Monday, September 30, 2013

Runes 201 - Individual Runes - Hagalaz

When I began using the Runes, I would cringe every time Hagalaz came up as part of my cast.  The Hail Rune.  Hail.  I've been in plenty of hail storms in my life and I can tell you this; when hail hits you, it hurts, sometimes causing injury.  It can also break or destroy things it hits.  Given that, my initial dislike of Hagalaz seems understandable.

However, after working with the Runes for about a year, Hagalaz and I reached an understanding and it has become a very empowering Rune for me.  Yes, yes, it doesn't necessarily start off well, but the initial upheaval is an opportunity to confront a bad or overwhelming situation, learn from it, allow that experience and new knowledge to empower you, as you move forward.

I'd like to thank the Runes for supporting my summation, for when I asked them if my assessment of Hagalaz was accurate, they gave me Nauthiz, Gebo, and Berkana.

Nauthiz represents need or necessity.  Although we probably do not want to be hit by the upheaval a hail storm generates, there is a lesson it provides us, an opportunity to grow and learn.  How we manage this first half of Hagalaz, the disruption to our lives, is important.  It requires us to look at the situation and discern its point.  What do we need from this situation, whether we want it or not?

Gebo is the perfect Rune in this second position, because it reminds us that, even though we are caught in an unpleasant situation, its result is a gift.  This is an important recognition to make, because it requires a change of perspective and beckons us to move beyond simply being frustrated by having our lives interrupted and thrown off kilter and, instead, approaching it more holistically.  We don't often (if ever) think of a negative experience as a gift, which is the empowering part of the Hagalaz process.  What positive influence can this situation have on us?

At last, we reach the end of the Hagalaz process.  Remember, when hail melts, it provides water, nourishment.  In this moment, after we have survived the initial storm and found the positive empowering aspect of it, the worst is over.  The end of Hagalaz is a beginning, so why would we not draw Berkana, the birch Rune, the Rune of beginnings?  Perhaps, the best part of Hagalaz, which ties so nicely into a beginning, is the creative force behind it.  Most people think immediately of 'creativity' in an artistic sense when they see the word 'creative', but it doesn't have to mean that at all, rather simply 'to create'.  How can I use what I have experienced and learned from this bad situation to create or forge a positive beginning from it?

The next time Hagalaz hits, remember, it is a process full of opportunity and beginnings too.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Norn Cast

Many authors of Rune books and websites mention the Norns, linking them to the Runes.  Some of those authors and websites, as well as Rune practitioners, even use a Norn cast.  In The Runes in 9 Minutes, Odinsson explains what a Norn cast is.  Although he represents the Norns using past present and future, which, to me, is an oversimplification, Odinsson does make a point of saying that "our ancestors did not believe the future was predetermined."

What he is alluding to is the idea that I mentioned last week, when I summarized the Norns. While the past and present are certain, we cannot know the future.  We can know only what the future should be based on our past and current actions, experiences, and choices.

That said, we can still engage with the Runes and ask about our past, present, and potential future.  That is the Norn cast.  Draw three Runes.  The first represents Urd (the past); the second represents Verdandi (the present); and the third Skuld (what should be).  I like the idea of this kind of draw, because essentially what the Runes tell us in this case is, "Here's where you've been, which has brought you to where you are.  If you stay on this path, this is where you should end up."  Then, the choice is up to us to decide if that potential future, that 'should be', is where we really want to go and, if not, we can take steps to change direction.

With that understanding, I decided to attempt a Norn cast.  I chose to ask about the young readers series that my daughter and I are writing.  We've completed the first draft of the first book and have plenty of ideas for more, but things have stalled a bit.  So, I want to know where it is going.  What is its potential?

As I drew the first Rune, I asked Urd what she would like me to know about the past life of this series.  Likewise, I asked Verdandi and Skuld what they would like to tell me about its current situation and potential future, respectively.  I have to say the first two Runes I drew were very fitting and the third made me feel optimistic.

Drawing Ingwaz, a great fertility Rune, to represent the past assures me that the time was right to begin writing the book.  The idea was well-formed and the story was ready to be shared.  It also reminds me of the writing process.  I spent about 90 minutes every Saturday for several months working on it and, each time I sat down to write, the words just flowed.  They were ready to be picked from my mind.

Thurisaz is an interesting Rune from Verdandi.  It's the Rune of giants and thorns and it signifies potential trouble, but also great potential power.  I believe this almost mixed bag is true of the current situation.  Things have slowed on the writing front for the moment, but about half a dozen of my daughter's friends are reading the completed first draft and their feedback has been great!  So, thorny writing, but powerful or empowering feedback. (If you'd like to read a couple of sample chapters, they are up on my website.)

I think I will choose to stay on the path I began with these books, given that Skuld gave me Sowilo, the sun Rune.  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Sowilo is a hopeful sign, representing good fortune.  It also carries feminine energy, which I take to represent the partnership with my daughter and our targeted readers - girls aged 7-13.  Of course, if I do plan to stay on this path, to make this potential future my eventual present reality, there is work to be done - more writing, contacting agents/publishers, editing and so on.  I need to bring it off the back burner and get it moving again.  You see, that's the thing about the Runes; even when they give you good news, it doesn't mean you get to sit back and rest on your laurels.  You always have to step up and put in the effort.

This was a great introduction to the Norn cast.  I think I will use it again, knowing that I can always ask for additional guidance or extend my dialogue with the Runes or the Norns if Skuld gives me a "should be" that I don't want to have be.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Runes 101 - Runes in Mythology - The Norns

Wyrd Sisters
Image courtesy of Bifrost and Beyond
We know the Norns' basic story as signifying past, present, and future and that Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld are responsible for our wyrd or fate.

While their names are readily applied linguistically to define them (Urd=past, Verdandi=present, Skuld=future), their story in the Norse Mythology makes them much more interesting and complex.

Urd represents the past, but that past is not just our life.  It means everything that happened leading up to the present state of our life.  In other words, our life is shaped by our choices and the influence others have had on it through time.  It also includes our ancestry and the ways in which our heritage or cultural background place us in the world.  A huge infrastructure, of good and bad, worked to make us who we are.

Of course, Urd, representing all of that past experience, brings us to Verdandi, the present or, more specifically, what is happening now.  Just as everything we've done to this moment has made us who we are now, in the current moment, we make choices that affect who we are and which direction we will go as the future arrives.

A very interesting thing occurs at this point in Völuspà , verse 20, where the Norns are introduced. The line immediately following "the second Verdandi" does not introduce Skuld, rather refers to "they" carve on  sticks or cut Runes - Skáru á skiði.  To me, this implies that Urd and Verdanadi cut Runes, which result in Skuld.

The message that I take from this is that our past (all of the parts of the past mentioned above) made us who we are today and that, in turn, will guide us into the future.  Still, Skuld isn't exactly or simply future, rather relates to should or shall be.  Of course, the only things we can know for certain are those things that have happened already and which are happening now.  The future is a mystery.  So, mysterious Skuld may represent what "should be", but as we move into the future, we still have the option to change that path or direction through our choices.  Although the Norns hold our ultimate destiny in their hands, how we arrive there is up to us through our choices and the experiences we make for ourselves.

Going back to "skáru á skiði", think of it like this.  We know our Urd; it has been carved.  We live in our Verdandi; it is being carved.  Although our Skuld is a mystery, our past and present will carve it.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Runes 403 - Rune Interpretations - True to Yourself

I'm having one of those days when I have so many potential questions that I'd like to ask the Runes that I decided, instead of picking one and asking about it, to let the Runes choose which question they would like to answer.  Interestingly, with three Runes, they answered them all and reinforced everything I've been feeling for the past few weeks.

With all my questions dancing unchoreographed through my mind, I asked the Runes, "Which question would you like to answer?"  They gave me Sowilo.

"Interesting," I Smile.  "What would you like to tell me about Sowilo?"  They gave me Mannaz.

"Okay, I get that.  What about Mannaz?"  They gave me Wunjo.

For me, this is a very powerful selection from the Runes.  It provides positive strength answers my questions so simply and clearly.

Sowilo is the Rune of the sun, a hopeful sign, representing good fortune.  But, if we dig deeper and contemplate the sun, it means more than day or light; it represents a clearing.  The clouds are lifting, the sun is rising and it nourishes Earth.  Following this line of thought, the sun is life giving, a feminine power spreading its energy across the land and water for everyone to use.  It gives of itself, offering one of the most basic necessities in life.  Our job is to determine what that means for us at any given moment.  What is your greatest need?  Not a want or desire, but a need.  What Sowilo tells us here is that that basic need will be met.  Dawn is coming.

This is the tricky part, because Mannaz is the Rune of the self.  It represents not only us as individuals, but humanity and culture as it shapes who we are.  In this position, following on Sowilo's assurance that your basic need can be fulfilled, you must look at how you can work with Sowilo to ensure it, because it is within your grasp, but it is not simply going to happen. It requires some effort on your part.  I love Mannaz here, because it reinforces Sowilo by saying,  "Be true to yourself."  That is the effort.  Of course, you must function within a society with which you may not always see eye-to-eye. So, there is the rub or lesson - learn to be true to yourself within the confines of your current situation, but keep moving toward what you need.

Wunjo, as the Rune of joy and pleasure, is the obvious result of those efforts.  However, what you must remember is that joy and pleasure did not mean exactly the same thing to our ancestors.  So many of our basic needs are fulfilled, that we often take them for granted.  Before you move forward to acquiring your current need, take time to reflect and appreciate everything that you have already.  This ties in nicely with Mannaz's lesson.  Although you may not see eye-to-eye with some aspect of your life right now, you must recognize and acknowledge the benefits you have within its confines.  Simply put, it's not all bad and, even though it is okay to need something else, you should be grateful for the needs that are fulfilled in your life right now.

This week, I am especially grateful to the Runes for this guidance, not only because they answered all my questions, but because they also showed me how intertwined everything is and how I can sort it all out.  Next time I am feeling overwhelmed by questions, I know where to begin - by being true to myself.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Working Runes

Today, the US and Canada celebrate Labor Day.  Although its original intent was to celebrate the contributions of our work force, it has basically become a three-day weekend treated as a chance to get away from work rather than thinking about it and have one last hurrah before summer ends.  Before spending too much time pondering this situation, I decided to sit with the Runes and contemplate the idea of work.  Besides getting the answer to simple questions like - why do we work? - I got what I am calling working Runes, because they guide us through many aspects of what work is and the role we give it in our lives.

I drew quite a few Runes for this line of questions, pulling one and then asking my next question based on the answer provided by that Rune.  In answer to my first question about why we work, I drew Nauthiz, the Rune of need and necessity, which I feel needs little explanation and answers the question quite readily.  For the most part, we work out of need; we need to work so that we have money to afford the basic necessities of life.

Following on that answer, I wanted to know if that was the only reason we work or if we work for pleasure, because it is fulfilling.  I did not draw Wunjo as symbol reflecting pleasure  as I thought I might.  Instead, Jera came second and this is where the dialogue with the working Runes began.

Jera:  Your work path has the potential to lead to something fulfilling, but there is a process in reaching that point.

Me: I am not convinced you are the Rune I seek here, because I know that everything has a process through which is must go.  I would like to know how we can work doing something we enjoy.

(I put Jera back in and drew again, but when Jera came out two more times consecutively, I realized what I had been missing.)

Jera: I am your guiding Rune; you connect with me on a deeper level than you are acknowledging.  Stop and look at what process means.  Yes everything has a process, but that includes you.  You have a process and your choices are part of that process.  In fact, they have a direct and immediate impact on it.  Your choices determine where your path goes and how you get where you end up.  Remember, too, that your process is the path you follow through time.  So, if you want to work at something that is fulfilling, you have to put in the effort to make that happen by making wise choices.  You cannot simply expect it to happen.  Think of the farmer, who does not simply scatter seeds on the land, rather plants them strategically, tends them, waters them, provides them with nutrients, so that the harvest is bountiful.

Me: I am willing to put in the effort to get something that I find fulfilling and not just have a job.  How do I know which choices to make to create that path?

Ehwaz: To move along your path, you must find the vehicle, the mode of transportation that will carry you.  In this instance, that means finding out what you enjoy, what you're good at.  Talent arrives in two forms, those born to us and those we learn through experience.

Me:  I must focus on my own interests and innate talents, then.  How will that help me find a job I enjoy?

Ehwaz:  Your talents will carry you forward much quicker and happier if you can utilize them in the work that you do.  Remember, you may not always get to apply them in your work exactly as you'd like, so be aware of the sacrifices you're willing to make on that front.

Me: What if I'm not willing to make a sacrifice that would compromise my talent?

Ehwaz:  If you do not want to compromise your talent through your work, you may end up doing something you don't enjoy at all, so make sure it will afford you what you need to enjoy your talent when you are not working.  You must also surround yourself with people who are going to support you in this endeavor.  The horse is not only the transportation mode, but represents the importance of relationships and partnerships in your life.

Me: That's a good point.  How do I know who these people are?

Gebo:  True support will be apparent.  Those who offer it will give it willingly, without expectation.  Support for your endeavors is a gift, but one you sometimes have to seek by explaining to people what you want to do and asking for help and guidance.  Likewise, when you have something to give in return, you should act the same way.  Give because you can, because you want to, not because you have to.

Me:  If someone supports me, I should return the favor.  Is that all?

Gebo:  That is not what it means.  A gift is not about reciprocity.  Your talent is not just your vehicle, but your gift.  While you are receiving the gift of support from friends, family, potential employers and so on, you will be given the opportunity to give your gift to others through your work.

Me: What if I am still unable to do something I enjoy?

Wunjo:  You will find a way to be happy if you truly desire it.  If your work does not make you feel fulfilled, you must find that fulfillment in other ways.  You are responsible for your own happiness. A good place to begin is by being happy with what you have before you seek more through work or the tools work gives you to acquire those things.  Gratitude and appreciation are important aspects of realizing the joy in your life.

What began as a line of questions looking at why we work and the fact that, on this US/Canadian holiday that is supposed to acknowledge our work, we try to forget about it, has made me realize the importance of what this holiday is intended to do.

Now, as I prepare for my own meal with friends on this labor day, I honor my work efforts on many fronts.  While I acknowledge that not all the work I do plays to my strengths and innate talent or interests, it does afford me the time I need to work on things, like this blog, that I enjoy and that gives me a sense of fulfillment.  Further, I acknowledge that I do get to do some work that gives me fulfillment and I am paid very well for those services.  Coupled with that is the realization that this part of my work has grown in the last two years and continues to move in a positive direction on my path.  Finally, I acknowledge that I did not accomplish this alone, rather through the support and generosity of friends, family, clients, and readers, like you, who support and encourage my writing.

Although we don't always get to do what we want, even when we know where our interests and talents lie, we can still ride those talents on our life's path and, if we can't do what we enjoy for work, we can make sure that the work we do supports us in doing what we enjoy in our time away from work.  In this way, our work, whatever it is, is very important and deserves to be acknowledged today, not necessarily for the contribution it makes to the economy, but to the contribution it makes to enriching our own lives.