Monday, July 29, 2013

Runes 102 - Book Reviews - Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic

This book was a bear for me to get through.  Although there were parts that I liked, there seemed to be many more that didn't click with me.  I found much of the information in Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic, by Edred Thorsson constituted his own deductions about the Runes, but provided no context or references for them.

Thorsson's knowledge of the historical aspect of Runes solid and there are many moments in the book, where the writing flows almost poetically.  For example, on the very first page, he explains Runes like this:
"It is this form that is inscribed as a symbol for a formless and timeless idea."
It's well said and eloquent and I hoped for more of this throughout the rest of the book.  In fact, there were snippets from some of the Rune interpretations, that I really liked, such as when he referred to Kenaz as "the ability and will to generate and create" and likened it to a Rune for craftspeople and artists.

His description of Nauthiz as "will-directed action" really empowered the definition of that Rune for me too.  Some of the ideas in his chapter on Rune Work were also interesting and I think they could be a great tool for those looking to expand or contemplate new and different ways to engage with the Runes.

However, overall, this book simply did not resonate with me.  I found myself constantly questioning Thorsson's interpretations of Rune meanings.  I wasn't questioning whether he was right or wrong, rather wanting to know his source for the deductions and claims he made.  I wanted to understand how he drew his conclusions.  For example, he claims "Fehu is the raw archetypal energy of motion and expansion in the multiverse" and that it is the "basic force of fertility."  But, I don't understand how he reaches these conclusion and that is a question I need to have answered for my own understanding.

Perhaps the biggest issue I had with Thorsson's interpretations is with Mannaz, when he states that Heimdall is Odin in "one of his many guises".  I researched Heimdall for two years when I was writing my novel, The Son of Nine Sisters, and never found any indication that he was anything other than a god and entity to himself.  I'm not saying the information showing this to be true doesn't exist, rather that, if Thorsson has such evidence, he needs to show it to me.

On a broader scale, it may well be that this book doesn't resonate with me because of its presentation.  Thorsson presents almost everything from a cosmological or multiverse external experience as a way to engage and understand the Runes, whereas my engagement with them is grounded in an Earth or Midgard-based perspective.  Maybe the complexity with which he approaches the topic is lost on me.

Of course, I have talked to people whose response to this book was similar to mine and I know people who love it.  I say this to point out that Futhark is not a bad book; it just wasn't the book for me.  That is why personal choice is so important and one of the things I love about the Runes.  Each person has to figure out for themselves how to interpret them and what better way to do that than by reading a variety of perspectives.

Will I use this book as a reference source in my work with the Runes?  Yes.  Will I use it often?  Probably not.  My go to book is The Rune Primer.

Regardless of my thoughts on Thorsson's Futhark, it is one that should be a part of any undertaking to learn the Runes, because it does provide a unique point of view.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Runes 202 - Bind Runes - Empowerment

Saturday started out pretty sucky.  I lost a document I was working on.  In fact, I got up early to finish it off.  After trying to recover it for half an hour, I brought in the big guns (aka I asked my husband to try).  He knows a bit more than I do about computers, but he couldn't recover or repair the document either.  Just for good measure, while he was working on it, I also accidentally deleted a page from this blog (which I am rewriting and posting later today).  This may not sound like much, but it happened before 7:00am and its piled on top of a bunch of other personal issues in play at right now.

As this was occurring, a bunch of Runes passed through my mind, with Thurisaz leading the way, followed by Hagalaz.  After a moment, Tiwaz and Eihwaz appeared almost simultaneously.

I paused for a moment after the first two Runes came into my mind and thought, 'Uh-oh.  Here comes trouble.  This could be a detrimental combination facing me - the Rune of giants and thorns and the hail Rune, bringing devastation initially.'

Thankfully, I contemplated Hagalaz a while longer and remembered its second aspect - nourishment and creative force.  Coupling that with the power of Thurisaz, if I took it and refocused it in my favor, I decided I wasn't going to let these setbacks ruin my mood or mindset. 

That is when Tiwaz appeared to to say, "You are a warrior and have the power to do just that - take control of the situation and spin it to your favor." I felt like I could do that or, at least, not let it over power me.  To reinforce this belief, Eihwaz confirmed that I had the strength to stand my ground, that I was in control of how I chose to deal with the situation.

Although I appreciated this conversation with the Runes, the process felt incomplete.  I wanted to do something more to acknowledge the dialogue and the way it empowered me in an otherwise unpleasant situation.  Almost as quickly as Thurisz appeared, so did the beginnings of this bind Rune.

Thurisaz and Hagalaz were in place from the start and adding Tiwaz and Eihwaz took only an instant more.  The result was a bind Rune that shows Thurisaz and Hagalaz both opposing and blending with Tiwaz and Eihwaz.  When I look at this Rune, I feel empowered and know that I have the ability to manage trying situations successfully.  What would your bind Rune of empowerment look like?

Monday, July 15, 2013

401 - Rune Rituals - Calm and Relaxed

As many of you know, I am engaged in a solstice to equinox passion challenge related to my writing.  So far, things are going well, almost too well.  I am finding myself so wound up and excited about this endeavor that, when it comes time to relax and go to sleep, my brain has other ideas.

Since I am in a very active stage right now, I decided the best way to approach this issue was to conduct a ritual around the theme of calming down.

Isa was the first Rune that came to me.  It seemed the logical choice to include in this ritual given its state - ice.  However, it goes beyond that.  When I think of cold, icy places, my mind moves north to the lands I love, which brings me peace and puts me mentally in a place I long to be.  With this to frame my thoughts, I began gathering the other items I wanted for my ritual journey.

As I went through my Runes, looking at each one, holding each one and considering its meaning, I gravitated to three more - Nauthiz, Eihwaz, and Algiz.  I also considered Tiwaz, but decided against it in the end, because, despite my strong connection with Tyr, this Rune invokes too much energy in me for my intention here.

I looked at Nauthiz in detail a couple of weeks ago and, last month, it was Eihwaz.  I find it interesting that these two Runes keep coming up for me lately.  Algiz, by comparison, comes up maybe once every few months.

Besides the Runes, I turned to my primary element - water - but opted not to include Laguz in this ritual as it is about calming and relaxing, stillness, and a Laguz has strong association with movement through the flow of water.  However, river rocks, which lie still on the river bed, while the water flows over them, seemed the perfect complement.

For this ritual, I staggered the Runes over a pile of river rocks  along with four ice cubes (one for each Rune, though they are hard to see in the picture).  I sat and thought of each Rune and noticed two very similar aspects they shared.  First, I noticed their shape.  Each one contains Isa as its center and is evenly balanced on either side of it.  Second, each Rune represents a form of strength in its meaning - Eihwaz standing one's ground or standing up for yourself, Algiz is the Rune of self defense and protection, and Nauthiz gives us strength by reminding us to look at what we need, what is necessary.

With this ritual, unlike the ones I did with Ansuz and Fehu, there was no chant.  Instead, I sat in quiet contemplation, realizing that not only did my action signify a key aspect of Isa - stillness - but that the other three Runes are giving me subtle strength to take what I need, which is a time to calm and relax myself so that I may sleep well.

As I sat quietly, allowing my mind to wander around these Runes, the most interesting thing occurred. Idunn's essence came to help me through my ritual.  Instead of looking at her as the goddesses who tends the apples for the gods and goddesses, I looked at what the apples do.  They keep the gods young, essentially invigorating or revitalizing them.  And, that is what I seek - a good night's sleep to revitalize me, which in turn, will help to keep me on track with my passion challenge.

By embracing the intention of this ritual and sitting in quiet contemplation of its meaning, I got what I needed.  I knew I needed sleep and this ritual reminded me why; it connected all the pieces and showed me that this endeavor is entirely in my control and part of a larger aspect of who I am and what I want to accomplish.  This ritual reinvigorated me and I am sure I will sleep soundly for the next while.

Wishing you peace and relaxation until next week...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Runes 403 - Rune Interpretations - Taking a Break

I have been on "vacation" the last two weeks and am heading home today.  The reason put vacation in quotes is because I spent much of my vacation working.  I had editing project after editing project to complete, a couple even came with rush requests; plus, my family and I were caring for a sick relative (who is recovering nicely).  Of course, many of us make remarks about needing a vacation after we return from a vacation, so I got to thinking about what we can do to allow ourselves to take a legitimate, guilt-free break, even if it's just for a day.

Interestingly enough, the first Rune I drew was Dagaz, the Rune of the day.  I accepted this as a symbol of my goal - to take a single day and make it whatever I deemed to constitute a vacation.  For one thing, Dadgaz acknowledges that it is important to take this time and, in a way, commends us for acknowledging that we need a break and that it is okay to take one.  Moreover, day brings us light and, with it, we awake, so we could look at taking a break for a day as our awakening or, at least, our chance to have one.  Without focusing on it, but merely by our actions, we may reevaluate something of consequence in our life and come to a new conclusion about it.

Since the Runes agreed with the idea of a single day, I wanted to know what we are supposed to do with our break.  Perthro was an interesting response, because I had been thinking about a day of quiet relaxation, maybe reading a book or watching a movie.  However, Perthro countered that notion with the idea of social gatherings, games, and friendship.  In essence, a day engaging with our friends in lighthearted entertainment may be just the ticket.  I can appreciate the idea of returning home and catching up with friends; it is a good way to unwind and have a bit of enjoyment.

Still, I expressed my desire to the Runes to have a quiet day to myself, that kind of break, and was caught off guard by Eihwaz.  At the end of May, I looked at Eihwaz in detail and the message I received was that I have an opportunity to do something good for myself and that would also go beyond just me.  Although I had in mind to take a day for myself this week and have a break from everything, the Runes consistently ensure me that now is not the time.  Instead, my break is a break from working for others and taking care of others and, instead, having a good time with others.  In the long run, this will likely prove more beneficial.  I think this represents the idea of recognizing and appreciating the support of friends and the strength that has in our lives.

While I can certainly enjoy a break with friends, the Runes final message to me was Laguz, the water Rune, and another Rune I looked at in detail earlier this year.  I know it's cliche, but Laguz tends to make me think of the saying "go with the flow" and I am certain that that is one of the underlying messages here.  I asked the Runes about taking a break and having time for myself and they said, "Not right now.  Right now, you need to spend time with friends."  That was their 'relax and go with the flow' directive.  However, by slipping Laguz into the mix, not only are they telling me to relax and enjoy this time, but that there is a flow and that flow will lead, at some point, to the break I want.

Of course, Laguz is more than flow.  It also represents mystery, the natural power of the sea, and an intuitive flow.  It's dark and, for me, there is an odd sense of an impending creative explosion.  If I am correct, that will be my break, because that will be when I write for myself.  This is what Eihwaz was telling me about working for me instead of others and it reinforces another plan I made for myself.  You see, I'm taking a solstice to equinox passion challenge for my writing.  Maybe that's the break I need, not a single day, but a couple of hours each day and that is what the Runes are telling me.

I can take a break, but the break is not about me, rather about strengthening friendship bonds and that, following Laguz will lead me to the break I really need, a break to refuel my passion.  Through these questions, the Runes have helped guide me not to a break from work, but to time with friends and a bigger and better break to focus on the work I enjoy.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Runes 201 - Individual Runes - Nauthiz

All I've been thinking about since last week, for reasons I won't go into here, is gluttony.  It is hard not to sound preachy or political when discussing the state of society, but society's gluttony strikes a nerve that saddens and concerns me.  I've been reminded first hand of mass consumption and waste, our complete detachment from the sources of the things we buy, and the stress our contemporary lifestyle creates.  Conversation after conversation ended with me questioning, "To what end?"

And, to that end, I found myself clinging tightly to Nauthiz, the Rune of need and necessity, because it seems to address this problem so well for me, by shifting away from the wants of a system long since broken.

Nauthiz presents a dual warning, of being aware of trouble and the importance of heeding its effects in time.  Interestingly, the trouble sighted in its Rune poem afflicts the heart and I believe, when it comes to gluttony, we have our second dual warning, warnings for the heart- one physical and one mental and emotional.  But, what can we do to heed the warning in time?  This is what I asked the Runes this week.

I was not surprised that Jera was the first Rune presented to me.  I appreciate the reminder that heeding the warning and addressing it will not happen over night.  It will take time, be a process.  Because I have such a strong affiliation with this harvest Rune, it did help to comfort me and, in a way, give me hope.  It also reinforces the idea that the process of change must begin.

Berkana was the second Rune, assuring me that, once we heed the warning, we do face a beginning. This beginning involves a new way of doing things and largely turning away from the current way of  consuming and wasting, detachment and stress.  This is a Rune that brings us back to nature and couples with Jera to remind us of nature's processes and the need to reattach ourselves to them; that a healing or time of healing must take place.

Of course, Thurisaz reminds us that this is a move of great power.  If we unite, our force becomes the giant that no one wants to challenge.  It is strength in numbers.  In essence, for this beginning to be successful, we have to move forward together and, if we do, we will be a force to be reckoned with.  Instead of trying to make life better for ourselves through gluttony, we have to look at the bigger picture and make life better for everyone.

This also explains why, in between each of these Runes, I drew Mannaz, the Rune of humanity, and kept returning it to the pile.  It wasn't time yet, but now it is.  The gluttony I've witnessed over the past week cannot be overcome alone, as the self, though the self must undertake the process of change.  We must unite and focus on needs not wants.  It won't happen overnight, but it affords society the opportunity for a thoughtful beginning.

As much as Nauthiz's Rune poem ends in hope, so I end this post in hope.  It is a quote from Ghandi, "Be the change you want to see in the world."  Let others know what you're doing on this front; share a comment here and let's begin to build our giant force!  Have a fantastic week!