Monday, May 28, 2012

I'm Overwhelmed

Everyone feels overwhelmed at one point or another and it can happen for any number of reasons.  A single thing or lots of little things at once can overwhelm us.  What I ask the Runes this week is how to manage this feeling and get back on our feet.  Two of the Runes from last week made a follow up appearance today, joined by a Rune I don't draw very often.

Hagalaz sets the stage.  This makes perfect sense.  The Rune of hail and disruption is the perfect representation of being overwhelmed.  Hailstorms leave everything they hit looking beaten and ragged.  Similarly, we certainly feel like our lives have been disrupted when something overwhelms us.  The second part of the picture painted by Hagalaz is that, once we find our footing again, we feel better and more energized, nourished by our ability to repair the initial damage of the hail.  This second part is what's coming.

Our other Rune from last week offers this week's challenge - Algiz, the Rune of self-defense and protection.  Somewhere along the line, we stopped doing this, stopped looking out for ourselves.  Perhaps we have taken on too much, because we can't say 'no'.  Maybe something caught us completely off-guard and knocked us to our knees.  Any number of things could have put us in this situation, but the ultimate reason we are here is because we left ourselves open to whatever is overwhelming us right now.  We need to alter our situation so that we feel empowered and able to put ourselves back into a manageable situation.  But how?

Thurisaz, the Rune of giants or thorns is the required action.  New Age interpretations relate it to Thor and call it a gateway.  If this is so, we must think of Thor - fierce temper (easily lost, but just as easily regained), strongest of all the gods  - and ponder what it means to have such power as he possesses.  Contemplating this puts us at a gateway which requires thought before action, thought before stepping through said gateway.  Our traditional interpretation of this Rune is less clear, as the Rune poems don't agree on the meaning of this Rune and there is no mention of Thor in them.  Despite the different meanings in the poems, the bottom line agreement around Thurisaz is that it is a Rune of focused power, standing in contrast to our current situation.  Presently, the overwhelmed sensation we're experiencing makes us feel powerless.  What Thurisaz says is that it is time to take the reins and unleash the focused power that we possess, but have lost site of.  Doing this allows us to overcome the things that have created our sense of being overwhelmed.

I am ready to unleash the power if you are.  Shall we do it together?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Runes 201 - Individual Runes - Jera

Welcome to Runes 201, the third series I'm starting on my blog.  Runes 101 discusses the Runes in History and Mythology, and Runes 301 walks you through the process of making your own set of wooden Rune staves.  Runes 201 talks about individual Runes in a little more detail or looks at how to work with a Rune.  I begin this series with the latter and look at how to manage Jera, the Rune of harvest and process.

Jera is my Rune, the Rune of the harvest, which, by extension, is about process.  For the harvest to occur, there is a process which must be followed.  While some of us are very good at planning, others, "wing it", "play it by ear", "fly by the set of our pants", or simply "go with the flow".  In other words, some people don't plan or don't plan much.  Whichever category suits you, the question remains - How do we deal with things that require a process, whether planned of not?  How do we manage Jera?

The meaning for Perthro is one of the most questioned and debated of the Elder Futhark.  Of the Runic Poems, only the Old English poems include this Rune and a key word is missing from that poem.  I think this makes Perthro the perfect Rune to provide the overview for our question related to managing Jera.  The answer is that there is no easy answer.  What is reasonably clear is that Perthro relates to camaraderie, "play and laughter" and warriors sitting happily together in a beer hall.  Despite the missing word, what I take from this Rune in this circumstance is that, when dealing with a process (getting a job, planting a garden, building a deck, getting someone to notice you, planning a party...etc.), it is a far easier thing to manage when you do it with someone else or confide in someone else.

The challenge within this question is clear.  Rarely does a process go from A to B without some sort of disruption, so of course, I drew Hagalaz to represent the challenge of managing Jera.  The Rune of Hail is very timely here.  As we know, it's initial impact is one of destruction, but it's aftermath is necessary water to grow.  This could be interpreted in many similar ways, but essentially, we need to be challenged by disruptions so that we can grow as people.  There is a saying, "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger."  Though most disruptions are not life-threatening, any obstacle we overcome can make us stronger, more well-rounded, better able to handle adversity and other challenges going forward.

It is not surprising that the action to address this question is Algiz, the Rune of self-defense and protection.  Again, the only Rune Poem for this Rune is the Old English version and it talks of elk-sedge, a plant that takes quite good care of itself.  Therefore, I would argue that as we make our way through our process to get from point A to point B, that we realize we undertake these things for these primal reasons, either self-defense and protection or defense and protection of another.

So, how do we manage Jera, the process and the harvest?  We must remember a few things.  First, most things that we undertake are made easier by friends who support us.  I could use any number of clich├ęs for the second thing, but I’ll say this instead; we must learn from each step along the path, whether the step takes us forward or seems to divert us from our planned path.  Finally, everything we undertake is an opportunity for personal growth and we should take advantage of it, because it is in our best interest.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Runes 301- Making Your Own Runes 3

Over the last two weekends, I've taken some time to practice carving wood to make my Rune staves.  I've figured out the basic process for making the space in which to carve the Runes.  The challenge is to keep the bark from peeling off.

When I began this process, I had no idea what I would use for the carving, but I found a nice set of tools especially for such delicate work.  I got mine at Home Depot, though I checked out some art supply stores too.  The set I bought was sturdier and felt more durable than the ones from the art stores.  I paid $40 Canadian for a six-piece set, but it will probably be cheaper in the US.  (I can't speak to the cost in other countries; sorry.)

After playing with all the tools in the set for a couple of hours, I came up with a three-tool process that works for me. First, I etch a rectangle on the wood with the skew bevel.  Next, I use the bent chisel.  This makes a nice flat surface on the wood by removing very thin layers.  As I shave the wood, it curls up toward the edge, so I use the straight edge to "chop" it off.  Once I begin making the actual Runes, I'll put up some pictures of the process.  For now, here is a picture of the three tools I'm using.

The top tool is the bent chisel.  I placed it sideways in the shot to accentuate the bend.  It may seem silly, but having the bend in the tool makes it easier to shave the wood.  The middle tool is the straight edge.  It's essentially the same as the bent chisel without the bend.  I tried this one to make the flat surface and it worked okay, but I found it harder to maneuver.  However, the straight edge worked great to remove the shavings created by the bent chisel.  At the bottom of the picture is the skew bevel.  Its blade is angled and the point worked well for marking the lines which form the space for the Rune.  A word of caution though.  If you're going to get cut, this is most likely when it will happen, so be careful.  Watch out for peeling bark too.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will refine this process and attempt to etch in some Runes.  When I'm comfortable enough with the carving process, I'll use the rain water I gathered earlier this spring to cleanse the tools before I before the tools touch the fruit-bearing wood.

If you have made your own Runes using wood or some other material, please feel free to share your experience with us.  Likewise, if you're considering making a set and have questions, ask away.  I'm happy to help as best as I can.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Runes of Gratitude

A year ago yesterday, I launched this blog with no idea what would happen and no idea where it would be in a year.  However, since the launch, I've learned so much about the Runes and their meanings, their role in mythology and history (Runes 101 series) and grown so attached to them and their purpose that I am making my own set in my Runes 301 series.  More than 3,250 visits from readers from all over the world have visited this blog.  I am very grateful to everyone who has taken a look at it, who follows it and who has told others about it.  To express my appreciation to all of you and those who will visit in the coming year, I asked the Runes to show me Runes of gratitude so that I could share them with you.

The first Rune was no surprise; it was Jera, my Rune, the Rune of the harvest and process.  No Rune could summarize better the experience we've had together over the past year.  Writing this blog has been a learning process.  As time progressed, I made changes, added new things, fine tuned my presentations, and created a more regular process.  Through all of these alterations, you have continued to support and read my work and, for that, I am grateful.

 When I began this blog, I seemed to be surrounded by naysayers and people who asked what I expected to gain from doing it; people who thought I was wasting my time.  To manage this criticism., I needed help.  The Runes gave me Algiz, the Rune of self-defense and protection.  In the book, "The Rune Primer", by Sweyn Plowright, the final line in his description of this Rune is "Let an opponent's eagerness to grasp be their downfall."  In my case, I believe my antagonists have met their downfall, because my blog is going very well, thanks to you, and I am incorporating the things I've learned and experiences I've had into other parts of my life too.  This is a wonderful aspect to this endeavor.  When I began, I expected nothing (truly, because I had not idea what to expect), but I have reaped many rewards through this process, from things that I have incorporated into my fiction writing to reconnecting more fully with my environmental background.  Because Algiz protected me or helped me to defend my belief in this blog and because you have taken the time to read it, I am grateful.

 Now that a year has passed, the question becomes, what next?  What will the coming year bring?  For that, I have Laguz, the Rune of the sea and flow.  Drawing this Rune makes me smile, because it confirms that I am on the right path with this endeavor.  It reminds me that the depths of the sea are a mystery as is the path forward with this blog.  However, it also assures me that, whatever happens, it will flow and happen freely, as it should.  I hope that you will continue to enjoy my work and visit this blog.  For your consideration and support, I am grateful.

Next time, I'll share a bit of my practice attempts at carving my Runes. Until then, have a wonderful week and, thank you again, for tuning in.