The Road to Runes

June, 2018

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.


September, 2017

Meet the Gods: Tyr





Merry meet.


This month we get to know Tyr (pronounced like “tier” or “tear”). Despite being the god of honor and justice, and showing courage by sacrificing his hand to save the gods and uphold the law, he came to be considered one of the lesser gods.


According to “Norse Mythology for Smart People,” more than any other god, Tyr presided over matters of law and justice, but was also a Norse god of war. At one time, he is thought to have been one of the three most important gods, along with Odin and Thor.


Mars, the Roman’s principal war god, was a remake of Tyr. Being connected to Mars centuries ago indicates Tyr was significant. The connection continues today with Tuesday, which comes from the Day of Tyr (also Tiw).


According to a story written by Brandon L. Parsons in 2015, “Tyr actually didn’t begin life as a Norse god, but started off as a god of the grizzled war-like Germanic tribes that lived in the deep, dark forests of ancient northern Europe. Back in those days, he went as Tiwaz; it wasn’t until much later that the Norse up in Scandinavia adopted him as one of their own and give him the name Tyr.


Tyr is shown to be the son of Odin, the one-eyed Allfather, the head dude of the Norse pantheon. If one goes back to the beginning, it might even be possible that at one time, Tyr was the head of the gods and was later overtaken by Odin in popularity and had to take a back-seat in all of the stories.”





The name of the rune that looks like an arrow pointed upwards is Tiwaz, from the god Tiwaz, later called Tyr. The rune denotes victory and honor.


While considered a war god, Tyr’s primary role was upholding the law and assuring justice.


He was courageous and sometimes thought to be the boldest to the Norse gods.


The one surviving tale to feature him prominently comes from “The Binding of Fenrir” (also known as Fenris) – a giant immortal wolf who would consume everything, including gods. No chains would hold him, so, according to Parsons’ story, the gods turned to dwarves who used their magic to make what looked like a silk ribbon – using the sound of a cat’s footsteps, a woman’s beard and bear sinews, among other things – but was unbreakable.


Suspecting trickery, Fenris refused to allow it to be placed on him unless one of the gods agreed to put his hand into his fang-filled mouth. Only the courageous Tyr accepted the challenge. Upon realizing he could not get free, Fenris bit off Tyr’s hand.


Much later, Fenris later goes on to swallow Odin whole, and Tyr kills and was killed by Hel’s guard dog, Garm.


While it may seem odd that the god of war was also the god of law and justice, Norse Mythology for Smart People” notes, “For the ancient Germanic peoples, war and law were profoundly related to each other – even indissolubly intertwined.” Words would be used in place of swords in a metaphorical battle, with the victor being the side the gods felt was most just.


Tyr might be a god you would want to call upon in legal matters and other battles. Like the Norse warriors who provided him with plenty of fresh meat, red blood and his favorite alcoholic drink – mead – to give them an extra edge, you can do something similar with offerings. They often carved his rune on their weapons for added power and you can do the same with your tools.


Merry part. And merry meet again.




About the Author:


Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.










November, 2016

Meet the Gods: Odin

Merry meet.


You teach best what you most need to learn.”

Reading that in Richard Bach’s 1977 book, “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah,” made me realize a long time ago we are all teachers and we are all students. The women I’ve circled with for nine years honor only the Goddess, so my work with gods has fallen by the wayside. That’s precisely why I volunteered to begin writing a column about gods. Each month I plan to research another one and present a small biography, hopefully leaving some links to additional information.

I am partially of German descent, so the first god I chose is Wodan, Woden or Wotan. He is known by many other names. In Norse mythology he is Odin, and it is from here that most information about him is known.

Odin was always a war god and he’s protected heroes. He is also associated with healing, death, royalty, knowledge, battle, poetry, sorcery and the runic alphabet. He is the husband of the goddess Frigg, with whom he wagering the outcome of exploits.

He is mentioned throughout recorded history. The Germanic peoples referred to him as a founding figure. He created the world by slaying Ymir, a primordial being; and he gives the gift of life to Ask and Embla, the first two humans.

At the end of the pre-Christian period, Odin was Scandinavia’s principal god.

As told in Old Norse texts, Odin ruled Midgard. He was a tall, old man with a long beard and one eye – the other he gave to receive wisdom. He wears a cloak and a broad hat, and carries a spear named Gungnir. He rides the eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, who can gallop through the air and over the sea. Traveling with him are the wolves Geri and Freki, and the ravens Huginn and Muninn who bring him information.

A relentless seeker of knowledge and wisdom, Odin was the great magician among the gods and sometimes traveled in disguise. The runes and poetry are both attributed to him.

The runes are more than letters, they are powerful symbols with which cosmic forces can be harnessed. Odin sought them not for language, but for their potent magic. To get them, he sacrificed himself, hanging himself from a branch of Yggdrasil, the great tree that grows out of the Well of Urd in the center of the Norse cosmos. In its upper branches is Asgard, one of the Nine Worlds. In Asgard is Valhalla, which is ruled by Odin.

Odin proceeded to pierce himself with his spear and then peered down into the well where, among the powerful beings, were the Norns who had shaped destiny by carving runes into Yggdrasil’s trunk. Forbidding any of the other gods to help him, he hung day and night as he sought the runes. On the ninth night, he saw the shapes and they revealed their secrets to him.

It is stated on the Norse Mythology for Smart People website, that according to the ancient poem “Hávamál,” “Equipped with the knowledge of how to wield the runes, he became one of the mightiest and most accomplished beings in the cosmos. He learned chants that enabled him to heal emotional and bodily wounds, to bind his enemies and render their weapons worthless, to free himself from constraints, to put out fires, to expose and banish practitioners of malevolent magic, to protect his friends in battle, to wake the dead, to win and keep a lover, and to perform many other feats like these.”

He masters the art of communicating with the dead to gain their knowledge and to have as many warriors as possible on his side when he must face the wolf Fenrir, even though he knows he is doomed to die in that battle. Odin appears after his death as a leader of the wild hunt, a procession of ghosts across the winter sky.

Places are named after him; so is Wednesday (“Woden’s day”).

For more information about Odin online, you might consider beginning here:

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Let’s Spell it Out

August, 2009

Odin’s Ordeal

Odin, like the Greek Zeus, is the principle deity of the Norse pantheon.  Spelled Odin, Odinn, Odhin, Othin or Odhinn; his name is derived from Old Norse meaning “wind” and “spirit”.  One of his nicknames is “Thundur” which means “one who thunders” or “the stretched one”.  Odin received this title after what we now call “Odin’s Ordeal” where, according to the Edda, he hung himself from the Tree of the World for nine days and nights.

The World Tree, also called Yggdrasil, is where Odin sacrificed himself in an initiatory manner to gain the knowledge of the Runes.  For nine long days and nights, hungry, thirsty and in tremendous pain, he stared into the abyss after piercing himself with his own lance and sacrificing one of his own eyes.

The number nine is considered the most sacred in the Norse concept of numerology.  Odin’s nine nights hanging from the World Tree also coincides with the nine nights it takes the human soul to travel to the Underworld.  The Celts, who found the number three to be significant, felt that the power of three times three to be the most powerful as it multiplies to the sum of nine.  Just like Odin did when he sacrificed himself, the Norse saw how the number nine always “gives itself to itself”.  Take a look:

1 X 9 = 9

2 X 9 = 18 and 1 + 8 = 9

3 X 9 = 27 and 2 + 7 = 9

4 X 9 = 36 and 3 + 6 = 9

5 X 9 = 45 and 4 + 5 = 9

6 X 9 = 54 and 5 + 4 = 9

7 X 9 = 63 and 6 + 3 = 9

8 X 9 = 72 and 7 + 2 = 9

9 X 9 = 81 and 8 + 1 = 9

Odin’s passion for the knowledge of the Runes is what led himself to self-sacrifice and therefore brought the Runes to mankind.  This sacred event is commemorated from August 17th, the first day hanging from Yggdrasil, to August 25th, when Odin spied the Runes and with the last of his energy, fell from the World Tree screaming and seized them.

The Spell

This spell is designed to be as simple as possible.  You won’t need to make a run to the New Age Store for supplies, but you will need a few things:


* Something to work your spell for.  Pick something that you need or want or desire.  Perhaps you need a new job or a promotion at your current place of employment.  Maybe you need a new car or to be able to fix the vehicle that you already have.  Whatever it is that you need, you will be working towards it for nine nights in a row.  The happy new is that you will not have to go through the same ordeal that Odin experienced!
* 9 candles; color and size of your choice (you might want to try tea-lights as they are inexpensive and do not burn very long so you don’t have to worry about leaving them unattended or relighting them)
* Peace, quiet and time (you will need time each night to meditate undisturbed).  Also, try to perform this spell and meditate at the same time each night for maximum results.

On August 17th, light the first candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 1, on this night my spell’s begun.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on the things that you need to start to change to meet your goal.  If you need to, keep a notebook next to you to jot down any ideas that pop up.

On August 18th light the second candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 2, on this night I change my view.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on how you can re-program your thought processes to bring about the change that you desire.  What have you been doing that has impeded your won growth?  What can you do to get out of your won way?  Again, have a pen and notebook handy just in case you need to make yourself a spiritual “to do” list.

On August 19th light the third candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 3, one this night I am set free.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on how you are throwing away all of your old concepts and you are opening yourself to the positive changes to come.

On August 20th light the fourth candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 4, one this night I open the door.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on the fact that you have closed one door and you are ready to open a new one.  Open the door, and learn what is on the other side that will aid you in your spell-working.

On August 21st light the fifth candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 5, on this night I come alive.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on how you are like a seed that has grown into a plant that is now blossoming and will bear fruit.  Water yourself…give yourself fertilizer…feel the warmth of the life-giving sun…and watch yourself grow!

On August 22nd light the sixth candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 6, I stay vigil for mental tricks.”

Take nine deep breaths and mediate on how you may sabotage yourself.  We all hate change, and sometimes we can set bear-traps to step into to impede our own progress.  Find ways to keep yourself on track in spite of any roadblocks that may come your way.

On August 23rd light the seventh candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 7, I call in the power of Earth and Heaven.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on the power of Mother Earth and Father Sky.  Ask Them for Their help.  Ask Them for their wisdom and guidance.  You are Their child and They want to help you.  However you see Them, have a “family meeting” as to how you can obtain your goal.

On August 24th light the eighth candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 8, I call in the power of the ladies of Fate.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on the Norns, the three women that tend to Yggdrasil; who represent the past, present and future.  Or, you could tap into the Fates, their Greek counterparts.  Either will work.  Chat with them about what in your past has lead to where you are today.  Ask them what you are doing today that will lead you to tomorrow.  Finally, ask them what you can do tomorrow that will bring about your desire in the future.

On August 25th light the last candle and say nine times:

“By the power of 9 times 9, what I’ve worked for is now mine.”

Take nine deep breaths and meditate on the final outcome of your desire; what you’ve been working towards for the last eight nights.  Set a date; make a deadline if you can.  If you need to, use a calendar and a fire-engine red marker and make a big circle.   See the image firmly in your mind.  See how your life will change for the better after you have obtained your goal; how will it affect your environment?, your friends and family? or your day-to-day life?  Take the time to set these images in your mind like cement or concrete.

Finally, say your thanks nine times to the Universe and go about making things happen!


* Book of Runes by Ralph H. Blum
* Lammas: Celebrating the Fruits of the First Harvest by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason
* Northern Magic: Rune Mysteries and Shamanism by Edred Thorsson
* Pagan Book of Days by Nigel Jackson
* Rune Mysteries by Silver RavenWolf and Nigel Jackson