Monday, April 30, 2012

Moving Forward

There are some people who map out their life before they enter college.  Others are in their forties and still not sure of their path.  Of course, there are those who know what they want to do, but aren't sure how they will get there.  When an opportunity presents itself, and it just feels right, how can we follow it as a positive stretch of our path?  How do we stay on that track and make the most of it?  I pulled three Runes that I don't draw very often, but which address this question very clearly.

Nauthiz, the Rune of need and necessity, explains the situation.  Despite these potentially negative connotations (need, necessity) Nauthiz also brings hope, for because we have a need, a requirement, we must practice discipline.  At the very least, through discipline comes relief, at best, comes rewards beyond what was expected.  When we have a requirement in our lives, it must be met and sometimes that need gives us the motivation required to acquire the need.  Perhaps even, it is the motivation we need to change course.  In support of this idea, contemporary interpretations of this Rune ask us to examine the obstacles we present for ourselves.  If an opportunity presents itself that offers a positive step forward, we must find a positive way to take that step, instead of building barriers to it.

The challenge in this situation comes from Sowilo, the Rune of the sun, good fortune, and wholeness.  Traditionally, this Rune represented the sun, feminine energy and light, and hope to lift the spirit.  Today, it is it a sign of wholeness or the search for it.  That challenge seems obvious.  We know what we want, we see a good and uplifting way to get it, yet we hesitate.  The hesitation creates the challenge, because it stops us from lifting our spirits, following our opportunity and getting closer to recognizing our personal wholeness, allowing ourselves to be that which we are already.

Eihwaz is the Rune of the yew tree, defense, and protection.  This is an interesting Rune for our action, because while the yew tree represents stability, it includes aspects of patience and perseverance.  The indication here is that through patience, we will persevere, which will create stability.  Just because the path has opened, do not leap onto it an run.  Consider your steps before taking them, move wisely, and, once you've made positive progress, stand your ground.  Taking a new or unexpected path can be frightening, but if you approach it with a thinking mind that doesn't over-think and an emotion (passion or excitement) that is not over-emotional, you will do well on this path.

As you think about all of the aspects of your life, I hope you can see where this fits into it.  The fit was immediately obvious for me.  For two decades, I have been an environmentalist.  For thirty years, I have been intrigued by Germanic culture, languages and landscapes.  Now, in an interesting twist, they are coming together.  In a sense, I have been on two paths for many years and now they are joining into one to carry me to the next level, the next part of my life.  I will walk wisely and enthusiastically forward on that path.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Runes 301 - Making Your Own Runes 2

As promised, last week, I cut the wood for my Runes.  The tree was in the early stages of blossom, with lots of little white blooms popping out on the branches.  The process began with a cleansing of the saw, using the water I had collected a couple of weeks ago and stored in a glass jar (see Rune 301 - Making Your Own Runes).  The incantation I spoke was in two parts.  First, I expressed gratitude to Freyr for the water.  Then, I requested a sharp blade to cut the wood.  The incantation went like this:

"Thanks to Freyr for the cleansing water.  I am grateful to receive your gift."

After speaking these words, I poured the water over the saw, especially the blade, and laid it on an organic cotton cloth to dry in the sun.  When it was dry, I turned to the tree, held up the saw and proclaimed:

"I believe in the power of Odin to make this saw sharp, not for gain in war, but gain in wisdom from the Runes that will be carved into this fruited wood."
I climbed the tree and cut the branches I had selected earlier as being the best size for the Runes.  They ranged in diameter from 1-2cm.  In addition to cutting the wood for the Runes, I cut an extra branch (a dead one) to use for practice before I start the actual Runes.  I don't want to make any mistakes on the fruit-bearing wood and I felt that using wood from the same tree would give me a better sense of the feel of the wood than using, say, cedar or some other wood.

I sawed off the branches as close to the main artery of the tree as I could.  After the wood was cut, I thanked Freyr for the wood with the following gratitude incantation:

"I am grateful to you, Freyr, for the fertile wood you have provided so that my Runes will carry fruit-bearing power of wisdom within them."

As an extra sign of appreciation, when I cut the smaller branches, bearing the blossoms, from the larger ones that will be used for the Runes, I put them into a vase on my kitchen table, where they are still blooming and leaves are forming.  They give the dining room a completely different feel, making it much more earthy.

This week's goal is to select the best tools for carving the Runes into the branches, which I will discuss when I begin the first practice round.

For now, it is important to remember that this is my process for making Runes and that many exist.  One of the things I like most about this endeavor is that it is very individualized.  In fact, I feel it must be.  If you don't make your Runes in the way that makes sense and feels right to you, you are doing them and yourself a disservice.  You don't have to recite my incantations if they don't feel right to you.  The basic things that you must do if you want to make wooden Rune staves is find a wood that feels right to you, cut it to appropriate lengths and carve the Runes into it.  Throughout this process, please feel free to ask me any questions or clarify things for you that my not be clear.  If you've made your own Runes, please share your experience with us!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Runes 101 - Runes in History 6

In the last installment of the Runes in History, I posted a table of the Runes, their names and meanings.  However, it has been brought to my attention that the Runes did not appear as their correct symbols, rather were Roman letters (a b c and so on).  I've saved the table as an image, so the Rune symbols should be visible now.  (If not, please let me know.)  Here's the updated table:

As I mentioned in Runes in History 3,  this list is based on the Elder Futhark and, once the alphabet "split" (was used in England and northern Europe), the Futhark was adapted.  In Scandinavia, for example, it was reduced to sixteen letters, while in England, it jumped to thirty-two.  There were a number of localized or regional symbols as well.

Next week, I will be cutting the wood for my Runes (see Taking the Next Step with Runes and Runes 301- Making Your Own Runes) and will post the details of that process.  Until then, have a wonderful week!

Monday, April 9, 2012


My first novel is done.  The third revision of it is almost done and I want it to be on the market next month.  However, it seems as soon as I sit down to work on it, after I've performed all the tasks I 'have' to do and can turn to the thing that I 'want' to do, I get interrupted.  I'm sure everyone shares this experience.  We all have things we enjoy doing, whether it's our job or a hobby, and we all get frustrated when those things are interrupted, especially at times when we're so close to finishing a project.  So, how do we deal with that situation, accept that it is going to happen and that we will be able to return and eventually finish it off as we had planned?  The Runes gave me a wonderful answer to this question.

Of course, the overview was Hagalaz, the Rune of Hail and Disruption.  We've talked about Hagalaz a few times before and the ways in which hail can be interpreted.  At first, it is seen as a destructive force, because it destroys crops and can damage buildings.  It disrupts our lives, just as interruptions disrupt our flow when we are doing something we enjoy.  However, hail is a form of precipitation, bringing water, nourishment to crops.  Knowing that the interruption may create some form of nourishment for us or our project, let's consider how that might play out.  Once our task is completed, perhaps it is that much sweeter, for example because we finished it despite the disruptions.  Or maybe the disruptions nourish our sense of dedication to completing the task, creating a greater focus on fruition.  For me, it's a little of both.

Kenaz, the Rune of the Torch, exemplifies the challenge of Hagalaz's hailstorm.  Think of this as the light at the end of the tunnel.  We have something that we want to finish; we can almost see the end, then, bam! Hagalaz.  We are interrupted, thrown off our trajectory.  Our challenge, then, is to stay focused on the light, to address the distractions, but keep moving toward the end goal.  But how?

Interestingly, the action required to move past the interruption and complete our desired task is found in Ansuz.  This is the Rune of Communication and Inspiration.  For one is not possible without the other.  New age interpretations broaden this idea by including looking for signals.  On some level, whether with a deity, a force of energy, or something more mundane, we must pay attention, search for the positive in the interruptions.  It may be acknowledgement by another for giving them our time (helping them do something) or our own revelation through performing the required act to address the interruption so that we can return to our project.  By seeking out the positive, we open ourselves to a much more pleasant experience and reduce our stress.

Our project will get done, but the line from A to B is rarely a straight one.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Runes 301 - Making Your Own Runes

Welcome to Runes 301!  In this series, I am going to share with you the process through which I travel to make my own set of Runes, based on my understanding of what Runes were during the Viking Age and before, and in the world of Norse Mythology.

I have started the process of making my own Runes with a ritual that I "created".  While there are some basic rules for making your own wooden Rune staves, the process also has many individualized steps too.  I decided that I wanted to cleanse the tools I'm going to use to make the Runes with "holy" water.  For me, that means rain.  Luckily in these modern times, we know when to expect rain.  Rain was forecast for us one day last week, so I got a metal bucket, washed it, faced west (northwest-ish) and made my request to Freyr the morning the rain was going to start.  Let me reiterate that this is my ritual.  It is not a requirement, but you are welcome to use it, modify it or create your own.

I chose Freyr to receive my request, because he is the Norse god of fertility.  There are goddesses (Sif, Freyja and Frigg, for example) and other gods (Nj├Ârd) associated with fertility and even Thor is associated with weather, storms and rain.  You can choose whichever god you prefer.  It doesn't have to be any of those listed.  It simply has to be a god you believe in.  For me, Freyr felt right.

I faced west/northwest holding the bucket.  This direction was purely of my own choosing, because I knew the storm was coming from that direction.  Holding the bucket out in front of me, I looked into the approaching clouds and said the following incantation, then set down the bucket to receive Freyr's nourishment.

"I believe in the power of Freyr to provide fertility to the planet, to nourish the Earth and all things that live here."

The catch is that you have to believe what you say.

By the end of the day, the bucket had just over a centimeter of water in it.  I put it in a glass jar, closed and saved it for the cleansing ritual, which I will do after I acquire the tools I'll use to cut and carve the wood and etch out the Runes.

The next ritual will be the cleansing of the tools, followed by cutting the wood within the next couple of weeks.  I hope you will stay tuned and, if you have gone through this process, that you will share your experience with us.