Monday, March 26, 2012

A Window Opened

Two weeks ago, I felt frustrated, because a number of opportunities that I hoped would grow into bigger things were doing the opposite.  In fact, a lot of doors were closing.  I found myself rethinking almost everything I've done over the past year; then, a window opened.  The saying may be cliche, but it's true.  When a door closes, a window opens.  When I made the relieved comment that "a window has opened", one of my nephews said that he needs that to happen for him.  So, this draw is thanks to him and asks the question - how can I get a window to open?

The draw?  Algiz, Laguz, Mannaz  Here's what they mean.

 Algiz is the Rune of self-defense and protection and serves as the overview for this situation.  This makes perfect sense, because the reason we want the window open is to provide opportunity for ourselves, whether it be for happiness, relationships, or financial security.  It's self-defense and protection at its core.  Traditionally, part of the meaning of this Rune relates to the idea of letting an opponent create his/her own downfall.  In this sense, I think it is similar.  The message is do not compete with others or try to do things the way that they do them.  You are an individual and you must do things in your own way, without worrying about others.  Your time will come.  To complement this, contemporary interpretations note the importance of emotional control.  That is part of protecting or defending yourself - to maintain your cool.  It also allows for consistency in message and action, which is the best way to lay the ground work; for you see, you have to build your own window and it will open when you have completed it.

Our challenge here is represented by Laguz, the Rune of water, the sea, the intuitive side of you.  I could not survive without my intuition; I rely heavily on it.  However, I know that is not the case for everyone.  Why is intuition the challenge?  Because it is hard, sometimes, to trust that what we are doing is the right thing to do, especially if it is non-traditional or if we have a large contingency of family and friends questioning or criticizing what we are attempting to do.  The deep sea is a mystery and, for some this creates fear, while for others it creates a chance for discovery.  Perhaps that is what your sea does to others; where you see opportunity, they see unsafe risk.  Therefore, the challenge is to maintain your flow in the direction you see, in spite of the questions from others.

What action does this circumstance require?  It requires a quest to know and be true to yourself.  We are human; we are not perfect.  We all possess different strengths and weaknesses, and acknowledging what ours are is a huge step toward accomplishing our goals.  This is why Mannaz, the Rune of humanity and the higher self or true self is the Rune for this action.  There is a great line in the fourth Harry Potter movie, when Mad-Eye Moody is helping Harry to decide what he's going to do when he faces his dragon.  Moody says, "You have to play to your strengths."  If you want to open a window, you have to know your strengths and play to them.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Taking the Next Step with Runes

I have been involved with and learning about the Runes for several years.  The stories about Runes in Norse Mythology are fascinating and human use of Runes throughout History are quite intriguing as well.  I have learned a lot, especially since starting this blog, and I hope that you're enjoying the information I share through readings and the Runes 101 series.  In a couple of weeks, my blog will celebrate its first anniversary and to recognize this milestone, I have decided that I am going to carve my own set of Runes.  I did a draw based on this idea and I will come to it in a moment.  First though, I want you to understand why I have reached this decision.

I began this blog after getting Ralph Blum's "Book of Runes", which I picked up because it was referenced in a couple of books I was using to conduct research for my first novel.  Since starting this blog, I have received some wonderful feedback from you, my friends and readers, including recommendations for other books about Runes that are more traditional in their interpretations.  Through your input and my own ongoing research, my knowledge of and interest in the Runes has grown in depth and breadth.  The Runes I read  right now are the ceramic stones that came with the Blum book (minus the blank stone).  It is my understanding that no carved rune stones (not to be confused with large engraved runestones) have been found in any archeological Viking/Norse site.  Moreover, all of the descriptions that I have read of the Runes in the mythology say that they are carved on wooden staves.  As I learn more about Runes and come to understand some of the rituals around them, I know that I want my Rune use to begin to mimic historical use more closely.  Therefore, I asked my current set of ceramic Runes if I am ready to take the next step with Runes and make my own set using more historical materials.

What a wonderful way to begin this process!  Inguz is the Rune of Fertility and the god Freyr.  I like to think this means the time is right ( or ripe) for this endeavor, that "the ground is fertile".  In fact, new age interpretations for this Rune include terms like 'new beginnings' and 'joyful deliverance'.  They also assure me that I have the strength to complete this undertaking.  A warning is also noted - that I may need to break free from cultural patterns or habits.  That is very true.  This process will require some rituals, which is not something that I tend toward doing.  However, I believe in the essence of the Runes and the energies that created them and their meanings, so that is where I will focus my own energy.

Algiz is not a Rune I draw often, but one that I take very seriously, because it deals with self-defense and protection.  As my challenge in this endeavor, Algiz reminds me that there will be people who question what I am doing, make fun of it and belittle it.  I will need to be strong in my convictions that what I am doing is the right thing for me to do, regardless of what others say.  As long as I keep my emotions in check, I will be fine.

The action required to complete my set of Runes is Perthro (Perth).  This Rune has slightly different though related meanings between historical and contemporary interpretations.  Where historically, this Rune is seen as friendly competition through games that build on the person's fate and ability, new age definitions are more abstract in the sense that they claim initiation.  The link between these two is simple - games in friendly competition offer opportunities for initiation, perhaps into adulthood, but in my case it is more of an initiation into the next level of Runes, reading and understanding them.

In April, I will begin the process of making my own set of Runes from the wood of a fruit tree.  By chance, I have one in my backyard.  The wood will be cut when the flowers are in bloom.  As I understand it, this will make the Runes fertile, because they will have the power in them to bear fruit, figuratively speaking.  If you are interested in going through this process with me and making your own set of wooden Rune staves,  please let me know (  For those of you who are still on the fence about it, I will document the entire process on this blog as I go through  it, so you can try it when you're ready if you'd like.  Either way, I hope you will stay tuned and walk with me on this journey.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Road Less Traveled

While there is nothing wrong with the road that most people travel in their careers, it is not a road that suits me.  I'm not sure it ever has.  Now that I am attempting to exit permanently the well-traveled road, I find myself confronted with a variety of challenges.  Many of my friends and family struggle with understanding my need to "derail my career" to accommodate my hobbies.  While I argue that what I am doing is correcting the situation and pursuing what should be my career while letting go of stop-gap jobs, I wanted to double-check with the Runes and make sure I am supposed to get on the road less traveled.  The Runes had some very interesting guidance for me.

Gebo, the Rune of gifts and appreciation, also conjures up the term 'partnership' in new age interpretations.  Traditionally, the gift relates to the idea of giving without expecting anything in return, generosity being its own reward.  In this regard, Gebo gives a good overview of the situation, because it reminds me that it is important to be generous.  If new age meanings affixed to this Rune are true, I must examine what 'partnership' means, for I do not believe it has a traditional meaning in this instance - one with another person.  For me, the partnership is with my craft - writing.  When you have the correct partner, everything flows as it should and happiness grows; that is the gift you receive, but it enables you to give your gift freely too.  I offer my writing for others to enjoy in many ways and, by writing, I feel happy and complete.

Therefore, I can understand why Wunjo, the Rune of Joy, is the challenge in this situation.  Doing what makes you happy and brings you joy, is challenging enough without being surrounded by "nay-sayers".  In fact, I wouldn't necessarily call them "nay-sayers", rather simply people who don't view the world from a perspective similar to mine, people who follow the straight and narrow.  When people don't understand what you want to do or when they can't see how you intend to get from point A to point B, they become critical.  That is why Wunjo is the challenge, because being happy in this circumstance is really not very easy.  What is easy is to feel defeated, to make any barriers bigger than they need to be, to make barriers at all.  The challenge is to be happy and know that, if the path works for you, you can't worry about what others think.  Have faith that you know which path is best for you in the long run.

I simply love Berkana, the Rune of beauty, birth and beginnings.  What more do I need to say?  The meanings say it all.  What is more beautiful than being able to follow your chosen path successfully?  What feels better than the first step on that path, than initiating/beginning your chosen future?  The action required here is to realize that the road less traveled or, more specifically, crossing over to it, offers just what I believe it will.  It puts me on the path to the future I want, the future that I see as providing happiness, security and feeds the things I have always wanted to pursue.  I have to be confident in my choice to step fully, squarely onto the less-traveled road and walk proudly and happily forward.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Runes 101 - Runes in Mythology 7

The Lay of Sigdrifa is an interesting myth, as it pertains to Runes, for a few reasons.  For starters, the conversation around Runes was omitted from Snorri's Prose Edda version of this myth.  Couple this with Lee M. Hollander's comment in his translation of the myth that the stanzas pertaining to the Runes may have been derived from another source and inserted into this poem.  Suddenly, these stanzas are even more interesting.  It is, of course, these stanzas that are the reason I write about this myth today.

In the Prose Edda, Snorri Sturluson includes the beginning of the story, when Sigurdr rides to the castle/house on the hill and finds someone asleep, wearing armor.  He removes the helmet and sees that the "guard" is a woman, whose byrnie (chain mail) appears to have grown onto her body.  Using his sword, he cuts it away.  She wakes up and tells him her name and that Odin pricked her with a sleeping thorn as punishment, because she slayed a great warrior to whom Odin had promised victory in battle.  After that, Sigurdr rides away for his next adventure.
It is due to this, perhaps, that Hollander alludes to the possibility that the Runes stanzas were inserted later or from another source.  This is a viable conclusion given that the poem would have been known to Snorri, who omitted these stanzas completely.  One other note, in "Brynhild in Legend and Literature" (Gildersleeve, 1909), the author refers to these verses, when Sigdrifa is giving advice to Sigurdr, and states that,  "These 'runes' seem to be generally admitted to be a later interpolation."
The question of their origin aside, at least ten different Runes are mentioned in this poem.  They are not Runes named Uruz or Algiz or after any of the other letters in the Elder Futhark.  Instead, these consist of Joyful Runes, Victory Runes, Ale Runes, Helping Runes, Sea Runes, Limb Runes, Speech Runes, Mind Runes, Book Runes and valuable Runes of Power.
In the poetic version, once Sigdrifa is awake, she sings praises to day, night, the Aesir, and fertile Earth.  After her praises, she begins to tell Sigurdr about the Runes, by giving him ale (or beer) that is mixed with magic, spells and songs, and joyful Runes.  While I am not going to go through each verse, there are a couple I'd like to mention, starting with Victory Runes.  This is one where I have seen examples of Tiwaz carved on the hilt or blade of Viking swords.
Tiwaz, the Rune of
Týr, the Warrior God
In fact, the poem says they are to be carved on the hilt of a sword to ensure victory and Týr should be invoked twice.
The other Runes are less clear.  For example, there are Sea Runes that must be burned into a ship's oars, and scratched on to the rudder and bow.  This will ensure that you and your ship return home safely.  What Runes would constitute Sea Runes?  Laguz?
What about the mind Runes?  Are they linked to Mimir or the mead of poetry?  Which Rune or Runes are mind Runes?  The same question can be asked of all the other types of Runes as well - joyful Runes (Wunjo?) ale Runes, limb Runes, speech Runes, book Runes and Runes of Power.  The poem doesn't say, doesn't name the Runes.  Instead, we are left wondering which Rune or combination of Runes might constitute Sigdrifa's list.  I'll keep researching this to find out if we have any way of knowing the answer.  Until then, here is a last bit of trivia about this myth.
The Lay of Sigrdrifa may pose the beginnings of the fairytale we know today as Sleeping Beauty.  The Valkyrie is put to sleep by a sleeping thorn, put inside a castle with a shield around it, her beauty preserved through time and she will fall in love with the warrior who wakes her.