Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Runes 101 - Runes in History - The Faroese Stones

Translated carving on the Sandavágur Stone
It's always hard for me to accept that Iceland has no Runestones.  None.  Not any.  However, it does bring me some solace to know that the tiny Faroe Islands, with a population of just over 50,000, has three of them - the Sandavágur Stone (discovered 1917), the Kirkjubøur Stone (discovered 1832), and the Fámjin Stone (discovery date unclear).

Although they were all originally housed in churches with the same name as the stones, at least one reference said that they are all housed in the Faroese National Museum in Tórshavn, though I think that may be the case only for the Kirkjubøur Stone.

What is most interesting to me about these stones is the age range among them.  The Kirkjubøur Stone is the oldest, dating from the Viking Age (between the 8th and 11th centuries).  The Sandavágur Stone is next from the 13th century, while the Fámjin Stone is about 300 years younger dated to the middle/end of the 16th century.  That demonstrates Rune usage well into the Middle Ages.

The Fámjin Stone has Roman letters on it in addition to the Runes, but given how young it is, that is not so surprising.  Still, I couldn't find what was carved on the stone.

The oldest of the stones, the Kirkjubøur Stone, says something about peace being granted to someone named Vígulf.  Although I couldn't find a picture of the stone itself, the Runic carving appears on a stamp.  It's in the background and and image of the Sandavágur Stone is in the front.

The Sandavágur Stone also has the most complete inscription.  It refers to Thorkell Onundarson,claiming that he was the first to build there.  The impression seems to be that he was the first permanent settler at least in the Sandavágur area.

Researching these stones left me convinced that I need to put the Faroe Islands on my list of places to visit so that I can see them for myself and share more about them.  If you've been there and have pictures, you're willing to share, please let me know.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Runes 202 - Bind Runes - Coming Together

Do you ever have those moments short or long when you feel good because everything comes together and is moving along in perfect sync?  It's a lot, but everything is running smoothly?  And, you're actually making forward progress?  It's a great feeling.  You are getting things done, able to spend some time relaxing or engaged in a fun hobby or activity.  But...in the back of your mind, you know that, if one thing goes wrong, everything else will crumble.

This is how I feel when fall arrives.  School starts and so do extracurricular activities.  At this point, the only time we don't have something going on is Friday evening.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't mind it.  In fact, I enjoy it.  It's a great piece of being a parent, taking your kids to participate in activities that they truly love doing.  But...if one thing disrupts the well-oiled machine you've got going, keeping everything else moving forward creates a major challenge.

I asked the Runes, "Once things come together, what can we do to keep them together?"  By looking at the Bind Rune at the top of this post, I think you can tell that the three Runes I drew to answer this question - Ansuz, Raido, and Nauthiz.  Then, I had to determine how to bind them.  Why bind them?  It's simply the idea of some reinforcement of the idea of holding things together.  It took a few tries to get the one that felt right.

Maybe I should have gone with one of the others (above in shades of green), but the one on the left felt too tight for me, and too heavy.  The one on the right looks like it is stretching apart already.  That just increased my concern about my "coming together" coming apart too.  That is why the one at the top works for me.  It felt like the right representation for this - a line down the middle to hold everything together, with movement on each side at certain times.

These Runes also tell a "coming together" story.  Simply put, if you want to keep everything together, there are three vital pieces.  "You must communicate with everyone involved," says Ansuz.  But, like the mouth of the river (think river delta), communication is a complicated network.  There are people directly involved on a regular basis, some who participate occasionally, and those who are on-call in case of an emergency. 

Why is this important?  Because, Raido indicates a journey, movement; even though everything is coming together, it is also fluid.  That is to say there are a lot of moving parts, which sets the stage for one of those parts to to go off in its own direction.  A child gets sick; an appointment gets missed; something gets double-booked.  Essentially, this "coming together" of activities is a series of interdependent journeys within a single system.

Nauthiz looks at needs and necessity within the "coming together".  It gives us pause to question what we're doing not in the sense that it is wrong, rather in the sense of, "Is what we're doing in our 'coming together' what we need to be doing?  Is it all necessary?"  The answer can be yes; but checking in on this is important.  If everything that we're doing in our "coming together" is necessary, then we must also recognize the other two pieces the fluidity of it and the need to communicate to ensure its success.  If it's not necessary, we have the opportunity to recognize and correct it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Runes 301 - Making Your Own Runes - Shells

The Runes I have been using for several years were not intended to be a permanent set even though I stained them with my blood as part of the ritual.  I made them after the original staves I had been working on were ruined.  They have served me well, but I always planned to make another set and, this year, I committed to making at least three new sets of Runes.  Last week, I finished the first one.  Shells.

I have a strong connection to water and live near a lake.  Earlier this summer, I collected the shells while visiting a friend's cottage on the lake.  When I got home, I washed the shells to clean them so that I could write the Runes on them.  Though I wasn't considering this part of the ritual, I certainly felt Freyr's energy while I was doing it.

With the shells clean and dry, I painted a Rune on each one, going in order of the Elder Futhark.  I applied two coats and let them dry for several days.  I was waiting for the right moment to complete the ritual - a blessing on them.  This also got to be tricky, because I wasn't using my own blood.  When I mixed it with the paint, it changed the color.  Some say a drop of blood will suffice and that may be true, but I prefer a drop for each Rune.  Instead, I decided to take them back to the lake and rinse them in the lake water, but I had to wait for the right moment.

One morning last week, it was raining and I realized this was the moment I needed.  I put the Runes in a pouch and stopped by the lake on my way to work.  As the rain fell on that cool, misty morning, I emptied the Runes into the sand right where the water was lapping onto the shore.  It gently washed over them as I took each one separately and swirled it in the water before wrapping it into a cloth.

Although I called on Njord for a blessing, it was Freyr who presented himself more prominently.  Njord was there, but took a secondary position.  I know that neither god is associated with the Runes like Odin and Heimdall, but I requested Njord as a god with a connection to the sea.  I sometimes sense him along the shore and around marinas, so it felt right.  Still, it was Freyr who stood behind me to the left and watched as I completed my ritual.  I take his presence to mean that this was a good time, a fertile time, for me to bless the Runes and make them my own.  Even though my blood wasn't used, the water from the lake and the rain served to create that bond.

When I got home from work, I drew three Runes for myself to make them my own.  Eihwaz, Jera, and Sowilo.  These are three powerful Runes for me.  Eihwaz has become an important Rune for me when I need to be strong or calm - focused.  Jera is my guiding Rune; whenever it shows up in a draw, it is powerful.  And Sowilo is my Rune for the year, reminding me of feminine energy (to balance last year's Rune - Thurisaz).  I think this sets a good precedence for this set of Runes and the connection between them and me.