Friday, March 30, 2018

Runes 101 - Runes in History - Blekinge Sweden

Of all the places in Sweden that have Runestones, why should I choose Blekinge, in the southeastern part of the country on the Baltic sea?  I mean it has only three Runestones of the roughly 2,000 that are in Sweden.  However, these three share a few similarities.  The are all dated to between the years 500-790; they were all carved in a Proto-Norse version of Runes, which were used during the transition from the Elder to Younger Futhark; and, they are linked to the same tribe.  I believe they are all also designated to the same clan.

Blekinge used to have four Runestones, but one - the Gummarp Runestone - was destroyed in the 1728 Copenhagen Fire that burned almost half of the older section of the city.  The interpretation of these Runes comes down to two options - Haþuwulfar carves them for himself or they were carved in his memory.  Either way, three staves were carved for him - fff.

Fehu, Fehu, Fehu - wealth, wealth, wealth

Istaby Runestone
Haþuwulfar also appears on the Istaby Runestone.  Here, Haþuwulfar refers to himself as Heruwulfar's son and he is paying tribute in memory of Hariwulfar.

The names are what make this Runstone so interesting.  As you may have surmised, 'wulf' means 'wolf'.  'Hari' and 'Haþu' mean 'warrior' and 'battle' respectively.  The warrior wolf and battle wolf are part of a larger clan that may have incorporated wolves or the idea that wolves are a pack or family into rituals and religious ceremonies to initiate young warriors into the fold.

To see this Runestone, you need to visit Stockholm as it resides in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities.

The Third Runestone is where things start to get really interesting, because this is where the curses come in.  Lying face down, surrounded by five other stones that formed a pentagon, the Stentoften Runestone was discovered in 1823.  In 1864, it was moved to the church of Sölvesborg.

Stentoften Runestone
The carving on this stone talks about how dwellers and guests [of]  Haþuwulfar had a bountiful harvest.  In part, this carving uses the Younger Futhark version of Jera to represent the harvest.  There are other Runes on this stone, like Kenaz, that are in the transitional form from the Elder to Younger Futhark.

An animal sacrifice occurred either to help with the good bounty or to give thanks for it.  This part is unclear.

You should also be warned that, "I, master of the runes(?) conceal here, runes of power, incessantly (plagued by) maleficence, (doomed to) insidious death (is) he who this breaks."  So, I highly advise that you don't break it.

Björketorp Runestone
The only one of Blekinge's Runestones that still resides in its original location is the Björketorp Runestone, located east of Ronneby off of E22.  One of the tallest Runestones in the world, it forms a circle with two other large stones called menhirs, because nothing is carved on them.

One of the lines on the stone matches almost exactly, in words, the line from Stentoften.  However, scholars say that the two stones were not carved by the same runemaster.  It says, "I, master of the runes(?) conceal here runes of power. Incessantly (plagued by) maleficence, (doomed to) insidious death (is) he who breaks this (monument)."  This stone, however, goes one step further, including a prophesy of destruction.

Scholars have put forth a host of potential meanings for these stones.  The one I like is the notion that these Runestones marked a border between different clans, possibly Swedes and Danes.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Runes 201 - Individual Runes - Isa

As the ice begins to melt up north, I decided to sit with Isa - the Ice Rune - and reflect on some of the things happening in my life.  It's one of the Runes whose meanings is clear and, built into that meaning is caution and treading carefully.  It tells us to pause and look around, to see the whole picture and then take the next step.  This is what makes Isa the perfect Rune to hold when you are contemplating things.

Before I create a plan, I like to sit with Isa to think about it.  Then, I usually draw three Runes to support the issue I'm thinking about, and there tends to be a common process in those Runes.  The first one will tell me what I need to consider, the second will tell me how to go about it, and the third gives me the results results I should get if I follow the plan.

It's a little like a Norn reading; Urd is the the past - what you must consider.  This one may seem like a bit of a stretch, but hear me out.  When you consider things, the past is a major part of that consideration whether you realize it or not.  What have I learned from the past?  I don't want to repeat the past.  Should I try it again?  I've done this and this, now how do I do this?  Everything builds on the past one way or another.

The second Rune - telling you how to go about addressing the issue - represents Verdandi, what you must do in the present.  This isn't always a clear action.  Sometimes it is a skill or feeling you possess.  Isa will help you process the meaning.  Skuld aligns with the third Rune.  She is not exactly the future, rather more what should be (as I noted above) if you do what you need to do in the present; the results you will get.

I had a few friends try sitting with Isa to contemplate a single issue in their lives and then draw three Runes.  I should point out here that this process differs from an interpretation, because you have been sitting with the issue, considering it from all angles, weighing pros and cons, etcetera.  It's more like a mini ritual.  Anyway, here is what happened for them:

One friend had a situation at work and she wasn't sure if she should tell Human Resources about it.  She sat with Isa an hour a day for three days and then she drew Algiz, Gebo, and Ingwaz.  It was her past experience with taking care of herself through Algiz that gave her the gift (Gebo) she has for speaking up for others that she needed to use.  Ingwaz assured her that the time was right.

Another friend is contemplating getting a second job to pay for a trip he wants to take.  He sat with Isa for two hours and drew two sets of three, first on what kind of job he should get and the second on his ability to actually make the trip happen.  The two hours and two sets signify the second job - 2, 2, 2.  Wunjo (the joy Rune) and Kenaz (the torch Rune) overlapped these two draws.  Along with Raido, the riding Rune, at the beginning of the first draw, and Ehwaz, the horse Rune, at the end of the second, he discerned that whatever job he got would have to use his artistic skills, because that is what would make him happy and able to stick with the job to raise the money for the trip. He could also make the trip work, but it might happen in a non-traditional way.

Finally, another friend recently broke up with her long-time boyfriend and she was thinking about contacting an old boyfriend, not to get together with him, but to resume the friendship she let fall by the wayside, so as not to create any problems with the boyfriend who just ended their relationship.  She sat with Isa for a total of seven hours, an hour a night for a week.  Then, she drew her three Runes - Laguz (the water Rune), Wunjo (the joy Rune) , Berkana (the birch Rune).  Her relationship with the old boyfriend had always been easy (Laguz), they navigated everything without a fuss; it just flowed.  The idea of reconnecting with him and finding out what he'd been up to for the past few years made her happy (Wunjo) and she wanted to act on that happiness.  However, she also had to realize that whether or not he responded to her, was secondary to the fact that reaching out to him was a big step in moving past her recent break-up and getting on with her life (Berkana).

Through my own process and those that my friends undertook, Isa helped us to focus and contemplate before we drew our Runes, which gave us clearer results.  I hope sitting with Isa can help you in the same way.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Runes 401 - Rune Rituals - A Rune for 2018

Welcome to 2018!  This is my third year selecting a Rune for the year.  Two years ago, I chose Thurisaz to reconnect me to the power within me that I had had let slip away through the daily routines of life.  Last year, I countered the masculine energy of Thurisaz with Sowilo.  It was a nice balance.

My 2018 Rune began calling to me in December...in no uncertain terms.  It is Ansuz.  Ansuz represents many things for me, but the main thrust of this Rune is as it relates to language, wisdom, and communication.  Ansuz came to me in December, because I had hoped to finish the draft of the sequel to my novel, The Son of Nine Sisters, by the end of 2017.  Due to year-end family commitments, it became apparent in mid-November that that was not going to happen, so I gave myself until the end of January, another deadline that will be missed, though only just.  I believe Ansuz came forward to remind me not to lose focus even though my two soft deadlines would pass unmet, and to remind me to stay focused on completing the sequel draft, regardless of missed self-imposed deadlines, and to continue to the next writing project after that.

Even though I have known for more than a month that Ansuz would be my 2018 Rune, I still wanted to perform a ritual to recognize it.  Last year, I sat with my Runes, holding each one individually in my hands, narrowing it down to Sowilo. When I considered this year's ritual, I saw myself painting Runes.  The result is the image above and the process clearly was not about quality painting so much as it was about the process of connecting to my Rune for the year.  It's a spatial thing, but it was also a flowing trance-like process.  I had a vision in my head that looked very similar to the painting, though I could not see the entire painting in my head; I could see only where individual Runes belonged on it.  The ritual was about placing the each Rune in its space as I drew it from the bag.  Sitting in my Bay window on this snowy January morning, I drew the Runes, one at a time.  (The image below shows the order in which I pulled them.)  And, as I drew them, I chose a color that represented that Rune's energy to me and painted the Rune where it was in my image.  There was almost no pause during the entire ritual.  The resulting visual will serve as my reminder for me this year to not lose focus on the commitment I made to my writing.  I will be curious to see how the placement of the other Runes around Ansuz will impact its role as my Rune for the year.