Day 331: Casting Freya’s Aett

Gather together all eight of Freya’s runes.  Turn them over so that you cannot see their inscriptions.  Stir the runes with your left hand while you look skyward.  Think of a question about which you would like some insight.  Hold both hands over the runes, look skyward, and say:

Guide my hand with the hand of fate,
Goddess drawn from Freya’s eight!

Draw a single rune for your answer.  Make the connection between your question and the rune symbol.  Now take action based on the insight you receive.

Well, I’ve recently been contemplating applying for a teaching job near where my family lives.  It sounds pretty great on paper:  I’d have a lot of autonomy in my teaching, opportunities to take classes, earn a living salary, and finally get good benefits.  The problem?  It’s in the middle of nowhere.  Not only is it 3,000 miles away from the life I’ve built here, but it’s also at least three-and-a-half hours away from the nearest Gardnerian coven, and I’m really worried that such a move would stymie my spiritual path.  I’ve grown quite fond of my West Coast community!

So the question I held in my mind was “should I apply for this job?”  Humorously, the rune I drew was ansuz.

There’s not much in the way of strong negativity in Freya’s Aett, so I was prepared to consider the outcome of this divination with a block of salt.  But drawing ansuz was so perfect.  It’s the rune of communication and has positive associations both with teaching and with spirituality…the two concerns that were most prominent in my mind.

I think I’ll apply.  If I do get it, I will at least be able to strengthen my family ties.  I don’t think I need to be worried about it dampening my spirituality!

Day 330: Freya’s Aett, Wunjo

As I've mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick's book, but from Diana L. Paxson's Taking Up the Runes.

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

Pronunciation:  “WOON-yo”
Meaning:  Joy
Supporting Meanings:  Happiness, Bliss, Security, Wishes, Desires, Dreams

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, Wunjo is not present in the Scandinavian rune poems, but it does appear in the Anglo-Saxon rune poem.  There, it portrays the Old English ideal of happiness–the absence of trouble, adequate resources (buildings good enough) and all the power to protect them.  Etymologically, it is also associated with the word wunsch in thirteenth-century German poetry, where it nominally means ‘wish’.  However, the poems personify wunsch “as the agency by whom God creates.”  In Teutonic Mythology, Jacob Grimm elaborates:  “We see Wish provided with hands, power, looks, diligence, art, blossom, fruit; he creates, shapes, produces master-pieces, etc.”  Grimm also concludes that wunjo and all its associated words (collectively nodding to perfection in any kind) could all be applied to Wodan, whose Norse names include “Oski” or the Fulfiller of Desires.

Modern Meanings:  Paxson makes an excellent point when she says that interpretation of wunjo seems hampered by its apparent straightforwardness:  joy, happiness, bliss.  And yet, these qualities are almost impossible to define.

Edred Thorsson says wunjo represents “a harmonization of diverse elements, joining, blending, binding; fellowship and union within the clan for the common good.”  James Peterson thinks it the happiness of spiritual ecstasy.  Marijane Osborn and Stella Longland think it the innocent joy of a child, or the ideal pushing forth in a hard world.  Thorolf Wardle connects it with the Old High German word wunna, or a meadow, as well as the modern German wonne or bliss.  He interprets it as a billowing grassland upon which the important herds of Germanic peoples could flourish.  He has a point:  happily grazing animals certainly represents the bliss of satiation and security.  Freya Aswynn interprets wunjo as “the power or realization of the true will” that brings the energy of thurisaz (protection, power, security) into consciousness.  Kveldúlf Gundarsson also believes wunjo is a rune of will, but views it as the determination that maintains a worker’s enthusiasm of magical attainment in the face of all discouragement.  He also notes that happiness is to be found in the security of the stronghold–a safe place where one is surrounded by family and friends.  He also figures it as a healing rune, especially for emotional problems or interpersonal conflict.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Wunjo’s happiness and bliss comes from feeling secure and strong in life–healthfully surrounded by friends and family.  It’s the happiness of a constructive social setting and the joy of relationships and community.  It connects us with our innermost wishes and desires (our true will) and lets us attain them…especially for the good of all.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In readings, wunjo suggests a positive interpretation for the surrounding runes.  Therefore, it can refer to success in love relationships or happiness in any shared activity, especially work.  Spiritually, it indicates an integration of personality or forces.  Generally, it indicates joy and happiness, a good outcome, pleasure in the work of one’s own hands.  It can indicate or promote harmony, joy, prosperity, and friendship and can be used as a general purpose luck rune.  It can be drawn on ones forehead to lift a depression.  In negative positions, its hazards are stagnation, strife, and alienation.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Gebo:  It’s difficult to prescribe a ritual that will enable you to experience joy, but the regular practice of meditation is a good way to get the practice and experience in.  Choose a place where you will be uninterrupted and comfortable.  Light a candle and set it before you.  Identify and relax each muscle group in turn, then regularize your breathing (try couting in for four beats, hold for two, out for four, hold for two, etc.)  Repeat until your mind is centered and focused.  When you are able to relax at will, focus your attention on the candle flame.  Contemplate and appreciate it, and let any other thoughts that come to mind simply float away.  When the flame fills both your inner and outer vision, close your eyes and imagine that the flame forms itself into the figure of wunjo.  Let it grow large until you can walk into it.  Feel its warmth and brilliance surround and permeate you until you are conscious of nothing except its Light.  Allow the experience to conclude naturally.  Take your time coming back to ordinary reality.  Breathe deeply and quickly, thank the powers that have protected you, and stretch.

Day 329: Freya’s Aett, Gebo

As I've mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick's book, but from Diana L. Paxson's Taking Up the Runes.

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

Pronunciation:  “GHEB-o”
Meaning:  Gift
Supporting Meanings:  Generosity, exchange, equitable/inequitable, independence/dependence.  Marriage.

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the ‘G’ rune is not in the Younger Futhark and so gebo only appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem.  There it is strongly connected with the worthiness of generosity:  gifting brings credit and honor, help and worthiness.  The implication is that the gifter gains these qualities where the giftee gets “estate and substance” where he would have “naught else.”  Gifting was very important in old Germanic society.  Burgundian law even imposed a fine on anyone who refused hospitality to a guest!

Modern Meanings:  Everyone agrees that giving is good, but there is some difference in opinion regarding unconditional offering versus the need for a careful balance in the exchange.  Edred Thorsson holds that ‘exchange’ is the primary meaning with more of a balance between give and take.  He also picks up on marriage implications in the concept of exchange.  Kveldulf Gundarsson puts more of an emphasis on sacrificial giving.  He points out that in Norse religion, offering are neither bribes nor payment, but the symbol for an exchange of loyalties.  Osborn and Longland describe gebo as a rune of giving out of generosity, and Peterson points out that it appears in prosperity charms.  Aswynn hold the importance of balance and equality in a healthy exchange.  Paxson reminds that while giving is one of the noblest virtues, it can be soured by unwillingness–on both the parts of gifter and giftee.  Mandated giving is emotionally unsatisfying and often inequitable, and even though gifts can confer independence, they can also create a cycle of dependence.  As with many things, gifts are a double-edged sword.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Generosity is an amazing virtue, but it should come from the heart and be equitable to have the most impact.  When gebo appears, care has to be taken to consider all implications of a gift.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  A diviner should consider all possible meanings of “gift” in a layout, including the gifts of the spirit, or a need to look at the nature of one’s interactions with others.  Another area to consider is the balance between aspects of an individual’s life, or between the individual and his environment.  It can have economic significance relating to job relationships and results.  IT can also indicate a union or partnership of some kind.  It may also refer to contracts, agreements, and alliances.  It can be used as a general luck rune and to create a link between other forces or in spells of integration or balance.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Gebo:  This one is very easy:  simply practice giving and receiving.  Gifts don’t have to cost money.  Write an unexpected letter to an old friend or relative.  Tell someone thank you or I love you.  Take someone out to lunch, give a friend some flowers.  Return borrowed items.  Conversely, when someone gives you something, receive it with joy.  Receive compliments without protest or self-deprication.  Take a walk in a park and look at the gifts Mother Earth has given you, and appreciate them all.

Day 328: Freya’s Aett, Kenaz

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

Pronunciation:  “KEN-ahz”
Meaning:  Torch
Supporting Meanings: Illumination, forge, creativity, initiation, knowledge through experience, healing

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the Anglo-Saxon rune poem is the one that associates kenaz with the meaning torch.  In that poem, the torch is a blindingly bright light that burns most often where royalty lay.  In the Norse and Icelandic poems, however, it means a sore like an ulcer that leads to the death of children.  Kveldulf Gundarsson has suggested the two meanings can be reconciled by noting that a typical way to clear dead bodies was to burn them in a funeral pyre.

Modern Meanings:  Modern interpretations largely ignore the fatal sores of children and focus upon the earlier Anglo-Saxon association with fire and specifically the torch.  Torches were not only used to light great halls, but to light the way into ritual.  Therefore, the rune could signify both physical and spiritual enlightenment.  Edred Thorsson connects kenaz with the forge’s fire and makes it a rune of creativity and craftsmanship and all things that are shaped over fire.  Kveldulf Gundarsson similarly interprets kenaz as the initiatory forge where a shaman or king is purified and transformed:  initiation takes place in the forge of the smith or the forge of the earth goddess.  All this makes kenaz a rune of unmaking for the sake of remaking.  Freya Aswynn nods to the relationship of the name kenaz to the Germanic verb kennen, “to know.”  This suggests that the rune is a torch of knowledge.  Fire is also associtated with sexuality through body heat, so kenaz is sex, vitality, stamina, recovery from illness, primal fire, life force, etc.  Finally, kenaz can be a source of healing, as the heat of a sore drives out the infection.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Kenaz is the controlled fire of man; we use it to bring light to a special purpose.  It is also a will which, when applied to another thing, tempers it down and makes it malleable, which allows us to transform it into something new.  This tempering connects it to initiation, for when we are initiated we are molded into something new.  That also connects it to human sexuality, which allows us to come together to create something new.  Thurizaz was also connected to sexuality, but very specifically male potency.  I like to think of kenaz as more of a female complement.  It has more of a gestational, building energy than a simple inseminating fertility.

Paxson’s Kenaz Work:  To get in touch with the torch rune, why not make a torch?  You will need a piece of pinewood, a handful of kindling, some scraps of natural cotton or linen fabric, a role of jute twine, and some kind of tar or pitch.  (Make sure it is not explosive, just flammable, and make sure its smoke is not poisonous.)  Split the end of the wood and wind the fabric between the split halves, binding kindling in the weave.  Stick it all together with liberal amounts of pitch as you go along.  Alternately, make your own candles.  A simple kit can be purchased at a craft store.  Candle or torch, sign your tool with kenaz at various stages in construction and visualize the brilliance and effect of its future light.

Day 327: Freya’s Aett, Raidho


As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

Pronunciation:  “Rah-EED-ho”
Meaning:  Ride (Cart)
Supporting Meanings:  Journey, passing of time, personal responsibility, organizations that ‘carry’ large groups of people, anything that is “carried.”

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, all the old sources agree that the primary meaning of this rune is horse transportation or riding.  The Icelandic and Norwegian rune poems focus on riding astride and both verses are more sympathetic to the horse than tot he rider.  The Anglo-Saxon poem elaborates more on the idea of glorifying the warrior and showing how much more power (and more varied power) he has when astride.  It especially conveys swift motion and a sense of purpose.

Modern Meanings:  Raidho is both the act of moving and the vehicle that contains what is moved.  Its turning wheels govern all rhythmic, cyclical actions.  Edred Thorsson focused more on raidho as the vehicle and the path it takes and said it governed rhythmic action and organized activity (including nations and religions) and is therefore the rune of logic, proportion and cognition–the roadways one travels between the worlds.  James Peterson saw it as the sun’s chariot and especially speedy communication (like modern e-mail).  Freya Aswynn suggests that it shows the correct and just way to go and interprets associations of personal responsibility and the obligation to decide what is right and to control the path one follows.  Kveldulf Gundarsson integrates the sunwheel and divine order by focusing on the function of solar measurement in defining the order of the year.  In his concept, the correct functioning of earthly life depends upon the journey of the sun.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  With the ancient verses focusing so much upon the horse rather than the rider, my impulse is to give raidho associations with carrying rather than a journey.  You carry the obligation of personal responsibility, and organizations carry the burden of taking all the people within them collectively to a different state.  Anything that carries a figurative burden, such as justice or a teacher’s obligation to help her students learn (and take them to a new mental state) would be part of raidho.  I think, though, that physical carrying isn’t to be ignored:  moving house would be within raidho’s realm, as would all tools that carry others:  cars, bikes, planes, trains, trucks, etc.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  Raidho is useful as a journey rune.  It can be chanted for protection while traveling or inscribed on car charms, luggage, or on letters and packages.  For Tony Willis, it is primarily a rune of travel.  However, it may refer to any organization of people working together.  There is an implication of communication, since messengers rode upon horseback.  In readings, it could mean going into a new situation or having something new come to you.  Other implications have to do with giving or receiving counsel or following direction or plans.  It can indicate bringing order to chaos or simply changing direction.

Paxson’s Guide to Appreciating the Journey:  Raidho is a rune that can be experience physically as well as magically.  It can simply refer to traveling.  When you go somewhere, even commuting to work, pay attention to the journey.  What do you see from a bus that you don’t from a car, and how is the experience of driving different from that of being driven?  What kinds of skills and awareness are required to move safely through the world?  What adjustments do you have to make as you enter a different environment?  Are yo the same person at work as at home? 

Day 326: Freya’s Aett, Ansuz

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

Pronunciation:  “AHN-sooz”
Meaning:  A God, Mouth
Supporting Meanings:  Mentally creative activity, spiritual development

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the meanings ascribed to this rune in the old poems center around the communication, which is extended to include the god who gave us the runs.  In Old Norse, the word As, or “a god”, so resembled the Latin Os, or “mouth” that they’ve been conflated.  In the Anglo-Saxon, either makes sense; the Icelandic clearly means Odin; and the Norwegian uses it as “river mouth.”

Modern Meanings:  The general agreement among ansuz’s ancient meanings has led to a happy consensus of its modern meanings:  communication in general and Odin in particular.  This is the rune of the Word:  song, poetry and incantation.  It governs the power of oratory, speech, and poetry and through them is also a rune of wisdom, knowledge, advice, and teaching.  Freya Aswynn in particular says that ansuz represents consciousness, intelligence, and reason in addition to communication.  With all this in mind, it represents the organizing forces that balance the chaotic energies of the Jotnar.  In regards to Odin, ansuz especially reflects his aspect as a source of inspired, ecstatic poetry and his energies as a god of mental powers.  To tap into ansuz is to fall into a rich universe of relationships, symbolism, and perception.  To tap into ansuz is to tap into the meaning of language itself.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  It may be my English degrees talking here, but I think there’s a fine line between language and divinity even without the As/Os interplay.  The richness of our human communication is what has given us so much power.  We can describe to each other how to construct and use microscopes so powerful that we can ‘see’ individual atoms.  Our discussions have led us to casting machines into the far reaches of our solar system.  Our communication has given us a tremendous capacity and is what has allowed us to create such complicated civilizations.  It’s what’s made us gods among the animals.  Well, that and opposible thumbs.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In readings, ansuz indicates mental or creative activity in general and verbal in particular; wisdom, the need for it, spiritual power as differentiated from physical or action/development on the spiritual plane.  On the physical plane, however, it may relate to problems with breathing, the lungs, or the action of the wind.  In a practical reading, Freya Aswynn interprets ansuz as communication and transmission, or an indication of something with sources in the past.  In a negative position, it can mean a separation from one’s true spirit, communication problems, or a spiritual imbalance.  When it appears in a spiritual context it may have to do with inspiration or ecstatic experience.

Paxson’s Ansuz Exercise:  To experience ansuz, exercises that sharpen the wits and train one in wordcraft or useful.  Play grames like Scrabble or do crossword puzzles.  The time when you are studying ansuz is also the time to go to a reading or play or practice writing poetry.  If you are working with a group, playing “free association” word games is fun.  Starting with a seed word, subsequent people offer a word they associate with it.  For example, with the word “home” one person might say warm, another security, and so forth.

Happy Autumn Equinox!

This equinox promises to have quite a turnout for Hartwood Grove’s celebration.  We keep the lesser Sabbats as ‘open circles’ where we can invite friends, family, and acquaintances that might have an interest in Wicca, and we turn them into potluck feasts.  Since we’ve got a strong outer court with lots of friendly family, it’s looking like this might be the first lesser Sabbat in a long time where there’s more than just a handful of us.  I love big gatherings!

I’ve been asked to bring a pasta salad, and I wracked my head trying to come up with a season-appropriate one.  Eventually, I turned to the Internet and very quickly found a fantastic butternut squash salad on the website Budget Bytes.  It’s so good, I’m sharing it here as well as with my circle tonight.

This is Budget Bite's photo of the salad.  Gorgeous!

This is Budget Byte’s photo of the salad. Gorgeous!

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

  • 1 (3 lb.) butternut squash
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 pound pasta (orecchiette or shells)
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • up to ½ cup raspberry vinaigrette (optional)
  • to taste salt & pepper
  1. Cut the ends off of the squash to provide a flat, stable surface. Stand the squash on one end and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Slice a few rounds off of the small end to shorten the squash, and then cut down through the center of the thick end to expose the center. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and center pulp. Cut the remaining squash into small cubes.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cubed squash, sage, salt & pepper (a generous sprinkle). Saute until the squash is tender (about 10-15 min). They will looks slightly translucent and will start to smash a little like a cooked potato. Taste a cube or two to make sure they’re cooked through. Turn the heat off.
  3. While the squash is cooking, cook the pasta. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a generous sprinkle of salt to the pasta water for flavor. Cook the pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes or until al dente). Drain the pasta.
  4. Once the squash is tender and the pasta is drained, add the pasta, cranberries, and chopped parsley to the pot. Stir to combine.
  5. Drizzle the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil over everything and add salt and pepper to taste. Lastly, stir in the shredded Parmesan and the vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  6. Note:  if using the raspberry vinaigrette, the pasta will turn pink.