Monday, October 28, 2013

Runes 202 - Bind Runes - Letting go of Anger

We all get angry.  We all get angry over silly stuff.  But, sometimes, when people we are close to do or say things that hurt our feelings, I mean really hurt our feelings, how do we manage the anger that builds out of that?  Although anger doesn't help anything and other people's choices are out of our control, after we acknowledge that we are hurt, the next emotion in the process tends to be anger.

I wanted to know how we can get past the anger without acting on it, because acting on anger can have a snowball effect on the situation, when the best approach is to diffuse it and reduce the power we are so easily willing to give to anger.  So, I turned to the Runes for guidance on how to manage this part of the healing; the Runes and I had quite a dialogue before this draw felt manageable. 

Twice they gave me Laguz - the water Rune - the idea of going with the flow, which we cannot do when we are hurt and angry.  We will get there, but not yet.  Given this, I assured the Runes that they needed to take a step back.  That is when they gave me what I needed - Isa, Gebo, and Ansuz.  I combined these three into a bind Rune and drew it on a piece of paper so that the next time I am hurt and angered by someone close to me, I can carry it with me as a reminder of how to get past it.

Each Rune helps to dispel the anger in its own way and each one builds on the other.  Putting them together in a bind Rune reinforces their power and the course we need to take to let go of the anger.

Isa is very important as the first Rune.  The ice Rune is about stillness and caution, reminding us to take time to reflect on the situation and examine our feelings.  This is sage advice, because lashing out when we're angry is not the best approach to dealing with things.  Isa recommends, instead, that we pause, consider, plan, and even organize our thoughts and feelings.  Look at the big picture, for the situation clearly includes more than you and the person with whom you're in conflict.  This will also help us realize what is in our control and what is not.  We need to let go of the latter.

Gebo reminds us that not all gifts come in neatly wrapped packages with a bow on top.  In a way, Hagalaz comes to mind.  Things start out bad - we are hurt - but as we deal with the fall out of the bad situation, things will get better.  What distinguishes this from a truly "Hagalaz situation" is that, as we reflect and think about what has happened, we will find a gift within it.  My first thought is that one gift may be realizing our own strength or abilities, by simply taking the time to reflect and consider the entire conflict instead of allowing our anger to jump into the middle of it.  Through this, we will be able to forgive, apologize, and/or clarify, which may be a gift to the other person.

This is where the final Rune comes into play.  Ansuz gives us the next step in approaching our anger.  Once we have it under control and have reflected on it, we know how to communicate going forward and, sometimes, that communication is to remain silent at least until the time is right when we can have a civil dialogue with the goal of resolution.  That is when it becomes about sharing or gaining wisdom (another gift).  What is important to notice here is that there is no indication that we should seek revenge or stand up and defend ourselves.  The message seems clear - there is no need for that.  That would serve only to steep the situation in more anger and likely make things worse, whereas contemplation calms and gives perspective through consideration.

At some point, defending ourselves may become necessary, but for now, maybe it is time for Laguz and just letting it wash over us.  I understand now why the Runes showed it to me when I first posed the question.  It is the ultimate answer - don't let it get to you - but I needed to follow the path to get there.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Runes 101 - Runes in History - Borgund Church

Image from Wikipedia of
the Borgund Church
The Borgund Church in Norway is one of the country's nearly 30 stave churches.  In fact, Norway hosts more stave churches than any other country, including the Urnes stave church, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

While stave churches are interesting enough simply by virtue of their architecture, there are many carvings (graffiti) covering several hundred years and including pictures, such as stick figures, etched into their wooden walls.  Among these churches, the Borgund Church caught my eye not only because it is the best preserved stave church (according to many sources), but because of some very early graffiti engraved there.

I refer, of course, to runic inscriptions.  At least three runic inscriptions are legible inside the church.  One says only, "Ava Maria."

In his book, Norwegian Runes and Runic Inscriptions, Terje Sperkland identified an inscription that asks god to help others, "May God help everyone who helps me on my journey."

It is the third inscription, however, which I find the most intriguing.  It says, "Thorir carved these runes on the eve of St. Olaf's mass, as he travelled past here. The norns presented measures of good and evil, great toil they created before me."

I found this inscription referenced on three websites, but only one included the second sentence about the Norns.   For me, that sentence is far more interesting than the first, because it indicates that, as late as the end of the 12th or beginning of the 13th century, long after worship of the ancient gods was supposed to have ceased, Thorir was writing about the Norns in a Christian church.  Moreover, he sums them up quite accurately, telling us that they filled his life with good and evil and, it seems, many struggles.

Tiwaz and
In addition to these inscriptions, I also came across a picture of some of the other graffiti that included what looked to me to be a bind Rune.  I recreated the image as best as I could, which appears to consist of two Runes - Tiwaz and Ansuz.  This shows another intrguing potential crossover between the Norse gods and Christianity, because Tiwaz is Tyr's Rune and Ansuz tends to be affiliated with Odin and, at the very least, an ancient Norse god in general.

If you are fortunate enough to visit one of these old churches, enjoy the architecture and history, but make sure to look around for subtle runic inscriptions, which offer their own twist on the experience.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Runes 403 - Rune Interpretations - Momentum

After about a three year struggle, things are starting to align for someone I know well.  She has had some long awaited and unexpected successes recently.  She feels relief and gratitude and wants to make sure she keeps this positive energy flowing.  Now, her challenge is how to manage that momentum, without getting ahead of herself and without losing the balance she's worked so hard to regain in her life.  Anyone who has been in this sort of position before recognizes that keeping that momentum going is not easy to do.  Using the Norn Cast, I asked the Runes how she can accomplish this; how can she keep the positive momentum going?

Remember, the Norn Cast looks at Urd (the past), Verdandi (the present), and Skuld (what should be - not exactly the future, because the future is open for you to decide based on your choices and the path you follow).  With that in mind, these are the three Runes that addressed this question.

Hagalaz represents Urd, Mannaz represents Verdandi, and Skuld is (or should be) Ansuz.

Two weeks ago, we looked at Hagalaz in detail and it showed us that this Rune is a cycle within itself, representing negative experiences from which we have an opportunity to learn.  Essentially, we can take what we learn from our experience and empower ourselves, which means the cycle ends positively.  This was, more or less, this woman's experience, signifying Urd incredibly well.  In other words, the past few years have included many negative experiences for her.  However, rather than give in to those experiences and let them rule her energy, she empowered herself to manage these situations, take what she could from them, and apply that knowledge to her circumstances going forward.

Mannaz represents her present circumstance and, I believe, signifies more empowerment.  This is the Rune of the self and, remember, within that idea exists all aspects of self and what shapes it.  Mannaz is not only the physical, mental, and emotional self.  It is also the higher or spiritual self.  Beyond that, it is the way that culture and society influences who we are.  In this second position, Mannaz signifies perfectly where she is right now (Verdandi).  She has used those things that have influenced her life over the past few years to empower herself and make her self stronger, to better define who her self is and what that self wants.  Essentially, through the past struggles of Hagalaz, she has reached her current, more confident situation and is more knowledgeable about her self.

Ansuz addresses our main question most directly.  She has gone through and learned from her experiences and empowered her self (Mannaz).  As a result, she is beginning to realize the benefits of that Hagalaz cycle.  Now, how does she keep this momentum going?  Ansuz is a surprisingly good fit for her.  While this Rune represents a god (specifically Odin, according to the Old Icelandic Rune poem) and communication, it can also represent origins, wisdom, and (from the Old Norwegian Rune poem) even estuaries.  Together, these three interpretations form a strong and powerful response to our question.  In a way, she is at a beginning or origin as she takes her new found knowledge and moves forward with it.  She has the opportunity to turn that knowledge into true wisdom if she can continue to build on it and apply it effectively to her life and, perhaps even guide others in applying it to theirs.  However, I find the estuary to be the best reminder of the situation, because an estuary is a place of transition between rivers and the ocean.  In many ways, although she is at a beginning of sorts, her beginning takes place in a position of transition, where she is just starting to regularly apply her knowledge to her situation.  If she stops, she could fall back into her old position, but if she keeps going and turns that knowledge into true wisdom, she will navigate through the estuary and into the open sea.

What's important to remember - choice.  What you take away from any experience you have and how you proceed with it from there is your choice.  That's why, Skuld is "what should be".

Monday, October 7, 2013

Runes 102 - Book Reviews - Northern Mysteries and Magick

"Everything in this book must be tested in the reader's own experience."  This statement, in Lionel Snell's forward, is a pretty good summation of Freya Aswynn's book Northern Mysteries and Magick: Runes and Feminine Powers, at least as far as trying out her take on divination, Rune magic and such are concerned.

While I confess I liked this book more than Thorsson's Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Study, I had some of the same struggles with it.  Once again, I found myself wanting to understand many of her statements and conclusions.  I am not saying she is wrong; in fact, she is well-versed and knowledgeable, but there are no citations, few references, and many statements that seem to be nothing more than her opinion or based on her experience.  Now, I know this book is largely that - based on her experience - which is why I liked the the Snell quote, but I feel she misses many opportunities to allow her readers to dig deeper into understanding the Runes on their own terms.

After writing so many notes in the margin asking if things were true or how she knows certain things, I was surprised to find a detailed explanation of Odin's encounters with Gunlodd and Rind near the end of the book.  I don't view these as good examples of feminine power, rather how Odin used them to get what he needed.

I had hoped for more consistency throughout the book in understanding the role of feminine powers in Rune use.  In the same vein, although I understand why Aswynn included a chapter on Norse gods, I would have like to see a chapter on the goddesses come first, rather than having them appear as part of a larger chapter on feminine mysteries right at the end of the book.  Moreover, at least two goddesses were missing that I think could have been included, Sif and Sigyn.  For me, Sif is a fertility goddess, related to making mead, while Sigyn represents loyalty and comforts those who are sorrowful or in pain..  I view both of these goddesses as care givers, a very important and powerful feminine trait.

That said, there were many things I enjoyed about the book.  For example, I like her perspective and how she told her story about coming to understand and use the Runes.  Even though I have no affinity to astrology and having nothing to do with occult knowledge,  I appreciate that these are part of and that they inform her experience.  In addition, she introduces a variety of divination methods, including a few different options using drawn wheels with consciousness levels laid out around them; worth considering for those interested in trying new ways of deepening their connection to or understanding of the Runes.  Much of what she presents is her own design, but through seeing how she interprets and uses Runes and creates casts, we can improve our own understanding of and ability to work with the Runes.

With regard to her individual Rune interpretations, I leave that for each reader to decide, because whether or not you agree with her explanations for each Rune, reading and processing them is how you will learn to define each Rune's meaning for yourself.  I will, however, give one example of an interpretation that resonated with me, because I found it empowering and overflowing with the feminine energy I was looking for when I got this book.

The Rune is Raido, the Rune of riding, implying travel, whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.  Aswynn truly capitalizes on this idea and takes it many steps further, likening Raido not only to movement or motion, but to taking charge of a situation and moving it forward in a directed and conscious way.  She uses phrases like, "to move within one's natural limits", "establishing control over one's circumstances", and "moral responsibility and integrity".  Perhaps my favorite and the most inspiring line in this description of Raido was, "working with the force of Raido means to be in charge of one's own path in life."  How profound to connect the riding Rune with your life's path on all levels.

That is empowering! That is what I hoped and needed to get out of this book.  The feminine aspects are there; sometimes they are just a little hard to find.  Still, I consider this an important book for any library dedicated to studying and understanding the Runes.