Day 343: Casting Hagal’s Aett

Gather together all eight of Hagal’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 Hagal’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.

Like I did when I cast Freya’s Aett, I’m interested in the energies surrounding certain job applications.  Since Freya’s Aett casting, though, I’ve gained employment and I’m not so desperate.  Granted, I want work in my field and work that doesn’t make me depressed just by showing up to the office…but I’m just not desperate for work now.  These jobs I have in mind are applications to become a high school teacher, which is now the dream.  I have some options right now…I can either find work in a new part of the country where you can become a teacher without first getting an MAT, or I can go back to school.  This reading was for whether or not I should apply to the actual jobs before applying for more school.

The rune I pulled was Pertho, which as Paxton notes means I should “explore the implication of the operation of fate” in this situation.  There’s some truth to this.  I’m scared to confront the uncertainty of signing on to be head of a classroom when I’ve got no official training in managing a K-12 group.  But there’s also the implication of gaming here–lightening up and just playing the game.  I’ve got work now…I don’t have to view every application as life and death.  I can just enjoy the process and let the chips fall as they may; let fate find me instead of chasing it, perhaps.

Yule Ornament Idea: Pasta Angels

It’s been my experience that angels are something of a divisive issue in the Pagan community.  There’s a very vocal camp that maintain that they’re a unique creation of the Abrahamic religions (and Zoroastrianism) and that there’s no place for them in Neopaganism.  There’s another camp that reminds us all that angel-like creatures are not unique to the Abrahamic religions and that important influences upon contemporary Paganism placed a good deal of emphasis on them.  In particular, Theosophy–an esoteric philosophy repopularized under Helena Blavatsky in the late 19th century that influences a lot of contemporary Paganism–developed a concept of devas (a word taken from a similar being in Buddhism), which were essentially solar or planetary angels that could be reincarnations of human beings.  In Theosophy, Nature spirits, elementals, and fairies also share a lot of similarities with these angelic devas.  In addition to Theosophy, another influence on contemporary Paganism, the Hermetic Qabalah, also insists upon angels, and incorporates 10 archangels into its magical system.

If you’re a pagan who uses the concept of angels in your practice, this “craft-tastic” holiday ornament might interest you and your family.  Break out the dried pasta and acrylic paints and get ready to return to pre-school!

A couple Pasta Angels perched on my Pentacle.

A couple Pasta Angels perched on my Pentacle.

What You’ll Need:

  • Twine or other thread/ribbon for hanging
  • A bobby pin to help thread the twine through the head
  • A number of wooden beads to serve as heads
  • Ditalini pasta (n. 45) to serve as hair
  • Rigatoni pasta to serve as bodies (squatter, thicker rigatoni shapes work better than longer, thinner rigatoni)
  • Farfalle/Bowtie pasta to serve as wings
  • Elbow macaroni to serve as arms
  • Thumbtacks to serve as candles
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue sticks
  • Acrylic paint: at least 1 white bottle and 1 colored bottle (keep in mind that green doesn’t show up well on a tree).
  1. Paint the farfalle pasta white on both sides.  Paint the rigatoni pieces, too.  You may need to do two coats, depending on the paint thickness.  If you desire to paint the ditalini or elbow macaroni a color, do so now as well.  However, these pieces are very small and painting them will be very laborious.
  2. Poke the closed end of the bobby pin through the wooden bead and thread the twine through it.  Pull a loop of twine through the head and knot it at the bottom of the doll’s head.  Cut the twine off next to the knot.
  3. Using the hot glue gun, glue the ditalini to the head to look like curled hair.  It is best to try to lay just enough glue to tack three pieces to the head at a time.  Continue to glue ditalini to the head until the entire back of the bead is covered.
  4. Run a bead of hot glue around the knot at the base of the head bead and fix a rigatoni to it.
  5. Dab a bead of hot glue onto the back of a farfalle and affix it to the back of the angel, about halfway down the rigatoni.
  6. Dab hot glue onto one side of a macaroni and attach it to the front of the rigatoni so that the open ends of the macaroni point upward.  Repeat with the other macaroni in a mirror image of the first.
  7. Dab hot glue onto the top of the two macaroni openings in the center of the angel and fix the top of a thumbtack to it so that the point is upward.
  8. Let the angel cool completely and hang it from your tree.

Day 342: Hagal’s Aett, Sowilo


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:  “So-WEE-lo”
Meaning:  Sun
Supporting Meanings:  Illumination, guidance, nurturing, triumphing, will, inner light, guiding motion and journeys

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, and Norwegian rune poems all agree that Sowilo stands for “Sun.”  In the Anglo-Saxon poem, the sun is the hope of seamen ferrying over the sea until their ship comes to land.  The Icelandic poem sees the sun as a shield, which defends against the cold and melts ice.  The Norwegian poem, interestingly, links the sun’s light with respect to the heavens:  “Sun is the light of the lands; I bow to heaven’s doom.”  Since the light of the lands is obviously cyclical in Norway (vastly different daylight hours in summer and winter), I think that this particular line also notes a respect for cycles.

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson sees this rune as signifying the sun and its light, the solar wheel, the wheels of the solar wagon, and the sun disk itself.  It is the force of lightning which links heaven and earth, and the whirling wheels of energy we know as chakras.  He also sees sowilo as the will to victory, the illuminating beacon that guides the seeker across consciousness’s sea.  Similarly, Willis sees it as the light that vanquishes evil.  Osborn and Longland interpret it as the sail that drives the ship in the poem, or the quartz that allows the navigator to perceive the sun’s position.  Peterson views it as the life force, consciousness and wholeness, and the power to calm stormy seas.  Freya Aswynn emphasizes that the sun in Norse myth is feminine, and suggests that the Sun can be seen as nurturing with its welcome heat and light.  She defines sowilo as a rune of the higher self, which directs the process of individuation and provides spiritual guidance.  Gundarsson focuses on sowilo as a source of invincibility and triumph, a rune of the will.  Most commentators agree that sowilo is a rune of illumination and movement

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Where would we be without the sun?  Without its warmth and radiation, there would be no life.  And if we could imagine a world with life but no sun, it would be a rudderless life.  We would have nothing to anchor our place on the planet.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In readings, sowilo indicates illumination, clarification, the appearance of a guiding principle, change or development after a period of stagnation.  It is a beacon of hope for those who strive.  The sun mean strength, energy, life force, success, honor, and achievement.  It also is the light of truth and enlightenment.  It may indicate health or a need to rest and restore it.  It can be interpreted as a journey rune, especially over water (in conjunction with raidho and laguz), or even a sailor.  Its illumination may arrive through a teacher’s help.  With isa, it may indicate a blocked will.  Magically, sowilo provides guidance in journeying and can be inscribed on luggage for protection.  Invoking it helps one find the right path.  It can be used to kindle and maintain energy needed to carry projects through to their completion.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Sowilo:  One of the most obvious ways to experience sowilo is by tracking the sun’s journey.  In medieval Iceland, time was counted in day-marks, or by noting the position of the sun in regard to features in the landscape.  Obviously, these features changed from place to place.  Try identifying the day-marks for your own environment and use them to tell time.  It can be an interesting psychological exercise, and can be easily made a spiritual one by accompanying each observation with a prayer.  Doing so aligns your personal time with that of sowilo.

Day 341: Hagal’s Aett, Elhaz

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:  “EL-hazh”
Meaning:  Elk
Supporting Meanings:  Protection, linking divine and natural worlds

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the Anglo-Saxon rune poem is the only one to include this rune, and it does so by aligning it with a plant, “Eolh-secg” which some translate as elk sedge, eelgrass, or holy place edge.  This grass (or the edge of a holy place” is found mostly in fens and grows in water, but it causes stinging wounds to any brave soul who tries to hold on to it.  Whether this is protective or harmful, I suppose, depends upon your perspective:  are you using the grass as a defensive shield, or are you trying to work your way through it?

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson describes elhaz as a sign of protection, calling to mind the horned elk that feeds upon the Worldtree.  It could also stand for the link between man and his spirit guide.  He says that its protection comes from one’s relationship with his or her own personal divinity.  Peterson finds elements of hunt magic in the rune.  Osborn and Longland point out the danger of eelgrass, but note that knowledge of one’s environment would allow you to operate safely and ward off danger.  Freya Aswynn belives that its use as a termination in language makes it primarily magical in function.  For her, this rune can be upright or upside down and can be feminine and masculine:  therefore, when combined together in a bindrune, they can represent marriage.  She does, however, also agree that the rune is a force for connection and protection.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  I like to think of the rune as protective, defensive antlers.  But it also looks like a man with his arms raised to the sky in worship and channeling.  It’s protection comes from increased connection with the Gods.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In a reading, this rune almost certainly means protection, possibly by means of drawing on natural powers or allowing suppressed aspects of personality to operate.  It indicates a beneficent new influence, willing sacrifice, or an exchange of lesser for greater good.  It can be dangerous to the untrained, and can be used to turn back an attack so that it wounds the attacker.  Combined with other runes in bind runes, it invokes their force for protection.  The Elk rune is used to protect or hallow in situations where Wiccans would use the pentagram.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Elhaz:  To raise elhaz energy, ground and center while standing, reaching deeply for power.  When you have a strong sense of the energy, slowly stand with hands at your sides and draw the power upward.  As it fills you, lift your arms, extend them at an angle, and project the energy out through the crown of your head and the tips of your fingers in offering, or bring your arms downward again so that the energy forms a protective sphere.  As you do this, meditate on your guardian spirit.  Protection is intensified by drawn the rune with a fingernail on your forehead, chest, or the palms of your hands.

Day 340: Hagal’s Aett, Perthro

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:  “PER-thro”
Meaning:  Lot, Cup, Game Piece
Supporting Meanings:  Good-natured cheer, camraderie, high stakes, fate, divination

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, perthro is an odd rune since the ‘p’ letter is pretty rare.  In the Younger Futhark, berkano serves for both ‘b’ and ‘p’ sounds, and the ‘p’ rarely appears in Old Norse, and very few instances of the letter are found in the Anglo-Saxon poems.  The name comes from old Germanic, and it is interpreted as a device for casting lots.  This looks oddly specific, but playing at dice was serious business among the German tribes:  when players had lost all else, they would even gamble with their freedom.  The Anglo-Saxon rune poem gives this sign the name “Peorth” and translates it as a chess or a gaming piece, a thing that causes laughter and brings comrades together in happiness.  The games provide friendly and intellectual combat, and is a pursuit of peace.

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson finds perthro to be a rune of fate’s mysteries; it governs the laws of cause and effect and of synchronicity.  It is at one the well and the cup in which runes are tossed, so it is the power of becoming, consistency and change.  Gundarsson specifically describes it as a rune of divination, and sees it as “the embodiment of the self-awareness of the cosmos”.  Frey Aswynn agrees, but also sees perthro as a rune of the Womb of Space and as a repository of ancestral memory of the collective unconscious.  Osborn and Longland, however, translate it as “tune” and think it indicates happiness and recreation.  Peterson thinks it means something unknown; a mystery that will be revealed in due time.  Paxon notes that it is definitely a rune whose ambiguity is a source of frustration and an opportunity:  since historical evidence is thin, one must seek illumination in the insights of more contemporary writers and from one’s own intuition.  She says that it can be interpreted as the rune of the Runes themselves, the womb into which Yggdrasil drops its berries to stimulate the birth of destiny.  It is the cauldron of transformation.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  There are elements of divination and fate here, but with a connotation of cheer.  Its revelations may involve fate, but this isn’t necessarily set in stone.  There are ways to twist an outcome around:  you can go into fate’s battle laughing.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In a reading, perthro is an omen that one should explore the implications of fate’s operations.  It could mean that forces set in motion are working themselves out, or than an unexpected factor will intervene.  Psychologically, it could involve needing to deal with uncertainty or taking risks.  In personal development, it may refer to the opportunities in which one was “fated” at birth.  It can also mean the disclosure of something previously hidden, and Gundarsson believes it can be used to speed up the actions of fate.  Upended, perthro is useful in bindrunes to “pour out” other runes into manifestation; upright, to contain them.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Perthro:  To experience perthro, you must work with concepts of (re)birth, fate and chance.  Playing any game involving dice casting prepares the mind to deal with concepts of change and chance.  Perthro can also be accessed by analyzing one’s own inheritance:  what physical traits have you gotten through your ancestors?  What where the personalities of your family?  What do you remember from your childhood?  What have these experiences and traits ‘locked’ into place for you, and how can you challenge them?

Day 339: Hagal’s Aett, Eihwaz

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:  “AY-wahz”
Meaning:  Yew Tree
Supporting Meanings:  Protection, eternal life, domestic warmth, martial protection, linking opposites, carrying energy

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, eihwaz means ‘yew’ in all three of the rune poems.  In the Anglo-Saxon verses, the tree’s rough bark and deep roots are emphasized, which gives yew the connotation of protection.  Additionally, this tree is noted to burn well, which gives joy to the home.  Therefore, yew gains an overall connotation of a warm, domestic protection.  The Norse poem, however, focuses on the fact that yew is “the greenest of trees in winter’ and that it sputters when it burns; together, these qualities seem to give it a connotation of life in spite of all obstacles.  The Icelandic poem diverts widely from either of these and associates yew with weaponry, calling it a “bent bow” and “brittle iron” and the giant of the arrow.  This sort of aligns it with the protection noted in the Anglo-Saxon verse, but gives it a far more martial protection.

Modern Meanings:  Thorsson associates eihwaz with Yggdrasil, saying that another name for yew is “needle-ash”, which is the sort of ash tree described in the Eddas.  He also notes that the yew, like Yggdrasil, is an evergreen and among the longest-lived of the European trees.  In Europe, this has made yew a symbol of eternal life and was planted in graveyards (which, perversely, has also made it a symbol of death).  However, Thorsson prefers to think of eihwaz/Yggdrasil as linking opposing forces and creating pathways between the worlds.  Aswynn has a similar interpretation, linking eihwaz and Yggdrasil with the human spine, the conduit of Kundalini’s fire, and sees it as a link between worlds.  Gundarsson also interprets it as linking opposites and carrying energy between them, noting that the yew can act as a poison which can either kill or facilitate an initiation (birth).  Osborn and Longland focus on the paradox between yew’s rough exterior and inner fire, which continues by noting that although the tree is a life-filled evergreen, it is poisonous, and its wood can make a bow that protects or kills.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Eihwaz is a bridging rune, pulling together opposites and paradoxes, and brings energy between them.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  Eihwaz can be a rune of paradox or the connections between opposites.  It might indicate spiritual exploration, or an apparently difficult situation that can turn to an advantage.  It notes a need to look at the connections between things, and the root of any matter.  Willis notes that it can mean a situation that looks bad on its surface, but can turn favorable.  Aswynn points out Eihwaz’s usefulness as a “backbone” for bindrunes.  It can be used in healing back problems.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Eihwaz:  Since eihwaz is associated with the yew tree and of connecting opposites, a nice practice to try with it is to effectively ground and center next to a tree.  Sit with your backbone against a tree, and press as much of your body as you can next to its trunk.  Ground yourself, allowing your awareness to sink through your body and into the earth, focusing on the points of your body where you are in contact with the tree and the ground.  Seek to follow the roots of the tree as they spread through the ground, anchoring it and you.  When you awareness is fully rooted follow your awareness upward until it spreads into the branches and you sense the free movement of energy in the sky.  Then send your consciousness downward again.  Practice manipulating the movement of consciousness with the aid of the tree until you can sense the flow of energy in yourself and in the tree trunk.  Allow yourself to participate in the tree’s interaction with wind and water and soil.  Thank the tree when you have finished meditating.

Where’s Melissa Been?

Me (in the hat) and my best mate (in the awesome scarf) mugging for a post-beach selfie.

Me (in the hat) and my best mate (in the awesome scarf) mugging for a post-beach selfie.

While I’ve been posting a few tidbits here and there since the last 366 update, I’ve been pretty darn quiet. Where have I been and what have I been up to?

Well, dear readers, much of the radio silence has been due to the fact that I’ve started full time work again. Do not cheer. This isn’t something that will advance my career. It’s just a job to pay the bills. And it is not exactly great. In fact, the company is pretty terrible in acknowledging the fact that its workers are human beings. My supervisor has actually called me a “profitable commodity” to my face. Worse, I was hired on without the company disclosing the fact that they have mandatory overtime…so what I thought would be a 40-hour work week is actually about 48 hours. Yup, that’s right. Over the course of five days, they squeeze a whole extra day of work out of me. I basically have enough leisure time to come home, make a quick dinner, clean up from cooking, and then collapse into bed. It’s pretty soul-crushing. Body-crushing, too. It’s such sedentary work, my muscles actually ache from disuse.

I’ve also been working a slew of 10-day long stints in order to arrange for enough consecutive days off around this past Thanksgiving to actually have some fun. One of my best friends from college, S., flew out from Minnesota to spend the holiday with me. It was a blast. I picked her up at Sea-Tac at like 2 am on Wednesday, then we drove down to Olympia, had breakfast and a nap, then drove to Portland, had a second breakfast, toured the Japanese Gardens, met up with my best male friend J. for dinner at Pok Pok, then drove to Cannon Beach that night where we spent a couple days just tooling around the Oregon coast, playing around on Cannon Beach, and touring the quaint little town (on Black Friday). Then it was back to Portland for some Voodoo Doughnuts, then we drove back to Olympia to have dinner with S.’s aunt, uncle, and cousins who live nearby in Shelton. We then spent all day that Saturday lazing about at a Korean Spa, being all naked and relaxed and getting massages and body scrubs. Then we met up with sorority sisters and assorted college friends in Seattle for dinner…then back to Oly. That last Sunday, we stuck around town while S. did some homework (and generated an amazing Ph.D.-level research idea), had lunch, then buzzed back to Seattle to do a blitz-tour of Public Market before I had to drop her off at Sea-Tac once more.

S. on Cannon Beach.  That's Haystack Rock there in the distance.

S. on Cannon Beach. That’s Haystack Rock there in the distance.

Honestly, I felt like I did more living in those 5 days than I had in the past 5 months. Not that I haven’t been living. I’ve done some right grown-up things such as *finally* getting the title to my 2005 Ford Taurus. Folks, this has been a battle I’d been waging since moving to the PNW back in 2008. Essentially, this was the issue: my dad bought the car from a dealership in 2006, but never bothered to file the title work. When he gave the car to me in 2008, the car was still titled to the dealership. That dealership went out of business in 2007. I finally put the pieces together in 2009 after badgering my dad for months to get me the title. So 2009-2013 was spent writing to every state agency I could trying to get a title from the defunct dealership, filing court cases, etc. As it turned out, all I had to do was have a judge issue a court order…no lawsuits, nothing. I had the title in under a month once I sent out the application for that court order…but it was pretty much 4 years of the Indiana BMV, Ford Motor Company, the Indiana Secretary of State, the Indiana Attorney General, and my own private legal counsel all telling me to do different things before I finally got in touch with the right person…a simple clerk in the District 3 Court back in Madison County, Indiana. I thank the Gods that they got me in touch with her before I gave up and drove the car off a cliff.

My old Taurus and my new (to me!) Element.  I love my new car!

My old Taurus and my new (to me!) Element. I love my new car!

Right after I got the title to the Taurus, though, I sold the car. It was something I needed to do. Every time I looked at it, I got angry at my father all over again for everything he put my family through. I also really wanted a Honda Element. The way I saw it, the Element would be perfect for helping defray moving costs in the future (since I’d just need to rent a small trailer instead of a huge U-Haul) and it’s so big that I would be able to fill a new place with lots of furniture. Also, I really love camping but I hate pitching tents. I can pretty much “car camp” in lots of comfort with the Element. So I found one at an incredibly reasonable price for the Pacific Northwest and bought it. It’s been pretty solid ever since. I have had to sink some repair costs into new tires, a new lock actuator, a remote, and a bevy of windshield repairs (it’s a rock magnet!)…and I have a few more repairs slated for future paychecks. But I love my Ellie. And when I see it I feel hope for my future rather than despair over my past. It even makes working the terrible job worth it.

So that’s been the crazy in my life recently. Thankfully we’re well into the Dark Times between Samhain and Imbolc, a time where we spiritually take a bit of a breather and take inspiration from all the resting seeds below our feet. We need to rest, too, before we can flower anew and bear fruit once more.