Next up on our ogham journey is Nin. 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
I also have a video explaining the origin story of ogham that you can watch here: https://youtu.be/CWEm2pcAFc8
Nin (nin) is the fifth fíd in the ogham alphabet. It is associated with the Ash Tree of Ireland. It’s also associated with nettles, so you may see the two trees used interchangeably. The origin of the word itself, nin, is unclear. One scholar, McManus, suggests that the word letters generally and “a letter” specifically. It may also refer to part of a weaver’s loom. In this regard, this fíd embodies the keyword given to it: connection. Nin is about weaving, both in a literal sense and a metaphorical one. It is the weaving of a fabric tapestry, yet it is also the weaving of letters together for words and contracts. According to The Tree Council of Ireland, the Ash tree is one of the most common trees in Ireland’s hedgerows. It requires neutral soil for good growth, much like good communication requires neutral ground and level heads.
In ancient times, weaving was considered women’s work. With this association, nin can be seen as a fíd of femininity and female empowerment. So much of ancient work is women’s work, the “forgotten” aspects of history that happened while the men were away hunting and fighting their wars. Taking care of homes, raising children, and weaving cloth and words for communication are the forgotten backbones of many villages. Nin also denotes a sense of community connection and support. When the structural fibers that hold a community together fray, the strength of that community suffers. Community, in this sense, includes both the small communities of immediate family as well as larger communities of towns, villages, and chosen communities.
According to Weaving Word Wisdom, there are three word oghams associated with nin. They are as follows.
- sotud side - checking of peace, establishing of peace, weaving of silk
- bág ban - fight of women (the weaver’s beam), boast of women, contest of women
- bág maise - contest of beauty, boast of beauty
We can read part of these word oghams from The Ogham Tract.
Cosdad sida, checking of peace, that is nin, ash, n: it is the maw of a weaver’s beam as applied to wood: a sign of peace is that. A checking of peace with him is that from the ash of the weaver’s beam.
This is where we get the connection with women and women’s work, whatever that may be. It is important to remember that women’s work in ancient times may not be what women’s work is now, especially with the changes in today’s view of gender roles. However, I think nin can still connect to whatever women’s work is for you, if you choose to make that connection.
It is important to learn about the tree itself, because the tree and its uses can help us make connections with the meaning of the fíd for divination purposes. As I mentioned above, the Ash tree is one of the most common hedgerow trees found in Ireland. Interestingly, both spears and looms were made of wood from the Ash tree, bringing the connection back to weaving and warriors. Nettle is also associated with this fíd, and not surprisingly, nettle was also used for weaving in Ireland and Scotland. It was not used as commonly as other fibers, but that connection is still there.
The Ash tree requires well-drained soil - not too wet and not too dry. It also requires a neutral soil with no acid. This brings to mind the requirements for good community and support. Everything should be balanced. Communication should be open and honest, and the community members should work together for the benefit of the community at large. In these conditions, the Ash tree (and the community) will flourish.
At a basic level, nin is the weaving together of concepts, people, or other things. It is the creation of cloth and the weaving together of the skin of a wound stitched together. It is bringing together and practices, supportive threads and fibers of strength, peace, and love. Nin is networking in all aspects, groups of people coming together under a common theme, whether that be family, work, or volunteer work. It is parties of both fun and war, celebrations of life, honoring death, and the hard work of those who deserve it. This fíd encompasses clarity in communication because words woven together with intent and purpose have a clear reason.
Here are some keywords I’ve come up with in my studies for Nin in regard to divination.
- community involvement
- letters, both individual letters and written letters for communication
- women’s empowerment
- safety nets
In a magical sense, this fíd can be used for weaving in all senses of the word. Knitting together the qualms of community, healing broken bones and sickness, and working with vision – the tip of the iceberg with using nin in magickal workings. It is also a useful fíd for bringing peace to any situation, helping calm passionate arguments, and bringing resolutions to disagreements.
At the end of every fíd in her book, Erynn has questions and linked concepts to think about for each one. For nin, she writes the following…
What are my obligations? How am I related to others?
I have yet to use nin in magickal workings, but I do know how helpful it can be. As a fíd of peace and community, it is one that I am personally holding on to for situations that call for peace.
Screenshot from Wikipedia