Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wisdom in Nature

A Powerful Meditation: Do as Nature - validate yourself from within.


Fortunate is he
who has within himself
praise and esteem as staves;
Treacherous is that
which a man must own
from within the breast of another.

- The Hávamál, verse 8 




"One must flee those places where life throbs and seek out lonely spots untouched by human hand
 in order to lift the magic veil of nature

- Guido von List  




Ar Kar Har Gar. Alaf Sal Fena!



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Runic Symbolism of Fire and Renewal

It is a new year, a new Yule has passed, and the Sun is once again on the Arising course.

Let's take a moment to honor our kinfolk and loved ones (whoever that may be for you) and also consider the symbolism of Yul-tag (or Yal-da for those of the Southern/Eastern lines) and its significance with Fire.



Yule and the New Year, symbolically the Re-birth of the Sun as well as the Earth, are symbolized by fire as well as by the sun-wheel, in its various incarnations as the Sonnenrad, the Fylfot (swastika), the Trifos (triskelion), the "Celtic Cross" (really a pan-Indo-European symbol) and the thunder-wheel (equivalent to the Slavic Kolovrat).

These symbols all refer to either thunder or fire, as a vessel of light, renewing light.

The Proto-Indo-European language, at least as currently reconstructed, gives us two roots for the word fire. *paewr- (payvar) is the origin of  'fire' in the physical or chemical sense. *egni- is the metaphysical spirit of the fire, fire as a living force or mystery. This is the origin of the word ignite.

From *egni we also get the name of the Primal Aryan Fire-God Agni, or Agna. His sacred sign is the swastika, which Guido von List also pointed out was known to Germanic peoples as the fyrfos or "fire-whisk" in one of its forms. In the Vedas, Agni's wife is Svaha (“well-spoken”), who decides the worthiness of all offerings and pyres. Many Hindus to this day believe that it is Svaha who gave her name to the swastika - Svaha (“well-spoken”) and asti, (“it is”) with the affirmative suffix ka. The symbol came to mean "well-offered and done!" and its name was spoken at the end of many rituals and offering in addition to the symbol itself being drawn in red ochre at their beginning. The use of red ochre also has many significances among Indo-European lore, which can be discussed for so long that they are better saved for another time. Among the Anglo-Saxons, Agni was rendered as Angi, and eventually as Ing or Ingwe (Yngvi in Old Norse). It is from this name we derive the Ingwaz rune, as well as Anglo- and Angliland (England).

In turn Ingwe is also known as Freyr in Old Norse. This is not actually a proper name, but a title meaning “Lord” or “Noble One”, cognate with the Old Persian Fravar, he who bestows the Farr or “divine Favor” on Kings. Though also associated with agriculture, the fire-symbolism of Agni/Ingwe remained significant throughout all these societies. The importance of Freyr in regards to fire and renewal is clear, in that he is associate with both agriculture and fire – the primal fire of new beginnings, sacred fire of temples used to burn away the dead wood of weeds and chaff in autumn, and the renewal of new life and new crops the following spring. His title Freyr is also represented by the Fa-rune, which symbolizes “Primal spark, Primal Fire”, renewal and and new changes in the Odinic (or Armanen) Futharkh. In the Armanen system of 18 runes, the first rune is Fa, signifying the beginning of a cycle, much as Freyr's rebirth at the winter solstice or Yule, marks the beginning of a new year and the return of the Sun and life to the land. In the Gothic or "Elder" Futhark, the first rune is also Fa/Fehu, and the first eight of the 24 runes within are known as "Freyr's Aett" since they begin with the Fa or Fehu rune.



Although the straight-armed swastika or “thunder cross” is a symbol of Thor or Thur-Agna (Vire-Thragna in Avestan), the one with curved, scythe-like arms is the symbol of Freyr or Ingwi (Agni or Agna in the Vedas – note that this name is the suffix of Thuragna/Virethragna as well). Thus the curved swastika, representing both the scythe of Freyr (and hence agriculture) as well as the curved flames of a fire, encapsulates the death and rebirth (or reaping and re-planting) that ends one year and begins another. Although the festival of Freyfaxi, set by modern Ásatrúars as August 1, is a time of harvest, the Yule-Tide is also significant for Freyr-oriented celebrations as it represents the end of shorter days and the beginning of longer ones, the Sun being vital to agriculture, and Freyr being as much a Solar Deity as Odin or Thor is, if not more so.

Thus Freyr sacrifices himself and is reborn. Yule-tide is celebrated with great fires and the curved swastika or "fire-whisk" (fyr-fos) was an ancient emblem of this rite, a wooden one being traditionally lit on fire to symbolize the turning and sparking-to-life of a new season. The Sun declines to its shortest daylight on Yule, and is then "reborn" and the days lengthen again 'til farming can resume in the new year.



The sacred fire or flame of the fyrfos is symbolic of the spirit or soul of the universe as mush as of the a person. This is the flame of being. It is integral to the existence of the human as a being. And yet, in a very real sense, it is only the central state of mankind - insomuch as man and woman, as the Gods and Goddesses and the cosmos itself, are constantly in a cycle of Arising, Being, and Passing Away towards a New Arising. Thus the flame of being is not eternally or constantly a flame of being, but was once a flame of arising, and will in turn smolder and pass away til it is rekindled. The Eddas and Sagas describe the first humans as a male and female called Ask and Embla. As in other Aryan mythology (such as Iran/Persia) they were formed from trees. The trees are Ash and Elm in the North, though in the South they were more likely the Plane Tree and the Sarv (spear-tip cypress).



It is especially poignant here to note that it was trees that the Aesir chose to form humans from, given the closeness of Indo-European cultures in general to forests and to nature, the reverence which ancient trees have been given in all such cultures, from Thor's Oak to the Irminsul to the Bodhi Tree to the Cypress of Kashmar. To some extent this idea was able to influence Assyria, Babylon and other semitic cultures which were acclimatized by Aryan contact to settle, irrigate the soil and plant fruit orchards. By contrast, nomadic "west semitic" cultures tended to view clay or dirt as the essence of man, and as desert herdsmen, tended to see trees as merely cash commodities with no environmental or spiritual value. Anders Hultgård observes what many of us have long known: "myths of the origin of mankind from trees or wood seem to be particularly connected with ancient Europe and Indo-Europe and Indo-European-speaking peoples of Asia Minor and Iran. By contrast the cultures of the Near East show almost exclusively the type of anthropogenic stories that derive man's origin from clay, earth or blood by means of a divine creation act".

The giant Cypress of Abar-Kuh in Yazd, which may be a descendant of the legendary Cypress of Kashmar.
As young trees these are spear-tip morphs, which bend but never break.
As they age several centuries they thicken and split into halves, symbolic of Ask (Mashya) and Embla (Mashyana). 
The Bundahishn recounts in its first section, the first assault of evil against the order of the Asuras or Aesir, and how their efforts to salvage their creation led to the formation of a World Tree, and from this, man and woman, and  still other mortal beings which could replicate themselves: The Lord of Wisdom's sixth creation is the primeval beast Gayumardh, who was neither male nor female. Ahriman (Angra Mainyu), the Spirit of Evil that dwelt in the Absolute Darkness, sought to destroy all that the Lord of Wisdom had created, and sent the deev (troll) Jeh to kill Gayumardh. In this she was successful, but the moon captured his seed before the animal died, from which all animal life then grew. From Gayumardh's corpse grew a tree, the seeds of which were the origin of all plant life (this tree may be the same as Harvisptokhm, the "Iranian Yggdrasil"), and from the branches of which grew the first man Mashya and the first woman Mashyana.

They promised to aid the Lord of Wisdom in his battle with Ahriman, and gave birth to fifteen sets of twins which scattered around the Earth and became the races of mankind. Some of these lines continued to honor the Asuras and practice their noble ethics of the Solar Farmer. Yet others who failed in their quest and were tempted by deevs and the lure of easy plunder, or depravity, became disfigured like unto crude and uncouth deevs by their own corruption.

This story, in various forms, was already known since the time of Grimm to be closely related to the Norse version. The trees were not simply sacred for the Aryan - they are flesh and blood as much as the soil is, if not more so. So this Ur-man and Ur-woman were of intertwining trees (or parts of one great tree) carved out.

The Eddas tell us that the Gods bestowed various gifts and abilities on Ask and Embla - specifically Odin, Hoenir and Lodurr (which may have meant Odin, Vili and Ve`) - these were gifts such as sense, thought, heat, blood, etc. Odin, however, surpassed the other Gods in generosity - he gave spirit to the man and woman - which he blew into them. This 'spirit' was the Fa, or Urfyr - the Primal Fire of being. That is yet another reason for the Fa-rune being at the beginning of the Runic Cycle. When Odin blew this spirit into them, he ignited their flame of arising and they became humans, not mere machines or automatons. Ask and Embla are often translated as "Ash" and "Elm" - but perhaps Ash and Embers would also make sense - for these carry the potential for fire (symbolized by Fa or life-spark), which can be rekindled by blowing into them, so long as the other components are there. Hence even if it passes away, it may Arise yet again, stronger than before. It was said in Armanist circles also that Wotan/Odin breathed life into Midgard through the Fire-Whisk, that the primal life-force of the Earth was "whisked" into rotation and stabilization by means of this multi-directional blast of Fa-energy that resulted in a spinning fire-whisk. And thus before Ask and Embla were, so was also their home made by means of the process of Svaha-asti-ka, with Ymir's flesh and bones being the burnt sacrifice for the soil of the Earth.

These are NOT Vili, Ve and Odin... but you get the idea.

A more detailed exploration of the swastika and its variants (such as the Sonnenrad) in its esoteric Germanic and pan-Aryan contexts is a subject for another time, but this much can be said in short. That which Freyr provided, Odin put within us as well. Those individuals who feel the impulse toward qualitative improvement of both themselves and their Folk-soul, regardless of what that may be, whatever its current "identity" or base-state, burn with the rare light of Ar-Yr (Arya) or Arising Creative-Passion, to burn off all that is wasteful and corrupt, and refine all that is noble, wise and honorable in our lives - we seek to re-whisk those Embers within us to new light, to reclaim the original form of our own internal flame, which Odin, Wotan, Vayu-Vata, gave us from Freyr's self-sacrifice to mark that first Yule so many eons ago, when the Aesir knew Midgard's first Sunrise. Hence we are not merely children of nature and the trees, but also children of the Sun.





REFERENCES:

Hultgård, Anders (2006). "The Askr and Embla Myth in a Comparative Perspective". In Andrén, Anders; Jennbert, Kristina; Raudvere, Catharina (editors). Old Norse Religion in Long-term Perspectives. Nordic Academic Press.  

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The problem with most "Runic Divination" books and "experts"

It seems almost every new book you find on runes these days is about ever fancier and more complicated ways to do runic divination, i.e. runecasting. There are a lot of "experts" writing divination books full of baseless arm-waving and claiming that everything they preach is "ancient" or based "directly on old Norse practices" when it's nothing of the sort. One term I particularly hate seeing bandied about is “rune spreads” - as if runic divination is somehow in any way related to the “spreads” in Tarot cards or other such neo-Hermetic foppery.

Whatever way the early Indo-European peoples used staves, lots, sticks carved with symbols, etc. for divination (and yes, I said Indo-European, not just Germanic – Herodotus records the Scythians doing the same thing), we can know for sure that this had nothing whatsoever to do with post-Christian Renaissance inventions such as Tarot or reformed Hermetica. So no “spreads” please.

But whatever you call them - “casts”, “methods”, or something else, the means of runic divination are essentially modern interpretations of alleged ancient practices. Because at the end of the day, we simply have little choice but to take Tacitus, Herodotus, Pliny, etc. at their word – and they weren't particularly honest fellows from what we know. Herodotus is even nicknamed the “father of lies” since there is so much dishonest and divisive micro-racist propaganda in his writings, most of which were meant to indicate how Greeks were “superior” and to denigrate “barbarians” (i.e. the other 99% of Aryan-descended peoples – Persians, Scythians, Dahae, Getae, Guti, Celts, Hyperboreans/Germanics) as stammering vermin only fit to be slaves. The very tolerance of slavery itself as “acceptable” in the minds of Tacitus and Herodotus was in fact the antithesis of all genuine Arya-derived culture, but that is a long and complicated matter for another day.


So were runes ever divinatory?

So what do we really know about the usage of runes in ancient times, from sources other than old Greco-Roman propaganda writers, the rather cryptic Lore of the Eddas, surviving linguistic rune-cognates and root-words, or the (sometimes reliable) visions of modern mystics?

There are no proper historical texts (at least not by modern definitions of the word 'historical') regarding how the runes (i.e. specifically the symbols known as Futhark) were used, other than the clearly altered and partially Christianized rune poems of the 8th-13th centuries CE. The only mentions of runes in the Eddas are either used to mean 'secrets' (the literal meaning of rune) or the cryptic carved symbols encoding them (which we call “runes” today). The Eddas and even the more “down to earth” Sagas, which refer to family histories and more worldly events including the use of magick by known historical figures, still do not make mention of runes being carved on pocket-sized stones or wood “lots” and thrown or drawn from a bag for divination. The 18 rune-verses of the Hávamál describe “songs” and do not literally refer to these magickal spells or devices as “runes”, though the preceding verses are all about Odin's discovery of the runes, as well as how he carved them and taught them to other beings - and thus it is usually understood that the 18 spells which follow this narrative are a reference to these same runes that Odin discovered through his self-sacrifice on the World Tree Yggdrasil. Does that mean that they must refer to the Futhark or letter-runes that we commonly know as “runes” today? No, but it's the best clue we have to go on.

The historical uses of runes that we do have surviving physical evidence for are from archaeological finds such as large standing rune-stones, weapons and household items carved with runes, a few rare wooden inscriptions, votive metal objects buried with the dead, etc.

So where does the idea of small wooden rune-tiles or portable “rune-stones” come from? And where do we get the idea of using them as tools for divination? The answer may surprise you – modern authors.

Writers like Edred Thorrson (Stephen Flowers), Freya Aswynn, Diana L. Paxson, Nigel Pennick and (*cringe*) Ralph Blum, have written many books about rune divination, from consulting the runes to resolve looming challenges or difficult decisions, to using them for all manner of questions.

Did they base their methods on historical works? Unfortunately, no. Could they have done so in the first place? Again, sadly, no. There just isn't any ancient text offering a detailed explanation of portable rune sets being used for divination. When Tacitus talks about the Germanic tribes cutting branches into lots inscribed with symbols, or when Herodotus mentions the Scythians (whom we can tie in with the origins of proto-Celtic, Cossack, Gothic, and some Indo-Iranian groups) using “linden tree branches” as lots for divination – we do not have any proof, in a literal sense, that these were “rune sets” as we understand them today. The symbols are never described in these accounts, nor are their meanings. Nor is there any indication that these people ever carried a personal set of divination staves or stones with them, or any explanation of what was done with those "crafted-on-the-spot" divination branches once the divination ritual was finished. Were they kept to be used again? Thrown away? Burned? We simply don't know.

So with these Greco-Roman accounts (which, even discounting the agendas and bigotries of their authors, were still based on third-hand hearsay in most cases), what we are seeing might be observations of runic divination similar to modern methods – or it may be something else, some other symbolic system or practice entirely. And the Greco-Roman sources are notoriously vague with the details. You could almost imagine Tacitus and Herodotus like modern border guards spying on their “barbarian” foes with binoculars, or playing a game of “telephone” with a long string of underground contacts, trying to figure out what the “barbarians” are actually doing without having seen any of it personally!

So of course the current batch of “rune experts” writing books have to look to more recent sources for their ideas.


Runic divination is (most likely) a modern practice - just accept it!

The basic idea of specifically using Futhark runes, i.e. letter-runes, as a magickal means for divining the flow of Wyrd, and what may be coming in the future, is a concept that comes from early 20th century writers like Guido von List. Already a long-established and practiced mystic and poet, List claimed to have received the complete divinatory and linguistic meanings of the runes, which finally made the Hávamál and all ancient runelore fit together, in a series of dreams and visions while temporarily blind following cataract surgery, with his inner senses thus greatly heightened. It was largely List and his early followers (such as Kummer, Marby, Peryt Shou, Lauterer, and Gorsleben) who developed the idea of rune-casting as an actual magickal practice, using the 18 Armanen runes promoted by List as a reconstruction of the original 18 Odinic “rune-spells” of the Hávamál.

The most basic concepts of modern rune divination, such as splitting the runes into three “aetts”, carving them on small tiles of wood (or bone, or even stone), interpreting upside-down or sideways positions as “murk-stave”, “merkstave”, or “negative” meanings, and even the idea of the three-rune “Norns' cast” symbolizing the past, present, and future of a particular problem or matter, are all derived from the writings and practices of List and the other Armanists. Of course List and his followers didn't make these ideas up out of thin air - they based them on the cosmology and Lore of their own Germanic ancestors' ancient Indo-European culture. But nonetheless, these basic elements of rune-casting are still uniquely Armanen-derived practices. Even if more recent authors and books using these concepts don't mention the Armanen rune row at all (and often they don't, preferring to only work with the “Elder” Futhark despite their meanings being far more vague), they still copy many Armanen ideas. Of course, they don't like to admit it or give proper credit to Guido von List.

Sure runic divination is a modern practice, but so what? The Armanists who invented it in the early 1900s were still using the wisdom of the Eddas and Sagas to design their methods - which is far more than I can say for many more recent "rune authors".

Really, if one wants to understand how modern German rune-masters (who were actually well-versed in their ancestral traditions and folk-spirituality) understood the Runes, these early 20th-century Armanen authors would be the ones to read – not the watered-down books of post-1960s eclectic writers like Paxson or Pennick. Some of these Armanen books are very rare, many of them long out of print, but a few online copies and English translations do exist.

Now these were some genuine Runic authors who actually got Germanic culture.
Maybe because it was their own ancestors' culture and they were taught to honor it?

You would be far better off reading these books by List and his contemporaries, or even the works of his modern interpreters like Edred Thorsson, than the "mainstream" eclectic authors like Paxson and Pennick. Thorsson, for all his quirks, has actually written some pretty solid research on both the Armanen system and the more "traditional" rune rows (this does not mean I agree with Thorsson on all things or all the time - it simply means that when it comes to runes specifically, he has done some solid work, and gives a far fairer and more informed treatment of Armanen runology than many other recent writers). Though it isn't a guarantee that you're 100% accurate to how the ancient Teutons used runes, and even though one could perhaps arrive at other divination methods by looking at runes from a Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, or Frisian cultural context, one can still argue that the Armanists of the Guido von List society at least had that cultural awareness, and in some cases secret family connections with the old ways - which many of the eclectic “rune experts” of today (predominantly British and American) lack entirely, and worse yet, make no effort to research and respect.

Thus what you get with Pennick, Paxson, and even Kvedulf Gundarsson in regards to runic divination, is a bit of a mishmash of ideas from both Armanist sources and still more recent (and far less culturally informed) “neo-pagan” sources, which are sometimes in open contradiction to one another. And in those instances the recent authors seem to just pick and choose as they see fit – and then call it “Viking” or “ancient” divination. Sure it is... if you think a photocopy of a photocopy is equal to an original! Even so, these authors are still far preferable to what comes next...

We're Heathens - wait, we're also Druids - wait, we're also... well you get the idea.

Increasingly I see the big internet booksellers overrun with the “every rune does everything” books of even lower-quality "neopagan" authors. These people make even Pennick and Paxson look consistent. You know the type - the sort of authors who abandon Ásatrú and Germanic Heathenry altogether and openly claim “Wiccan” or “Druid” leanings, yet still use rune-divination and try to claim it's a "Druid" or Celtic practice. They also often make nonsensical claims about the runes themselves - such as the claim that any rune can be used for any ritual purpose (i.e. that any rune can be used as a love-rune, or a healing-rune, etc.) even when this openly contradicts the distinct meanings of many of the runes given in the Old Norse, Icelandic, and Anglo-Saxon rune poems (or for that matter the Hávamál when applied to Armanen runes). For example anyone who recommends using the Thurisaz/Thorn rune as a "love rune" is clearly either a liar or an idiot - are you trying to attract a potential mate, or utterly destroy them like a troll struck by Mjolnir? Same goes for using Nauthiz/Not in a love-ritual, do you really want to cast a spell of neediness and potential misery on your prospective lover? Plus treating all runes as basically interchangeable catch-all symbols pretty much defeats the purpose of using a full set of runes in the first place. Why not just use a single symbol for all your rituals, if that's your attitude? Why runes? Why not a sun-wheel, or a swastika, or even a Celtic Triquetra (since most of these people claim to be following Celtic/Druid spirituality, wouldn't that make more sense for their "catch-all" ritual uses than a Germanic Futhark of multiple runes whose distinct meanings they don't even take seriously anyway?)

By the way, if they believe that all runes are interchangeable and every rune can stand for anything, how do these authors even do runic divination? How do they decide what a particular rune-cast reveals? Well, mostly they just fall back on the modern hypothetical "meanings" commonly attributed to the "Elder" Futhark, which are basically a crude mix of a few of List's Armanen meanings, some bits from the medieval rune poems, and a lot of pure speculation. But in so doing, they totally contradict their own claim that "every rune means/does everything".

I have seen so many of these self-proclaimed “experts” make statements that are so far off-base regarding the history and meanings of the runes, with such assertiveness, that I could have easily puked every time I saw one of them in a video “lecturing” on their totally false suppositions about runes. I can't even count how many self-proclaimed “Druid shamans” or “wolf spirit shamans” I have seen, claiming to know the true uses of runes, inventing all sorts of New Age nonsense about “Celtic runes” or Druids having used runes (different culture, different symbols, no runes - how hard is that to understand?). Not that there's anything wrong with following a Celtic or "Druid" path if that's what calls to you, but if you want any sort of historical credibility you won't be using any system of Germanic runes for divination - and to claim (as Wiccans often do) that the ancient Celts or their Druid priests traditionally used runes at all, let alone for divination, is simply a historical falsehood.

Indeed the biggest challenge for Druidism today is that it's nearly all a modern invention - there is far less written history to go on than for Ásatrú. We know almost nothing about the original Druids - the Romans exterminated them in Gaul so thoroughly that no record of their actual practices is left, and nothing has been passed down even in isolated villages. In Ireland precious little was written about them by the invading Christians beyond the usual propaganda, and nearly all we have left is the Ogham stave letters - which may have been used for divination, but are unrelated to Germanic runes.

Indeed the only time any sort of "runes" or rune-derived symbols appear in Celtic regions is when they were conquered by the Saxons or the Vikings! In this regard the presence of rune inscriptions in Ireland or Scotland is not all that shocking, but modern Wiccan and "Druid" authors completely miss the real story. It was Saxons and Vikings who carved these runes and brought them to the British Isles, not the earlier Celtic population. If the native Celts there ever used runes, it would only have been after being influenced by the Saxons and/or the Vikings. The so-called "Coelbren Runes" of Wales are actually a fraud, invented by the infamous 18th century forger Edward Williams (a.k.a. Iolo Morganwg), and are not found on any genuine ancient Celtic artifacts.

Older Celtic cultures, such as the Gauls or Galicians, appear to have used a number of different modified alphabets, depending on whether they were living near Greeks, Etruscans, or Romans. The Celtic, or more correctly, Gallic peoples, were at one point extremely widespread across Europe, hence why there are regions named Galicia in both Spain and the Ukraine, the Gaelic Isles in Scotland, and of course Gaul in France. None of these alphabets are runes - they don't correspond to any Germanic rune row. And there is no proof that any of them were used for divination or even magick in general, or for anything beyond merely writing down information.

But of course since runes are ancient and European, many ignorant pop-spirituality authors just  assume they must somehow be Celtic, and in any case they tend to have a "who needs rules" mentality, and see fit to mix and match almost anything they like from any culture and call it "Celtic", "Nordic", "ancient", etc. and pretend that it is all historically proven pagan practices. Many of these pop-pagan “experts” even try to mix in Native American and Siberian concepts and motifs into their rune-casting techniques, and then claim this is “authentic rune magick”!

*CRINGE*

Mein arsch it is. It's about as authentic as claiming Taco Bell is real Mexican food. Or claiming that real Italians make pizza just like Domino's. Not that there's anything “wrong” or “bad” about Native American spirituality per se (again, if that's what speaks to you) – what's bad is when people copy bits and pieces of it and call it something else entirely, usually for profit. What's bad is when people claim it's for “everyone” and then try to market it in over 200 countries by mixing it with whatever unrelated cultures they think will sell in those countries. It's not “cultural appropriation” when you sincerely practice a culture in its context and respect the customs and interpretations of its native people, even if it's not your ancestors' culture. It is cultural appropriation when you recklessly rip off parts of it for a quick buck – when you steal Native American myths and claim they are Germanic, or when you stick runes on a Navajo medicine wheel or an Aztec calendar and claim that this is a “Nordic wheel of fate” or some other such syncretistic psycho-babble. And that's precisely what many of these “neopagan” cranks dumping worthless misleading “rune books” on the market are up to.

And then just when you think things can't get any sillier, you have the complete pop-spirituality conmen like Ralph Blum – who are on a whole different level of crazy. For these people, no amount of rampant syncretism and dilution of cultures and practices is off limits. Inventing fanciful rune “spreads” plagiarized from Tarot card layouts? Acceptable! Cooking up a set of totally off-base and fake rune meanings based on random passages quote-mined from the I-Ching? Encouraged! Inventing your own extra “blank rune” and cannibalizing the meanings of Ansuz, Uruz and Perthro in the process? You can be the first! Ripping off Christian prayers and even the Alcoholics Anonymous “serenity prayer” and claiming they are somehow runic or even compatible with rune-casting and a (Heathen) runic spirituality? Hey, why not claim that Odin wrote the Ten Commandments while you're at it! No lie or cultural travesty is off-limits, right?

Blum claimed he completely changed the modern reconstructed meanings of the “Elder” Futhark (which in turn are usually based on a few of List's cultural theories and a lot of more recent speculations) to suit his own feelings and whims, because he felt that the runes “resembled” the I-Ching and its workings and were thus an expression of the same ideas (a concept which has no basis in List, rune poems, or any Indo-European source!) He even changed around the order of the runes on this pretext. Where in Midgard did he get the idea that Chinese culture or divination is in any way relevant to runes? We may never get the answer. We do know that in the process of writing his fanciful and highly overhyped and over-glitzed books, he totally bowdlerized and disrespected both.

He also seems to have ripped off basically every cheesy, worthless new-age psychobabble book ever written about everything from addiction recovery to healing from trauma and fixing broken relationships, and repackaged it in a very thin veneer of "runes" (which of course means his personal distortion of the runes, not anything culturally relevant to actual Germanic rune meanings or Lore).

Seriously? It's as if John Gray and Margaret Murray had a love child...
Arrrrrgh, the sheer pop-foppish cheesiness of it all, IT BURNS!!!!!!!!

Other pop-spirituality hacks have reinterpreted the runes as a “Nordic Tarot” and mostly copied off the work of Blum and modern Hermetic and quasi-Masonic orders. Many of these fake books simply rip off the arrangements of modern Tarot card "spreads" and apply them verbatim to rune readings, conveniently changing their names to "Odin's Cross", "Thor's Cross" or "Freyja's Love Cup" to fool the naive into thinking that these are actual Norse/Germanic divination layouts invented by the Gods themselves! They are betting that their customers only have a casual interest in runes and are unfamiliar with Tarot or other occult systems - but anyone who is familiar with Tarot can tell that these books are scams and simply are ripping off Tarot methodology and dishonestly repackaging it as"runic". These "rune spreads" are utter hogwash, they have zero basis in either recorded history or Lore. Indeed the only runic divination methods that have even a slight hint of a connection to ancient Germanic culture or Lore are the three-rune "Norns" and "Germania" methods, and the scatter-cast method which uses the entire Futhark (whichever Futhark you prefer to use).

Of course since Futharkic rune divination specifically is a modern practice with no definitive proof of historical usage, you could argue that even making up your own rune-reading layouts is just as valid as using the "Norns" and "Germania" methods, since Tacitus didn't specify that the "past, present, and future" lots used by the Germans were any sort of Futhark runes, nor is there any evidence that the Germanic tribes didn't also have other divination methods for whatever sort of lots or staves they were using. Of course the "Norns" and "Germania" methods do draw on Germanic culture, so they are potentially more valid than other methods. They draw on the primal Germanic understanding of Wyrd, and on the Germanic concept of tripartite time cycles and levels of reality (Urðr, Verðandi, Skuld = Past, Present, Future = That which was, That which is becoming, That which may become = Arising, Being, Passing Away toward new Arising, etc.) Nonetheless, you could potentially invent your own more expansive layouts with many more runes drawn, and still attempt to "ground" them in the culture, though that would be needlessly complex as the "Norns" and "Germania" methods are literally usable with any sort of binomial decision or dilemma (i.e. should I go to war today, or not go to war today? - to use a very basic ancient example). One could expand the Skuld rune position into two or more runes if the decision in question has multiple simultaneous sub-options, but in real life this scenario is very rare.

But here's the thing - even if you argue that making up your own complex rune casting layouts is just as "valid" as the classic three-rune methods, that is still very different from the typical eclectic rune-author's tendency to simply copy off of Tarot cart "spreads", whose arrangements have absolutely no relevance or basis in Germanic culture. Interestingly, Armanen divination (which many of these Tarot-plagiarizers either hypocritically dismiss as "fake" or ignore altogether) is a lot more conservative and traditional when it comes to the simplicity of its casts - it predominantly uses only the three-rune "Norns" and "Germania" methods.

But Tarot-plagiarism is far from the end of it for pop-spiritualist hucksters in the post-Ralph Blum era. Some of these writers even throw zodiac horoscopes, Voudou, Santeria, Kabbalah, UFOs, “ancient astronaut theory” and Nostradamus into their "rune books", and at the end you are left scratching your head and wondering what any of this has to do with runes, Odinism, Ásatrú or Germanic spirituality! Thus what you get with most modern self-proclaimed “rune-experts” is pure fantasy and frivolous window-shopping from all sorts of non-runic and non-Indo-European sources. But of course they claim it's all legit since they all use the “Elder” Futhark (as if any one runic system is some sort of catch-all gospel – ironically a very Christian and un-runic perspective).


But "Modern" does not have to mean "Fake"!

Now just to make things clear, despite all the BS that is written about runic divination, I do not believe that runic divination per se is invalid. Not at all! I don't claim that the runes cannot be used for divination or that they never have been – indeed it's always possible that Tacitus was referring to some sort of carved Futhark runes in his account of wooden divination lots – the key word being possible. It's just that the idea of using runes for divination may also be a purely modern one, no older than Guido von List, and not, as some authors would have you believe, a well-established ancient tradition. And to truly be an honest practitioner of runic divination, you have to be comfortable with this fact.

That said, you can still honor the ancient Lore and customs while using a modern magickal practice or format. Indeed this is what the Armanen system was meant to do – the work of List and the other early 20th century Armanists is positively ancient and “traditional” in content when compared to all of the eclectic syncretist “rune books” of aimless psychedelic new-age authors flooding today's bookstores! List and his followers, whatever else they did, were at least culturally conscious about the runes, tying in everything they could find in runic root-word etymology with the Eddas and other Germanic Lore, and keeping their extra-Germanic mystical inferences limited to Indo-European sources only.

What the Eddas, Sagas, and other ancient sources say regarding Germanic divination, mentions the consultation of Volvar (clairvoyant women in touch with the flow of Wyrd), the use of Seiðr (channeling the spirits of other beings to gain hidden knowledge of the past or future), and the reading of omens or signs in nature itself – from the movements of a flock of birds after an inquiry to the Gods or wights, to the behavior of nearby wild animals, to the direction in which harnessed horses would run when given no directions or prodding from a charioteer. There are many methods of divination described in these ancient texts and none of them explicitly mention the casting of runes in the sense of Futhark runes. That doesn't mean it didn't happen, or that the Sagas include everything there was to know about Norse divination, let alone all of Germanic divination – just that divination may not have been the primary purpose of the runes. The runes are mentioned in the Eddas and Sagas as being used for some very different purposes (i.e. healing, enchantments, curses, protective spells).

Divination and augury is, at its very heart, a personal experience. So long as there is a sufficient cultural basis to relate to, some sort of context that on a mystical level helps you tap into the experiences, archetypes, and ideals of an ancient path, so that at least it does not feel totally made-up and contrived, there does not need to be a 100% historical background for it to work for you. But I wonder if this realization is too painful for some people to wake up to. Or if people using “mainstream” modern “Elder” Futhark divination practices are aware that at best they are copied from methods developed only about a century ago by the Armanen masters – and often times they are not even that old or culturally informed.


It always annoys me when people refuse to do divination with the Armanen Runes or call them “less real” simply because they are a modern reconstruction with a largely esoteric source, yet continue to fanatically claim that “Elder” Futhark divination is somehow an established historical practice dating to the dawn of history! (Meanwhile they are usually getting their so-called "ancient" meanings and divination methods for the "Elder" Futhark from those same debunked new-age "Druid", "Rune-Tarot" and "wiccatru" books whose "venerable heritage" goes all the way back to the oh-so-ancient 1970s - shocking, I know).

There is no actual proof of the "Elder" Futhark ever having been used for divination, or indeed for anything except carving inscriptions on huge boulders, and we don't even have any proof of their meanings at the time of those inscriptions - everything we "know" about their meanings has had to be reconstructed based on much later sources pertaining to the "Younger" and Anglo-Saxon rune rows, and ironically enough, on some of  List's esoteric insights. And most of the pop-spirituality authors inventing "divination meanings" for the "Elder" Futhark today don't even follow those!

If anything, it's the Armanen runes that were actually designed for divination, while still preserving the essence of ancient Germanic Lore and revealing a great deal about the esoteric underpinnings of rune meanings that only survive in fragments in the Eddas, Sagas and rune-poems. The Armanen system draws heavily on the Hávamál, the skaldic works, the tripartite Germanic (and indeed, pan-Aryan) cosmology, and the multi-layered linguistics of the Germanic tongues themselves, and concentrates all this knowledge into a simple and powerful magickal system which does not even need to borrow from any eclectic or non-Indo-European system. In many ways the Armanen meanings are far less speculative, in a cultural sense, than the cobbled-together modern “meanings” attributed by so-called historical purists to the “Elder” Futhark, for which no lore or poems survive at all.

Indeed, the fact that no historical runelore survives for the “Elder” Futhark is precisely what makes it such a tempting target for all these two-bit pop-spirituality hucksters. They stick any meanings or divination methods they want on it, no matter how obviously fraudulent or plagiarized from unrelated cultures, and nobody can ever logically disprove them because “you don't know that the Elder Futhark couldn't have meant this!” Which of course is music to the ears of the wishy-washy "wiccatru" sheep who buy their books.

Nevertheless the only truly ancient (pre-Viking) mythology in the Germanic tradition which actually numbers a set of runes, or rune-spells, or even anything approximating runes, in verse, is the Hávamál which mentions 18 of them. This would make the 24 runes of the “elder” Futhark a redundant later expansion. This is the conclusion Guido von List came to, and it was also apparently the view of the Viking-age skalds themselves, who only produced the “Younger” Futhark out of concern that the “Elder” Futhark was not the Eldest, and needed to be refined back to its original and simpler Odinic/Eddic form. The Viking-age Norse wanted to avoid a decay of the magickal language and a dilution of Odinic spirituality itself, as had long since happened with the Christianized Anglo-Saxons they conquered. Interestingly the 16-rune “Younger” Futhark is almost as ignored by “mainstream” rune-casters as the 18-rune Armanen system, which is simply its modern Lore-based completion.

In my mind there's nothing wrong with doing runic divination (or rune-yoga, or any other modern runic practice) so long as you keep it culturally relevant, follow culturally informed and Lore-based meanings (both exoteric and esoteric) and you don't fool yourself that "this is the same exact way the ancestors did it". In this sense, the Armanen system is right on the money.

Essentially the whole issue of ancient vs. modern runic practices is like comparing the foundation of a building to the actual building - if you have a solid cultural foundation, your building will be far stronger and more beautiful, even if it has been destroyed and rebuilt differently every few hundred years. If you don't have a solid cultural foundation, your building will only be a flimsy piece of trash. And this is the real issue with comparing modern runic practices to ancient runic practices - there is no "one" type of ancient runic practices - indeed "ancient" Germanic culture encompasses several millennia of markedly different societies and practices. Inevitably the culture and even the magickal practices which were favored, evolved to suit the needs of the age, and thus Germanic Heathenry retained vitality and relevance because it was able to remake itself and evolve its rituals while staying true to its spiritual roots - something that orthodoxy-bound herder religions have had far more difficulty doing. Indeed, contrary to "mainstream" textbooks, Heathenry was never "peacefully abandoned" by Germanic peoples - it was only stamped out by force through centuries of torture, kidnapping, economic sanctions, genocide, and bribery by the Church and its mercenaries. And even then, Heathen culture survived under the surface, still remaking itself.

Every era of Germanic (and indeed all forms of Indo-European) magick and Heathenry, and even crypto-Heathenry, had their own unique qualities, different from what went before, and different from what was to come.  There were the ancient sorcerers, the solar mystics, the megalithic architects, the Bronze Age bog-buriers, the Halstatter smith-magi, the Migration-age warrior-priests, the Teutonic stave-casters, the Vendel crop-sacrificers, the Viking-age butchers, the corrupt Kings, the ocean-crossing Explorers, the covert Icelandic folk-witches, the Vehmic Jarl-judges, the Huldar of the Schwarzwald, the Adalrunar of Bureus, and finally the Armanen Order.

And during all the time of their development, the mystics and explorers who eventually founded the Armanen Order and the Guido von List society were mastering not just the magickal abilities and methods of their medieval and ancient predecessors, but their own - distilling it down into one solid, devastating line of revived Runic practice which covered every area of modern life - physical, emotional, spiritual, mental. And Guido von List? List was merely the culmination of generations of secret Germanic rune-masters, mystics and orders before him. In many was, he was Runecraft itself!


And all the serious Runenmeisteren who came after him, whether they like to admit it or not, modeled their practices and deeds in several ways after his.


So there you have it. Once you can sort out the culturally-based methods from the totally nonsensical paperback-profiteer-made ones, runic divination is a perfectly fine practice for someone who wants to honor the old ways. Especially if you use a runic system that actually channels Eddic, skaldic, and linguistic strands of meaning in a culturally valid way – even if it's a new or reconstructed system.

Obviously there were other methods of divination with far more historical documentation, but so long as you don't fool yourself that you're doing exactly the same thing as the Vikings, Saxons or Goths did centuries ago, a culturally informed runic divination method (such as that of the Armanen system) is just fine. Remember, Germanic magick changed and evolved, just as the religious practices did. That doesn't mean "anything goes", but it does mean that not all change or innovation is bad. So long as it's rooted in the same culture, symbolism, cosmology and fundamental Indo-European values, modern runic divination (including Armanen divination) is simply the logical newest step in this long and vibrant history. Our runic path doesn't require fanatical stasis with regard to tradition - rather it only requires loyalty to the deeper immanence of the immortal Aesic and Vanic culture, leaving the tradition and rituals free to evolve to fit the changing needs and challenges of the age.

(Beware though, there is a vast difference between evolution of rituals and blatant bastardization of them - I am certainly not treating all the new-age "wiccatru" hucksters or their Tarot-plagiarized methods as an authentic "evolution" of Runic culture).

By the way, the fact that the Armanen runes are a recent reconstruction isn't all that unusual in an Ásatrú context. They are a modern reconstruction of the Odinic runes, intended for a modern reconstructed Heathenry, which is exactly what we have today. And runic divination is itself a modern practice (even if it uses ancient symbols) which at best can only claim to be a reconstruction anyway. And given that the Armanen meanings are still based on Germanic culture, word-roots, cosmology and Lore, debating over whether divination with any other rune row is any more "historically valid" is a moot point. This is why the Armanen runes essentially are traditional now in Germany, Austria, and German-influenced kindreds around the world: they are deeply rooted in the culture, and suit the needs of the time. And they exist, in some form, in the other rune rows anyway.

If you decide to use another rune row besides Armanen for divination, that's perfectly fine too. Just don't fool yourself that it's any more "historical" since runic divination itself is a modern practice, regardless of the rune row used. So long as you at least use culturally valid symbolism and meanings based on what little does survive (the non-Christianized segments of the medieval rune poems, the Hávamál, the Sagas, and the runic root-words of the Germanic tongues themselves) then it's really a matter of which rune system works best for you. Whether you prefer the Armanen system's complete "ready-to-go" set of exoteric, esoteric and reversed meanings, Listian mantras and corresponding Hávamál verses, or some other (equally reconstructed) meanings for the more "traditional" rune rows, any runic divination based in Germanic culture is an equally valid Germanic magickal practice for our present age - just don't forget that it was the Armanen masters who actually started the whole thing (for our era, at least).

And it's a heck of a lot better than following the misleading and confused “every rune means everything” BS that pop-spirituality charlatans try to pass off as “ancient and authentic” by hiding behind the “Elder” Futhark and using it as a cover to justify nearly anything their whims can cook up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Disclaimer

Every blog, like every book, has its target audience. And only the patently dishonest among them pretend to be all things to all people. So for as long as this blog has been around, it is only fair that it should have its own disclaimer. Some of this stuff should be obvious, but still bears repeating.

CULTURE:

1. This is primarily a blog about runes and, as the title suggests, magick. Specifically Nordic/Germanic magick, and primarily of the sort involving various uses of the runes (although other areas of Nordic magick such as Seidhr are also open to coverage). So there will not be much mention of other magickal systems here, unless they are from other Indo-European traditions and merit a valid comparison. So no hermetica, no tarot, no "ceremonial high magic" and no wicca or other syncretisms. If this offends you, then there's the door.

2. This blog covers and promotes culturally valid rune-magick. This includes modern esoteric/occult strands of Germanic Heathenry (i.e. Armanism or Armanenschaft) as they are indeed culturally grounded in a mystical Germanic and greater Indo-European Weltanschauung. While this blog is open to the occult and metaphyical side of modern runeology, and not shackled to dry dusty academia, It does NOT promote blatantly fake new-age hackjobs like Ralph Blum who market false rune meanings, steal from non-runic sources like the I-Ching and invent entirely baseless concepts like "blank runes" and yet try to pass off their books as authentic runic knowledge. If this offends you, then there's the door.

3. This blog promotes Indo-European culture. Primarily Germanic, but also Celtic, Slavic, Ossetian, Greater Iranian, Indo-Anatolian, Tocharian and others. It promotes a healthy balance of the material and spiritual, of man and nature, not a false dichotomy and forced conflict between them. It promotes a cyclical, not linear, understanding of time, and an empowering, not nihilistic, understanding of fate and will, in accordance with ancient life-affirming Indo-European principles. It does NOT promote Christianity or Jewish herder-archetype culture - there are literally millions of other blogs for that. If this offends you, then there's the door.

4. This blog promotes Indo-European metaphors and symbols, of which there are many, and most are very ancient and widespread across the planet, some being runes and many others being esoteric multi-armed solar symbols... you can guess where this is going. If ancient Indo-European symbols by themselves offend you, then there's the door.

5. This blog does not promote ethnic hate, racism, or any other sort of irrational groupthink or political agenda. It promotes religious freedom and a return of consciously Indo-European souls to runic paths by their own free choice. If this somehow offends you... you get the idea.


LORE:

1. This blog will reference the Lore of Germanic societies, but also occasionally that of other Indo-European cultures for broader comparison and clarification to fill in gaps. It is not "comparative religion" in the globalist academic sense - constant contrasting of these beliefs with those of non-Indo-European cultures is a pointless exercise in the obvious and could theoretically continue forever.

2. The approach to the Lore will be neither dogmatic nor eclectic, but openly informed. There is nothing worse than ignorance being smeared all over the Lore, whether in the guise of puritanical dogmatism, or misguided labeling of esoteric approaches to the Lore as "eclectic" or "fluff" when they are clearly not.

3. It is openly clear that the Lore itself is in many cases altered or damaged by centuries of cultural occupation from non-Indo-European creeds. Therefore it is right to be skeptical of those parts of it which appear overly fatalistic or otherwise alien to general Indo-European values, as well as to understand that it is far from a fair or even complete account of Germanic religious or magickal practices.

4. Lore from other Indo-European cultures may be consulted as necessary to fill in gaps or clarify meanings of Northern European Lore. At the same time it is not to be taken as infallible authority on the ancient practices of those cultures either, and may have faced similar problems in the history of its compilation - though obviously in different areas and contexts, which will allow for some overlap of what does survive.


OUTLAWS:

1. Ignoble or coercive behavior of any type will not be tolerated. I am not here to waste time parlaying with trolls. Malignant trolls' presences are to be erased digitally here, as Thor would do physically with his hammer.

2. Purely defamatory comments/character assassination are not tolerated. If your personal criticism is malicious or just baseless, I will delete. No excuses, no equivocation, no damns given. If it were the old days I'd just liberate your loose tongue with a swing of the axe. Hávamál or Lokasenna, which are you emulating?

3. Solipsism/Special Snowflake Syndrome. I really shouldn't have to explain this. Others have already done it far better. Don't act this way. Just don't.



An additional note:

I would like to let everyone know that I welcome and enjoy all true feedback, both positive and negative, and I will allow all honest comments no matter how harshly you judge my conclusions. However, insulting language and personal attacks against myself or any other commenters is completely unnecessary and will not be allowed. The entries of those exhibiting such behavior will be deleted. I will also delete all responses to those entries even if the response is more sane and well thought-out, because I do not believe in letting arguments with trolls and baiters continue. Let's keep it respectable, show respect to get respect, and maintain Frith and Ehrenschaft at all times.

Real Rune Magick is about how we can improve and elevate ourselves above the base instincts of hunter and hunted. Indeed, what contrasts the Runic paths as a proactive, solar Indo-European stream of wisdom (as opposed to reactive orbiter herd-ideologies that have lain shackles on so much of the planet's inhabitants) is that we believe in the improvability of man, through successive personal achievement, praxis and initiation, in a definable and measurable sense - in orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. We do not think anything is wholly good or wholly bad. We prefer, as such, to concentrate on (and to cultivate) what is essentially noble, ethical, self-sufficient and transformative, and to leave behind what is essentially ignoble, dishonest, abusive and regressive. I ask my readers to do the same: If you are leaving a public comment please keep the tone constructive and informative, and do not sink to the level of the sorts of lie-mongering people who seek to persecute us and silence the Old Ways once more.

Please note, I will not tolerate comments that insult, slander, or denigrate any individual, group, or religion, etc. While there are obviously some ideologies which are not in any way compatible with the life-affirming Runic Indo-European paths - and the contrasts are telling - there is no useful purpose in spending one's time scapegoating cabals (for the millionth time) which should have no appeal to the serious Runenmeister in the first place. The point of this blog is to unlock the wisdom of the Runes to conquer personal shortcomings - not to stagnate and blame some person or group as a lazy cop-out for said shortcomings. The powers of the Runes, let alone Asa and Arya, are not open to the cowardly whiner who merely seeks excuses instead of solutions.

Life is short. If you find yourself taking time out of your day to post negative remarks on the net, or to talk only about what others are doing wrong, I strongly recommend that you take that time to focus on improving yourself — mentally, physically, and spiritually — instead. Travel the path of Nobility and reach for the Mysteries. The quality of your life will improve, and you’ll feel more fulfilled.

Reise! Erreiche für die Runen!




Monday, May 11, 2015

Galdr: Just How Was it Done?

The practice of Galdr, or sacred singing, was essentially the core of rune-magick in ancient times. Without exception, to be skilled in the Runes, one had to be a master of Galdr. It is generally considered that Galdr was a "masculine" art, whereas Seidhr was "feminine" although these were not defined as gender roles per se and there was plenty of overlap with Seidhr-men and Galdr-women.

Galdr can most easily be described as chanting or singing a rune, its associated sounds and concepts, and even the associated lore (i.e. rune-poems). Since only the rune-poems of the Hávamál are true esoteric descriptors of the Runic powers (the later Norwegian, Icelandic, and Anglo-Saxon poems being mainly secondhand mnemonic devices), it is the verses of the Hávamál that should be used if one is going to attempt Galdr with any of the rune-poems in the first place. The words of Odin himself are a far more direct route to the esoteric mysteries of Runelore than any of the watered-down colloquial rune-poems copied down by monks in the post-Conversion era.

As a result, although this is certainly not the only way to do Galdr, one may want to do it using the appropriate Hávamál  verse for each of the 18 Armanen runes, as delineated by Guido von List. The complete set is HERE, with corresponding Hávamál verses and meanings. Traditionally it would be sung in either the original Old Norse, or a German translation as List was citing in The Secret of the Runes. However, in simplified form, Galdr is simply the essence of the very sounds and vibrations of the runes, and does not necessarily require recitation of any poems at all - and thus can be formulated for any and all of the 4 runic systems. Galdr is typically done when carving runes, though it can also be employed for meditative purposes and to strengthen the will and tap into the primal Runic energies. When chanting the Galdr, it is advisable to be in a secluded place, meditate on the rune selected, and envision the rune and its associated properties. An even better action would be to mentally anchor the state of feeling the rune and its raw elemental energy, as one chants it out loud in various forms, and then be able to habitually activate that mental anchor with the visualizing and reciting of that rune. Later on as the student grows more skillful, more advanced Galdr can be learned, including for carving bind-runes and spells of power. There are of course Galdr-curses as well, which should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, as Egil's advice about not carving runes without knowing their full effects is very pertinent here.

What follows below is a modified form of the standard Galdr formulas for the Armanen Futharkh. You can also use the first 16 of these for the Younger Futhark runes (or course) and even expand on them for the "Elder" and Anglo-Saxon systems following similar intonation patterns. This is a framework, not the be-all and-all of Galdr. In fact the subject is actually far too deep and extensive for one post, there are many types and uses of Galdr, and I will have to elaborate later on more complete Galdr practices, but here are the basic formulas:



Fa




f f f f f f f f f
fa
fa fe fi fo fu
ffffffa ffffffe ffffffi ffffffo ffffffu
Faaaaaa feeeeee fiiiiii foooooo fuuuuuu
fa far fiu feo fehu feu


Ur






u u u u u u u u u u u
ur
u u u u u r r r r r
ur uruz urus uros uras

Thorn




t t t t t t t t t t t t
ta te ti to tu
d d d d d d d d d d d d
dha de di do dhu
thor thorr thorn thurs thuris thurisaz thyth
Tat




Os






o o o o o o o o o
Os Aus Ouss Oss Aass
os ol odh
As ask ast ans ansuz asa asha




Rit







r r r r r r r r r
Ra re ri ro ru
Rad reid rit rod raidho ruoth rita rota orta arta




Ka







k k k k k k k
ka ke ki ko ku
kien kun kaun kona kuna kena




Hagal





ha ha ha ha
ha he hi ho hu
Hag-All
All-Hag (All-Hedge)
hag haal halga heil haug




Not






n n n n n n n n n
na ne ni no nu
not nit nyd naut norn nurnen
[aepandi nam]




Is






i i i i i i i i i
i i i i i i s s s s s s s
i i i i s s s s s i i i i s s s s
is iis isa ich




Ar





A a r
a a a a a a a a a
a e, a i, a o, a u
e a, i a, o a, u a
ar jar re jera asa erja arya




Sig



S i i i i g
s s s s s s s s s s s
sa se si so su
asss esss isss osss usss
sal sel sil sol sul sowilu
sigil si-gi-il
sal und sig




Tyr

t t t t t t t t t
ta te ti to tu tiu tau
tat tet tit tot tut
tar tur tor
tri tre ter-zer
Tyr Ti Tiu Tu
Tyr-Tyr    Ti-ur Ti-ur Ti-ur Tiuvar
Sig-Tyr
Sig-ta Sig-te Sig-ta Sig-to Sig-tu (Sing quietly and hum)




Bar





b b b b b b b b b
ba be bi bo bu
b a r
bar bor bir birk biörk björk bjarkan
beork berche brikal berkane




Laf




l l l l l l l l l
la le li lo lu
al el il ol ul
Laf; L-a-f
lagu laguz laukr lögr lagor laas
log lög laug




Man

m m m m m m m m m
Ma me mi mo mu
ammm emmm immm ommm ummm
mam m m m (..... mem, mim, mom, mum)
man mon men
Ma mad madhr mathr
Manna mannaz
Lam
Mimir Mamre
O M



Yr






y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y
y r
yr irr eir yb
W-ybe Eibe Eihu




Eh







e e e e e e e e e
e h e
eh ehe ehu eoh eys ehwaz




Gibor



ga ge gi go gu
ag eg ig og ug
gibor
gibor gibur; gefa gifa gefu; gea geo gebo
gigur geuua
Gibu Auja
Gibur Arahari














Saturday, January 3, 2015

Runic Practice: Introduction to Basic Methods

Before delving into the finer points of rune magick or any particular school of methods, it is important to map out exactly what areas most of it covers.


WHAT RUNES ARE, OR HAVE BEEN, USED FOR:

Essentially runes have been painted, carved, scratched, or implied through observation of nature, for a few different purposes.

1. Casting, or divination (note: this is a dead-serious operative oracular art - not mere fortune-telling)
2. Creating spells for various results (either as written-out formulas, or as bind-runes)
3. As protective pendants or charms ("passive rune magick")
4. As incantations, spoken or sung out loud, for initiations, power, or connection with supernatural energies
5. As meditations, for connecting with higher realms of creation, solving problems, and strengthening the will.
6. As an alphabet, for mundane, everyday writing purposes. This was very rare until medieval times.

(7.) I will also add a controversial seventh category, the so-called Stodhr/Stadhagaldr or "rune-yoga". This is a practice pioneered by Siegfried Adolf Kummer, Friedrich Bernhard Marby, and Karl Spiesberger, based on the Armanen Futharkh and the work of Guido von List. However many people using runes today will employ similar techniques using the "Elder" Futhark, sometimes not knowing who actually developed these techniques and why they were originally intended for the Armanen system.



SHORT EXPLANATIONS OF THE METHODS:

1. Casting

Rune casting has a few different purposes, but essentially they all boil down to oracular divination. This is not mere "read your horoscope" fortune telling, but a much more practical and serious art used for specific situations in which a hard choice must be made and simple answers in the material world are not available or forthcoming. Rune casting essentially allows the practitioner to understand part of the flow of his or her wyrd in relation to a specific set of events, weaving through the current situation or problem in question, and into future tendencies - and thus it helps the person know how to act accordingly for the best possible outcome. Wyrd can be defined similarly to the Vedic concept of karma, that is, the consequences of past actions coming back to affect the current situation. This is an essential part of all Indo-European cosmology, though with the Nordic worldview it also emphasizes how your wyrd can also interact with the wyrds of other people, and thus twist or alter potential outcomes in your future because of that interaction.

There are essentially two types of rune casting, which can have many different variations. The first type (draw-casting) involves drawing runes at random out of a bag or simply a pile of rune tiles/stones. There are several ways of doing this (single rune cast, "3 Norns cast", "Germania cast", "Runic Cross", "Thor's Hammer cast", "Giver's cast" and so forth). The more complicated forms which use more than three runes are almost entirely modern inventions. This doesn't make them any less valid, but there is no proof of a connection to ancient Germanic rune practices, not even a wisp. Typically the "3 Norns" cast is the most common and the most powerful for most decisions.

NOTE: If you use the Spiesberger method (meant for Armanen runes but also adaptable for other systems with positive/negative meanings) then ideally you want to have rune tiles that are perfectly square, draw them with eyes closed, position them with one side (NOT a corner) of the square facing you, then open your eyes and flip over all the face-down ones (flip horizontally) to get the complete reading. With the tiles being perfectly square (equal length on all sides), you won't unintentionally discriminate with your hands against drawing merkstave or alternate-positive runes before you open your eyes and flip over the face-down ones - so this way you don't bias the reading against any rune positions. For obvious reasons, it is easier to get square rune tiles made in wood than in stone.

The second type of casting (free casting) involves using a large flat surface, usually with a cloth on top (white was the color traditionally used). Tacitus, in Germania, explains how the Teutonic tribes would randomly cast "symbols" carved on slices of a tree branch onto a large flat surface (usually a tree stump with a cloth covering) to determine the will of the Fates (i.e. the Norns) and thus the best course of action. Tacitus and other Roman authors are unclear on how precisely this was done, but we know that it was basically a method of grabbing several rune staves/tiles and throwing them all over the cloth-covered table/stump and interpreting the result based on how they landed. Based on a number of folk traditions that have survived in Norway and Iceland, a few modern methods of this so-called "free-casting" have been reconstructed. The runes tiles that land face down are typically not considered in the interpretation of the cast. Those which land face up, are interpreted in conjunction with each other, which can make this method much more complex and ambiguous than the first. Where they land in relation to the centerpoint of the cloth, as well as in relation to other runes, combined with the meanings of each individual rune, can affect the whole outcome of the casting. Also, as most runes (in whatever futhark you use) can have multiple layers of meaning, the meanings may differ based on what runes they fall close to.

Many modern rune masters have actually developed their own personal free-cast methods based on experience. We shall go into this subject more deeply in the future.


2. Rune-spells and Bind-runes

Basically there are three forms of rune spell methods known: written out formulas, bind-runes, and Galdrastafir. Let us remind ourselves here that "spells" does not refer to the silly modern curiosities detailed in popular novels, nor to the "new-age" formulas invented for "witchcraft", Wicca and the like, but primal elemental forces invoked in runes which themselves are symbols of higher energies and raw power. A rune-spell should never be undertaken unless one understands the meanings of the runes as well as their natures (or even, one might say, character) and also how and for what purposes they were obtained. Every rune spell must be taken in solemn understanding of Odin's sacrifice to gain the runes as related in the Hávamál. These are not games or amusements to be taken lightly.

Written-out spells (such as those mentioned in Egil's Saga) can be either painted, carved, or both. They were typically carved into wood staves/planks or into large rune-stones erected at important sites. There were written-out spells for many different purposes - everything from spells for healing and protection in childbirth to ruinous curses directed at an enemy or traitor.

Bind-runes are combinations of runes superimposed on top of each other. There are a few different styles of bind-runes, some of which try to superimpose/layer as many lines as possible from all the runes used (but which run the risk of also incorporating some runes that were not intended to be a part of the bind-rune), and some of which are more conservative with superimposing, preferring to superimpose on only the vertical lines between the component runes. Of course the more complex the runes used, the more complex the bind-spell. Generally the simplified hexagonal Armanen runes are the easiest to use in making bind runes, as they all build upon the radii and facets of the same "mother shape" - an equilateral hexagon. The stave forms, and more variable rows like the "Elder" and "Younger" rows, are a bit more complicated and have a bit more chance of accidental incorporation of an unintended rune. The most complex and difficult bind-runes are those done with Anglo-Saxon runes, especially those with similar forms such as Ac, Asc, and so forth.

Galdrastafir (or incantation-staves) are a system of graphic spells, developed in Iceland over many centuries, often (but not always) radial in form. They may incorporate runes or parts of runes, though in many cases the symbols used are not technically part of any runic system, but simply native symbolic nature-lore. The most famous Galdrastafir are the Ægishjálmur (the Helm of Awe, for invincibility in battle) and the Vegvísir (the "Runic Compass" for spiritual navigation even in lost situations). There are many others, with their own methods for use, often drawn in temporary materials such as food or ice, ranging from love spells to protection for one's livestock and crops.


3. Protective Pendants

Like with galdrastafir and bind-runes, wearing pendants with engraved runes can itself act as a source or a refiner of energy to the practitioner. Of course the best pendants are those one makes oneself. Cheap mass-produced ones are rarely effective for the same purposes, though they can still serve as important reminders of runic energies and one's path towards greater deeds and arising to higher levels of might and consciousness.

Pendants can be of runes, bind-runes, or galdrastafir. Typically they are either engraved or shaped. Shaped pendants are the actual shape of the rune itself, not engraved onto a flat surface.

Making your own rune pendants has many aspects, including the energy one wishes to infuse them with, and how this was done in ancient times; whether to use certain herbs and minerals for their symbolic energies; whether or not to use blood; when to make such pendants, to benefit from seasonal energies; and what sort of incantations to use when carving or forging them. These are to be addressed in future updates.


4. Incantations

Incantations and spoken/sung spells (or galdr) are a major part of rune magick just as carved and written spells are. Once again, understand that these are important matters that require a thorough knowledge of the energies and contexts of individual runes and their combinations, and not to be taken lightly.

Galdr was the traditional preserve of male magicians as seidr was for female. However the lines were often blurred even in ancient times and more so today. Galdr involves chanting or singing the runes with a subconscious attunement to their energies - which works more effectively than every exoteric, conscious attempt. Will works beneath the surface in galdr, because one is tapping into the very realms of creation, an invocation even more hidden and internal than invoking the gods. Therefore simply visualizing or thinking about the energy of a particular rune (say, primal fire for Fa/Fehu) often isn't enough by itself - a more appropriate action would be to mentally anchor the state of feeling the rune and its raw energy, as one chants it out loud in various forms.

Galdr, of course, can take the form of spoken rune spells as counterparts to actually carving a formula of runes. As one carves or paints, spiritually attuned galdr magick adds to the potency of the formula set down. It can never be done the same way again, as the energy of the runes in any given spell rushes in differently each time, in accordance with one's wyrd at that particular moment in their life.

This of course is the reason behind Odin's warning in the Hávamál:

143.
Dost thou know how to write, dost know how to read?
dost thou know how to paint, dost know how to prove?
dost thou know how to ask, dost know how to offer?
dost thou know how to send, dost know how to spend? 
144.
Better ask for too little than offer too much,
like the gift should be the boon;
better not to send than to overspend.

And Egil Skallagrimsson, the famed Viking warrior and rune-master, gives us this warning:

Runes none should ever carve,
who knows not how to read them,
As it may befall many a man,
To stumble upon a Murk-Stave.

      - Egil's Saga, Chapter 75

Thus if the meanings are not understood, or if the spell incorrectly written, a different (and sometimes disastrous) outcome than what was intended may take place. This applies to carving runes, but could just as easily apply to galdr if the formulas used are complex enough.

When doing galdr of individual runes to gain experience of their energies for oneself, the risk is of course far less. In this instance it is easiest to stick with the Armanen runes since all have a positive meaning when in their standard position.


5. Meditations

This is an extremely personal part of runic practice, which can vary greatly along with the experience and the learning of the practitioner. There are many styles of runic meditations, both traditional and modern, some making extensive use of ritual objects and others having nearly none. However the meditations are always done with the rune energies as the main focus, they always involve both an outer and inner rune realm, and possibly a further "creative" realm, and they never involve the use of any sort of mind-altering substances. The point being that one must access the energies and wisdom of the runes naturally by the innate power of one's own will and subconscious track, and not attempt to force some sort of out-of-body state through external crutches that can actually cloud the mind's eye and even worse, lead to dependency.

Runic meditations can take many forms, and there is precious little ancient lore on the subject. It is believed that at least some more wisdom-conscious members of ancient Nordic society practiced them. However the actual methods and practice have had to be totally reconstructed, using thematic and mystical clues from the Lore and the Indo-European worldview whenever possible.

One of the more basic methods (and one that is available for free) is that of modern rune magician Karl Hans Welz. Although his website reads like a garish over-cluttered mid-90s Geocities infomercial spamsite with cheesy tag lines and blinding neon colors, and may not be the easiest to navigate, the free rune courses available as PDFs or web pages are a nevertheless a good starting point, and based on the work of Marby, Kummer and Spiesberger (though not any sort of strict blueprint). Of course fanatical purists may argue that the rituals advocated by Welz are a purely modern invention and have nothing to do with ancient Norse rune masters - technically they may be right, but other existing rune meditation methods (such as those used by Freya Aswynn and other "mainstream" Ásatrú  rune teachers) are hardly any less speculative. They just happen to use more "traditional" visual packaging. At the end of the day you are free to use what makes sense for you. If you feel that elemental crystals, ceremonial daggers and the like are not your thing, you can always choose alternative ritual objects that speak to you more personally and authentically in the spirit of the old Germanic rune masters.


6. Alphabetical or Orthographic use

There's not much that needs to be said here, except that using runes for mundane writing purposes is done without galdr, and without the intention of constructing any sort of spell or power-action. In medieval times many different rune-based systems were constructed, some based on expanded and more rounded forms of the Younger Futhark. Of course using them for non-Germanic languages is a purely entertainment exercise. There have also been attempts to use runic scripts for writing modern languages, as was the case with Johannes Bureus' Adalruna system for writing Swedish during the 30 Years' War.

Of course depending on which rune row you use, the spelling of one's name can turn out rather differently. The most popular system for orthographic use is the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, because of its large supply of runes to choose from. J.R.R. Tolkien used a modified form of the Anglo-Saxon runes to write scripts for languages he had invented - the Cirth (runes for Sindarin Elvish) and Angerthas (runes for Dwarvish) scripts, seen and mentioned in The Lord of The Rings. However in Tolkien's runes, the phonetic sounds attached to the runes are completely different than those used in the original Anglo-Saxon system. Hence the Feoh/Fehu rune actually becomes "G" in Tolkien's system, not "F". These are purely symbols for entertainment purposes at this point, although Tolkien insinuates in The Lay of Durin (related by Gimli in The Fellowship of the Ring) that some Dwarf-runes did apparently have magickal uses:

A king he was on carven throne
In many-pillared halls of stone
With golden roof and silver floor,
And runes of power upon the door.
The light of sun and star and moon
In shining lamps of crystal hewn
Undimmed by cloud or shade of night
There shone for ever fair and bright.

Runes of power, though not detailed specifically in Tolkien's legendarium, could potentially be written spells in Dwarvish (a "hidden" language that Tolkien never really created much vocabulary for) or even adaptations of Anglo-Saxon bind-runes. Those of you more dangerous, and more role-playing inclined, who wish to actually construct a brand new magickal system based on Tolkien's runes, may find your own way of constructing Sindarin or Dwarvish runes of power or spells. However for serious students of authentic rune systems like myself, this is a pursuit not worth getting into, especially because there is no real-world tradition to the "Feoh as G" system Tolkien invented, and no knowledge base of willing and dedicated modern-day skalds on which to even build a new lore. Best of luck to you with that.

More recently of course we have seen evidence of unknown persons using modified versions of Armanen runes to write secret (though not so secret) mystical messages on the walls of New York shops.


7. Stodhr/Stadhagaldr, or "Rune Yoga"

Okay, let's get a couple of things straight here. First, what Rune-yoga isn't. It's not the miraculous answer to all of life's questions. It's not going to give you super-powers like levitation and mentally moving objects through the air. It works on a much more subtle level to unlock and maximize the powers and abilities that mankind does naturally have capability for in the current ground state.

To quote Edred Thorsson:

"...Stádhagaldr is an active system of magic that consists of the assumption of runic postures or gestures for magical effect... Gestures and postures form some part of almost every metaphysical or magical school. The can be seen from the simple folding of hands in prayer to the extremely complex system of asanas in the Indian hatha yoga school. Stádhagaldr is balanced in this respect. The number and intricacy of the postures are varied enough to be expressive of the wide variety of forces present, but none require extensive training or straining of the body.
"The overall aims of the stádhagaldr are:
1. control of the body through posture (stadha)
2. Control of thought through song (galdr)
3. Control of breath
4. Control of emotion
5. Becoming aware of the rune realms of the self and the world(s)
6. Control and direction of the will.
"...Stadhagaldr is used as a mode of psychological integration and personal transmutation, and it is also employed in all other types of magical operations."
  
The early 20th century German runemasters (F.B. Marby, S.A. Krummer, and Karl Spiesberger) developed runic yoga as a means of harnessing the streams of power present in the earth and atmosphere. These may be thought of as either metaphysical energies, or even crossing over into dark matter, quantum physics, and the electromagnetic wave vibrations and resonances of the ionosphere and the Schumann cavity as researched by Nikola Tesla.

"According to Marby there are five cosmic zones to be reckoned with: (1) inner-earth space, (2) material earth space, (3) wave space, (4) cosmic space, and (5) super cosmic space.


"The inner space of earth... is a vast but contained zone of tranquil space that radiates energy. This is compared to the outermost zone of cosmic space, which is also tranquil and radiant. Cosmic space, zone 4, is charged with radiations from the zone of cosmic space and is influenced by the physical bodies (stars, planets, etc.) that occupy it. Material earth space is the physical matter of the planet, which is heavily loaded with ancient forms of energy coursing through it in various patterns. Wave space is that zone just above the surface of the earth that our bodies inhabit. This is the region where energy patterns received from above and below are most freely exchanged.

"The rune magician makes him/herself capable of receiving and sending patterns of energy to and from all five of these zones. (...the rune magician becomes an antenna for the reception and broadcast of runic radio waves.) By using the proper runic postures, combined with the intonation of the right runic sound, the magician can draw in certain forces or combination of forces and then reshape and redirect them.


"...The interplay of forces within these various energy zones constitutes the phenomena of the universe. By becoming aware of them, engaging them, and guiding them consciously, the rune magician actively participates in the evolution and restructuring of the cosmos.

"The runes are the keys to the reception, absorption and projection of these forces. Their first effect is on the transformation and healing of the individual..."

The above paragraphs are the merest introduction to the art of stadhagaldr. Before attempting any of the runic yoga postures, you are encouraged to learn more. The would-be rune magician is cautioned because wrongly prepared magickal formulae and sigils can have a deleterious effect. Heed the words of Odin, the High One, as recorded in the Hávamál.
143.
Dost thou know how to write, dost know how to read?
dost thou know how to paint, dost know how to prove?
dost thou know how to ask, dost know how to offer?
dost thou know how to send, dost know how to spend? 
144.
Better ask for too little than offer too much,
like the gift should be the boon;
better not to send than to overspend.
With that said, and an admonishment to study further before attempting stadhagaldr (or any other form of rune magick), here are the Rune-yoga postures of the "Elder" Futhark:



And here are the original postures for the Armanen:

                                                                 

Note that the Yr-rune shows a head-stand. Tucking your legs together and bending your lower arms out at the elbow at a drooping angle (with the upper arms tucked against your body) is an alternate and more practical form of Yr. Of course one must learn first the rune postures in sequence, starting with Fa (at the top of the diagram above) and going clockwise around the circle, with Ur, Thorn, and so on.

The other systems follow most of the same postures. Younger Futhark Stodhr is basically the Armanen postures without the Eh and Gibor runes. Anglo-Saxon postures are the same as the "Elder" ones except with a few modified forms of the standard postures for the extra runes.