It’s silly, I’m excited about them but i keep getting distracted by other new projects and old chores.

Thank you for (continuing to) doing these! I love all the information and print them for my BoS.


haha I remember you’ve been wanting to carve them for a while now! Maybe you could go one at a time while you study it - start from the beginning! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

You’re welcome! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I know it’s taking me a long time to get through each of them, but I’m going when I can lol I’m glad they’re helpful!


I have never heard of this before. This was a very informative, interesting read! Thank you so much @MeganB for bringing this to light for me. I’m going to have to add this to my list of studies.


You’re welcome, @Mystique :blush: happy to help!


Oh now that’s a great idea!!! :thinking: Ok plan is now to get the first one done this week. I can do that! (I hope :laughing:)


haha you can do it! I have complete faith in you! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


While reading, I was reminded of the oriental treat haw flakes: dried hawthorn berries and sugar pressed into lozenges. They are difficult to find in America, but they are truly a treat. The difficulty may be an ancestral memory of the ogham.


I’ve never heard of those! They look interesting :thinking: