Monday, July 30, 2012

Runes 301 - Making Your Own Runes 5

I've learned a few things during this process of making my own Runes.  First, but not related directly to making the Runes, I need a better camera.  I tried taking some pictures of the practice Runes I made today, but they are pretty blurry... sorry about that.  I wanted to show you pictures of my efforts so you could see what worked and what didn't.  That will have to wait until next time.

Second, if you decide to make your own Runes, make sure you have plenty of practice wood, unless you are a woodworking expert.  As I explain my progress today, you'll understand why and, I can tell you, I'm going back to my practice wood next week, to practice carving the angles of the Runes.

Carving out the space on which to carve the Runes is pretty easy with the right tools (see Runes 301 - Making Your Own Runes 3 for information on the tools I'm using).  I'm simply making a flat rectangular space on the staves.  The carving spaces are roughly 2.5cm (1 inch) long, covering the full width of the stave.  Remember, my staves are not all the same width.  To compensate for this fact, I am carving the thinner Runes, such as Isa and Laguz, on the thinner Runes (see picture below) and saving the widest staves for Runes like Dagaz and Mannaz.  However, having said that, I recommend highly that you plan to have 24 four-inch long wooden Rune staves that are 2cm (3/4 inch) wide, with approximately a similar amount for practice, if you are going to follow this process.

Now, on to the practice.  This is a picture of the three Runes I made today; these runes will not be part of the final set.  I colored them in using a red pen, but that was just so you would be able to see the carving.  When I complete my actual Runes, I will be staining them.

Again, I apologize for the quality of the picture.  I will get better ones when I make the real set.  These were made just for practice carving the Rune shapes.  As you can see, I chose some of the easier Runes - Ehwaz, Laguz, and Isa.  The staves are thin, 1cm (~1/2 inch), which is another reason to try the easier Runes.  The only trouble I had with shaving the space to carve the Runes is that on the one where I carved Laguz, the bark came off all the way around the carved section.  You may decide not to use the bark at all (shave it all off) or just not worry about whether or not it stays on.  I am going to try to keep the bark on, because I like the way it looks, the contrast between the shaved spot and the rest of the Rune, and I like to think that it holds in the power of the wood.

When it came to carving the Runes into the wood, obviously, the straight line that is made with the grain of the wood was pretty easy.  Isa was a safe place to start.  For that, I used a combination of a gouge and small scratch awl.  (I'll post pictures next time.)  You can see the result in the picture.  Making the angled lines was not as easy and, I think I may wear leather gloves next time, because I came close to cutting myself a couple of times.  I may lose a little dexterity, but I'll keep my fingers intact.  This time, I was just scratching in the shapes freehand.  Next round, I will try sketching them onto the wood first to see if I can follow the line or if winging it is the best way to go.

I'm not disappointed with this first practice effort.  In fact, I am happy that I have learned so much through the experience that I can incorporate and try the next go round.  Please stay tuned for the next step in the process and look for more information on working with individual Runes mixed in with my usual readings.  As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know.  I'm available via email.  Have a wonderful week.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Mix of Routine and Spontaneity

Lately, I've been feeling like my days are getting away from me and I'm not accomplishing the things that I want or need to do.  So, although I am still getting things done, it doesn't seem like it and it doesn't feel very rewarding.  I need to get back to schedules and "to do" lists, but I don't want to get tied down to a predictable and humdrum existence.  So, how can I find a balance, where I have enough routine to be productive, but not so much that my life loses all signs of spontaneity?

As I am in the process of making my own set of Runes on wooden staves, I decided that, this week, I would try a different approach to my draw.  In fact, I did a toss or a roll, instead of pulling them out of the bag.  With the staves, I can't draw them out of a bag, if for no other reason than they will be different sizes, so I might be inclined to avoid the skinny Isa, for example, and choose fat Dagaz.  Instead, I will give them all a toss and choose the three that are closest to the center of the pile and face up.  Using my current Runes for this week's question and following that course, I got Othala, Thurisaz, and Jera.

I must admit, Othala as the overview gave me pause.  I thought for a while about how this Rune represents the current situation and I realized that the Rune of inheritance and home represents something more basal than inheritance and home.  It signifies the foundation of tradition.  While our goal is to enjoy our home life, which is another attribute of this Rune, to do that, we must look to the past to see how enjoying the home was achieved before.  For me, this is very telling, because I find I am most effective when I have a somewhat set schedule and, more recently, a "to do" list.  The latter is especially handy these days, when my life isn't my own, rather I am coordinating my family of four.  What Othala says to me is, "Look back to when your life and home were in order.  Why was it so?"

Thurisaz, the Rune of giants and thorns, as the challenge is perfect.  I like this Rune, because it is about focusing power.  If we are honest with ourselves, that is the challenge we face through this question.  We all have the power to be productive; after all, everything is pure potential when it begins.  Therefore, we have the potential within us to focus our power or efforts on creating a more productive and satisfying daily life.  We can choose to create obstacles, tear them down or go around them.

It is no surprise then that Jera is our required action.  You all know this is my favorite Rune, the Rune of the harvest.  However, what we must recognize is that in order for the harvest to occur and be bountiful, we must follow a process.  If we think of the things we have to do in our lives as being different crops, we begin to see that each plant has its own requirements.  Some plants need more sun, while others need more water.  Some grow in soil that stunts other plants.  It is this detail of the process that we must address.  How much time does each aspect of our lives require?  Which things are necessary for survival and which are merely wants?  Don't get me wrong,  I'm not saying we should ignore wants or give no time to them.  What I am suggesting is that we make this distinction to help us prioritize.  Where our needs create our routine, our wants give way to spontaneity.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Which Road?

Next week, it will be time for me to return to the workforce.  I have completed my MSc. and written my novel.  While I work on the sequel, I also have to work.  So, I asked the Runes what the best way to approach this situation is.  Which road will be the most effective, most productive?  I know many people have been in similar boats, where they are at a crossroads and must decide which way to go or have lost or left one job and must find another.  For anyone on the job hunt, whatever your circumstance is, I think this will offer some positive insight into this challenging endeavor.

However, as I am on vacation, I don't have access to my Rune images, so I'll add them to this post when I get home.  For now,  here are the Runes I drew and what they represent.  The Runes were Kenaz, Fehu, and Mannaz.

The Rune of the Torch, Kenaz, serves as the overview for this question.  While some interpret this Rune as a child's sore or illness, I tend to follow the Old English Rune Poem interpretation of the light from a flame or lamp.  The idea of a light represents multiple things, including the light at the end of the tunnel, enlightenment through knowledge or experience, and focused creativity.  In this case, all of these are viable options.  This is a time when we must be enlightened and focused, so that we may see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I laughed when I saw Fehu as the challenge this week.  Fehu, the Rune of money and wealth.  That is the goal, after all, to acquire money and wealth.  I don't think there is anymore to say on this front.  Our challenge is to find a satisfactory position that will pay us an acceptable wage for the work we do.

Our required action is depicted by Mannaz, the Rune of the self, humanity, and even culture.  We are not perfect; that is what makes us human.  Still, if we know ourselves, our skills, and our aspirations, and we remain true to those aspects of ourselves, we will find what we are looking for and it will, if all goes well, be rewarding for everyone involved.  We will do work that we enjoy; those we work for and with will appreciate the work we do, and in some way, it will positively affect the greater good.

Maybe I'm a dreamer in suggesting this.  There are those who would say, simply, "Suck it up and get a job."  There may come a time when that is a requirement, but, before then, I think every effort should be put into following the road that will lead you to happiness and not just a paycheck.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Runes 101 - Runes in Mythology 8

Well, it's done; I've published my first novel, The Son of Nine Sisters.  Having enjoyed writing it so much, I have moved, full throttle, into writing the sequel and, through my initial research for the second book, I had an interesting "Rune" siting, which I wanted to share with you.
Finnask æsir
á Iðavelli
ok um moldþinur
mátkan dœma
ok minnask þar
á megindóma
ok á Fimbultýs
fornar rúnar

This verse, from Völuspá (The Prophecy of the Seeress), talks about what happens after Ragnarök, when Magni and Módi, Baldr and Höðr, and Hoenir come together at Ida Plain.  While there, they reflect on the past, the things that happened before.  However, it is the last few words that caught my eye not only because they mention Runes, but because they are translated in a variety of ways.

"Fimbultýs fornar rúnar" translates into "Odin's ancient Runes".  Fimbultýr is considered another name for Odin.  (Týr's name is in the word, and, in Old Norse, "fimbul" means great.  So, I am unsure as to why Fimbultýr is not Týr, as he was a great god, but that's a research project for another day.)  Of the four sources I checked, only one had this exact translation - Odin's ancient Runes.  In the Prose Edda (English translation), Snorri claims that they called to mind "their ancient wisdom", wisdom being supplanted for the word "Runes".  However, the word "rúnar" is written in the Old Norse version I reviewed, but it was not in conjunction with the other two words from the Poetic Edda - Fimbultýs fornar.

Retelling the myths, Kevin Crossley-Holland omits completely anything relating to ancient Runes or wisdom, rather talks about the assembled gods calling up memories; in my mind, this means reminiscing.  However, he does allude to something "magical" by stating that these memories they share are known only to them.  This could be the secret of the Runes.

It is the fourth interpretation that struck me the most, by its sheer implication of word choice.  Lee M. Hollander refers to the Runes as "unfathomed" Runes, instead of ancient.  This opens up the meaning of the phrase to numerous interpretations.  Is he implying that the gods are talking about something that Odin did not consider in his planning?  Or that Odin did not fully understand the extent of the power of the Runes he was casting?  Is he perhaps suggesting that the Runes are unfathomed only by humans or by the gathered gods?  He interprets the previous line as "going over the great world doom".  Perhaps he is implying that the current gods are attempting to learn from the mistakes of the prior gods, while still recognizing and appreciating their greatness and accomplishments.

I wish I had more than one semester of Old Norse under my belt, but I have to say this verse is open to many interpretations that range from the gods gathered at Ida Plain simply reminiscing and remembering the past, perhaps to find or share a common ground, to considering what happened in the past and learning from its lessons.  What do you think?

Monday, July 2, 2012

When a Little Extra Strength is Required

Strength comes in many forms - physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual.  This week, I have a very dear friend who needs a little extra mental and emotional strength to address a family crisis, so I asked the Runes how to accomplish this.  What guidance would they offer to my friend (or anyone else), who needs some additional support and focus over the next several days?

Let's begin with the crisis itself and the toll it takes on people, the way that it drains their strength.  Of course, the Runes gave me Mannaz, the Rune of Humanity, the self and higher self.  It reminds us of the circumstance of being human; we are flawed.  We all have strengths and weaknesses with which we must deal and manage.  It is during these times of crisis that our strengths and weaknesses are challenged.  We give into our weaknesses and that requires other to compensate by using their strengths to help us.  The struggle within this situation is to maintain that strength while helping our friend or family recover from the results of giving into their weakness.  But, how?

 You must trust yourself.  You know what must be done.  That is why the Runes showed us Laguz, the Rune of the sea and intuitiveness, for when we use our intuition, we can move the situation forward, toward healing and resolution.  This does not mean that what must be done is easy to accomplish, rather only that the required solution is easy to see.  Following through on that recognition is quite hard and that is where strength is both required and challenged.  Interestingly, Laguz is regularly related to mental health.  We must focus on maintaining our mental health, while helping another to recover theirs or another form of strength.  Now, we know that to heal this crisis, our strength will be challenged, but in the long run, we must trust our decisions and bring them to fruition.  Still, we must ask why.  Why must I do something that I really do not want to do or, more appropriately, that will challenge me (be hard)?

Algiz, the Rune of self-defense and protection, answers that question.  Surviving a crisis is one thing, but recovering, healing from it, is something entirely different and the ultimate goal.  It is the latter that must be done to preserve the "self", whether that refers to healing you, the person you're helping, or the entire situation.  When you care about someone, you do not want to see them suffer and, although you want to do whatever you can to help them, you must be willing to do whatever it takes all the way and not settle for a situation that approaches "close enough".  Why?  Because the situation will just repeat itself.  By trusting yourself and following through on the solution to the problem, you don't only protect the person your helping, you preserve them in a healthier state.

No one said this was going to be easy, but the long-term gains will make it a worthwhile investment.  This week I send out positive energy to support my friend and all of you who need a little extra strength to manage a crisis.