Saturday, October 29, 2016

Runes 101 - Runes in History - The Vang Stone

Image from Wikipedia

The Vang Stone is a Runestone located in the central part of southern Norway. Although its runic inscription follows a fairly standard wording someone has erected the stone in honor or memory of someone else – I am not sure if the stone was erected for the carvers' nephew or cousin.  In my research, I found both. The actual wording is interpreted as:  Gasa's sons erected (cut or carved) this stone in memory of Gunnar, their nephew/cousin.  But, this is only one aspect of the Vang Stone.

Vang Stone inscription
Of the roughly 3,000 Runestones in Scandinavia, Sweden hosts the vast majority of them.  There are none in Iceland, around 250 in Denmark, and Norway comes in with 50. Of course, other areas of the world also tout a runestone or runic carving (for example, Italy has the Pireaus Lion, there are some in the UK, including the Manx Crosses on the Isle of Man, even Greenland has one.)  So, this special stone is one of Norway's 50 and what makes it interesting is that the Vang Stone has some really fascinating features all based on location.

Changing location.  The Vang Stone was erected right around the time of the conversion to Christianity in Scandinavia (around the year 1000) and located originally near a stave church; and there it sat for more than 800 years.  When the stave church was taken apart and reassembled in Germany in 1844, the Vang Stone was also moved to the Vang Church and it still resides there.

Geographic location. On a larger scale, the Vang Stone lies just to the north of the Ringerike District of Norway, the area which is responsible for the ornate carving style on the Vang Stone's face, called the Ringerike style.  The design is topped off by a stylized lion with two small shells at the bottom.  In between are gently-curved swirls that crisscross in the middle. The top part of the crisscross appears a bit more symmetrical, though not entirely, than the lower portion.

Inscription location.  On a much smaller scale, the stone itself is different from most other stones, because its runic engraving runs along the side of the stone.  It is not above, below or integrated into the picture and design on the stone's face.  I tried to highlight (in the image to the left) the cut Runes that run along right side of the stone as you look at its face, but if you want a better view, I did find a reasonable image online. (Click to see the Vang Stone image.)  The location of the Runes on the stone is quite intriguing to me.  I can't help but wonder if carving them on the side was an intentional piece of the stone design so as not to take away from the carving on the front or if Gasa's sons simply forgot to leave space, so had no choice but to cut the Runes along the stone's side.

The Vang Stone is a good example of the importance of location, location, location.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Runes 403 - Rune Interpretations - Optimism

I had a nice chuckle as I sat down this morning to write this post, because it's focused on optimism and this is the first post that missed its month.  It should have been posted in September, but here we are: October 1st.  Maybe it's mocking me or maybe it's the perfect step into optimism.  Either way, I just have a feeling that we could all use a little optimism in our lives at this point.  So, I asked the Runes to give us some insight into this hopeful idea.

The simplicity of their guidance is reassuring.  They gave me Mannaz, Wunjo, and Gebo.

The subtle reminder provided by Mannaz, the humanity Rune, tells us we're all humans;  all imperfect, but that's okay.  One of the marvelous things about imperfection is its variety.  And, we all know that variety is the spice of life.  But, the more important message behind this Rune is also that, as humans, we can decide how we perceive things and what we do with them.  We can choose to turn away from negative perceptions and emotions and responses to things that take us outside of our comfort zone.  Because, let's face it; there's a reason it's called a "comfort" zone even though it may not be the best place for us.  It's familiar and we liken familiar with good, which isn't necessarily true.

Wunjo is an interesting choice to follow on Mannaz, especially because we may liken our comfort zone to a  happy place.  So, does the joy Rune tell us that we should stick to our comfort zone?  Is it countering Mannaz?  I don't think so.  I think it is challenging us to find true happiness, to broaden our comfort zone and truly make it a space filled with joy.  That means we have to make that decision to turn away from negative perceptions, emotions, and responses.  If we accept negativity, how will we achieve happiness?  We won't.  In this way, Wunjo offers encouragement to reject negativity in all forms and pointing out that, because we are human, we can do it.  I've given many readings to people with a similar message: focus on the positive.  Often times, their response is to say that they don't know how to do that.  My response is always the same.  You just do it.  You make a conscious choice to be happy.  It occurs to me that what Wunjo in second position is suggesting is that choosing to be optimistic is the first step toward joy.

Our third Rune, Gebo the gift Rune, reinforces optimism in no uncertain terms.  The ability to choose optimism, especially when the world seems so full of negative energy today, is an incredibly powerful gift that we can give to ourselves.  Our own optimism can spread to others too.  The most amazing part is that we can all do that simply by making that conscious choice.  Making the choice is easy, but following through on it may not be.  Remaining optimistic in the face of obstacles real or perceived isn't necessarily easy, but the joy that awaits you on the optimistic path is worth it and so are you.

My being able to publish a blog post every month is a small thing, but I am optimistic about being able to do it and it is okay that other things in my life needed my attention this month.  I am still optimistic I will get October's post done before November arrives.  In case you're wondering, some of those other things in my life that needed my time this month aren't simple little things like writing a monthly blog post, and I am letting you know that so that you know you are not alone in facing beasts, turning away from negativity, and making a conscious effort to focus on optimism to make yourself happier.  I'm with you and I am sure that many other people who read this blog are too.