I’ve decided to start a regular runic feature for the blog, and what better day for it than Wednesdays? Each Wednesday I will share a bit about my experience with the runes–either my observations and impressions of one or more individual runes, or my techniques for working with them in general. I also invite rune-related questions from my readers–regarding runic divination or magic, history and lore, correspondences, making rune sets, whatever you’d like to ask–and will try to address some of them in my Rune Wednesday posts.
I have close to a decade of experience working with the runes in divination and magic, mostly with the Elder Futhark. (During the past six months or so I’ve been studying the Anglo Saxon Futhorc, but the Elder Futhark is what I started out with and I have to admit it’s still what comes most naturally to me. Perhaps not too surprisingly, since Odin Himself initially approached me in His early Migration Era continental persona of Wodan.) My teacher in all things runic has been, first and foremost, Odin, with His lessons supplemented by a few other gods and spirits and by my readings in a wide variety of rune-related material presented in books, in person by human teachers, and on the web.
Since I don’t currently have internet access at home (a situation that will be remedied at some point in the coming weeks, though it’s still behind a couple of other more important things on our household list of priorities), I’m doing all my writing for this blog at home to be posted later on. So for now, if you’d like your question to be considered for the next Rune Wednesday post, please get it to me by the preceding Monday afternoon, to give me time to have the answer ready for posting by Wednesday. You can email runic questions to me via wodandis at gmail dot com. (And once again, these questions should not be divination requests, but rather questions about the runes themselves.)
To start things off, I’ll share one of the first and most useful runic techniques I learned, which I still practice today. Each morning, preferably while I’m still at home in front of my altar but sometimes on the bus on my way to work, I’ll ground and center, then say a brief prayer to Odin asking for an oracle for the day ahead and for the runes to speak to me clearly, as they speak to Him. Then I’ll draw a rune from my drawstring bag. (My spindle isn’t the only thing I carry with me just about everywhere. I’m still using the first set of runes I made nine years ago, hand-carved and blooded by me on yew wood tiles, although I do have plans to undertake the making of an additional set–to introduce somewhat different energies to my runic practice–at some point soon.) I spend a few minutes in contemplation of the rune I’ve drawn, seeing what associations arise, and if I feel the need I’ll then ask for further clarification and draw one or two additional runes. It’s remarkable how much benefit I’ve derived from this simple practice, both in becoming forewarned about what my day may hold and in terms of increasing my insight into the runes themselves. I always write down the runes or runes I’ve drawn in a small notebook that I carry with me, and beneath that, once the day has passed, I’ll jot down anything that happened in the course of the day that seemed to reflect on or be connected with those particular runes. If you have any ambitions of being a rune reader, this practice is invaluable as it will help you to recognize, over time, how the energies of various runes tend to play out in everyday life.
Be warned, though: if the first rune is harsh and you’re just hoping the clarifying runes will soften it, don’t bother. I’ve tried this trick on occasion, and it has been known to result in my drawing the very same rune–not once, not twice, but THREE times in a row. No kidding. If you haven’t yet been convinced that This Shit is Real, the runes will teach you that lesson quite thoroughly. However, as a corollary to this, don’t make the mistake of thinking that there are such things as “bad” runes, and that drawing a traditionally harsh rune necessarily means the end of the world. This is a trap newbies habitually fall into, yet I have to admit it sometimes still gets me, too; it’s hard to stare down at the Hagalaz or Thurisaz rune you just drew and NOT be thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong for you that day. The runes are both subtle and incredibly powerful, (even, on occasion, treacherous), and falling into this line of thinking is dangerous in that it can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes, I think, the runes themselves test you in this way, probing to see if you can keep your calm and wits about you in the face of threatened disaster–because if not, if you’re just going to throw your hands up in despair at the first ominous sign from them, you obviously can’t handle their secrets, so what’s the point in bothering to work with you any further? So stay calm, and remember that “ominous” runes don’t necessarily presage disaster, anyway.
As an example, yesterday morning I drew Hagalaz, with Wunjo and Jera as clarifying runes. I read this as meaning that something unexpected was likely to happen, but that instead of a disaster it felt like it would be a positive occurrence, maybe even a reward for hard work but manifesting in an unexpected way. I got off the bus and began my walk to work, crossing W. 11th Avenue (a busy industrial street) towards the wetlands–an extensive marshland that provides a haven for osprey, blue heron and a variety of other water birds along with a host of other creatures–where my company is located. There is a bridge, crossing Amazon Creek, that serves as the demarcation point between industrial Eugene and this wild area, and as I was crossing this bridge–from which I’ve had the opportunity to watch ducks and once or twice a blue heron in the creek below–I found something unexpected. I can’t go into exactly what it was, but given what I found, and given my recent circumstances (my increasing focus on spinning and the fiber arts, and my immediate plans to get a spinning wheel and focus even more of my energies in this direction) I understood it to be a gift from Frigga–completely unexpected (in keeping with the rune Hagalaz), but also entirely positive, and resulting from my own efforts (in keeping with the other two runes, Wunjo and Jera).
So yes, sometimes even the most dire-seeming rune can mean good things, and yes, the runes do operate with a will and consciousness of their own. Like the gods themselves, they test, they probe, they make demands, and working with them is not for the timid–however, it is full of rewards.