Saturday, February 18, 2017

Runes 102 - Book Reviews - Icelandic Magic


https://www.amazon.com/Icelandic-Magic-Practical-Northern-Grimoires/dp/1620554054
Icelandic Magic: Practical Secrets of the Northern Grimoires, by Stephen Flowers, left me wanting more, but not for the reasons you might think.  The book is divided into two parts.  The first part provided a backdrop into which Icelandic magic occurred and it was informative.  But, it was the second part (beginning with chapter 9),which is supposed to be "a unique book of magic in the traditional Icelandic form", that I felt was lacking guidance and that is where I really wanted more.

In Part One, Flowers provides an overview of the world in which Icelandic magic developed and existed.  He covers some chronology and includes information on how Christian and southern magical influences played roles in it as well.  It was interesting to see how they merged in many regards; for example, he talks about a medieval Rune stick (yes, carved in Runes) that uses "a Christian magical formula to allow for easy childbirth".  Even though the words were carved in Runes, the words themselves were Latin and talked about Christ, Elizabeth who gave birth to John the Baptiste, and the Lord.  Flowers also notes that single spells included references to Norse gods and goddesses, alongside the Christian god and Christian demons.

During his chronology, he highlights a few key Icelandic magicians, all of whom had ties to the church as bishops, vicars or predating Christianity and serving as goði (priest, chieftain) and whom are described in greater detail later.  This leads into a discussion of the Icelandic books of magic, which I felt was the most enlightening pieces of the book.  If you read only one chapter of this book, choose this one.  Although it is just an overview of magic books, it helped to paint a picture of the important historical magic books and their influences.

After this, the book began to get confusing for me, but I thought things would fall into place when I got to chapter 8, which covers preparation and inner work and they begin to.  Flowers claims the outer preparation - setting the ritual space - requires less effort than the inner preparation.  This made sense.  With regard to inner work, he says, "These skills of concentration, visualization, and memorization that are the ones that the ancients took for granted and that modern people almost entirely neglect."  By taking them for granted, he means that the ancients understood that they had to undertake these preparations.  It went without saying.  When we don't do that today, the result is "magical failure".

Chapter 9 is the last chapter before part 2 of the book and it is also where I began to lose interest and feel like I am being deprived of some pivotal information that would help me understand his overview of the process better.  I found many of his explanations lacking and his focus on invoking Odin incomplete.  I confess that I work with the Elder Futhark and acknowledge that the ancient magicians would have used the Younger Futhark, but that is secondary to my ability to understand the process that he lays out in terms of the inner work.  While I understand Odin's role in the Runes, when I invoke a god for Rune work, I choose Heimdall.  So, what does it mean to use another god or even the goddess Freyja and incorporate aspects of seiðr?

The final piece, Part Two - Gray Skin - was really disappointing.  Flowers states that it is a unique book of magic in the traditional Icelandic form and it contains work done in the Rune-Gild, a group that he formed in 1980.  The struggle that I have with this piece is that he doesn't provide a single example as to how these spells were derived or arrived at or how to enact them.  It is that understanding that I need where this book falls short for me.

This book is not the kind of Rune work that I do or am interested in and, with a few exceptions, was not for me.  That doesn't mean that you would not find some benefit in it.  I did find the historical context to be helpful.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Runes 401 - Rune Rituals - A Rune for 2017

Last year, I chose my first Rune for the year - Thurisaz.  For reasons I won't go into here, this Rune turned out to be a wonderful choice and it got me through some very tough and unexpected challenges.  This also prompted me to make choosing a Rune for the year an annual occurrence.

My purpose for choosing an annual Rune is to use its unique and inherent meaning and power as a guide for the next twelve months.  Although I say I choose the Rune, it feels much more like the Rune chooses me.  However, it is my intention and ritual that helps to identify the appropriate Rune.  Whereas last year, I chose my annual Rune under the guise of an individual Rune, and did a three-Rune draw to help me understand how to use Thurisaz's energy, this year, I want to share more of the process or ritual of discovering which Rune will be my annual Rune for 2017.

The ritual is simple, but takes time and a quiet space.  It started off moving rather quickly, but slowed as I went and ended up taking me almost an hour to complete.

If you can do this ritual outside, I would recommend that.  It's too cold outside where I live right now to do that, so I sat in my room on my bed with my Runes spread out in front of me.  Some Runes were easy to remove from consideration, starting with Jera - my guiding Rune always - and Thurisaz because it was my Rune for 2016.  I set aside nine other Runes relatively quickly.  I had no scientific or other reason for removing these Runes other than intuition.  As I ran my hand over the spread of Runes, it was just a sense that caused me to remove these Runes from the process.

There was a second set that I removed because they felt more personal to me.  That is to say that I believe they will serve a more personal and singular issue purpose rather than guiding my overall year.  Allowing my hand to hover over each one several times for as long as a minute, I whittled down my choices even further, removing six more Runes.

At this point, in terms of numbers, I had removed two aetts.  With the remaining eight Runes, I held each one in my hands (resting in my left, covered by my right), closed my eyes and reflected on the Rune's meaning and the sensation I felt from the energy in my hand.  Through this part of the ritual, I discarded five more Runes.

That left me with three, each of which are pretty different from each other - Nauthiz (need, necessity), Eihwaz (yew tree, inner strength), and Sowilo (sun, feminine energy).  I honestly had no idea which one was "the one".  And the ritual became less consistent with regard to deliberating.  I laid them out in a line and moved them around, changing order, and position, trying to determine what story they were telling me.

I grabbed Nauthiz and held it tight in my left hand; squeezing it.  I looked at it in my hand for several minutes, occasionally closing it, and sometimes closing my eyes too.  Nauthiz was not it.  It was not giving off a strong energy, though it did remind me that my annual Rune needs to address a larger need that I have.

Next, I held Eihwaz.  I thought this was going to be the Rune, because I remembered how it helped me avoid a panic attack just over two years ago.  It's ability to keep me calm in the face of a major challenge was stunning.  As I held it in my right hand and wrapped my index finger around its perimeter, I realized Eihwaz is a special Rune for me, but that it already had its very specific place and role for me.

That left Sowilo.  Interlocking my fingers around it as it pressed between my palms, I knew I had arrived at what I need for the coming year.  Sowilo is not a Rune that comes up for me very often, which makes this even more meaningful; it's almost as if it was waiting for this moment in time to reveal its magic to me.  It is especially telling that it comes on the heels of Thurisaz.  Where Thurisaz seems to represent masculine qualities, especially linkages to Thor, Sowilo puts forth feminine energy.  It seems that, at least in part, Sowilo offsets the year of Thurisaz and balances out the two years with a different kind of power.  It is that feminine strength that I will carry forward this year, with qualities of caring, thoughtfulness, and kindness.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Yule Wishes

Whether you celebrate Yule or Christmas or Hanukkah or another holiday at this special time of year, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for reading my blog.

I celebrate multiple holidays between now and the end of December, some with friends and some with family.  But it is Yule, which occurs on the solstice, that is the holiday I link to my spirituality for many reasons.

I did a three-Rune draw for the solstice and want to share it with you along with my best wishes for the coming year!

Please remember that you can always email me if you have any questions or would like your own personal reading.

 The Runes I drew were Laguz, Perthro, and Berkana.  They address the simple question: What Runes will you give me to share for the Solstice?

I like these Runes, because they answer the question as simply as it was asked and lend themselves to moving into the new year in a thoughtful and positive way.  They seem to say relax and enjoy yourself.  Have fun with friends and family and prepare for the new year to begin.  Perhaps, most importantly, in this draw there exists a strong sense of optimism, which I hope we can all carry with us into and throughout the new year.

Laguz has always been a bit perplexing to me, because as the water Rune it represents fluidity and flexibility (go with the flow), but it also beckons the mysteries that lie within the depths of the water, which may also be advice to look deeper into things and into ourselves.  This may be great chance to take some time to reflect, think more about what we want for ourselves and how we might get it, and prepare to go into the new year strong, happy, and committed to your goals.  At the same time, this time of year can be very festive and a good opportunity to enjoy time with friends and family.

I think that is why Laguz is followed by Perthro.  For me, Perthro represents social gatherings, the perfect Rune for this time of year.  It is a time to gather with loved ones, to relax and have fun, play games and eat and drink.  Plus, being with family and friends can provide support to make looking more deeply at our hopes and dreams easier and more productive.

Berkana as the last Rune is quite encouraging too, because it signifies beginnings.  It can represent the fact that a new year is starting and with that new year comes hope and maybe optimism about what we can accomplish in the next twelve months.  It can be a fresh start or a chance to begin again.  How ever you decide to approach 2017, I hope you have a wonderful year!

Remember, the Runes are always here for you!

See you next year.