Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Runes 101 - Runes in Mythology 3

Welcome back to Runes 101.  Who, in Norse Mythology, knows the Runes?  We know that, for the Aesir at least, Odin grabbed the Runes and learned them.  The poem "The Sayings of Har", also called  "The Sayings of the High One", tells us this.  What happens once Odin has the Runes and gains insight and knowledge from them?  Does he share this information with the chiefs of the other kingdoms in the world of Norse Mythology or do they acquire the knowledge in some other way?  The former seems unlikely to me; Odin does not strike me as wanting to share knowledge with other chiefs.  After all, he was willing to sacrifice his eye so that he alone would have the knowledge held within Mimir's Well of Wisdom.  The latter option - the other chiefs learning the magic of the Runes in another way - remains a mystery.  We don't know how they came to understand the Runes; we know only who they are.

In verse 143 of the same poem, it says that Odin among the Aesir, Dain for the elves, Dvalin for the dwarfs, and Alvith/Asvid for the giants.  These lines suggest that these are the "Rune Readers" for each of these kingdoms.  The last line of this verse says basically, "I carved some for myself."  Based on the other references to "I" in the poem, it appears as though this is Odin saying he carved his own Runes.  There is no mention of how the other three gain their knowledge of the Runes.  Interestingly, no Vanir (the other kingdom of gods) is mentioned as having this ability.

The Vanir are defined, typically, as fertility gods, gods/goddesses who have the ability of seidr (a form of witchcraft and trances).  They can see the future.  Can they, too, read the Runes?  This is a question I cannot answer, but I can offer some food for thought.  Some scholars and researchers suggest that Heimdall may have been part of the Vanir kingdom.  We know that Heimdall knows the Runes, because the Rigsthula myth tells us how he comes out of the forest and greets Jarl, his son.  Rig, who is Heimdall, teaches Jarl the Runes.  So, could Heimdall be the Vanirs' Rune Reader?  One last bit of fodder for those of you who don't know Rigsthula - Jarl is a human, a king.  Who gets credit for giving the knowledge of the Runes to humans then?  Heimdall or Odin?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sometimes We Need to Take a Break

Next week, I will return to the Runes 101 series, but I wanted to share with you all something that happened last night.  I was on the phone with a very good friend who was feeling very distraught, like nothing was going the way she wanted or hoped.  She was losing faith in humanity and found that many people with whom she had been interacting were not showing her the same respect that she was showing to them.

While she was on the phone, I drew a Rune for her.  I asked them (the Runes) what Rune they had to offer her.  The Rune that came out of the bag was Isa, the Rune of standstill.  What this Rune says, essentially, is that no seemingly positive accomplishment is likely right now.  Isa reminds us to be patient, not everything is under our control.  In this situation, a letting go of sorts is required, something which is within our control.  By sacrificing whatever it is we are holding onto, such as our perceived image of how things should go, we are preparing for new opportunities to come our way.

The catch is that we must do this on our own and not rely on outside help from friends or family.  In a sense, by being mindful and observing and considering, instead of taking action, we will be ready to receive and capitalize on the new opportunities that this self-cleansing will bring.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Runes 101 - Runes in Mythology 2

In our last "class", I summarized how Odin gets the Runes and, then, likely studies them and comes to understand their magic.  This is where things get even more interesting.  After Odin grasps the Runes literally and figuratively, he does two things - he poses a series of questions and shares eighteen Rune spells.

I'll save the spells for next time, but for now, Odin asks if we know how to write, read, stain, understand, ask, offer, supplicate, and sacrifice.  These questions indicate that there are many aspects to knowing truly what the Runes can tell us as well as questioning our ability to work with and interpret the Runes.  It could also be that these questions represent a process one must undertake to master the Runes.

Because I want to understand the Runes and be able to interpret them, I drew Runes around this very issue.  I did a 3-Rune draw and received Gebo for the overview, Thurisaz as the challenge, and Teiwaz reversed for the action.

Gebo is the Rune of Partnership.  This Rune represents partnerships in general, but also calls into question the relationship or partnership of the self with the Self, what I explain as the daily average self and who you are on the inside, the spiritual Self.  Gebo offers the gift of freedom from which all other gifts can flow.

Sounds good so far, right?  Thurisaz is the challenge within this goal I have set for myself.  Drawing this Rune indicates my readiness to pass through a gateway, but, at the same, time, is a Rune of non-action in the sense that it calls for contemplation.  There is still work to be done by me and Thurisaz increases my ability to wait for the right moment.  For now, more preparation is required.

Lastly, I drew Teiwaz reversed.  Teiwaz is the Warrior Rune and, reversed, it reinforces contemplation and focuses me on discerning whether this endeavor is for self-conquest or to dominate another, while reminding me that I must address the task for the sake of the task itself.  What is most interesting is that I asked the Runes if I am ready to complete the process that Odin describes through his questions and, the final thing that Teiwaz reversed points out is that, when we consult the Runes, we are, in actuality, consulting the Self, an appropriate action for the Spiritual Warrior.