Saturday, April 22, 2017

Runes 302 - Interviews - Kelley Harrell

I am especially pleased to share with you an interview with Kelley Harrell, owner of Soul Intent Arts.  Kelley has been sharing her rune work with me (and many of you) for at least five years, though her practice extends well beyond that.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her a little bit better.  I know I did.

How did you discover the Runes?
I read about them in 8th grade literature, like so many of my generation did.  I was introduced to the Elder Futhark as living items of power by a friend when I was 19.  It was love at first cast.

How long have you been working with them?  How do you use them?
I started working with the Elder Futhark enthusiastically at 19 years old.  I worked with the runes for years, though the resources that were available were very limited and very limiting.  I felt connected to the staves, though not to any interpretation of them that I read.  I thought that meant I was doing something wrong, so I walked away form them as a formal study for a few years.  They popped up in my mind and life, continually, so when I decided to commit to the staves and forgo texts on them, everything came alive.  I'm so glad there are better resources of them now.

What is your favorite way to connect with the Runes?
My path is animistic and shamanic, so asking the spirit of the stave I'm working with to step into my form is very powerful.  I find that embodying them is more sustaining and informing on personal needs than using them in a more traditional divinatory way.  For me, divination isn't about predicting outcomes, rather it's about gathering as much insight as possible about present dynamics, so I can make more informed decisions about how I go forward.  When I hold an intention in mind and embody the stave, I feel its counsel on how to hold my awareness.  It gives me a focus to sustain throughout whatever I need.

How do you use the Rues in your everyday life?  For guidance?  To guide others?
I find that I use them differently for self, as opposed to using them on behalf of others.  For personal use, I connect with them best through galdr, one at a time, and shapeshifting with them as I noted before (in the previous question).  When I work with another person, I ask Heimdallr to oversee the session and give him and the runes access to my awareness, so that when I draw runes for the person, I feel the needed connection to each one as I touch it.  I see the story it wants to relate to the intention that was set forward.  The hardest part of working with others using runes is that they don't sugar coat anything and they are more about giving a perspective on the intention, rather than dictating how to go forward in the intention.

Is there one experience that you've had with the Runes that was especially rewarding, engaging, moving or unexpected?  Will you share it with us?
It wasn't a singular experience, rather a life dynamic that persisted about a year and a half.  I worked with the runes frequently to understand the various currents that were happening during this really difficult time.  I asked them for insight about the true intentions, the best focus I could hold at specific points of the progression, the best focus to take into various meetings, the best way to deal with specific people involved.  Prior to this dynamic, I went tot he runes for insight about diverse needs, usually immediate in timing and short-lived involvements.  There was no longevity to watch how the insights would play out.  This particular dynamic lasted so long and provided such detailed insights over a continuum, I came away even ore convinced of the power of the runes.

The runes were frank, as they always are, though they warned me about hidden motives, things that weren't at all evident in the face-to-face interactions, but became evident as things progressed.  They informed me that the direction was going away from the intended focus of the dynamic.  I truly felt more informed going into meetings because of what the runes taught me along the way.  I sustained my relationship with them as part of a difficult time and they helped me stand in my power throughout it.  They didn't change the outcome; they changed me and how I interacted with the whole ordeal.

What else would you like to share with us about your work with the Runes?
I undervalued the runes for a long time.  Though they spoke to me immediately upon meeting them, I didn't realize their value through everyday life until I committed to them, so to speak.  In shamanism, everything is about direct relationship and that been no less true about the runes.  I really do take them everywhere with me.

Thank you, Kelley, for taking the time to share with us.

Kelley's Bio
Kelley is the author of Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism, Gift of the Dreamtime, and several other books.  Her shamanic practice is Soul Intent Arts, through which she mentors others on the path of modern shaman.  She has written The Weekly Rune, since 2012.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Runes 402 - Rune Dialogues - Equinox and Managing Balance

Since January, many people have contacted me to say that they cannot seem to find their equilibrium.  The passing of the equinox on Monday gave me pause and for perhaps the first time, I really contemplated balance and whether or not it can be attained and, if achieved, how it can be managed.  I decided to consult the Runes on the matter to see what insight they could offer to help me think this through.

My first question was whether such a thing as balance exists in life and the Runes gave me Gebo, which suggests that balance in life is a gift.

Me:  So balance is possible.  What is the secret to achieving it?  And, can it be maintained?

Runes:  Achieving balance requires work and Berkana signals the beginning of that effort.

Me:  How does one begin?

Runes:  It is a process.  Thurisaz reminds you that you have to be strong and focus your energy on this, but Perthro also reminds you that you cannot do it alone.  Do not be so rigid.  Forcing structure into your life is not that same as finding balance.

Me:  So, you're suggesting baby steps?

Runes:  You chose Sowilo as your Rune for this year.  It is a strong supporter of balance.  This is the first step - feminine qualities, self care.  In order to be successful, it is Sowilo that will see you through, provide comfort during those times when your attempt to find or maintain balance fall to the wayside.

Me:  Doesn't Sowilo stand in contrast to Thurisaz?

Runes:  Where the contrasts meet is where balance lies.  You are doing this for yourself, so Algiz represents a form of protection; do what is within your means.  If you extend yourself to far, you will lose your balance.

Me:  Thank you for that clarification.  You also mentioned that balance cannot be accomplished on your own.  Can you elaborate on that?

Runes:  Just as Dagaz shines light on problems and fears and makes them easier to manage and overcome, so do loved ones when you are in distress (and that includes feeling out of balance).  This also means that, occasionally, you will fall out of balance.  Balance is not a constant; it is cyclical at best, but finding and managing it as best you can will empower you and help you progress.

Me:  I see.  Thank you for explaining that piece.  So, once we find balance, will we or how can we manage it?

Runes:  It sounds contradictory, but managing the cycle of balance requires commitment.  Tiwaz explains that.  Tyr made a commitment to saving the gods and goddesses from Fenrir the wolf and that commitment required a sacrifice.

Me:  So, we must be sacrificed if we are to commit truly to finding and properly managing balance in our lives?

Runes:  You cannot think of a sacrifice as a bad thing.  Tyr's sacrifice was small in comparison to what it saved.  It is less about sacrifice and more about commitment.  Ehwaz demonstrates the complexity of commitment. It is a symbol of the horse and represents loyalty, teamwork, relationships, and even ways of moving through life's journey.  All of these things require commitment to flourish, but they also offer rewards for the commitment that you make.

Me:  Thank you for your insight and wisdom.  Recognizing balance as cyclical is important in managing those times when life feels out of balance.  So too is realizing that we are not alone and that we must do manageable things to get back on track.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Runes 102 - Book Reviews - Icelandic Magic
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.