casting

The Road to Runes

July, 2018

 

The Road to Runes: Learning the Layouts

Before I expand further into learning the individual meanings of the runes, I wanted to understand a bit more about the different layouts used in rune divination. Like tarot, there are various ways of displaying runes, and each layout can have different meanings and is useful in different types of situations. We’ve already had a look at a three rune spread, showing what has happened, what is happening right now and what is going to happen; past, present and future. More metaphysically, this can be seen as our current situation, our desired situation and the eventual actual outcome of the situation. We’ve also looked at pulling a single rune, and using that to give us some guidance on a single question. But how else can the runes be used for divination?

 

The Four Directions

Pull four runes and lay them at north, south, east and west. The Rune Site tells us that each of the positions of the runes can be named for each of the dwarves that hold up the sky; Nordri, Austri, Sudri and Vestri. This cast expands upon the three rune cast by adding in an extra rune which tells us of what obstacles may be in our way.

Nordri: North, the past. What happened to lead the subject to ask the question they are asking today? What led to this situation? Why are we here, in this position, today?

Vestri: West, the present. What’s happening right now? How are people feeling? How are they dealing with the current situation? How are subjects reacting to one another?

Austri: East, future obstacles: What stands in our way? What opportunities are there? What challenges, and what chance to overcome these?

Sudri: South, future outcome. What may we expect at the end of this situation? How will it be resolved? Indeed, will it be resolved, or will it lead to another situation beyond this one?

 

Five Rune Spread

You or your client pulls five runes and spreads them in a line, and they are read left to right. Blackwitchcoven.com tells us that these runes, one to five, are the present, the obstacle, a desired goal, a concern and the final result.

Rune One: This is the truth of the current situation and should directly relate to the question the caster or client has asked.

Rune Two: This rune will describe or foretell an obstacle which will occur in the caster’s journey.

Rune Three: This rune should relate to the caster’s goal, but may reflect an unconscious desire.

Rune Four: This rune deals with any worries, concerns or even anxieties about the situation in question. It may be that the caster didn’t appear to have any worries, and was simply looking to the runes for reassurance. This rune will deal with any subconscious worries that are lurking behind the scenes.

Rune Five: This rune gives some guidance on what the actual outcome may be.

 

Seven Rune Layout

This one seems more complex, but is incredibly useful for obtaining more detail and specifics about your situation or problem. Sunnyway.com tells us this spread can often tell us how we ended up in this position in the first place, and can look three months in to the past, or the future. Another left to right reading, simply choose seven runes, lay six out left to right with the final rune by itself, below the first six.

The main difference in this layout is that two runes are read at a time, the meanings combining to give a more complex, but more thorough explanation of each aspect of your situation.

Runes One and Two: These should give details on the current problem; what is happening right now; people’s current feelings, reactions and actions; how we are dealing with this situation right now and how it is affecting us.

Runes Three and Four: what happened in the past to lead to this situation? What are the root causes?

Runes Five and Six: These are the two key runes that will provide the necessary guidance for this situation. Try and interpret the meanings of each rune and see how they relate to one another, in order to get the best advice possible. You may be told to move on, to let something go, to hang on to something, to wait, to act; it’s important to try and glean as much meaning as possible from these two runes.

Rune Seven: The overall outcome. The meaning of this rune will be affected by the runes that came before, so if it’s a rune where the meaning could be either generally negative or positive, look to the prior runes and see how positive or negative they are, and their meanings; do they back up a negative outcome? Or would that make little sense in the context of this reading?

This sounds like a really complex reading, and I doubt I’m ready for it yet, but it’s really interesting to see how the runes can be used together, and not just as individual messengers.

 

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

 

The Road to Runes

May, 2018

The Road to Runes: Hagalaz, the Coming of Hail

So, it was the turn of a different friend to pull a rune this time, and I wasn’t expecting it. On the spot divination, she pulled out the polished, burnt piece of hazel and looked at me quizzically. I had to admit to her that my studies had not taken me this far, and thus, my latest article was born. Pictured is the rune she pulled: Hagalaz, also known as Haglaz or Hagala. This rune literally means ‘hail’, and by what I have learnt, is a pretty fierce and somewhat scary rune to see in any divination.

The Elder Futhark (the group of runes I am working with and believed to be the oldest Germanic runic alphabet) is split into 3 Aett, or groups of 8 runes. Hagalaz is the first rune of the second Aett, or Aettir. There are so many variants of the terms used to describe the runes and their alphabetic structure, and while I am still learning I am keeping myself open to all of these words, so forgive me if I chop and change. The second Aettir is sometimes known as Hel’s Aetirr, which sounds pretty ominous. Hel is the daughter of Loki, and therefore at least part giant, and she reigns over the realm of Hel, one of the dwelling places of the dead in Norse mythology. She is fairly indifferent to the trials and sufferings of humankind, if not actually cruel, and that aspect seems to be reflected in the hail rune. Hail is out of our control. It doesn’t care if we get cold, or wet, or stung. It has no pity for our misery; it simply is, and it is up to us to deal with it; get out of the cold or battle on through the storm.

Hail is the coldest of seeds… (Viking Rune Poem)

Hail is often described in runic inscriptions as a seed, and perhaps this is simply due to its appearance, as if someone high above was casting ice cold grain onto the earth, in the vain hope of it sprouting into some bizarre crop. However, there is more to the seed aspect than simple appearances. If we are tested, and we follow through with the test, whether we pass or fail, we grow as people. Each new challenge we face changes us in some way, usually for the better. Even bad experiences teach us something. Hagalaz is a seed rune because although hard times may be coming, there is the chance for great personal transformation; to be the sprouting wheat after the grain is cast.

Hail is whitest of grains. It whirls from the sky

whipped by the wind, then as water it trickles away. (Old English Rune Poem, translation Marijane Osborn)

This is a reminder that hard times don’t last forever; just as the icy hail turns to water and trickles away, so will our hardships eventually come to an end. We may be whipped into shape by the storms that buffet us, by the challenges that are sent to test us, but ultimately, calm will come, and a time to take stock and see what we have learnt, gained, or been left with. Also, it could be that we are about to lose something, but perhaps that is something we should have let go of long ago. Are we holding on to something that does not help us achieve our highest goals? Are we clinging to a relationship that prevents us being the best we can be? Hagalaz warns that it may be a tough time, but something different is coming, and it’s up to us to make the best of the new situation.

Hagala who breaks helmets… (Runic Inscription on the Kragehul Lance)

So far, I’ve concentrated on the more positive aspects of Hagalaz, but I can’t avoid the simple fact that this is a rune associated with destruction, turmoil, conflict and crisis. Hail is coming and you’re going to be caught out in the storm. If you’re already having a tough time, it’s possible it could get worse before it gets better. Are you ready to be tested? Be prepared, have your wits sharp, don’t be complacent about any potentially upsetting or risky situation and muster your inner strength. Yes, transformation and growth might be just around the corner, but you’re going to have to turn your face into the cold wind and really push hard before you feel the benefits.

The ninth rune in the Elder Futhark, just as Yggdrasil holds nine worlds, Hagalaz is a powerful and crucial rune in any reading. I think it’s important not to panic if you do pull this rune for a client. I’ll admit, when my friend pulled the rune and I read the meaning, I was startled and worried at first, but thinking about her personal situation (private, sorry!) it makes sense. She’s been through a tough time, it’s not over yet, and we’d already spoken about certain things probably not being resolved to satisfaction until Samhain. A gifted practitioner herself, it doesn’t surprise me that she pulled the rune that almost exactly describes the situation she is in and where she appears to be going. And it gave me the chance to learn about a formidable rune; one more step along the road.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

Click Images for Amazon Information

Seeing the Signs

February, 2017

divination with runes

 

Runes are something in which I have just recently been gaining an interest. Recently – as in, the last six months. Before that time, I was busy with other forms of divination – mostly the Tarot – and number-based divinatory systems. Systems that basically worked together.

When I first started learning about women’s spirituality, wicca, witchcraft, and goddess religions in the late 1980’s, I naturally read books about divination. I read everything I could! I received my first deck of Tarot cards in 1988 – as a gift from a friend – and took to the Tarot right away. Although I was interested in other forms of divination, I focused on the Tarot since I reasoned that it was better to become proficient in one skill than inept in several. And over the years, I think I have gotten pretty good at reading the Tarot, although I am far from professional. But I have become quite proficient.

Since I have started writing “Seeing the Signs”, I have learned about many other forms of divination and widened my horizons considerably. Not only can I see many signs in many different ways, but I can use these signs to help me with reading the Tarot – my original love, so to speak – and to help me with reading whatever signs I happen upon. Systems do work together – often in ways that aren’t obvious at first glance.

As a writer, I use the alphabet on daily. I quite honestly do not remember learning my ABC’s. I know that I knew how to read before I started kindergarten (in 1965) and I already knew how to write my name. I had a great desire to learn how to write. I remember copying my mother’s shopping lists (really!) and reading whatever it was that came my way – school books, the newspaper, magazines. My family was very musical and I learned how to play the piano at a young age – learning how to read music. My parents were lovers of opera and I used to read the librettos, comparing the German or Italian lyrics to their French and English translations. I was fascinated by how words changed from language to language and how the alphabet changed, too.

I first heard about runes when I read the books of J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1970’s. They were very popular. To those of you who are only familiar with the movies that came out starting in 2001, the books are fantastic. I used to own almost all of Tolkien’s books. In the 1990’s – going through a terrible depression and moving almost every six to nine months – I got rid of almost all of my books, including my entire Tolkien collection. Like so many things that I discarded through the years, I do regret letting those books go. But it’s water under the bridge now. Recently I went to the library and got out The Fellowship of the Ring – as you can see, the book itself is decorated with runes!

Runes1

When I first heard of runes for divination, I have to admit, I really didn’t take them seriously. I thought – well, why not use the Russian alphabet for divination? Or the notes on a musical stave? (Which isn’t a half-bad idea, when you think about it). And when you consider all the silliness surrounding runes – the little book that came with the set I bought the other day says “The Gods’ Magical Alphabet”. Why are runes anymore magical than the Latin alphabet? Or the aforementioned Russian alphabet? Or Chinese or Japanese pictographs? Or hieroglyphics? Maybe I’m just too skeptical and scientific but I personally think you can take any object and use it for divination – if you know what you’re doing with it. Does anyone use the innards of animals for divination anymore? But once upon a time, that was common.  

Runes2

Our wonderful editor, Jennifer Sacasa-Wright, sent me a book called Runes for Beginners: Simple divination and Interpretation, by Alexandra Chauran.

Published by Llewellyn, it is a concisely-written, easy-to-read learner of everything the novice reader of Runes needs to know. There is no nonsense about “The God’s Magical Alphabet”. Although in the Introduction Chauran writes that “Norse legend says that the god Odin himself first discovered runes,” she follows this fanciful claim up with more solid scholarly fact, referencing the Etruscans and the various Nordic and Germanic tribes. She compares runes to the Hebrew alphabet, in that each letter has its own meaning, as well as being able to form meanings with other letters (This was probably true of the Latin alphabet as well, but we don’t think of our letters in those magical ways anymore. Maybe we should). She also writes about how to use the book – to be prepared to memorize. She focuses on the Elder Futhark Runes in this book, although she does talk about other kinds.

I have read this book through three times now. When I first got the book, I didn’t even have a set of runes. I had been walking along the edge of the Merrimack River, collecting small stones to make my own set but I hadn’t even picked up ten stones yet. So, I took some cardboard and cut out twenty-four circles and with a Sharpie, drew the letters of the Elder Futhark on each one.

Runes3

Runes4

While these homemade runes helped me to learn the basic concepts, I found myself shuffling the cardboard rounds like they were cards and I knew that really wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. But I pulled one each day and did a meditation on it – as Chauran suggests on page 32 – and I am beginning to get the hang of them.

Last Friday, there was work being done in my apartment building, so I decided to get out for the day. I took a bus out of Lowell and transferred to another bus in Lawrence, getting off in Andover, Massachusetts. Andover is a really nice little town. Massachusetts is – of course – filled with picturesque little towns but the reason I went to Andover was to visit a store called Circles of Wisdom (they have a Facebook page, check it out). As soon as I entered, I felt the positive energy. The owner, Cathy Kneeland, was very friendly and helpful. She said that runes were a big seller over the Yule holiday but she had one set left. Of course, I bought them! They were a tad over my budget but hey, that’s life. And they’re beautiful. They feel smooth and cool in my hand. Each one has their own weight. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s there. There’s a nice suede bag in which to store them.

Runes5

Runes6

I am still pulling out one of the bag and meditating on it each morning. I am also starting to pull two or three runes at a time and trying to tell a story with them – like you would when you are learning the Tarot. I am under no illusions on my ability to become proficient with this little stones – it’s going to be quite a while before I can say with any kind of honesty that I know what I am doing with them! I deal with divination – not alternative facts!

If you have runes and haven’t yet read Runes for Beginners: Simple divination and Interpretation, by Alexandra Chauran, I highly recommend it. As a total novice with runes, I find it very informative and helpful in learning how to use this ancient alphabet in numerous ways – daily meditation, spell work, and personal empowerment. It is written with a scholarly and scientific attitude toward divination.

And, for sure, if you are ever in the Greater Boston area, take a ride out to Andover – it’s on the Haverhill Line if you want to take the Commuter Rail out of Boston – and check out Circles of Wisdom in person. It’s a fine little store, jam-packed with all kinds of esoteric goodies. Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

References

Chauran, Alexandra. Runes for Beginners: Simple divination and Interpretation. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2016.

SpellCrafting: Spells and rituals

November, 2015

Circle Casting

Merry Meet!

A common practice in many pagan traditions is casting a circle, which defines a space where the ritual will occur and makes it both safe and sacred. There are as many ways to do this as there are pagans; by sharing some variations, this article invites you to think about why you do what you do and to perhaps try something new.

Typically, you’ll want to cleanse the area, by tidying it up and vacuuming, and then by wafting incense, using a broom ritualistically, smudging, ringing a bell, or sprinkling salt or salt and water – all while envisioning unwanted energies dispersing. Stomping and clapping are also used by some.

At my first ritual, the circle was cast with an athame pointed outward. In doing this, he was drawing on Goddess energy, visualizing Her energy mixing with his own energy and directing it down his arm and out the tip of the blade. I’ve learned to visualize that energy forming the outer boundary, and then I swing my arm back, up, forward and down as I visualize the circle becoming a sphere formed around me in which the ritual will occur.

When I began meeting with a group of women who gathered in a women’s temple many of them had helped build, we’d call the quarters, but the only circle was the one we formed as we sat in BackJacks on the floor. Anything more formal never felt necessary; much like walking onto a church or a synagogue, walking into this building it was clear the space was sacred and already defined.

However many pagan rituals are held either in spaces that also serve other functions or out in nature, which, I think of as already sacred. In either place, casting a circle will define a piece of it that will hold the magic, keeping in the desired energy and keeping out the unwanted energy. The circle, then, is said to be between the worlds, suspended in time and space. It is possible to both sense and see the edges of a circle. I mostly feel its energy and notice a physical change when it is opened.

Some always trace the circle three times; for others, once is enough.

While athames are perhaps most common, the tool used to cast can also be a wand, a sword or any other object, including a finger and a staff. I’ve been in circles where a wooden spoon and a pen were passed person to person to cast the circle.

Some traditions will measure and physically mark the outline of a perfect circle on the ground or floor using salt, candles, string or chalk. Rocks and pine cones also work well.

For a group ritual celebrating Lughnasdah this year, I used a basket of dried petals from bouquets of flowers that had been on my altar since spring. Walking around the outer perimeter of the where we had set up on the grass, I scattered them as I recited these words:

Let these flowers define a place

Suspended in both time and space

Between the worlds we do here stand

All that is harmful I ask be banned

Forces and powers around us do spin

If thou are good, I welcome you in

This circle I cast with love and light

Let it hold our magic throughout the rite

It’s Lughnasdah and this circle ‘round

I seal thee now from sky to ground

A sacred space within it lies

Protected from unwelcome eyes

As I decree, so mote it be

With another group of Goddesswomen, we have been known to cast a circle hand to heart. The person who begins reaches out with the right hand, taking the left hand of the person to the right and bringing it to their heart, saying, “I cast this circle hand to heart.” The person to the left takes the left hand of the person who just spoke, bringing it to their heart and repeats, “I cast this circle hand to heart.” This continues around until everyone is connected.

In other circles, we have just clasp hands, one at time, with each person saying in turn, “I cast this circle hand to hand.”

In both of those cases, I enjoy singing, “There Is No Time” by Veronica Appalonia. The words are:

There is no time but now

There is no place but here

In the sacred we do stand

In a circle hand in hand.

I have gathered for rituals where a room or an area was smudged or otherwise cleansed, and then people invited to enter the space in perfect love and perfect trust before a circle was cast. Other times, a circle might be cast by a high priestess and then individuals invited to enter, again, in perfect love and perfect trust.

Likewise, some traditions call the quarters before casting the circle and others cast the circle and then call the quarters.

I invite you to post a message sharing how you cast your circle.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Ask Your Mama

January, 2010

Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more.

Ask Your Mama

The What, When, Where, Why, How, and Who of

Ceremony & Spirituality

by

©Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

A Question of Spell Casting

Dear Mama Donna,

This has been a nightmare year for me. One terrible thing after another has been happening. My whacko neighbor keeps hinting that she has put a spell on me. Things have been so incredibly horrendous that I am beginning to believe her. I am totally spooked. Can you put the spell back onto her?

-Helpless in Brooklyn

Dear (Not-So) Helpless,

No, no, a thousand times no!

Your question is one that I receive fairly often, and the answer is always, “Absolutely Not.” Ritual magic is not meant to manipulate others, but to tranceform one’s self. We all need to assume personal response-ability for our own thoughts and actions, our point of view, our path.

There is plenty that you can do for yourself to alleviate, mitigate, make sense of, and maybe even completely alter your current situation — from the inside out. And I would be glad to work with you to that end.

We could purify you from the all the pain and disappointments you have been suffering. We could cleanse you of your paranoia and sense of persecution and defeat. We could begin to repair and enrich your sense of center, of confidence, esteem, and autonomy. We could ceremonially re-claim the sovereign power over yourself that you have given away to this person.

We could work to exercise your will — the will to will your will — to maintain a positive and self-nurturing mode of living. We could create affirmations, blessings, amulets, altars, prayers, protections, and ceremonies for you so that you feel completely safe and free from negative influences — especially your own. We could find creative ways to identify, focus, dedicate, manifest, and project your desire and hopeful intentions for meaningful change.

But we cannot work on your neighbor, or anyone else, without her awareness and permission. We cannot, without consequence, interfere with someone else’s fate. If it gives you any comfort, remember that all things that go around, have a tendency to ultimately come around — all in the course of the cycles and without any interfering help from us!

If she is indeed sending you hateful energy, that is on her, as they say. What you need to deal with is: What is on you?? If, after consideration, you truly want to cast a spell on someone, there are individual (not necessarily representative) unscrupulous practitioners* of every stripe and persuasion who will perform any spell you want for as much money as they can squeeze from your desperation. But then, that is on you.

You mention feeling helpless. We are all helpless to a certain degree in this life. Things happen. Shit happens. Bad things happen to good people every second of every day. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to rise to whatever the occasion in the finest way that we can. To adapt. To expand. To evolve. To grow. To know. To thrive. Cause and effect, guilt and blame are completely beside the spiritual point.

We can choose to accept adversity as a life lesson — not a punishment, mind you — but as an instructor. A very scary, mean one whom we will never forget. A strict disciplinarian with a sick sense of humor and a wooden ruler. The hardest of times teach us the most about our essential selves; and if all those old wives are right, what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. Who ever said it was going to be easy, anyway?

The ability of making the best of things is probably our most noble and powerfully human attribute. When life serves us lemons, we can, like Dolly Parton, make lemonade. Or lemon meringue pie. Or lemon furniture polish. Or we can paint lemons, or compose lemon odes, raps, sonatas, arias. Sing the sad songs of lemons. Meditate on lemons, keep a lemon journal, or take a lemon bath.

We can work on developing the trust that everything that happens, happens for the ultimate good. Karma, Fate, Tao, Dharma, synchronicity, serendipity, don’t march in a straight line. The patterns of connection aren’t necessarily clear or obvious or immediate. But in this complex web of a universe of ours, one thing ultimately does lead to another, and it is at our discretion what to do when it does.

Yours for every positive possibility,

Mama Donna

* Certainly most practitioners are well intentioned and completely ethical. But there are always exceptions. As always, use your judgment and trust your instincts.

**Send your questions about seasons, cycles, celebrations, ceremonies and spirit to Mama Donna at: CityShaman@aol.com

Runic Divination

August, 2009

Merry Meet everyone, in this lesson we will learn how to divine with our Runes. The first thing you will need to do is find a place you can work without distraction, once your private place is found you will need to find a flat surface for casting the Runes. Now you are ready to begin. In previous lessons we have learned the meanings of the runes so now it is time to use what we have learned.

There are vast arrays of ways to read the runes just as there are numerous ways to cast and read any system of divination… But we will start with three easy castings that will enable you to begin divining with your stones immediately.

The first thing you will need to do is spread out your rune casting cloth, now pour your stones out and place them right side up and put them in their alphabetical order, making sure to place the blank rune separate from the rest, and then say, “Holy Goddess, mother of us all, guide my hand as I cast these stones, guide my mind as I interpret their meanings and guide my soul as I take them into my life.” Now turn all the stones over and stir them around while concentrating on the question to be asked, select the runes and interpret. This one is an ideal way to do a daily casting, to use the runes as a guide for your day. An example reading would be if you were to draw Ansuz, right side up. This would be interoperated as meaning communication will be of the utmost importance to you today; be sure to explain yourself clearly, and to speak up when necessary and always, always listen to the needs of others.

Instead of a quiz of what we have learned today I would like for you all for one week to do a  daily one stone reading and journal your results being sure to log the stone you pulled and the interpretation you gave. Once you have come to the end of the week email your results to me at Micheleb@paganpages.com for further interpretation.

Our next lesson will be on the Three Rune Draw.

Bountiful Blessings & Happy Casting