Monday, April 28, 2014

Runes 201 - Individual Runes - Uruz

Uruz is one of those Runes with an obscure meaning, but tends to follow the Anglo-Saxon meaning of aurochs or wild ox.  Though there is some consensus that the Anglo-Saxon Rune poem comes closest to Uruz's original meaning, I wanted to consider the Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian Rune poem meanings too.  The old Icelandic poem calls Ur (Uruz) drizzle and the Old Norwegian poem says that is it slag from bad iron.

Interestingly, when I asked about the Icelandic poem meaning of drizzle, I drew Sowilo, which seems to counteract drizzle.  When asking about the bad iron slag of the Old Norwegian poem, I drew Eihwaz, the yew tree, a strong wood used to make exceptional bows.  This seems to oppose the slag from bad iron, because bad iron makes a weak sword, but the yew tree makes a strong bow.  I don't know if these were supposed to cancel each other out, but they appear to, so I turned back to the idea of the aurochs from the Anglo-Saxon poem and asked about this meaning.

The Rune I drew in response, almost as if to say that it is, in fact, a Rune that represents the wild ox, was Uruz itself.  Still, we cannot consider Uruz without acknowledging that the aurochs is a 'wild' animal.  I would say it means less 'wild' and more free, not domesticated, even independent.  Coupling these ideas - physical well-being and strength with free or freedom/independence - I had the two aspects of this Rune on which to focus.

What should we know about these aspects of Uruz?

With regard to physical strength, though it could relate to several things, the message I've been getting lately refers to taking care of physical health, holistic physical strength, not just physical power.  This stands, in some ways, in contrast to the usual idea of physical strength and power and says, instead, it's okay to have weak moments and it is important to allow ourselves time to heal after them.  We cannot spend our lives powering through everything - going without proper sleep, nutritious food, and some form of physical activity.  There are other aspects to life that give us balance to move forward in a healthy way, not just acting like a bull in a china shop.  As we age, it becomes even more important to pay attention to this for our overall well-being, not just physical prowess.

The other aspect I like about this Rune is the idea of 'wild'ness.  Often times, I see depictions of Uruz standing in contrast to Fehu - the wild ox versus domesticated cattle.  However, I don't think this means run wild, disregard everything else completely and do whatever the hell you want, not in the rebellious sense anyway.  That mindset seems to support the idea of powering through, which has no balance in it.  Rather, what I take from this is the idea of freedom to make choices, not to follow things blindly like a sheep, and question everything and make sure you agree with it before simply following suit.  This is such an important part of this Rune, for even though we talk about being wild, what we are really talking about is using our innate abilities and one of our greatest as human beings is critical thinking.  When we employ that, we have the capacity to become a much more peaceful and accepting society.  However, what Uruz says is start with yourself.  Develop your own critical eye, not in the sense of negativity, but in the sense of thoughtfulness.  Think, consider, and make independent, well-reasoned choices.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Runes 101 - Runes in Mythology - The Adventures of Merlin

Last week, I started watching a British fantasy show on Netflix, called The Adventures of Merlin.  Broadly based on King Arthur and Camelot, this show depicts Merlin and Prince Arthur as youth (Late teens, early twenties) and, even though Arthur's father, King Uther, has outlawed magic by penalty of death, there is still plenty of magic and mythology around, which is why this is a Runes in Mythology post.

In season 1, episode 6, a sorcerer comes to Camelot.  While I won't give away the plot, I will say this: he has a small box with him that's full of beetles which he can 'bring to life' and 'freeze' by chanting.  However, what makes the box interesting is that it has four Runes inscribed on it and looks roughly like this:

The first glance of the box caught my eye immediately and I can't tell you how many times I had to hit pause to capture just the right image of it to inspect the Runes.  Once I got it, a few realizations came to mind.

First, Othala is inverted.  Second, like Othala, the third Rune is also an 'o' Rune reversed and, as near as I can tell, from a Futhark called the Latinized or Medieval Futhark (which according to the source I found was used primarily for decoration and not actually for inscription).  Last, the first and last Runes are not etched exactly like the Elder Futhark Runes.

In fact, the 'f' Rune (Fehu) is curved and seems to derive from one of the Younger Futhark versions, while Jera is etched similar to the Elder Futhark, but not exactly, having more of a diamond shape to it, than the interlocked aspect it actually has.

I struggle with Rune usage such as this.  One one hand, I am happy to see the Runes being used and love that family and friends consult me immediately whenever they see anything the suspect is a Rune.  On the other, it bugs me that they are so confused and misrepresented, deriving from different futharks - Fehu from a younger Futhark;  Othala the Elder, but inverted; the third is an 'o' Rune from a medieval futhark; and Jera's similar depiction of the Elder, with a slightly off diamond shape.

Perhaps what struck me as being the most odd about these Runes is that they appeared in a show about Merlin and King Arthur.  I mean these tales are from England, so I would expect the Runes they use in the show to be from the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc.

Maybe I shouldn't dwell on such small details, but I can't help but feel like, in anything, if you're going to do it, you should do it as correctly as possible and this clearly isn't.  So, I'm torn - happy to see the Runes and to be able to recognize the short comings of their presentation, but disappointed in those same presentation errors.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Runes 403 - Rune Interpretations - Achieving Goals

The way we achieve goals changes depending on any number of variables, such as how long it will take.  Our mental and emotional state can impact our success and stress levels related to obtaining them.  Even our age can affect how we achieve goals.  With this understanding in mind, I used a Norn cast and asked the Runes about achieving goals.

I drew Dagaz, Mannaz, and Hagalaz.  What was most interesting about this draw was that I could see how the results affected at least two aspects of achieving goals - the way we achieve them changes with age (and experience/wisdom) and that we approach short, mid, and long terms goals differently.

Norn Cast for achieving goals

What a wonderful first Rune!  Using Urd to represent both our past/youth and short-term goals, I drew Dagaz.  The Rune of the day represents both of these "Urd attributes" perfectly.  Dagaz is a very positive and uplifting Rune, shedding hope through its light. This characteristic applies easily to youth.  When we are young, we are much more optimistic and willing to take risks.  There is less planning, more leaping and trying new things.  Essentially, it refers to clarity; anything is possible during the day when we can see things clearly. 

However, we can also apply Dagaz to short term goals just as easily.  Short term goals are within our reach; they are manageable.  We can see how to get from point A to point B and, since the path is short, it is much less likely that something is going to disrupt it.  In this way, day sheds light on our path and guides us toward accomplishing those short term goals.  Urd links to this, because just as our past is a stepping stone to our present, so too are our short term goals stepping stones to mid and long terms ones.

When dealing with Verdandi in the present, we become a little more strategic when considering our mid-term goals.  We have gained some experience along the way which we utilize, because now we are really starting to plan for the complexities of life.  Mannaz represents this time and our mid-term goals quite well.

Mannaz is the human Rune.  It incorporates the individual, society, even a higher self.   It is very fitting that, as we get older and have a little life experience under our belts, we become more aware of these different levels of ourselves.  We realize that we do not function in a vacuum, that we are affected by our society and vice versa.  We also seem to become more pragmatic.  While we still take risks, we consider their consequences more than we used to.  That is how Mannaz affects our present self when setting, determining, and achieving goals - through greater contemplation of ourselves as individuals and of that self in the larger picture.

How does Mannaz help us accomplish our mid-term goals?  The same way it helps us understand who we are at this stage.  Mannaz begins to incorporate strategy.  It reminds us of the experiences we've had that brought us to this point and how to use those going forward (having learned from them) .  We know now that everything is not a short term goal and that we can't always jump easily from point A to point B.  By understanding who we are and how we function in the world around us, we can accomplish our mid-term goals despite the twists, turns, and obstacles that will make up the path to getting there.

Hagalaz here, in Skuld's position, is my favorite of this draw.  It explains perfectly what the future should be.  We know it won't be easy (or not as easy as we'd like it to be), but we know that we can continue to build on Mannaz to get through the rough spots.  However, the cool thing about Hagalaz is the second half.  Remember, hail is initially problematic, but once it melts, it provides nourishment.  In a way, Hagalaz takes us back to Dagaz, back to the risks and optimism of youth of the past; it fuels our creativity, creativity that now also benefits from life's experience synchronized with Dagaz by Mannaz.

This sets us up perfectly for achieving long term goals, the ultimate goals we want to accomplish, but whose paths get fuzzier as we look forward.  Despite the fuzziness, we know from our experience with Urd/Dagaz and Verdandi/Mannaz, that those fuzzy spots will become clear; we have the ability  and skills we need (if we believe in ourselves) to achieve these long term goals. If we add the creative juices that Hagalaz unleashes to Dagaz and Mannaz, we allow ourselves to accomplish those goals in intentional and fun ways.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Runes 301 - Making Your Own Runes - Chestnuts

Chestnut Runes
This may be one of the most creative Rune sets I've seen in a long time.  They are made of chestnuts. My friend, Amanda, made them after she was nudged by Odin to create this unique set... from seeds.

"Using tree seeds seems to fit, since Odin hung from a tree for nine nights to gain the secrets of the Runes," she explains.

Of course, chestnuts are not easy to carve into.  Unlike the ash key Runes I shared last month, once dried, chestnuts are quite hard, like dried beans.  In fact, after trying to use a dremmel to carve the Runes into the chestnuts to no avail, Amanda switched to painting the Runes onto them and found that gold, copper, and silver looked the best and most natural against the rich brown color of the seeds.

To many of us, myself included, the box or pouch  that holds our Runes is just as important as the runes themselves.  The 'pouch' for this set is no exception.  Amanda says, "I wanted to create a pouch to hold them that resembled a nest."

Chestnut Runes nestled in their nest.
As you can see from the picture to the right, she clearly succeeded.

Amanda plans to make other unique Rune sets too, using mediums such as shells and antlers.  She also has plans to make a chestnut set using the Ogham alphabet.

She is in the process of setting up an account on Etsy for her Rune sets and the other work she does through her craft business 9 Nights Forge & Loom.  When the site goes live, I will share links on my pages on Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+, so you can check out her work.

Until then, if you have a set of Runes you'd like to share, please put them in a comment on this post or contact me directly and I will do my best to share them in a future blog post.