Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Runes 303 - Rune Art - The Wand

That's right.  I made a wand.  Last year, ebbed and flowed...and swirled...and cascaded over cliffs.  Good moments and bad.  And, I wanted to end the year on an upswing, so...yeah, I made a wand.  It's also why my post is coming in January instead f December, but it was worth the one day delay.

(As with all my artistic endeavors, I acknowledge that I am not a visual artist, but I do like to be creative.)

The wand is made from a piece of lilac bush wood that I cut last spring, just before the bush bloomed.  Lilacs are my favorite flowers and, while I'd love a set of Runes from lilac wood, I've never been able to get a satisfactory-sized piece from which to cut them.  I'm happy with the wand, and it does have six (actually seven) Runes carved into it, which I will get to shortly.

It was pretty easy to make the wand.  I cut it to size and smoothed the ends, then shaved all but the handle.  Next, I burned my first Rune into the handle end - Jera.  Jera, as many of you know, is my guiding Rune, so I wanted it to be at the wand's foundation.  I suppose you could think of it as the wand's core.  The wand shaft was pretty smooth after I removed the bark, so I didn't sand it at all.

With an exacto blade, I carved the simple design into the shaft.  This made the carving/burning easier.  (None of this work was visible int he pictures I took, so I didn't include any.)  The lines on the shaft are to move the energy through the wand and out the tip.  I made four lines following the natural curves of the wand, so they are not perfectly straight.  Using a few different wood-burning tips, I burned the lines.

All that was left was the Runes.  I thought about each one and its placement for quite a while even though I had been mulling over which Runes to carve since I cut the wood from the bush.  I want this wand to help guide me through 2019 and likely a lot farther than that.

I chose Sowilo, the sun, a beacon leading to safe harbor.  I placed it closest to the tip.  Ansuz was next on the same side as Sowilo.  For me it represents my writing, beyond the Rune's instinctive wisdom.  Turing the Rune one quarter, I added Tiwaz, Tyr's Rune.  I have a strong affinity for Tyr and appreciate the three aspects that I feel through his Rune - sacrifice, strategy, and perseverance. Another quarter turn and I burned in Eihwaz to remind me of and call on my inner strength, and Ingwaz for Freyr.  Ingwaz doesn't simply hold fertility, it's the way it feels comfortable to know that you are ready to take the next step in any endeavor.  It tells you that you're ready.  The last Rune was the toughest, but once I chose Kenaz, it felt right.  Kenaz represents the torch, human-made fire and, by extension, human ingenuity and creativity.  Kenaz has come up for me a lot in recent readings, so I felt compelled to see where my own creativity could lead in the coming months.

Runic details on the wand shaft

Once the Runes were carved, I darkened the handle a little bit by rolling the side of a hot wood-burning tip up and down it as I turned it to make the coloring even.  To complete it, I protected the wand with a nontoxic sealant.  And, now it has a place in my sacred space with other my other special items.

I want to note, that while I wrote about the Runes on the wand and why I chose them, for now at least, I will not be using this wand for anything other than ornamentation of my sacred space and a visual reminder of what I want to have guiding me through the coming year and beyond.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Runes 402 - Rune Dialogues - Transitions

Transitions create curves, inclines, bridges,
and crossroads on our life paths
One of the most often asked about situations from people who ask me for readings has to do with transitions.  The largest percentage of transition questions are work or career related, but romance and moving are close seconds with a similar number of inquiries each.

No matter what kind of transition you're going through, it seems there should be a standard set of tools that will help you navigate those transitions and get you through the twists and turns, hills and valleys, and over those dreaded bridges.  That was my line of thinking when I began my latest dialogue with the Runes.

Me:  What tools do we need to help us through transitions?

Runes:  Hagalaz, Raido, Perthro.  Hagalaz serves to remind you that transitions are part of the ongoing process of life.  When they begin, they upset the normal processes that have been in place, but going and getting through them is essential for growth.  Raido reinforces life's journey.  Life is a series of transitions of different duration and intensity.  Perthro offers insight on two fronts to manage transitions.  First, Perthro alludes to challenges, games of chance.  These are key parts and the point of any transition.  Transitions challenge you; transitions provide opportunities to take risks (games of chance).  Second, transitions are easier when you have support.  Perthro speaks directly to support from friends, community.  Don't do it alone if you don't have to...and chances are that you don't.

Me:  This is very helpful.  Can you offer more insight into each?  Being aware of the tools is one thing, but how can we best use them?

Runes:  For Hagalaz, you can find help with Othala, Ansuz, and Thurisaz.  When you face the hail Rune, it is important to remember Othala, for it is fluidity in time.  It represents not only your heritage, but your current family and your legacy.  When these two Runes face off, a lot is determined.  Othala informs how you approach the transition and what you gain or lose by going through it.  Ansuz is simple.  Throughout the transition, communication is vital.  You will gain and use knowledge, and learn lessons.  Growth.  Thurisaz is strength, the power you need to get through.  Call it drive or determination.  Your intention is to not only survive the transition, but thrive.

Me:  That is a lot more depth into how to manage the onset of and get through the transition.  What about Raido?

Runes: Raido is more about navigating when you are in the throes of the transition.  This is when you can use Ehwaz, Laguz, and Gebo.  In this instance, the aspect of Ehwaz that is used is loyalty.  Loyalty is a foundation and, loyalty here is to the intent of the journey.  It means staying true to successfully completing this phase of the journey.  Laguz is another Rune that has two parts that oppose each other, but that are equally important.  You have to know when to relax and go with the flow and when to go into the depths to gain greater understanding, because sometimes its a push and sometimes you just have to ride portions out. That can be hard, but Gebo's gifts can come from unexpected places.  A challenge successfully met is a gift.  The underlying message in Gebo is to look for the positive and build on that.

Me:  That is important guidance for managing the twists and turns and even the unexpected when going through a transition.  And Perthro?  What deeper information can you give us on that?

Runes:  I give you Wunjo, Jera, and once again, Ehwaz.  As always, the ultimate goal is joy - Wunjo.  When you go through a transition, you do it either for the joy that awaits on the other side, essentially because going through the transition is going to make you happy, or because you hope to find joy somewhere along the way.  In the case of the latter, sometimes the best first step is the perspective that Gebo offered with Raido.  A challenge, which is part of Perthro, that is a real struggle usually turns out making us feel a lot better in the end.  Jera is always a good Rune to have.  It serves as a gentle reminder that everything is a process.  How do we get to a bountiful harvest?  Sometimes things are sunshine and butterflies and sometimes you have to spread a lot of manure (and not the deceitful bullshit kind, but rather the actual get your hands dirty, smell it in the air stink kind).  Things aren't always going to be easy, but if you do what needs to be done for good or bad, and don't try to cut corners, it will be worth it.  And, last is Ehwaz.  In this position, we focus on partnership and relationship, even the teamwork aspect of Ehwaz and transitions.  As much as you might think you're doing something alone, you don't live in a vacuum.  What you do affects and impacts others in ways you may not realize, so when you're going around a particularly sharp bend or up an steep incline, remember, you are not or do not have to be alone.  There is always someone there who will help.

Me:  Thank you for this wonderful advice.  Jera reminded me that sometimes transitions take longer than we expect, but we have many tools at our disposal to manage them.  So, whether we are dealing with romance or trying to decide our next career move, we should take stock in those tools and utilize them as best as we can.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Runes 102 - Book Reviews - Runic Book of Days

There are few books that I think hit the mark better than S. Kelley Harrell's Runic Book of Days.  With the exception of wanting a little more history about runic calendars, a point I realize is personal preference, I thought the book moved pretty seamlessly from topic to topic.

In her introduction, Harrell makes a few important remarks and states what she believes this book will do for her readers.  Her approach makes the book feel more comfortable.  "I'm not interested in preaching a method on how to use the runes.  I'm also not going to present my perspective as if it's the gospel according to Freya."  This is important, because she also states that she doesn't believe that anyone knows the original context or rune usage with certainty.  I agree, and Harrell is consistent in regularly telling her readers to explore and do what feels right and what works for them.

Harrell divides the book into two main parts - Engaging the Runes and Living the Runes.  In discussing engaging the Runes, she offers a brief, but thoughtful overview of the history and origin of the Runes with equal time on their more academic beginnings as an alphabet and their mythological story through Odin and the Nine Worlds.  Harrell also makes the point that, "A detailed knowledge of Old Norse history isn't required to study the runes, though it helps tremendously."  Some understanding of the culture in which Runes were derived gives deeper meaning to their engagement.

Chapter two in Harrell's Engaging the Runes section provides a variety of ways to use the Runes, from tools to ways of reading, and galdr methods.  It's a good overview and reiterates her point about doing what works for you.  She concludes the chapter by talking about the aetts.  After so many years engaging the Runes, I am still hesitant to assign the aetts to a particular god, but there is some common practice there and Harrell's explanations are well-linked to her intention in her practice and creates a strong thread within the book.

Getting into the staves (individual Runes) in chapter three, Harrell touches on an important aspect of their meaning, that its direct translation is rudimentary and the indirect translation stems from cultural and timing issues.  "The indirect translations focus on how we experience the literal translation..."  This may be why her detailed interpretations of each Rune are thoughtful and range from recognizing the mundane to looking through the lens of the Norse cosmology.

Harrell concludes the first section of the book with a chapter explaining the Runic calendar, including how it came to be, and discusses sabbats, devotionals, initiations, and affirmations.

Part two is where the year-long experience - Living the Runes - begins.  The year is split into half months with an assigned Rune, and for each, Harrell offers a devotional or affirmation, and each half month also includes an affirmation.  She starts the calendar at the end of June, but since we are at the end of October, I skipped to that part and it explained a lot about the week I'm having.  The timing is interesting, because it is a transition from the first aett to the second - Wunjo to Hagalaz, joy to hail.  It's a tough transition.  October 28th, when Hagalaz takes over, rings in Samhain in the north and Harrell dedicates a few pages to that and another two to the Samhain Sabbat Initiation, ending, of course, with its affirmation.

Hagalaz Half-Month Affirmation
This brings me to Harrell's claim from the introduction about what Runic Book of Days will do for the reader.  "...you will come away equally unafraid to explore the runes as you choose, while [being] comfortably aware of how they are traditionally situated and understood."  Her statement is true, for me.  I have opened myself to exploring and considering the Runes in new and deeper ways.

If you have any experience with the Runes, this book will deepen your connection to them.