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The Road to Runes

December 1st, 2018

The Road to Runes: The Right Headspace

 

 

Reading runes is a form of divination. All forms of divination require an open mind ready to receive messages and interpret symbols. A stressed and worried mindset will lead to false interpretations, or prevent messages coming through at all. Even the strongest connection between diviner and tools can be blocked by a worried mind or troubled soul.

Of course, we often look for answers from the runes because we are troubled and worried. So how can we stop these worries affecting our divination?

Relax

As an anxious person, believe me, I know this is easier said than done. Relaxation becomes even trickier when you have lots of questions on your mind. However there are several techniques you can use to relax your body, which will normally also help relax your mind.

Listening to music is an old standard for me. Very familiar songs allow me to blank out everything else in my mind, and I often find that belting out a good tune can release a lot of pent-up tension. Classical music can also be very relaxing, but if you’re someone who finds classical music boring, don’t go down this route! Spend some time figuring out which music relaxes you. Are you more relaxed after shouting along to something upbeat? Or by closing your eyes and letting some panpipes wash over you? Services like Spotify are great as they allow you to search for relaxation music and sounds, if you can’t think of anything from your own collection.

The pendulum method, or progressive muscular relaxation (PMR) is also a method I use to help me relax. It also works for sleeplessness. It consists of deliberately tensing groups of muscles, then allowing them to relax. The idea is that for the pendulum to swing the most one way, you first have to pull it all the way in the other direction. So muscles will relax better, or feel more relaxed, after being tense. You may start with your hands, work up to the shoulders, then down to the feet, all the way back up the body leaving neck and face until last. I tend to start with the feet and really take my time. I will talk to myself mentally as I do this: “I’m tensing my toes; I’m relaxing my toes. I’m tensing my feet; I’m relaxing my feet,” and so forth. The combination of muscular relaxation with focusing on the task will leave body and mind loose and ready for anything.

Meditate

Rune meditation is a specific type of meditation designed for understanding the runes better. However, any form of meditation before divination can help make the mind more receptive to messages and more skilled at interpretation. Meditation helps move our mind onto a different level of operating, and allows us to let go of thoughts and feelings which may be bothering us unduly.

Breathing is the key to meditation. A very skilled meditation master advised me that breath is the only tool we ever need. Philosophical, but also accurate. Find yourself a comfortable position. There’s no rule that says you have to sit cross legged, or sit at all. Laying down is perfectly acceptable, although there is the risk of falling asleep! I have joint issues which means it’s very painful for me to sit cross-legged, so I normally sit on a chair or on my sofa, supported by cushions in order to have a straight back whilst remaining relaxed. Once you are comfortable, start to focus on your breath. Breathe naturally, but make a note of it flowing in and out of your body. Notice the breath coming in, then feel it leaving you. In, then out. Imagine yourself breathing in fresh, cooling air, and imagine any stress or tension leaving you with every out breath. Inhale refreshment, exhale stress and worry. Inhale light, expel confusion. Inhale relaxation, exhale aggravation.

If you struggle to breathe normally whilst focusing on your breath, try counting as you breathe. Breathe in through your nose for a slow count of four, then breathe out for a slow count of five. There are lots of different breathing techniques to allow you to enter a meditative state. Once you find your mind starting to relax, you can start to let go of troublesome thoughts. Notice them appear, then just let them drift away. Don’t try to quiet your mind; this is impossible and can make you feel more stressed when you fail. Let the thoughts rumble through your mind but treat them as though you are watching traffic, or the birds flying by. You don’t need to be involved with them right now. Observe them, then let them pass. Stay in this state for as long as is comfortable or until you feel relaxed and comfortable. Always come back to yourself slowly, and gently. Drink some water. Thank yourself for the gift of relaxation. Now you are ready to read your runes.

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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.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

The Road to Runes: Ansuz, Woden’s Rune

For this stage in my journey with runes, I decided to do a little divination for myself. I’m wanting to begin working from home within the next year, hopefully within a few months. I’m at home with the six-month-old baby at the moment, but will have to return to the ‘day job’ by October, and everything in me rails against it. I want to be at home with my family, and I already write all the time anyway, so why not make a career out of it? Having already made steps in this direction, I was interested to know what the runes would make of this decision.

I pulled out a single rune for this particular piece of divination. This rune (pictured) was Ansuz, which literally means ‘God’. It’s normally associated with either Odin or Woden, the runes having come from Norse and Germanic origins. Esoterically, this rune is complex but tends to mean ‘inspiration’, which as a writer, is definitely one of my favourite words. Ansuz is also linked to communication and answers, something I was definitely hoping to get, so how does this rune translate into an answer to my query?

Ansuz is the rune of air, specifically breath. It is the breath of the universe, and the first breath that takes the spirit into the body, and the last breath that allows the spirit to escape. It is intrinsically linked to words and the power of words, particularly names. Words develop from and into concepts and creativity, and are often the focus of communication. As a writer wanting to make a career from my words, this rune tells me to listen to my inner voice, to embrace my creativity and use the talents I have to make this step.

Ansuz is also a rune of order. It indicates that even when the path is unclear, or times are difficult, that the universe has a plan and that ultimately, order will prevail. Ansuz encourages us to find patterns within chaos, and to trust that all will be as it is supposed to be. To me, this encourages me to take a leap of faith. Even if I have doubts, if I trust in the divine energies of the universe (and work hard!), I will find myself in a place that is good for me and my family.

Ansuz also reminds us to listen. Breath comes from the universe, from Odin, from ourselves but also from others. We must acknowledge that their breath, words and ideas are as potent and important as ours. We should take care with our words and not use them for manipulation or menace.

I’m a bit taken aback that for a question about writing and a big change in my life, I’m given a rune that focuses intensely on words, inspiration and creativity. I’m also reminded of the power of my own voice, and that words can do great harm, as well as great good. At the very least, this has inspired me to take the step I was tempted to take anyway, and see where the path takes me. The best interpretation is that this is definitely the right choice for me, and that if I trust the universe and my own inner voice, I will end up on the path that is truly best for me.

***

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.

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

 

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.

 

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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: 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.

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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

The Road to Runes: Raidho, The Traveler’s Rune

The fifth rune in the Elder Futhark, Raidho is also the fifth rune in first ætt, or set of eight runes. These first eight runes are known as Freya’s ætt, and relate to physical and emotional happiness, nurturing and compassion. Raidho literally means riding or wagon, and as such is strongly associated with journeys, arrivals, departures, reunions, relocations, traveling and vehicles. The overriding theme is not remaining stationary. Of course, not all journeys are physical. Each one of us is a traveler, making our own winding way down life’s path. We are all on a spiritual journey as well as physical one. Our experiences and insights on our journeys shape us and create the individual soul and presence that makes us who we are.

For this reading, I followed up on a previous divination I did for myself, and asked what the next year held for me in terms of starting a freelance career in writing. I was focused solely on the future, rather than the here-and-now. Previously I pondered about whether I was making the right decision, and was basically told, “Get on with it!”. Now I’m wondering if the runes have any insights about what I might expect along the way, at least in the short-term future.

The traveler’s rune seems an apt response for this question as this is definitely an exciting journey I am on. Each day holds new challenges and new anxieties, yet many small triumphs that make it all worthwhile. Raidho is all about trusting your own inner compass, and not being still but having the courage to step away from where you are, towards where you need to be. I feel like I am doing that, one tiny step at a time, and this reading definitely encourages me to keep going.

When I initially asked about my change in career, I was given Ansuz, Odin’s rune, the breath of the universe and the rune of words. The message seemed to be to concentrate on the words, the power within them and trust in my leap of faith and not indulge in self-doubt. This next rune, focusing much more on what will happen next, and what the future holds, seems much more focused on the challenges this journey may hold. I feel as if the runes or the power channeled through them has recognised that this is, indeed, a new and significant journey I am taking. Though I have written for many (so many!) years, this is the first time I am relying solely on my own skills with words to feed and shelter my family. That’s a huge step, and the journey is very much based on my own determination and willingness not to give up when things get tough.

The Rune Secrets website tells us that one of the key concepts for Raidho is freedom from imprisonment, and in a way, my decision to work from home is just that. I felt trapped in my office job, even on good days. Feeling trapped makes everything about us smaller, until we remember the ultimate responsibility of every prisoner: to escape. But like anyone who has been in confinement for too long, adjusting to freedom will be difficult, and this rune tells me that the journey may be arduous, and I may have to let go of concepts about my life or my inner self that I have clung to for too long. I don’t even know what these might be at this time, but I am not surprised to be told this. I have formed serious work habits based on ‘having a boss’, deadlines, hierarchies and so forth. Breaking these habits will probably be the key to becoming a successful, full-time freelance writer.

I hope my journey with the traveling rune has bought you some insights about what this rune could mean for you in your own divination. Feel free to tweet me @Mabherick if you want me to choose a particular rune to study for next month’s Road to Runes. Take care!

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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: What Questions to Ask?

 

One of the hardest parts of divination is asking the right questions. A question that’s too closed may get an answer that makes no sense if you’re expecting a definitive “yes” or “no”. Most runes have plenty of meanings, and aren’t always obviously negative or positive.

Conversely, questions that are too vague or broad leave the answer widely open to interpretation. This can lead you to find an answer that you were hoping for, rather than an accurate one. I covered these “false positives” in last month’s article.

So what are the best questions to ask? What questions lead to the best answers? Experimentation has led me to narrow it down to a few I come back to again and again. Let’s have a look at those that I regularly use with good results.

 

  • In regards to situation “x”, what is the outcome if I make decision “y”?

This type of question is good, as it puts a clear framework around your question. You aren’t asking for a yes/no answer. You’re also not asking for general guidance around the whole situation. You’re specifically asking what the potential outcomes are in relation to one action within the situation. This could be, “While deciding where to move house, what will happen if I take my brother’s advice?”, or “I’m leaving my job. What will happen if I decide to become a homemaker?”, or “Someone is causing trouble for my family. What are the repercussions of hexing them?”

These are all made up situations, but you get the idea. Your own question may be about something very mundane, or completely metaphysical. Narrowing your question down to one aspect of a complex situation makes it a little simpler to analyze and interpret the answers the runes give you.

 

  • Can you give me clarity on this situation?

This is for when you are struggling to get your thoughts or emotions in order. Stressful or complicated situations may leave you feeling confused or unclear, but the chances are that the answers are buried deep within your subconscious. The runes are a magical way to unlock those hidden answers. Asking this type of question and doing at least a three rune spread allows you to parse out your own musings on your situation and become a bit more logical or move forward with confidence.

 

  • What’s my next step?

This is a more risky question, as it’s more direct than the pleas for clarity. This is out and out “tell me what to do” which is fine as long as you are prepared for either some blunt or potentially confusing answers. The runes do seem to swing between “Do this right now” and “Sort it out yourself” so don’t be surprised if you don’t get the answer you were hoping for. But divination is sometimes about hard truths, not false hope. The reason this is a good question is because there’s no room for misinterpretation. Visualize your current situation, focus on where you are right now and ask what you should do next.

These are just a very few of the questions you can ask the runes. I’ve used all these with interesting and informative results! What questions do you ask your runes? Let us know in the comments or tweet me @Mabherick.

 

Image credit: Stentoftastenen, today exhibited in Sankt Nicolai church, Sölvesborg by Henrik Sendelbach 2005 via Wikimedia Commons.

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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.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

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