Tinne - Holly || Learning Ogham

Next up on our ogham journey is Tinne. 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

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In our Ogham journey, Tinne is the third letter in the second aicme. It is generally thought to be pronounced as “Tihn-nyeh” and the literal translation of the word is ingot. Yes, that’s ingot like a piece of metal in smithing. This ogham fíd is heavily tied to all things that require skill, hence the keyword given is Mastery.

In ancient Celtic societies, metal was very valuable. It was so valuable, in fact, that ingots (or metal bars) were known to be used as currency. The metal held great value in what it was but also what it could be turned into. This gives Tinne the connection with the ideas of value and wealth as well as creativity and craftsmanship.

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

  • trian roith - a third of a wheel, one of three parts of a wheel, i.e. axle
  • smuir gúaile - fires of coal, i.e. iron, marrow of charcoal, i.e. molten ingot
  • trian n-airm - a third of a weapon, one of three parts of a weapon, i.e. a bar of iron or metal blade

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

Smir guaili, fires of coal, that is holly. Hence for its cognate, Ogham letter, i.e., tinne, t, for tindi is a name for holly.

The Ogham Tract

The word oghams connects the meaning of the fíd with the divinatory messages and magical uses we may find in them. There are actually two trees associated with Tinne depending on who you ask. They are both holly and elder. Erynn Rowan Laurie says that elder would make more sense because of the translation of Elder into Irish and the connection with the word Tinne. However, I will be using the holly tree as the connection for Tinne because that is the most common in modern literature.

The Holly Tree

The evergreen Holly tree is native to Ireland and is often seen forming a natural shrub layer of some of Ireland’s oldest wooded areas. The bright red berries of the Holly tree make it pleasant to look at and it is often used as a decorative tree. They are very slow-growing, though, and can provide dense boundaries wherever they are planted.

Both male and female trees produce flowers, but only female trees produce berries. They can also survive in some fairly harsh conditions. Historically, the wood of the Holly tree may have been used for weapons. However, they are more associated with bad luck than anything else.

Holly is named cuileann in Irish. In County Tyrone, to plant a holly near the house was a sign that the daughters of that house would never marry or bear children. Spears or darts were often made of holly in folktales and the literary tradition, and chariot poles were cut from holly trees. Its berries, bright red, may have been associated with blood, and in Irish lore it is sometimes associated with severed heads.

Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie; pg. 87

In Divination

As with the other ogham feda, there are many associates with Tinne for divination. It is interesting that a tree or shrub historically associated with bad luck is also connected to craftsmanship and mastery of skills.

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

  • skill
  • money and abundance
  • urgency
  • technology
  • transformation
  • artistic creativity
  • craftsmanship
  • master of skill
  • value and worth

In magic and witchcraft, Tinne can be used for all manner of creative efforts. If you are using a creative skill, Tinne can help you with your craftsmanship to ensure your project turns out well. If you are suffering from a period of creative block, Tinne may help you break free from your stagnation and inspire creativity. It can also be utilized during the study of any skill that requires the use of your hands or for magic involving technology and the online space.

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…

How do I express my creativity? What is my relationship with work and prosperity?

A Personal Note

Despite having a spiritual connection with creativity and the fire of the forge, I do not feel that connected to Tinne at all. I am not sure if it is because I have not worked with Tinne often or if it is because I rarely seek mastery in my skills. Either way, this is a fíd I need to work with more in my practice.

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Sources and Further Reading

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


Very interesting I do enjoy this post. :green_heart:


I’m glad you enjoy it! :yellow_heart: It’s funny because, with some of the ogham fíd such as Beith and n-Gétal, I feel a connection to them. With Tinne? Not so much :sweat_smile: I’m not sure why that is but one day I’ll explore that!


I feel the same with the runes, certain ones I use daily, others never :grin:


Love these, thank you for continuing them!!


Now that I have the physical copy of Weaving Word Wisdom, I need to make space and time to sit down and read through the book itself instead of just learning about the different feda :laughing: I’m sure that would help!

Of course! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I’m trying to make sure I make a new post at least once every week or two. Otherwise, I just forget all about them!