Monday, May 27, 2013

Runes 201 - Individual Runes - Eihwaz

Recently, I have drawn Eihwaz fairly frequently.  Since it rarely comes up for me and is now showing itself at more regular intervals, I decided it was time to investigate it in more detail.

For me, Eihwaz, as the Rune of the Yew tree, is a symbol of stability or courage.  Yew trees are the longest living trees in Europe, a clear sign of stability for generations of humans to have the same tree always there.  Looking a little deeper into the actual physical tree, we find it has special characteristics to increase its longevity, including a resistance to burning.  It was also a favorite wood for making bows.

A quick look at the Rune poems for Eihwaz confirms these attributes.  The Anglo-Saxon poem describes the yew as holding fast to earth, with a rough exterior and as fire's keeper.  The Old Norwegian poem refers to it as the greenest tree in the winter and hard to ignite when fire is set to it.  Yew trees did not exist in Iceland where birch trees constituted the only woods, which may be why the Old Icelandic poem focuses on yew bows.

With this background of a tough, stable tree though, how do we use this Rune in our current situation?  Interestingly, the insight provided by the Runes points to another tree, the birch, which signifies beginnings or birth; the homestead; and our self or higher self.  Yes, Berkana, Othala, and Mannaz guide us in using Eihwaz at this time.

I really like this combination, because, in one sentence, what the Runes are saying is, "You are at a point in time where you have an opportunity to do something that is true to your self that has strong ties to your personal life, and could be good for your self."

Berkana offers the opportunity through a beginning or birth.  It is likely that this opportunity relates to our creative side or to something that we enjoy doing.  This provides good incentive for undertaking what it is that is presenting itself to us.  This really feels like a career issue.  I have a good idea of what this means for me; what opportunity does it represent for you?

Othala can play multiple roles in this situation, because it represents so many important aspects of our lives - the homestead, inheritance, and tradition.  Perhaps we can affect all three by improving things at home immediately, building on the future, and setting the stage going forward.  Conversely, it could mean that all these things are coming together to support you.  Perhaps because one of your ancestors or relatives did something to improve their home, which set the stage for you to capitalize on their efforts. It would be their future giving you your beginning.

The final Rune, Mannaz, could also be the first Rune depending on your approach.  Mannaz could mean that taking the opportunity before you will strengthen your self (if this Rune is in the third position) or that it is time for your self to step up and take the opportunity (placing the Rune in the first position).  Either way, remember that this Rune represents not only those aspects of ourselves that make us human, but all the forces of our higher self that support us all the time.  I believe that this Rune also means that, by taking this opportunity and making the most of it, we are strengthening our self and the bond between our self, our higher self, and those around us.

Where is Eihwaz in all of this?  As we labor over our decision, Eihwaz keeps showing itself to us as a gentle reminder that there comes a time to be brave; but we must also be mindful that being brave can sometimes mean making a hard decision.  Only we know what our beginning opportunity is and Eihwaz supports our courage in making the choice to follow it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Runes 102 - Book Review - The Runes in 9 Minutes

Simple.  Inviting.  Easy to follow.  The Rune in 9 Minutes, by Eoghan Odinsson speaks to its readers in a friendly, comfortable tone.  When you begin, you feel almost like you're having a conversation with the author, which is especially important as the book is geared toward those just starting out with the Runes and provides a gentle introduction to them.

Besides it's friendly tone, there are many things to like about The Runes in 9 Minutes.  For starters, the author provides you with at way to make your own set of Elder Futhark Runes, in case you don't have one.  I smiled as I read his instructions, because they sounded very much like what I did last summer when I was traveling and forgot my Runes, so I made a temporary set.  He also suggests other ways to make a more permanent set.

In addition, Odinsson gives good overviews of some key aspects of the Runes.  He explains some basic or common lay outs for Rune casts.  I especially like his explanation for the three-Rune cast or draw, likening it to the Norns (from Norse Mythology, the Norns represent past, present, and future).  Although I've seen this spread before, I have not tried it, but I'm going to give it a shot now.  The Norn cast idea is a nice follow up to the chapter he writes on quantum physics and wyrd; wyrd is fate.  Odinsson does a nice job of applying the idea of quantum physics to wyrd and linking it to probabilities to demonstrate that, while wyrd shapes our lives, we have the ability to manipulate it through our choices and the probably of outcomes related to them.

Before concluding the book, Odinsson outlines the origins and evolution of the Elder, Younger, and Anglo-Saxon Futharks and offers some insight into books to use for further study - Northern Mysteries and Magick, by Freya Aswynn; The Rune Primer, by Sweyn Plowright, and Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic, by Edred Thorsson - with his providing the basic essentials to get you started.

However, the two most interesting aspects of this book are the unexpected Hafskjold Rune casting chapter, and his chapter on how to read Runes.  The former is a truly original experience with the Younger Futhark, taught to Odinsson by his Stav instructor.  Stav is a body, mind, and spirit system that uses Runes and Norse Mythology.  The Hafskjold cast requires repeating the sixteen-symbol futhark three times over twenty-four Runes, so that each Rune has two characters on it, one on top and one on bottom.  This is another Rune cast I am looking forward to trying soon.

The chapter on how to read the Runes, though, might be what makes this book most handy.  Whether you're a beginner or intermediate Rune user, The Runes in 9 Minutes provides a wonderful chapter with each Rune in the Elder Futhark having its own page dedicated to its image and meaning.   While the meanings are minimal, this is an aspect I like, because it allows the Rune user to develop their own personal interpretation of each Rune, based on the original meaning of the Rune.  And, at the bottom of each page, for each Rune, is the Anglo-Saxon Rune poem on which the meanings of the Elder Futhark Runes are created.

If you're just starting with the Runes and looking for a simple and welcoming book to help you get started, Odinsson's book is definitely one to consider.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Runes 301 - Making Your Own Runes 9

These are the Runes I was making.  About half were done except for staining and varnishing and the other half needed to be engraved, stained, and varnished.  I speak about them in the past tense, because, last weekend, they were ruined - bark peeled off.  While there was no mal-intent involved, such an invasion on something so personal renders them unusable.

So, what to do?  I was devastated and, for a moment, lost.  I have been following a very specific path with those Runes, beginning with cutting the wood just over a year ago (Runes 301- 2).  Still, the thought of giving up never crossed my mind, but I wasn't sure how to proceed.

I wanted to start again, but our cherry tree has already blossomed, so I can't do that for another year.  I decided that maybe what happened was to tell me that I was being too rigid in my process; that this isn't the right time to attempt the historical accuracy (as I understand it) in making the Runes.

I've seen plenty of Rune sets made of wood and all have been cut like coins/medallions, so that's what I decided to do for now.  We have plenty of cedar trees in our yard, so I cut a few of the smaller ones and sliced them into 1/2 inch medallions - enough for six sets, just in case.  (I learned my lesson having only one for the cherry staves.)

On Saturday, I sanded them smooth.  Rather than engrave or burn them, I painted them after I asked for a blessing from Freyr on the Runes and painting markers.  Many people have asked me why Freyr comes up so often for the Runes and the only answer I can give is that he is the god of fertility and I want my Runes to be fertile with knowledge, wisdom, and guidance.

When I stained them on Sunday, I invoked Heimdall, because he gave the Runes to humans through his son, Jarl.  I pricked the index finger of my left hand and pressed a single drop of blood onto the back of each Rune.  Once it was dry, I used a non-toxic varnish to seal the Runes. (Two coats.)

I am happy to present my first two Rune sets.  I love them and I am so glad I didn't quit when the other set became unusable.

The bottom set is painted with blue paint only and this is the one I will probably use most often.  The top is painted using multiple colors.  I made the latter this way for two reasons.  First, I did it, because I also work with colors, using a color system I devised, wherein each of about fifty colors represents different emotions or aspects of our mood, energy, and mindset.  For me, identifying Runes with those colors gives them a little extra power and focus.  The other reason I used the color is simply because it's fun.  Color livens things up and, maybe that's part of the power and focus; colors' power is to enliven.

This entire process made me think of Hagalaz, the hail Rune.  I think this situation exemplifies this Rune perfectly.  Hagalaz brings destruction initially - the bark peeling of my original set.  But, hail is a form of moisture, so it also brings nutrients we need to survive - the making of the new sets.  However, hail is also associated with creativity and I didn't just make a second set.  This time, I incorporated another aspect of my life that's important - color - into one of the new sets - and let go of my goal to achieve historical accuracy with my first set of Runes.

If you have made your own Runes, please let us know.  Share your experience; email me pictures of them.  if I get enough images and your permission, I will share them in a future post.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Runes for Celebration!

I'm taking a break from the various series this week to celebrate the second anniversary of this blog.  I'd like to thank all of you who read, follow, and share my posts.  This blog has become a true labor of love and that is thanks to all of you!

I looked back at the post I wrote for last year's anniversary (Runes of Gratitude) and it still rings true.  However, since then, the number of visits has nearly quintupled!  I'm nearing 70 public followers!  And, I've started two communities, both called Runes and the Futhark, to encourage discussions and share knowledge about and interest in the Runes.  One is on google+ and the other is on facebook.  None of this would be possible without your support, so thank you!!

To show my gratitude this year, I offer Runes for celebration!  Your support has given me the confidence and energy to try new things over the past year and wade into uncertain waters to learn more about the Runes.  For that, I want to celebrate with you!

I asked the Runes what they would give me for this celebration.  They said, "We give you Nauthiz, Hagalaz, and Gebo."

I said, "Thank you.  I appreciate that, but I'm not sure I asked the question properly.  I accept that I shouldn't go overboard with celebrating.  Thus, you showed me Nauthiz, the Rune of need and necessity, but I feel the need to celebrate the accomplishments I've had on this path with those who made them possible.  I also understand that Hagalaz reminds me that things don't always go smoothly.  I know there will be rough spots and disruptions, but they are part of the path; I can learn from and work through them.  Through this process and thanks to the support of everyone who has made this blog possible, I received Gebo, the giving Rune.  Gebo represents not only giving without expectation, which everyone involved has done, but the actual gifts - the Runes,their wisdom, and guidance."

However, I was thinking more along the lines of Wunjo, Dagaz and Laguz, the Runes of joy and pleasure, daylight and clarity, and water or flow.  I was going for more of a party sentiment.

So I asked again, because, "Nauthiz, Hagalaz, and Gebo are not how I want to recognize these great benchmarks, rather I would like to acknowledge them and empower the energy that created them.  What would you say to that?"

The Runes said, "Oh, we see.  Thank you for clarifying.  In that case, we give you Ingwaz, Berkana, and Kenaz."

"These are perfect!  Thank you for your guidance and understanding," I replied.

The first Rune shows fertility through Ingwaz, Freyr's Rune.  This is a positive symbol and indicates that everything we have done together to this point has laid the groundwork for good things to happen.  We can celebrate what our efforts have brought to fruition thus far.

Berkana is the Rune of the birch tree and signifies beginnings.  This marks the entry into the third year of this blog.  When we begin things, we begin with enthusiasm, optimism, and powerful energy.  We can celebrate that on which we embark and carry all the positive energy forward with us!

What better way to begin the third year of this blog than with light from the torch of Kenaz illuminating our path?  Of course, Kenaz is not only light, but is also associated with creativity.  This is where I make my promise to you for the coming year.  I promise to do my best to make the coming year fun and interesting, educational and enjoyable, and I hope that you will engage with me as we take our next steps on the path to explore the wonder of Runes.

As always, please feel free to comment on posts and email me with ideas, questions, and feedback.

Thank you for your support and encouragement!  I'm excited about the coming year!