Monday, March 25, 2013

Runes 202 - Bind Runes 1

Bind Runes are something I've been interested in for a while now and, over the past two weeks, I've had a number of people ask me about them.  To that end, I decided to make my first conscious effort in creating one.  I say conscious, because in February 2012, I was writing about Making Alterations and I drew two Runes together that reminded me of a symbol I drew almost manically on my pee-chees (notebooks) in high school.  That was my first bind Rune, but it was completely unconscious and I didn't recognize the symbol as being Runes until fairly recently.

For my first bind Rune, I wanted to accomplish two things.  I wanted it to be very meaningful to me and I wanted it to follow up on my first Rune ritual, which I did earlier this year.  To that end, there were three components I wanted to include in my bind Rune - financial success, my writing and speaking endeavors, and Jera, which is my guiding Rune, so much so that I named my company after it.

These are all simple traits to represent with Runes - Fehu for financial success, Ansuz for communication, and Jera, the Harvest Rune, for Jera.  The challenging part was going to be Jera, because of its unique shape.  I decided to begin with the first two Runes, since I saw very easily how they could fit together.

As I drew Fehu, I repeated the chant from my Rune ritual, "Water is my element; Fehu is my goal."  When I added Ansuz, I said, "May Odin and Heimdall give my words, both written and spoken, an engaging tone.  I ask Freyja to help me write easily and well."

Once those two Runes were drawn together, I could see how perfectly Jera would fit in.  In the image to the left, you can see Jera in purple and where its one missing part needed to be drawn into the bind.  This was a pleasant surprise.

I traced over the sections that were already there, then added the final part.  As I drew, I repeated, "Jera is my Rune, my guiding Rune, and I believe in the process to a bountiful harvest."

I have the drawing I made, but I couldn't get a clear picture of it, so I drew it on my computer to make it easier to see and share.  While the drawn bind Rune will hang on my wall, I will share the computerized rendition with you.  What do you think?

I love my bind Rune and what it represents for me, the idea of being successful in my writing and speaking career, because I remain true to and respect the process this experience requires.

Have you ever made a bind Rune?  I'd love to hear your experience.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Runes 101 - Runes in Mythology 9 - Ramsund Runestone

When we think of Runestones, we envision large, erect boulders, etched with runic inscriptions and generally also ornately decorated.  However, there is one Runestone that does not quite fit this image.  It has a runic inscription and is quite ornately carved, but it is not carved into a large boulder, rather into a slab of rock, an outcrop, if you will, in Sweden.  I refer, of course, to the Ramsund stone.

While there are no shortages of Runestones about which I could write, more than 1,700 in Sweden alone, there are at least three aspects of this stone that are of particular interest.  First is the fact that it is carved into a rock outcrop rather than on a standing stone.  For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the Ramsund carving, instead of stone.  Looking at the image to the left, all that is visible on the rock are the glacial striations (scratch lines in the rock) from the Fennoscandia ice sheet that covered the region during the last ice age.

Upon closer look, we see reason number two why this Runestone is so interesting - the runic carving itself.  A woman named Sigurd Ormsdottir (daughter of Orm), had the "bridge" made for her husband Holmgeirr's soul.  It is likely that the bridge relates to Christian influence and the idea of a bridge to heaven or to the next life.  Vikings believed in a next life as evidenced by many Viking ship burials that include all of the things that the person buried would need in his or her next life.  Therefore, they may have found the idea of being able to build a bridge to it quite satisfying.

However, the third reason for writing about this Runestone may be the most intriguing - the imagery that accompanies the inscription.  It shows scenes from the story of Sigurd the dragon slayer.  I won't tell you the details of the story, rather I will point out what each image depicts, and you can consider it enticement for reading the Saga of the Volsungs: the Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer.  The translation this link takes you to was done by my former Old Norse professor at UCLA, Jesse Byock.

Although the scenes from Sigrud's story do not appear in order on the carving, I will go through them from left to right.  The first image shows Reginn, Sigurd's foster father, decapitated among his smithing tools. Above that image and looking a bit like a dog, is Otr, Reginn's brother; he is a shape shifter.  In the third scene, Sigurd is roasting the dragon's heart over a spit.  The horse in the next image belongs to Reginn and it is carrying treasure.  In the tree in the next scene, two birds warn Sigurd that Reginn will betray their reconciliation.  Finally, there is an image, under the runic inscription, actually stabbing it from below.  That is Sigurd killing Fafnir, Reginn and Otr's brother.

The Ramsund stone (or carving) is one of the coolest Runestones I've come across so far.  Which one is your favorite?  If there is one you'd like me to write about, let me know.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Runes 301 - Making Your Own Runes 8

In keeping me on track to finish my own set of wooden Rune staves before the end of the month, when I asked the Runes what I should write about this week, the answer was clear.  I asked about two different topics.  The first question, about a book review I was considering, gave me Gebo, which I took to mean simply an 'X', as if the Runes were saying "cross off that idea for this week."  When I asked the second question, I drew Fehu, Ansuz, Algiz, and Tiwaz.  If you look at the image I took a few weeks ago (below) when I engraved the first five Runes, the Runes I drew are the next four Runes I planned to carve.  (I didn't carve Sowilo yet, because I want to do that one in the sun and we've had cloudy Mondays of late.)  Coincidence?  Perhaps, but I also found it interesting that Gebo is the fifth Rune in this group, so maybe I drew that as part of the Runes I should carve today and that that is where I should stop (for today).

Same as last time, I have an item to represent each of the five Runes.  Going at this rate, however, I realize I will not finish by the end of the month, so I will take some time later this week to carve another five or six.  For now, here are the Runes and the items I've chosen, the items to represent them in the engraving ritual and the chants for each one.  I repeated the chants nine times, while I engraved the Rune to which it referred, except for Algiz, which I said the first time while I held the Rune to my throat.

Tiwaz - This Rune, to me, represents the Norse God Týr, the warrior go, sky god, left-handed god.  It is the latter that I incorporate today, because, like Týr, I am left-handed.  Therefore, to represent Tiwaz, I chose a tracing of my left hand (palm down).  As I carved this Rune, I said: I ask Týr to infuse this Rune with all his abilities.  I believe in what he represents.  I try to emulate his bravery in all that I do.

Fehu - Although this is the money Rune, as I mentioned last week, it was akin to cattle initially and, additionally, there are many forms of wealth.  To that end, I chose money and family to represent this Rune.  (My kids also offered the cow from one of their toy farms.)  To infuse this Rune with the wealth it represents, I chanted: Wealth comes in many forms.  I ask its forms to come to me and my Runes. 

Ansuz - The Rune of communication, this Rune is also likened to Odin.  Because I am a writer, I chose my book to represent Ansuz and made my request to Odin.  Odin, I ask communication and understanding to be open and clear in this Rune and for your guidance in making it so.

Algiz - This one was a bit more difficult to represent.  Defense and self-protection.  At first, from a purely physical perspective, I thought of my bat, but I did not want to use a weapon as a symbol to defend myself.  Then, I thought of a scene from my novel; Heimdall and Magni are talking about Heimdall's nine mothers and the gifts each one bestowed on him.  The first gift came from Gjàlp.  Here is what Heimdall said:
“First to reach my mother was Gjàlp.  She gave me my voice…”
“So you can talk, you mean?”
“No,” I chuckle, “This kind of voice is the strength I need to make my voice heard when others are not brave enough to speak up for what is right.”
“Does that get you in trouble with Grandpa?”
“Yes.  It does that a lot.  Odin does not like it when I speak against his ideas and plans.”
This scene is purely fictional, created entirely in my mind, but I like the idea of using your voice to speak up for what is right and I decided I would use my voice as my defense and protection.  To represent it, I held the Rune to my throat and began my chant to Heimdall.  Heimdall, imbibe this Rune with the power to defend and protect one's self and others.  I believe as sentry, you possess this power completely.

Gebo - I found Gebo to be the most challenging to represent.  A gift.  After a few minutes, I thought of some volunteering I do at my kids' school, taking the time to speak to different classes about various aspects of Geography.  There is one fourth grade class in particular that really enjoys my presentations.  The last time I spoke to them, we talked about the Vikings westward expansion and learned about northern Europe, the medieval warm period, and the Little Ice Age.  That is a great gift - time.  My old diving watch represents this wonderful gift.  For some reason, Freyja also came into my mind, so my chant goes to her:  Freyja, give a beautiful gift to this Rune.  Let it be as magical as you are.

I should point out that all of the chants I do come to me as I undertake the engravings.  I don't plan them in advance.  Later this week, when I do more, I will write everything down and take pictures to post at the end of the month.  If you have suggestions for what could represent some of my remaining Runes, please let me know.  I am always looking for ideas.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Runes 201 - Individual Runes - Sowilo

Welcome to March!  This month, in the northern hemisphere, we really begin to see the return of the sun, reaching a balanced point around the world on March 20th - the equinox, when all of Earth receives twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness.  This year, I hope to make the most of the sun's return and, with the approaching equinox, I inquired about Sowilo, the sun Rune.  How can we embrace the returning sun and make the most of the increased energy and light we receive?

Sowilo, the Rune of the sun offers good fortune if properly utilized.  I especially like the way that Sven Plowright explains it in his book, The Rune Primer, as "a sign to lift the spirit".  In essence, the sun gives us energy literally and figuratively.  How can we incorporate that energy into our lives as we move forward this year?

The three Runes that offer to guide us in this endeavor are Perthro, Tiwaz, and Fehu.  I find this group to be particularly interesting and fitting.

We begin with Perthro, a Rune whose meaning is social; it encompasses friendly games and competitions that take place in social venues. It requires social interactions and, on some level perhaps, a rite of passage.  Essentially, it provides us with an opportunity to engage; engage with others, engage in a process of initiation and acceptance.  Through Perthro, we realize the power of Sowilo energizes and inspires us to accomplish goals and move forward.

Thankfully, we have Tiwaz supporting those efforts.  This is one of my favorite Runes, Týr's Rune, Norse Mythology's sky god, the left-handed god.  In this draw, both aspects are important.  The relationship to the sky is an obvious one, but it is the latter that we must look at in more detail.  I have recounted the story of Týr and his sacrifice in past posts (Runes 201 - Individual Runes - Berkana, A Rune for Time), but what I would like to look at now is why he might have put his hand in Fenrir's mouth, why he would take that risk, knowing what the outcome would be.  I believe the bottom line is that the gain was greater than the loss.  What this Rune, in this instance, tells us is that part of embracing Sowilo involves taking risk to move forward, but not risk for the sake of risk, rather a calculated risk, where you comprehend the potential outcomes of the risk.  This means that, like Týr, we must understand our actions and a good way to do that is to have a plan.  Channel Sowilo's energy into your plan, which outlines how your rite of passage, through Perthro, will occur.

Our final Rune is an obvious result of embracing Sowilo through Perthro and Tiwaz.  If we allow the sun's energy to carry us forward and we channel that energy through a well-thought out plan, in the end, we reap the rewards.  Bear in mind, however, that Fehu, while representing wealth, does not necessarily mean money in the modern sense.  Fehu literally means cattle, which was a primary measure of wealth in Viking times.  Now, I am not suggesting you will end up with cattle, rather that wealth takes many forms.  Friendship, property, equipment, insight, and wisdom are all forms of wealth.  If money is your goal, make that clear as you begin your rite of passage, driven by Sowilo and supported by Tiwaz, both of which are forms of wealth in their own right.

Sowilo can provide us with energy to pursue and achieve our goals and, if we are smart about it, once we complete our rite of passage, our lives will be more enriched from it.